But Jenny, do I have to? Yes, you do. Your business or organization needs to be networking on the social media channels for the same reasons we all need to be part of a community; it has function and purpose and it’s just plain good for you. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, blogging–these are the ways that we share information and get information. It’s a give and take relationship, even if it all happens over keyboards and screens. You need to think about your business’s relationship with your followers in this way. Here are some questions to consider when developing content for the channels that are going to best communicate with your audience.
What do I want people to know? This might be a special event, an impending deadline, a recent award, an upcoming sale. Maybe it’s a quick teaser or maybe it requires more explanation in the form of a blog post. Whatever it is, it should align with your business goals and should have some sort of implied or actual call to action (what do you want the receiver of this information to do?). Make it easy for people. Don’t tell them on Facebook that there’s a special sale on your website and then not include the link directly to that page. Think about what’s most likely to get their attention; a witty quote? An excerpt from your blog post? A funny picture? You have a lot of competition for their action and their tangible response, so grab their attention and don’t waste their time. Think about timing, too. Don’t post something about a downtown weekend event on a Monday without following it up with a reminder on Friday.
What do you want to know about your people? This is a two way street and just like any relationship, no one wants to hang out with someone who monopolizes the conversation. When you post something, leave some room for interaction or engagement. Bait them with a question if you have to, but you’ll get more response if you make them think, or are even slightly controversial. Now, be careful! Don’t get in over your head and start a bar fight or find yourself moderating a big debate that gets ugly, fast! But, be unexpected, or try to mix it up a little (within good judgement). Listen and participate in the conversation. If you own a day spa and you ask in Facebook: “what are your top three skin concerns,” read what people say, affirm their willingness to put themselves out there and then offer some resources. Maybe next week, you write a blog post on about caring for your skin and offer a “25% off any skin care service” when they mention this post. Reward them for their participation and make it relevant to the conversation (pssst, just like your wife doesn’t want you to tell her what you had for lunch when she just told you she had a bad day because your kids colored on the new couch). Remember: relationships!
Be generous! Give without expecting anything in return. This builds trust and value. I’m not even talking about free “stuff.” Maybe you just share a funny graphic, a joke, an inspirational quote or idea, an honest lesson learned, a link to an article you found interesting that you thought they might too, find interesting. You really aren’t expecting them to click over to your website and buy a dozen of your widgets right then…but, one day when they need widgets, guess who will come to mind as someone they can trust and who knows there way around a widget? YOU! Being social isn’t about the direct sale or the instant result. It’s about nurturing a relationship and building your value in their lives. It takes time, intentionality, balance, and consistency. Although the tools will change, the way people get their information, and how they make buying decisions–“let’s google it”–isn’t going away anytime soon. So brush off your mix-and-mingle party skills, and get out there and be charming! ; ; ; ;