Last month, we tackled a growing problem for b-to-b on social media. The simplified problem is there is so much content on social media that social networks have begun to decide for people what they want to see.
You can’t blame social media companies. Now that they are publicly-traded companies, they do what they have to do to monetize user base for shareholders. For the moment, that means selling advertising to businesses looking to reach their audience on these platforms.
The question: has all hope been lost for businesses to market effectively on social media without sinking dollars into advertising? As stated in our previous article, we don’t think it is.
If you create good content and engage appropriately on social media, you can still reach your audience and develop relationships that yield business. Below we discuss what constitutes “good content” and how you “engage appropriately” on social media.
What Constitutes “Good Content?”
Good content has quality production and is thoughtful, relatable and shareable.
1. Quality Production
Production essentially means the content you create flows well, is concise yet still detailed, and has good design. Not only does your grammar and spelling count, but articles, eBooks and white papers must be written in a way that piques interest.
This starts with the feel of your website and blog, their design and customization features, and using things like images, graphics, video, and buttons in your blog posts. Also important in production is considering things like keywords and internal linking for SEO.
The content you produce must give value to your readers while defining you as a thought-leader in your industry. Self-promotional content and selling with content will likely turn consumers off, or even tarnish their perception of your brand. Yes, the goal is ultimately a sale, but before you can do that you must educate potential buyers on how that need is solved. Put simply, if you do this best you will likely win business over competitors.
To market to your audience you must first know who your audience is. Marketing 101, right? But this is an incredibly important concept in content marketing and often something missed by many businesses. The articles and resources you publish must build on storylines and narratives your target audience can connect with. Keep in mind there are usually many segments to any market, and content should be created and tailored to best resonate with each segment. There is rarely a “one size fits all” option.
As our good friend and speaker Ellen Williams from Constant Contact says, your content must be shareable. Having someone else share your content is the highest honor you can achieve on social media. It is, in essence, an approval and endorsement of your expertise and business. To create shareable content is to create something that is informative, thoughtful, and relatable all while accented with wonderful design and usability.
How Do You “Engage Appropriately?”
Engagement is vitally important to a business’ success on social media. It can make or break a brand. To engage well you must know who you’re talking to, add value to the conversation, be consistent and use proper etiquette.
1. Identify Targets
Again, this is Marketing 101. To properly engage an audience you must know who you’re talking to and how they speak and act. This will help you to communicate with them with terms and colloquialisms they understand, and allow you to reach them when they are ready to listen.
The second part of this is identifying where your audience is. It’s great if you know how to communicate with them properly but if there is no one there then it’s hard to engage. Take the time to research where your target audience and its segments are going for information.
2. Add Value to the Conversation
Adding value to the ongoing conversation on topics in your industry is a great way to get noticed and build goodwill among peers and prospects. This is particularly important in LinkedIn Groups.
Many LinkedIn Groups are bombarded with SPAM and have members who post and post and post. Take the time to interact with group members by liking their posts and commenting on discussions already started. Each comment should recognize the topic and seek to add value in addition to the information provided.
This goes for every social network. Take the time to interact for the sake of adding value and, when the time comes, your published content will be far better-received.
You don’t run once every six weeks and expect to participate in the next 5K with any degree of success, do you? Or hit that New Year’s Resolution concerning your waist line?
The same goes for content marketing. It’s a day-in, day-out effort. Not that it’s difficult, especially if you have marketing help, but it will take some time before you see a return. Until then maintain and monitor a consistent program. The results will come. You might even find you enjoy it! There’s a wealth of knowledge out there and you can learn a lot by spending constructive time on social media every day.
This should be self-explanatory. When you’re out and about engaging on social media (and particularly on LinkedIn) conduct yourself like you’re in a typical business meeting. Keep things concise, use appropriate punctuation, and think things out before you type
Do not express political views. Just don’t, ever. No matter the situation, it is not called for and will never end well.
Avoid conflict if possible. If you disagree with something and absolutely feel the need to demonstrate it, do it with tact and in a non-abrasive manner. Whether you’re right or wrong doesn’t matter, fully expect a rebuttal and be prepared for it. Above all, know when it’s time to bow out of a conversation.
Honestly, just avoid conflict if you can. You’re on social media for business, not to convince everyone else to think like you.
If your business can harness these few things then you will be well on your way to content marketing success on social media. Creating good content can be difficult. Take the time to identify your strengths and weaknesses in this area and see what resources you have available to improve. Proper engagement on social media can do wonders for your brand. It simply takes time and some well thought-out contribution to the ongoing narrative in your industry (and possibly a little self-restraint).