How to View Your Social Media Efforts (And How to Succeed on Non-Obvious Social Sites)
Take a look at the social media marketing of any number of small businesses and you will likely see the same mistakes repeated over and over again.
For a great number of these businesses, their social media ‘strategy’ consists of creating a Facebook site and then just posting short promotional updates as their status:
“Find out why we’re the best EPOS system in the West!”
“Serve more customers with our fast and efficient till system”
“We can’t wait to help you improve your business!”
And then strangely, these companies just don’t succeed! Why wouldn’t people be clamouring to sign up?
The Way You View Your Social Media
The underlying problem here is actually the way that businesses are viewing their social media campaigns. To them, this is a marketing campaign and all they need to do to succeed is to just post regularly and shout about their business.
But ask yourself: would you follow a social media account that did that?
So how should you be viewing your social media accounts?
As products! View your social accounts as products that provide value, just like your core business, and that can exist outside of your business.
A Great Example
Let’s take a look at a company that is doing very well on social media. Etsy is a store that lets creators sell their own home-made products and they have a very strong following on Pinterest. This is thanks to boards like their ‘Cool Spaces’ board, which users can follow to see ideas for interior design and home décor. Here, they’ll see regular pictures of inspiring homes, giving them ideas for their own plans.
Note the key difference: the board itself has a USP and there is a reason for people to follow it. Promotion is not the sole reason for this board to exist and instead occurs as a secondary objective.
So instead of thinking of your social media as a means to an end, ask instead what you can offer to your audience using this medium. This is also how you might succeed on a social media site that doesn’t seem obviously relevant to your business model.
How does a life insurance company succeed on Pinterest? Perhaps by showing pictures of families and inspiring images suggesting days out and ways for those families to bond. Now people have a reason to follow and they might not even realize that the board is promoting your business – until you recommend your life insurance product that is!
Don’t Forget Forums as a Formidable Social Networking Source!
For many of us, the term ‘social media’ is practically synonymous with Facebook and Twitter. At the very least, we will tend to associate social media with analogues of these two big sites and generally we think of social networks as modern sites where you can log in and share pictures and status updates.
In reality though, the web has been social long before Facebook was a twinkle in Mark Zuckerberg’s eye. When the web first exploded in popularity, people were already having discussions and debates about their favorite hobbies and interests but they were doing so in chat rooms and on forums.
And while Facebook and Twitter have more prominence now than those aforementioned chat rooms, they are nevertheless still out there and they still offer a lot of opportunities.
What are Forums?
A forum is essentially a message board, normally attached to a website, where people can post questions and get answers. Users must first create a profile and from there they can create or respond to ‘threads’ as well as doing other things like send private messages.
In other words, these act like the groups or pages on social media, providing discussion that is centered around a specific topic and where only ‘members’ get to contribute. This is one of the biggest attractions of these forums – they have a ‘VIP’ feeling and tend to nurture a much more close-knit community. Many people will make friends on forums, or will even work together on joint projects etc.
The Advantages of Forums
So while forums are smaller than social networks, they are also much more targeted and the users tend to be very committed and passionate to the subject. This creates an ideal opportunity for you to gain exposure for your product or website if you post there.
The problem is, most companies have no idea how to use forums. They will simply create accounts, log in and then post their link like an advert. Bearing in mind how much of a clique the users of these forums become and how protective of their community they are, you can imagine that this is often met with disdain.
To succeed on forums then, the objective is rather to post links only after you’ve established yourself as an active member of that community. To do that, you need to take part: by answering questions, by starting discussions and by finding things you find useful. Though it takes a little work, this can allow you to learn more about your target audience, to demonstrate yourself as an expert on your topic and to build loyal fans and even friends. Once you manage that, you may even find that they actively help you to promote your business!
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