Establishing an effective social media presence for your business is no easy task. As any company currently receiving valuable engagement and referral traffic from social channels can likely tell you, regular exposure doesn’t happen overnight — it’s an uphill climb requiring adherence to various rules, and is typically only learned via trial and error.
While there’s no single formula behind social media success (gosh, that would be nice), there are many principles virtually guaranteed to steer you in the right direction.
Before exploring why, let’s underscore the obvious: customer satisfaction is tantamount to running any successful business. Be that as it may, negative customer experiences do happen — how you respond to them says a lot about your company.
Here’s a hypothetical for you: one of your customers has a bad experience with your company and posts a negative review on your Facebook page. Some people on your team are worried that public criticism of your brand, however minuscule, could paint the wrong picture and drive customers away. What do you do?
Whatever your response may be, it probably won’t come as any great shock that many social media coordinators elect to delete the comment altogether. That’s a shame, too — it’s not often you receive an opportunity to demonstrate exemplary customer service to a wider audience.
While nobody wants to risk someone tarnishing their brand, directly addressing a complaint and providing a detailed solution can contribute more towards converting customers than a positive review can. Savvy consumers value transparency and companies who do right by their customers.
When responding to a negative comment, make sure to respond in a timely matter (24-48 hours in most cases) and provide a way for the customer to contact you directly. In the event of a social media crisis, have a game plan in place.
Be Engaging and Human
Engagement is everything on social media — without it, we’re essentially just tweeting into the void.
Many businesses take a static approach to social media, repackaging the same headlines from innumerable other sources within their industry. It’s a disingenuous strategy that yields very little fruit on the vine because it’s severely lacking the human element, the essential ingredient behind effective social marketing.
Imagine you’re at a crowded dinner party with thousands of strangers. You can’t honestly expect to meet anyone if you’re not actively engaging them. Furthermore, you shouldn’t expect to hold anyone’s attention very long if you’re always talking about yourself and never adding something new to the greater conversation.
Social media marketing operates in much the same way. If your posts don’t receive engagement or you have trouble retaining new followers, take a closer look at your overall strategy. Are you providing real value to your audience?
Are you keeping your social channels active just for the sake of appearances? There’s little, if any, value behind social media if you’re not receiving engagement. Lack of engagement can actually hurt you across some social channels — Facebook’s algorithm will less frequently display your posts in a user’s feed if they routinely fall flat.
Be mindful of what you’re posting and when. Spend a portion of your social management time directly engaging your audience and the influencers you follow.
Keep an eye out for conversations happening across different channels, and find something to add to the conversation.
While you might scoff at the very notion of reusing old content, not every business is the type of well-oiled machine capable of churning out remarkable content on a weekly basis — many of us need whatever leverage we can get to engage our audience. If you know previously published posts or subjects performed well with your audience, why shouldn’t you exploit that?
Analytics is your best friend when it comes to determining which content is worth recycling.
If your business values its social presence, carve out time at the end of each week and go over your page insights. Make note of your top posts and flag any that perform well above your expectations.
Valued content ultimately enjoys the longest shelf life. I’ve seen companies receive weekly retweets from articles several years in age because they actually provided something useful — an exhaustive resource of tools and resources for search marketers.
Posts that offer clear value naturally lend themselves towards recycling, and can easily be expanded-upon over time to justify re-circulation.
Finally, find opportunities to repurpose content across different social channels. Bear in mind, each social channel has its own unique user base and subsequent demographics. A list that receives a lot of shares on Facebook can potentially be repackaged as an infographic for Pinterest. You’re really only limited by your imagination.
Don’t Chase Only the Numbers
Success in social media has traditionally been looked at as a numbers game — the amount of Likes received, the amount of comments left, the amount of Followers collected — but do these metrics really tell the whole story? No — they need context.
Successful social marketers aren’t just concerned about numbers — they’re focused on providing valuable resources to their target audience, something not so easily quantified. The true barometer of success concerns itself with whether you’re capable of consistently meeting this challenge.
Though charting social growth through analytics is important, chasing numbers is a very slippery slope — one that often compels businesses to manipulate their social metrics by means of third-party services.
While padding your numbers may look impressive on paper, it’s a meaningless gesture, because any engagement you receive is artificial. In the process, you dilute any real intelligence provided by your analytics and also risk having your profile shut down altogether for attempting to game the system.
Patience will pay off in the long run. As you consistently provide value through your social efforts, your audience will most assuredly grow.
By now you’ve probably noticed a theme in this post: providing value to your target audience is the ultimate goal of social media. There are no real shortcuts. In building your social profiles, you’ll need to exercise tremendous patience and energy. Commit to the long haul and you’re well on your way.
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Tyler Thursby is a Senior SEO Analyst at Zion & Zion, a leading advertising agency in Phoenix, Arizona. He’s a passionate writer who covers Search Engine Optimization, Social Media, and related Digital Marketing trends. Follow him on Twitter at @tthursb.
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