Social media is a helpful communication tool for businesses as it allows them to communicate directly with customers and engage them in conversations. Social media can also help you to increase your customers’ brand awareness and find new contacts or business opportunities. If you want to become active on social media, but don’t know [...]
How to Engage Your Social Media Audience: Relevant, Useful and Generous Content
Whether you're a global brand or a small business entrepreneur working from your spare room, you have a tremendous opportunity to become a thought leader and recognised expert using social media.
Thought leaders are individuals who have developed a reputation for being an expert, regardless of their industry or niche. You must first ask yourself: What do I want to communicate? What do I want to be known for? How do I want to represent myself? These are the basic questions you must ask yourself about your brand. Then you can use social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Ustream to get your name and your brand out there.
To engage your social media audience, you must provide content that is relevant, useful, and generous.
While I was in New York City, I met a young girl named Nene who works at Sephora, down in Times Square. She has her own YouTube channel -- I think it's called Nene Loves Makeup. So, she has tens of thousands of followers who watch the videos that she creates about how to put on your make-up. She's really clever, creative and relevant. For example, she'll examine Kim Kardashian's latest look and show people how they can have the same fabulous make-up look. She has thousands of followers because of her simple, relevant videos.
Now, video might not be the best medium for you. We'll have a look at some other options later on. However, there's no reason why you can't demonstrate your products and services using a tool like YouTube, which apart from Google is the most searched site on the Internet. It's a giant search engine for video. If you search for any term -- and you may want to try this with your industry related terms -- you will probably find videos about it. In niche industries especially, YouTube videos can really help to boost search engine ranking.
When you're broadcasting your social media messages, whether it's a 140-character Tweet, a blog post or a video, you want to make sure it contains information that's useful to your audience.
Today in the New York Times, for example, there was an article about the advent of the digital watches and how young people are starting to wear a lot of digital watches again. We have some friends who own an online menswear store and one of their product categories is digital watches. So, just for them, I would tweet a brief message about the article and include a link because I know it's useful to them.
On a broader scale, my audience is women business owners. So, I will quite often read articles, blog posts or other sources that I think would be useful to them, and I will either tweet a link, write a blog post or create some other type of useful content to let my audience know about the resources. I aggregate and act as a curator for information that's relevant and useful to my audience.
Remember that social media is social. Be generous with what you know and the information related to your area of expertise.
Sometimes people ask, "How do I make money using social media?" Social media tools allow you to build your brand and your profile so that people will know you, recognise your name and trust you. Then you can look at monetising.
Social media provides an opportunity for us to engage our audience. When I was at the South by Southwest Conference in Austin, Texas (one of the biggest technology and new media conferences in the world), I was tweeting like a crazy person because I know that my Twitter followers look to me as a resource for relevant, useful information about new technologies and how they apply to business. And so I was as generous as possible in providing this information (even though I probably looked a bit like a crazy person during all that frenetic tweeting).
Social media is all about the exchange of information and contacts. You shouldn't use social media tools to simply broadcast information in one direction; that's so old school. Always give people opportunities to comment, relate and interact. For example, we were recently developing a new product and needed a name for it. So we went to Facebook, explained the product and asked for suggestions. Then we took the top suggestions and asked the wider Facebook community to vote -- and that's how we came up with the new name. We invited our community to be involved through social media tools.
Social media has changed client expectations, too. People expect to be able to give online feedback after dining at a new restaurant. If their flight is late, they want to be able to get online and say, "My flight is late again. I'm disappointed with this airline." And they expect you to be listening and responding!
The real value of social media comes from building relationships with individuals in your network -- because those relationships will create an even larger network.
You might be interested in this upcoming event...
NEW: Social Media for Small Business Webinar Series
Practical ways to use social media to grow your business
Online Webinars - Starting 28 May 2013
NEW webinar series: designed to dispel the myths about social media and arm small business owners with skills and know-how to make social media a powerful force for business development and bottom line results.
Experts will present practical ways to use social media to:
- Build brand awareness for your organisation
- Network and make connections all over the world
- Build your personal profile and position you as a credible authority
- Drive traffic to your website, blog or social networks
- Convert social media followers to leads and leads to customers
- Grow you reach with suppliers, staff, resources, alliances, sponsors