To really understand social media and how to use it to market and build your brand, it’s important to understand the audience that social media has created and the people using it every day. So what do you really need to know about online users to build an active presence online?
Bottom line? People are vain. The new type of audience created from social media over the last few years is cynical and clever. In the past, it was easier to get away with “marketing ploys,” whereas now, honesty is paramount. This brings us to the new rules for social media marketing and best practices for staying social on social media.
The 5 Commandments of Social Media
- Create a community
- Interact within your community
- Be social on social
- Gain a quality following
- Emphasize the quality of fans over quantity
A few members of the Adpearance crew attended a fascinating talk at an SEMpdx event recently with guest speaker Brent Csutoras, a fast talker with a lot to say. In his speech, he touched on five best practices for social media, but one of the more interesting topics he brought up when discussing social media best practices was to not only build a community on your page, but to actively engage with communities following content relevant to your brand. Csutoras recommended doing this by participating, sharing, and commenting on posts from users who may benefit from your business or your brand.
Remember that social media is not a tool, but a marketplace. A place to interact within.
This spoke to me, especially coming from digital marketing perspective. Is it more important to be active with your social network or to simply have an active page?
I would argue it is important to do both.
Content is key and understanding the right content for your audience is essential. However, it can be a huge mistake to build your brand's content and forget to participate within an online community. It can be the difference between having a lot of followers, and having the best followers.
Engage to Build a More Engaging Brand
What it means to do this is simple. All you have to do is, as Moz puts it, “monitor and listen.” Or in the immortal words of Vanilla Ice, “stop, collaborate and listen.” This is different than responding to comments on your own page, it means finding posts related to your business and liking or sharing those posts, as well as commenting and participating in conversations on posts from other users. This shows that you—as a company—are invested, which encourages users to further invest in you. It is also flattering. Who doesn’t like seeing someone like their post? Mention their name? We all love it!
In his SEMpdx talk, Csutoras continued to add to this idea and noted how being social on social builds trust and what he called “comment authority.” Your business will start to show up more and more on these social networks when people go on to interact within a community. It also means, as he discussed, that the followers you gain from being active inside the community are already invested all because of the atmosphere in which you found them. It's natural.
Know Your Audience
This focus on community building and being present within digital communities resulted in a few interesting insights that I think those of us engaged in social media marketing can learn from:
- Build a following that is loyal, not big. Social is all about showing the human element. In taking the time to really be present in an online community, you slowly gain authority and are given the opportunity to find followers who want to angage with you as if you share a real-life relationship.
- Optimize your content strategy, especially with hashtags. Keep an eye out in relevant communities to find the trending hashtags and topics that will connect you to the conversation. Make the most of tools like Twitter’s IFTTT which will track and send alerts when conversations important to you are started.
- Meet your audience where they already are by identifying the social networks that are best for your business. Csutoras and other industry professionals agree the social networks you use should “focus and depend on your niche or industry.” Choose the best and most relevant platforms for your brand to engage on, and don't strech yourself too thin.
- Take advantage of vanity. Once you have found a community or a space to interact within, you now have users you can tag, follow, and share content from. People love being tagged. Maybe they will interact with your business or encourage their network to do so, just because they were tagged, mentioned or shared. Get them to blush a little, and you may benefit.
With 74 percent of all adults using social media and the environment always in flux, it’s important to constantly reexamine your strategy and learn from ever-changing best practices. Personally, I like the idea of taking advantage of users who can get the most from brand content and am looking forward to testing new strategies to help our clients create an effective online presence.
Interested in learning more? Contact the Nerdherd or comment below; we're always eager to discuss social strategies for businesses.