Once you get your company’s social media accounts set up, it’s time to build an audience.
Unfortunately, “build it and they will come” is a strategy that works only in baseball movies. It takes planning and time to build an active social media community that’s passionate about your content and your brand. These six tips will help you get started:
Create original, relevant content.
In 2011, Indiana University researchers created a social media framework that describes the essential building blocks of an effective online community. When you’re starting from scratch, focus on these components: conversations, sharing, relationships and reputation.
Effective content touches all four aspects. Engaging, original content encourages people to follow your posts, share them with friends, offer comments and ask questions. It also helps you build a strong reputation in your industry.
Create loyal followers by offering original content targeted to their needs and interests. Sharing external content is also a vital part of social media success, but be smart about it. Don’t just retweet the latest industry news article that people can get directly from the source. Use other articles as a launch pad for thoughtful commentary you can repurpose for your readers.
Write with purpose.
Define your target audience, research their needs, and use that information to create relevant content. For example, we help small landlords with their business problems. They don’t have money to hire consultants and large legal teams, so we offer helpful content such as “how to” articles and checklists that make their jobs easier.
Providing that kind of value enhances your reputation as an industry expert. Eventually, your channels can become respected sources of practical information and advice.
Get people talking.
The easiest way to find out what topics readers are interested in is to ask them. People like to be asked, and we all like to talk about ourselves. Asking for feedback and opinions makes readers feel valued and included, so open a conversation with your community members.
To ensure the conversation is productive, remember these three things:
● Respond. Always respond to comments and questions. Give personalized answers, not boilerplate responses.
● Solicit. Invite community members to submit questions. Surveys and customer questions are great market research tools that can help you develop content and products. The more you know about your audience, the better you can serve their needs.
● Interact. Schedule online Q&A sessions. The give and take between you and readers (and readers with one another) enhances camaraderie.
Good communication builds relationships. Freely and frequently remind your audience that there’s a real person at the keyboard on the other side of the discussion.
Invest in photography and artwork that will garner attention and elevate your profile. You don’t need an in-house graphics team; you can make do with a reputable stock photo service. Most offer images either on a subscription basis or by selling packages of images for download.
Make sure you understand the copyright terms. Some services have specific guidelines for images used for commercial purposes.
Stay on schedule.
Scheduling posts can be tricky, particularly in a small organization. Avoid these two common mistakes:
1. Too many posts at once. Post consistently but not constantly. Stick to a regular schedule. Quality suffers if the social media manager is measured more on quantity than quality.
2. Going dark for a long time. When an employee takes vacation, do your social media accounts go on hiatus as well? That’s a mistake. Keep the content fresh and relevant, and always have a backup person to manage the accounts.
Consider using a social media scheduler like Buffer or Edgar, which can help you efficiently schedule and manage posts. Use a service that tracks user engagement, shares and other metrics you deem important. Define your key performance indicators, and set specific goals.
Promote your profile.
You can’t rely on Twitter’s “Who to follow” section to attract followers. Take the initiative, and let people know you’re eager to interact with them. Start by telling your current customers you’ve joined a platform. Do this by sending an email, creating a message on your website or putting a sign up at your business.
It’s also wise to put some money behind your new account and advertise your presence. With paid promotion, you’re nearly guaranteed new followers. Hopefully, they’ll stick around and continue interacting with you.
Social media marketing can help your company share information with customers and keep communication lines open. If you consistently pump out useful, helpful content, your social media presence can be a valuable vehicle for building trust and customer loyalty.