Social media marketing will increase your brand awareness, improve your online visibility and potentially drive more traffic back to your website. In order to accomplish these goals, it all begins with fabulous content.
Part 2 of our Social Media Marketing article series continues our discussion of publishing and focuses on how to develop the content it takes to make the most of your social media efforts.
Publishing is about creating relevant and valuable content to attract, engage and interact with your target community. When you publish great and useful information you establish a relationship with your potential customers - your community. Through content you are able to establish a dialogue, a two-way conversation with your community members. As your community has a need for your products and services, they will reward you with their business and loyalty, because you have an established relationship with them.
Your content goal is not to create great “sales” copy. Creating and distributing branded content that focuses on lifestyle, niche topics or championing a cause provides engaging content that allows you to intertwine your brand rather than push it as the primary selling point. Package your messages subtlety.
Your content must be considered valuable to your audience. In other words, it isn't about YOU! Don't assume that you know what is important to your audience ... do some research to figure it out. Then create content that speaks to their interests.
- Relieve their pain - create a video about how your product solves their problem
- Content is not advertising. Don't tell people about your sales. Instead offer information that is of value. If you own a flower shop ... don't tell me that roses are on sale, instead post a blog that tells me how to treat the water in the vase to get the flowers to last as long as possible.
When you create value, you prompt readers to share the posts with others … which in turn will promote your business.
Think about your content from the audiences' perspective. Take time to listen to your audience ... ask them what the best features of your products are ... a social media venue is a great place to encourage this interaction. Use this knowledge to support your marketing efforts and increase your engagement with your community.
Quality content published less frequently is always better than lousy content published more routinely. Your content goals should include creating a dialogue with your community while becoming a respected source for great, high quality content. Don’t forget about your personality! Content that comes from an authentic and interesting perspective is memorable. Additionally, people will return to visit more often to see what new content you’ve added.
Content can be more than just the text on your webpage. Be creative as you generate the content to attract, engage and interact with your community. Different types of content include:
Blog -- A blog is the foundation of your social media marketing strategy. It is where you will primarily publish most of your content. Commit to a routine to consistently generate content. Search engines love blogs, because they are another page that can be indexed.
- Great way for late adopters (to social media) to ease into it - by starting with a blog.
- Share your knowledge, create content that others find valuable.
- Great blog posts draw a link from and to a personal experience ... makes the post more interesting and far more memorable.
eNewsletter – Publishing a newsletter on a monthly basis is a way to routinely share useful information with your community.
- Post your newsletter archives to your website each month.
Audio – Podcasts are audio recordings that can be downloaded to a handheld device. Your website visitors might not have time to read your blogs or watch your videos online. But, they may have enough time to download a podcast and listen while on their way to work.
Video – Video is a great method to deliver content and engage with people.
- Consider creating video blogs as a way to increase the variety of your blog posts.
- Create a simple video that demonstrates how to use your products.
- Read our January newsletter which explores incorporating video into your website in detail.
Webinars – Webcasts and webinars (30 – 50 minute online classes) are another great way to incorporate additional content to your website.
- Video tape your next workshop and upload it to your website.
- Turn your power point presentation into a pdf and add it to your website.
Following a process for generating content is a helpful way to get the job done.
- Determine who your audience is … who are the members of your community?
- Define what your audience cares about … what is important to the members of your community?
- Research what other bloggers and influencers are saying about the issues that are of interest to your community members.
- Pick a topic that hasn’t been exhausted.
- Choose the medium that will work best for your topic.
- Write a compelling headline. Audience members are bombarded with information each day. Capture their attention through a fantastic headline (or title of the video.)
- Edit, edit, edit – Write a strong and interesting opening, or create an intriguing video intro. You want to capture your visitor’s attention at the outset.
- Eliminate as much “fluff” as you can.
- Be conversational and friendly in your tone. Just “talk” to your audience members.
- Remove anything sales-like in nature. Your content should be information and of value.
- Use photos when appropriate in your written blog posts.
Social media content can be broken down into three categories. Understanding the different categories may help to inspire ideas.
- Information based on facts, events or something that happened.
- Time sensitive.
- Competitive – there are thousands of syndicated news websites.
- Based on opinions and subjective conclusions.
- Designed to entertain or attract attention.
- Examples include top 10 lists or staged videos.
- Based on research and facts … well researched.
- Draws conclusions very clearly and easily.
- Often bookmarked by audience members, and saved for easy reference later.
Finally, we wanted to leave you with a brainstormed list of ideas to inspire your content creation.
- Blog about your customers’ successes.
- Create “bait” that encourages users to post comments.
- Use personal anecdotes to illustrate your points.
- Share great customer testimonials.
- Create “Top Ten” lists or “Top 6 Things to Consider.”
- Use humor – it’s engaging, entertaining and will increase the likelihood that your content will be shared.
- On your Facebook Fan Page:
- Create and promote samples.
- Offer freebies.
- Sponsor a contest or special trial for Facebook fans only.
- Use Twitter to interact and engage with your followers:
- Tweet about industry related information
- Reply and engage with your followers.
- Retweet great information.
- Create content around Twitter conversations and trends.
- Develop Twitter-based promotions.
- Use follower feedback for future content ideas.
The first step in an effective social media strategy is to focus your energy and efforts on creating and publishing fabulous content. Think of content as a gift you give to your community, a gift that remains the foundation of what will draw visitors to become active members of your community. Building out your content will prepare you for the next step in your social media strategy … sharing that great content!