“Social Media is about the people! Not about your business. Provide for the people and the people will provide for you.”
I recently came across this quote by Matt Goulart, the founder of Ignite Digital which is a successful online content and Social Media company, and I couldn’t help but think how true it is. It really encompasses the meaning and purpose of Social Media, while at the same time points to a common mistake of many businesses.
In my work with business owners from a variety of industries and sizes, I’ve come to realise that many see their Social Media profiles as another avenue for advertising which is a terrible mistake.
Social Media is not a sales channel. That is unless your Facebook page is also an online shop. But if you are a professional, then it’s really an outlet for you to engage with your audience, consequently establish a relationship with them and ultimately create an interest in what you do. But the latter is only a result of a job well done where you have established a reputation.
You should always start with the end in mind – you want to attract attention. How do you do that? Well, by offering something that your audience wants and cares about. So think about what your business does and how it helps people first of all. Then think about who your potential clients are and what they need. The rest is a matter of finding the right visuals (and visuals are crucial by the way!) and the right wording.
Don’t create Social Media accounts for the sake of having them. Use them as an opportunity to communicate with your audience in a way that fosters conversation. That is tricky of course but not impossible if you know how to go about it. Here are a few pointers to take into account:
Identify who your clients are
Are they businesses or individuals? Obviously the tone of your message will vary depending on who your customers are. If you are a B2C organisation, well then your posts could be less formal (of course depending on the type of business you are too), while with business clients you want to maintain a certain level of professionalism. Always keep in mind who you are talking to.
Identify where they hang out
Needless to say that if you were a retailer or a restaurant you’d probably find your desired audience on Facebook rather than LinkedIn. But if you were a accountant of course you would choose LinkedIn because this is the place for professionals. In other words, think about where you’d find your customers. You want to establish a reputation and you want to establish it with the right audience. It doesn’t hurt having more than one Social Media profile but the truth of the matter is, only one or two actually matter and you want to focus on those.
Identify what they care about
If you take away one point from this article, let it be this one: posting information that is relevant to your audience is of utmost importance here. It means that you have better chances of them finding it interesting and most importantly useful.
Say you are an accountant working with small to mid-sized businesses. It’s only logical that your posts address the challenges, questions and problems that small business owners have. For example, something within the lines of ‘What the new revenue recognition rules are and how they will affect small businesses.’ might be good either as a blog post of your own or as a repost on your wall.
However, remember that behind businesses there are people too so don’t forget the human element. Everybody likes reading something interesting or watching something funny even if not strictly business related. You can always find a way to link it back to your line of business, even if the link is loose. In other words, make sure your posts are relevant and useful but try to mix it up with some lighter content too.
Learn from the best
Unless you’ve outsourced the maintenance of your Social Media channels to another company, then you are probably no expert. And if you are going to do Social Media, you might as well try to do it right. That being said, there’s nothing embarrassing in checking out what people with successful Social Media in your line of business do. Check out their pages, see what kind of posts they have in terms of media (is it articles, videos or images); what kinds of topics they cover (is it only business-related or other too); which are more or less popular; how often they post; etc. Then simply try to imitate. At least in the beginning until you learn what works with your own audience.
Keep it up
I see that many businesses out there have Social Media profiles created only for the sake of having them, some haven’t posted for years. And the only thing worse than having no Social Media presence today, is having Social Media that is not kept up-to-date with frequent posts. You don’t need to post every day but you do need to post a few times a week. Otherwise, you might as well just not bother. Unmaintained Social Media does you more harm than good as it reflects badly on your business.
Learn & adapt
Social Media takes time and effort, it doesn’t work right away. You need to post regularly and create a followers base first of all. Then you need to find out what your audience likes and give them more of that. For that purpose, it might be a good idea to go back through your posts on a regular basis and try to analyse. What kinds of posts got the most likes or shares; what topics were they on; what time were they posted at; etc. Try to adapt your future posts based on your observations.
Whether you are B2B or B2C, you need to remember that Social Media is not a shop where you lay out your products, people don’t go in there looking for something to buy. It’s a place that people check out to see something funny or interesting, to get some distraction and to socialise to an extent. Don’t push your services (or products for that matter), post what people care about and what they want to see. Remember: provide for the people and the people will provide for you.
If you have some questions or if you’d like some help to see how you can use Social Media for your business, I welcome you to reach out. Get in touch with me, Paul Davis, here