A key element to building your business through social media is being able to engage with your audience. Posting for the sake of posting won’t get you where you want to go. The goal is to capture attention and motivate people to not only become part of your business community but to also become lifelong customers. This requires both seizing attention and then retaining it.
Let’s take a look at strategies to both ignite and engage your audience on social media.
Identify the Trigger Points
The first step to engaging your audience is identifying the types of content that they respond to. You’ll need to perform a bit of research and testing to accomplish this. You can use keyword searches to start. Using hashtags and your analytics you can determine the popular topics and the content that draws people to your website.
Once you know what they’re looking for, try various content formats, topics, and headlines to identify the material that generates attention and creates conversation and clicks.
Create a Strong Platform
Your audience wants to know what to expect from you. Your platform should ideally support your brand and your voice. That being said, you can be creative with your platform. For example, you can use your social media profile to provide a daily tip for your readers. You can share commentary and make your primarily editorial platform one. Identify what your audience wants and how you can offer them value, and then format a platform around that opportunity.
One cannot engage others without asking questions and inviting feedback. Whether you publish polls, ask for opinions, seek advice or incite controversy and start a dialogue, the goal for social media is to motivate your readers and followers to get involved. This requires a call to action. Tell your readers what to do next. If you want them to answer a question, ask them to answer a question. If you want their opinion, ask, ‘What’s your opinion?’
Finally, be sure to test and track your efforts as you learn and engage. Track the posts that people get excited about. Track the material and links that generate the most clicks. And by all means, track the material that results in conversions. The more you know about your audience, the more you can provide them with the right material – the material that not only provides value but also encourages them to become active members of your business community.
Google+: The Benefits to Your Brand
Google joined the ranks of the top social networking sites when they released Google+. This simple, and free, tool allows you to connect with your audience, share information, and even stream online content. Like other social networking sites, it can be used to brand your business. However, Google+ may offer some benefits to your brand that you just can’t find anywhere else.
Create a Hangout
Google Hangouts is a free service that allows you to have conversations with up to ten people. You can also live stream recorded content to thousands of people. Google Hangouts makes it easy to handle small group conversations or large scale content initiatives. There are video chat features which means you can see who you’re talking to and vice versa.
It helps you strengthen your brand personality and voice. This can be particularly powerful for small business owners who have direct contact with their clients and prospects. Face-to-face conversations build relationships.
One of the features of Google+ is that it allows you to create circles. These circles are essentially segmented groups of people. For example, you might create a circle for your prospects, and another circle for your customers. You can create a circle for friends and family as well. In fact, you can create as many circles as you want.
People cannot see which circle you place them in so privacy isn’t a concern. This circle concept allows you to share content with segmented audiences. You can send one message to prospects and another to customers. Segmentation gives you the power to create branded messages that appeal directly to your audience.
Create a Scrapbook
Google+ has a feature called Scrapbook Photos. As you may know, visual elements are powerful branding tools. This feature lets you add photos at the top of your Google+ profile. You can add infographics, photos from events, and even photos from products or company services. It’s also a good idea to keep your profile page fresh by updating your photos on a regular basis.
Finally, Google+ is a social media tool that you can integrate with your other social networking efforts. You can also use it to create events and upload video and other content forms. Use content to build your brand and to reach targeted groups of people. Link to your website and share visuals to help add personality to your profile and build relationships with your followers.
LinkedIn: Still a Great Source for Social Networking
LinkedIn is a specialty social networking site. It’s much more specialized than the others due to the audience it attracts. LinkedIn is specifically for professionals. If you’re looking for a job then it’s a must. However, business owners looking to attract prospects and connect with industry professionals can also utilize LinkedIn in a productive and prosperous way.
What Is LinkedIn?
LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network with 225 million members in over 200 countries. It’s a social networking site that offers professionals a number of benefits and features. It began in concept in the living room of the owner and was launched in 2003. Ten years later it is a thriving social networking site that can be used in a number of business-building ways.
The Many Features and Benefits of LinkedIn
Company Pages – The first element of LinkedIn is that it allows business owners to create Company Pages. Unlike profile pages on other social networking sites, Company Pages comes with analytics as well as an ability to share meaningful content and promote your business.
LinkedIn groups – This feature may be one of the most beneficial because it allows you to join groups that are specific to your audience and your industry. Within a group, you can connect with other professionals and prospects to build an audience. Groups support conversations, article posting, polling, and display group icons on your Company Page to further enhance your connections.
Advertising – Like many social networking sites, LinkedIn offers advertising options for members. You can reach a targeted audience with ads that you can test and track for best results.
Marketing solutions – LinkedIn offers a professional membership that goes above and beyond the standard membership. You can then utilize features like their Marketing Solutions program that also lets you create specific messages for your audience through targeted content marketing.
Integration – Finally, LinkedIn is a site that understands you want to make the most of your social networking efforts. You can integrate many social media sites with your LinkedIn page. Integration saves time and maximizes your results.
Creating Content for LinkedIn
It’s important to remember that while you can integrate your social marketing efforts, LinkedIn has a unique audience. It often makes sense to create unique content for LinkedIn followers. They tend to be professionals and their needs may be different than your general audience.
People tend to trust the information they find on LinkedIn more than other sites. This simple fact can help you build tremendous authority and credibility in your niche. If you’re not using LinkedIn to grow your business or you’ve let your profile lag, consider giving this top-rated social media site the attention it deserves.
Twitter: One of the Fastest-Growing Social Networking Sites
There are a handful of big players in the social networking world. Twitter appears to be one of the sites that continues to grow in popularity. In fact, according to research compiled by Brickfish, as of October 2013, there are 231.7 million active users on Twitter worldwide and 100 million of them log into Twitter daily. So what is Twitter and why is it still growing when many of the other social sites are facing challenges?
What Is Twitter?
Put simply, Twitter is an online social networking and microblogging service that lets you send and read ‘tweets’. Tweets are text messages limited to 140 characters. However, within the context of any tweet, you can embed links which makes it a powerful marketing tool for anyone with a blog or a website. Being able to link to other URLs means you can share value and information. You can share links from your own site as well as promote your fellow business owners to build relationships with customers, prospects, and associates.
You can also make your tweets sharable by using the hashtag. The hashtag is the symbol # and it identifies the keywords for your tweet or post. Here are a few examples:
* What are your favorite Thanksgiving traditions? LINK #ThanksgivingMemories #ThanksgivingTraditions
* 10 tips to help you have a relaxed Thanksgiving holiday LINK #NoMoreThanksgivingStress
People can search for your keywords and be led to your Twitter profile where they may follow you and/or share your links with others.
The Power of the Masses
Twitter continues to grow in popularity for a number of reasons. The first is that it is incredibly easy to use. Messages take seconds to write, share, and read. We’re a rushed society with little time to peruse long content. If something can be said and shared in just a few characters, we’re thrilled.
So in addition to Twitter being easy to use, it’s also simple to share messages. One-click of a ‘retweet’ button and you’ve spread the wealth. That means, as a business owner, if you’re able to provide a tweet with value and benefit, it stands a good chance of being shared. Each time it is shared by someone, you’re reaching a larger audience. One tweet can quickly be viewed by thousands of people. The website traffic possibilities are astounding.
Finally, the folks over at Twitter are continually striving to add value to the site to make it more user-friendly and to provide more features. Their partnership with Vine means that people can now easily make and share six-second videos on Twitter. It’s just one more way Twitter is providing value and allowing people around the world to communicate.
Business owners looking into marketing with social media may want to take a look at the benefits of embracing Twitter. It’s one site that is used by people of all ages and demographics. It continues to grow and provide value.