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The internet and social media have vastly changed the way we interact with one another. Whether you are interacting with friends, family, new customers, prospects or new business partners, social media offers an easy way to connect and stay in touch with one another.
When starting out with social media, many businesses wonder what is the key to creating a successful social media profile. They look for the secret formula for going social. The truth is, the secret to social media is staring you right in the face. Just as the name implies, successful social media must be “social.” This means that unlike other marketing channels social media is built upon engaging the consumer by creating a two-way conversation.
Below are several tactics that businesses can utilize in order to create social media that engages the audience and builds relationships.
Define your purpose
With the sheer number of social media accounts and conversations, there is a social conversation surrounding almost every possible topic. From the constant stream of tweets discussing this season of the Bachelor (#TheBachelor) to the ongoing buzz surrounding Beyoncé’s Super Bowl performance (#SB50), you could find an outlet for any topic on social media.
Social media is hardly just a B2C topic. B2B companies are pioneering the space as a key way to connect with their business customers as well. GE is a great example of a B2B company that is excelling at social media and using it to connect with their customers. GE’s customer base is made up of forward-thinking individuals. With that, GE has focused its social media content on providing its followers with scientific and technological innovation. Their Facebook page, which has 1.3 million “likes,” simply states, “We love science, technology, innovation, and hearing from you! So, say hello!”
With this in mind, it is essential to define your business’s purpose with social networking. You cannot attempt to participate in every conversation. Therefore, start by defining your focus and participating in conversations that are relevant to your industry.
Connect with industry leaders
Once you define your purpose, there is still the looming question of where to start. Within any industry there are thousands of conversations and connections. One of the best places to begin is to follow and connect with influencers within your industry. This is a great way to start understanding the current conversation buzzing around the industry.
Just because you do not know certain influencers, do not be afraid to connect with them. Social media is a much more informal platform where it is completely acceptable to connect or even message someone without any prior contact. Therefore, let go of any of your adolescent fears of rejection and put yourself out there.
Do not simply wait for people to engage with you. It is important to communicate and engage other users. A great place to start conversations is to join groups or communities.
This does not mean that once you click “join” your job is done. It is important not to simply join a group and then become the group wallflower. The way to make friends on social networks is just like a party: you have to be social. Therefore, post valuable content, comment on other’s posts and “like” and share content. By engaging in groups and communities that are part of your industry, you can gain new customers, leads and even connect with other industry influencers.
Don’t forget to listen
While engaging users is essential, it is equally important to remember to listen. Like a first date, you want to maintain a healthy back and forth within the conversation. Pay attention to concerns, questions or issues customers may be posting or discussing and respond to their inquiries. This is a great way to build loyalty among your current customer base.
One of the biggest mistakes people can make on social media is getting swept up into the excitement of only making new connections. It is just as important to nourish current relationships as it is to find new ones. So don’t be that person who goes on a fabulous first date, has a great conversation and then never calls again. Check in with old connections by sending messages, commenting on posts and sharing relevant content.
Provide valuable content
Social media offers businesses a unique opportunity to become a thought leader within an industry by sharing valuable content and insights. Many businesses default to self-promotion when starting social media. Unfortunately, simply promoting one’s business will only alienate users. The key is to focus on the customer and not solely the product. Therefore think about conversation topics that the customer wants to hear and is likely to engage with.
For example, a utility company may want to promote an energy audit in hopes that consumers will participate. But if the company simply posts dry, boring facts about an audit, the consumer is not going to engage with the topic. Instead, the company could talk about how the customer can save money with an energy audit and look to answer any questions the consumer may have. There is a fine line between shameless self-promotion and topics that offer value to the consumer.
Social media is no longer just for staying up to date with friends or posting cute puppy videos. Today, social media can be harnessed as an effective tool in building relationships with prospects, customers, business partners and more. To learn more about how social media can help build strong business relationships, check out our ebook, “Transforming B2B social media into social CRM.”
Topics: Social Media Marketing