Before we say anything about social media, let’s be clear; this is not always going to be the highest converting channel for your sales funnel. You’re simply not going to see the massive click through and conversion rates you get with email, PPC or even organic search traffic. That is, at least as far as last-click attribution is concerned.
The fact is that most people just don’t want to click through on adverts posted on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. They’re intrusive and they drag us away from the real reason we’re there – to chat and share content with our friends.
So why do so many business advice columns advocate the use of social media? And why do so many companies spend millions on generating social content and campaigns when higher converting channels are available?
The answer is that these companies are hyper aware of one simple truth; that it’s not marketing, but communities that build brands. When you tell a customer how good your product is, they’re always going to regard your words with a healthy scepticism. When their peers talk though, they know it’s in the context of a set of shared ambitions, values and challenges.It's not marketing, but communities that build brands. Find out how to do it right Click To Tweet
The true goal of social media marketing then is not to push conversions, to get more page views, or even to gather likes. It’s to be the social object – the thing that gets talked about. The thing that’s remarkable.
By being remarkable, your content becomes the connection between people who share common values. These values build communities, and it’s communities that change the digital landscape, that change the world, and that will eventually change the character of your business for the better.
So how do we start building and participating in communities in our niche. It all starts with the number one rule…
1. Share great content related to your business niche
Valuable content is the currency of social media. Your readers want to learn, to laugh, to be amazed, to be challenged, and to be acknowledged. They want to feel like they’re part of something, that they’re good at something, and that they’re heading towards something. The content they consume helps them to make either emotional or actual progress towards fulfilling these needs.
So how do you get hold of sharable content?
A) Make it yourself
This is the best way to establish your brand as an authority in your field. When you are the one generating inspiring, thought-provoking content that resonates with your customer base, readers will very quickly start to regard your eCommerce brand as valuable.
Remember though, that this works both ways. If your content is terrible then it will reflect on your brand. You will be judged on the ideas you spread; make every word count!
B) Find it online
Do you already participate in communities within your niche? If yes, then you’ve already seen a tonne of content shared by your potential customers. Try reposting it on your own page.
Sometimes being the person that connects readers to great content can be almost as powerful as being the person that created it in the first place. Go out and hunt for content on niche forums, Reddit, Imgur, Buzzfeed, and anywhere else that your customers find or share information.
C) Get guest posters to create it
Collaboration can be an extremely powerful thing in the digital space. Whenever there’s a brand looking for great content, there’s a writer/photographer/film maker somewhere looking for an audience and a steady pay cheque. You can find content creators of varying success and influence all over the internet. Try reaching out to influencers on YouTube, Twitter or independent blogs, and ask if they’d like to work with you. If you can’t find anyone, you can always pay an independent writer on a site like Upwork.
D) Ask your followers to create it
The great thing about user-generated content is that, not only will you get some great material, you’re likely to learn a lot about what kind of things your audience enjoys. Chances are, your users aren’t going to produce content they think is boring, but articles, images and videos that reflect their values and ideals. Try to create competitions and contests that encourage users to create and share their own content. You can even get them to use hashtags that help brand their content under your business name.
It’s important to remember that content is an incredibly personal thing. What might constitute great content for one reader, might just be plain old spam for another. So what’s the best way to make sure we’re generating value at all times for our users?
2. Talk to your followers
I would add an addendum to this one too; talk to your followers like a real human being. This should be such an obvious thing, but it’s misunderstood by many social media managers who mistake their brand voice for their own.
Social media is not a broadcasting tool; it’s an interaction tool. It gives you the opportunity to connect with consumers on a one-to-one basis and ask them about their wants and needs. Wondering what your followers want to read about? Ask them. Want to know where they go to solve a problem? Ask them. Want to find out what they really value in life? You get the idea…
The more you reach out to your audience, involve them in discussions, and talk to them on a personal basis, the more you will learn from them and the more they will want to engage with you.
Try reaching out to individuals and not simply addressing your entire group at once. Do what you would do in a real conversation: remember names and faces, discuss personal experiences, use vernacular language, make jokes and small talk, and be open about your ambitions, inadequacies and views on the world. It’s important not to alienate your readership, but sometimes being divisive is a necessary step in establishing an open tone of voice that your audience can connect with.
3. Use data and optimise (constantly)
Just like in real life, people on social media don’t always do what they say they’re going to do. Even though your customers’ views are important, we can’t always take them as gospel when it comes to what content they like to consume. Sometimes we spend more time consuming frivolous content than we’d like to admit. Other times, we undervalue the impact that certain things have made on our lives.
By keeping a close eye on your usual key performance indicators, you can discover how people actually behave, as opposed to how they tell you they behave.
Make sure, however, that you’re using the right metrics to analyse your content. A page view doesn’t tell you whether a piece of content has raised or lowered your brand value in the eyes of your consumer. It doesn’t even tell you whether the reader has read the content at all.
Herein lies the real challenge of digital marketing; untangling the mass of data, comments and feedback to discover what truly motivates your audience to take action. Once you’ve figure this out, you’ve finished 99% of the work of optimising for your niche. It’s a straight line from there to building a bustling online community, a loyal customer base, and eventually, a thriving online business.
Thanks for reading! If you’ve met any particular challenges when using social media to market your business, please drop them in the comments below. We’ll do our best to answer your queries with a brand new post!