By Paul Hickey on December 9, 2014
Far and away, time and time again, the number one challenge for businesses trying to build an effective social media presence is their own outlook on how they need to build the content strategy. The perception is that it has to be a self-serving marketing-based strategy in order to drive traffic and help increase revenue. It’s true, no doubt, that a social media presence can and will ultimately help traffic generation, SEO and potentially increase sales. Those can and should be reasons for wanting to invest time and effort in social media content, and drive Key Performance Indicators to track down the road, but they should not be at the core of a social media content strategy.
In other words, the wrong questions to start with are:
- How do I use social media to get more visitors to my website?
- How do I use social media to generate leads?
- How can I sell my products / services via social media?
Again, it’s not bad to want those things to happen. We all do, but if you start with those questions, you’ll block yourself and your business from the greatest gift ever given to brands by a media outlet – the ability to directly connect with your target audience give them an ownership stake in the success or failure of your company.
Let me be more specific. Brands spend tens of thousands of dollars on market surveys, focus groups and user experience testing. I’m not knocking those efforts, but I’m specifically saying that businesses need to build their Twitter strategies (all businesses should be on Twitter) the same way they’d prepare for a high-dollar market research survey.
Thus, the right questions to start with are:
- Which products / services are we trying to sell?
- What target audience are we trying to reach?
- What are we open to learning from our customers?
- Will we implement their feedback?
- Will we communicate regularly with them?
The answers to the first three questions will take longer to answer, and should – as they are at the core of any business – and while appearing simple, they’re not easy to answer.
If the answer to questions four and five are a simple, “yes, of course,” then your business has every reason to feel confident about having success on social media, regardless of resources.
Consider your Twitter followers a trusted network of advisors…your focus group.
Ahem, your free focus group.
It’s scary at first, because it’s all live to the general public, but if you are open to learning from your constituents how to improve your products and services, it will automatically inspire and drive effective web and social content that will result in increased brand loyalty, trust, and – you bet it will increase your KPIs – web traffic, leads and sales.
Soon after taking the approach to let your target audience inform you via social media how you can better serve them, the simple conversation will yield the results you wanted from the start.
Two questions not to get caught up in when trying to start:
- What could I possibly be talking about that is interesting to my target audience?
- How can I find the time to do this?
Think about it, your business likely already has a person or department or two that handles customer complaints, research and development, marketing and sales, so when you’re simply engaging your constituents via social media on how you can improve, giving them previews of new products and services to test, try out and submit their opinions on, and replying to their concerns with well intended feedback and care of your own – all you’re doing is using social media as a more direct and visible way to perform those necessary business functions – not repeating work.
The primary difference between performing these business functions “offline only” is that the visibility and exposure that social media gives tens, then hundreds, then thousands, then more and more current and prospective customers to your brand, results in the increase in traffic, leads and sales you set out to achieve at the start.
Instead of creating busy work for marketing people (who are busy enough) or even worse – interns, topsy-turvy it and make social media a primary way of learning and refining your brand promise.
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