Social media is becoming more important in building a brand’s identity, and it is becoming harder to get organic reach. But businesses don’t need to despair; there are steps that can help to get noticed. These 9 steps is a system I use with many of my clients to building their social media presence while increasing their sales. These steps are supported by the trends presented by digital experts at the recent Digital Marketing Conference in Santa Monica, USA, I attended on 29 May.
Step 1: Create your niche
In today’s world most markets are full, so it is beneficial to create a niche for your products so you are differentiated from your competitors and stand out from the crowd. Every business should have at least one niche as it allows your business to specialise in an area. You don’t want to recreate the wheel, you want to see what your competitors and others are doing, personalise it for your business and then create everything around your niche. A niche is narrowing down your target market to those who you can really approach and those who are your ideal customers. Really associating with a niche and creating a relationship is going to be easier than broadcasting generic messages to a large audience.
Step 2: Know your audience
In following from step 1, the more you know about the audience – the better! People are being bombarded daily with communication messages. Facebook has advised that the average stories people can view when they log on is about 1500 posts – that’s far too many to pay attention to. Therefore the more you write a message that your audience would be interested in and will pay attention to, the better your message will be read, understood and remembered. The best way to do that, is to find out about your audience: what they do, what they believe in, what their interests are, etc. Anything that will enable you to write posts that that associate with. Facebook for instance has Graph search which enables you to find out what the interests are of people who like your page. This is a great start as any information that can help you start to know your audience more, the better for you delivering social media that will stand out.
Step 3: Find your key influencers
Purchase decision making has changed. People are now going to social media for reviews, recommendations and to search for information about businesses and brands. It is important for each business to discover who their audiences’ key influencers are. That way, you can start engaging with these ‘information hubs’ on a personal level, providing an avenue for them to become ambassadors for your business. It’s a key step in the new digital age and still many influencers are being ignored. Unplanned messages are always something an organisation needs to monitor but if the key influencers are on your side, their unplanned messages can be positive for your business not a public relations nightmare. There are a few tools that will enable you to find your influencers quickly, for instance: followerwonk.com, klout.com, twtrland.com – these are just some amongst the large array of tools that are showing up all the time. It’s worthwhile investigating them and work out which one is best for your business.
Step 4: Build a community
Building a community enables your audience member to become ambassadors for your brand which is definitely what every business wants. It has become a regular occurrence for businesses that have engaged communities that if negative comments occur on social media, the community defends the businesses they trust. But it is vital that your business is transparent and engaging in your social media. All businesses are about increasing sales, and although the desire is to promote your business 100% of the time. It doesn’t work on social media. If the community feels you are all about ‘you’ then they will dislike/unfollow you very quickly. You want to abide by the 80:20 rule most of the time. That is 80% of the time you provide content that is customer centric – what your audience wants to hear and since you know them (step 2) that will be easy. The remaining, 20% of the time you can do promotional posts. By concentrating on the customer centric posts, you deliver messages that your audience wants to hear and are more willing to pay attention to. Therefore creating a positive association with your brand for when they want to purchase within your product category.
Step 5: Tell your unique story
People today want to know the background of businesses, know how they perform and whether they are trustworthy. If you show your audience how your do things, it allows them to get to know you and who your business really is. This in turn builds trust and credibility which is what all businesses want to establish and what consumers are seeking. Consumers today do not trust advertising, but they do trust real stories from businesses that have been endorsed by their friends, reference groups and influencers. The morale of this step is: tell your story! Even if you think it is boring or no one would be interested, it is one more thing that helps the consumer find out about you and want to purchase from you in the future. The aim is to show your business as significant, human and contributes to the community.
Step 6: Consistent communication
All the communication your business delivers needs to build on the synergy of each message, and the best way to do that is have consistent messages. These messages are showcasing who and what your business is and what you stand for. Consistency allows your target audience to know what you are about, what they can expect from your service and products, while enabling trust to be built. This doesn’t mean that all messages are the same. It means that your communication delivers a consistent experience for the consumer. Your social media messages needs to be consistent with the face to face communication people receive as well as your advertising.
Step 7: Know your voice and personality
Building on from being consistent, your business needs to know your voice and personality. Knowing how you actually want to be portrayed allows you to create messages around those parameters. Each message/post should reinforce the personality, increasing the probability of your brand being front of mind for consumers. As a business, you need to establish what you want to be: is it fun, cheeky and adventurous? Or savvy, friendly and outgoing? Sitting down to work out what your voice and personality are is paramount for establish a great social media presence. It will ensure you are not wishy washy is your messages. If you don’t know your brand, how do you expect your consumer to? Worst case scenarios, the consumers might establish their own voice for you and it might not be what you are after. The more people know who you are and what you stand for, it will help your business stand out from the crowd.
Step 8: Follow trends
This step might seem a little strange. But being aware of what is trending or what is important in people’s lives will help you write posts that are relevant to your target market. Having posts that have the potential to go viral is a huge bonus too. If a topic is trending and it is relevant to your business, that hop on the band wagon and try to be one of the first to ride that trend. For example: In 2014, security guard Greg Heaslip’s email requesting time off was accidentally sent to the whole Arcadia Group where he worked. A hilarious email chain ensued and the emails swiftly became a Twitter trend when a colleague started a campaign with the hashtag #GiveGregTheHoliday. It became one of the highest-trending stories in 2014. Some clever organisations picked up on the trend with travel company TrekAmerica offering Greg the trip of a lifetime to Las Vegas and America’s West Coast. That offer went viral around the internet because it was relevant to the trend allowing TrekAmerica to receive enormous brand exposure for being up-to-date, relevant as well as caring. Other companies tried to get on the trend but if they weren’t relevant to the topic: they were ignored or attacked. Keeping an eye on what is trending allows you to create messages/posts that have the potential to ride the viral train, so it is worth keeping an eye on the trending topics.
Step 9: Engage
Last but not least is to engage! For me, social media is all about engagement and the more you engage with your audience, the more you get to know them, you build a community and you get noticed. Facebook has changed its logarithm so that having engaging posts where people like, comment or share posts is more important than how many fans/followers you have. If people have not liked, commented or shared your posts, the chances of them seeing your posts in the future diminish. To keep your target market viewing your messages you need to have engaging content that is relevant to them. Remember is it not about you, it is about them. Ask engaging questions, seek their input, get them involved – all these will assist in engaging with your audience and build an engaged community, and in social media that is what you want.
Business’ aims should be to deliver customer-centric content that the consumer associates with so that your brand goes front of mind and when they next go to purchase within your product category, they automatically think of your business/brand. That is what social media can assist with. Social media can give a direct avenue to the consumer through a PC, Smartphone or Tablet. You want to make the most of these two-way communication channels by standing out from the crowd and delivering messages that are directed to your target audience in a way that will build trust. Consumers have more power than ever before, so deliver content that will enable your brand power to be transmitted via social media. Good luck and have fun engaging. #itsallaboutengagement.