Social media is just a fancy name given to new technology. It’s the platform, and the tools we use to communicate. But just as with any tools, you need to know what you’re doing with them in order to use them effectively.
For instance, if you gave me a block of marble and a chisel, I wouldn’t know where to start. These same tools however, in the hands of someone like Michelangelo would help him create a work of art that would be cherished for eternity.
The point I’m making is that if you’re just “doing social media,” and going through the motions, it’s never going to work for you or your brand. That mindset is akin to getting in the kitchen and throwing random ingredients together because you’re hungry. You have no plan of action and you haven’t figured out the right way to carry out that plan.
Yet, I see it happen everyday with social media. Because social media is so accessible, with such a low barrier to entry, people jump right in and start pushing out messages. Then they quickly give up after not getting the response they expected. Sound familiar?
Twitter is a powerful tool in the hands of someone like Gary Vaynerchuk, or Chris Hadfield, or Tim Ferriss (all three of these folks are worthy of a follow, by the way). It can also be a powerful tool for you too, but you need to know how to use it.
That’s why I’ve always preached that we all need to learn the basic fundamentals of not just social media marketing, but storytelling, before we learn the specifics of each platform. Because after all the tools are stripped away, that’s essentially what we’re doing. We’re telling stories.
What are the basics you ask?
Here’s a couple of pointers that will help you navigate the maze of social media, regardless of whichever platform you’re on.
1. Above all else, you need to be consistent.
Consistency means setting a time aside every day to reach out and personally connect with people. They can be strangers who you’re following on Twitter, fans of your Facebook page, people who’ve left comments on Foursquare, folks in your LinkedIn groups, etc.
The bottom line is that you need to do this Every. Single. Day. You don’t have the time? Well, then don’t expect social media to work for your brand. The people who make the time, get the results. That might sound harsh, but it’s true.
2. Stop pushing, start pulling.
When I say “pushing,” I’m talking about pushing out a self-promotional message either about yourself or your brand. “Hey, look at me, I’m important!” Hey, come check this out and buy it!” That’s the kind of stuff I see pushed out on social media all the time. And guess what? People are sick of it.
Of course there is a time to push your message out, and there are certain ways to go about it. If you’re just beginning to establish your audience, now is not the time to do that.
Focus on pulling people in with quality content that has nothing to do with your specific product or service and everything to do with helping people solve a problem. Another great way to pull people in is to engage with them one-on-one and take interest in their lives. It sounds like hard work, because it is. But it works.
3. Using a few tools is okay, as long as you remain authentic.
Social media automation is the latest buzzword among marketers. There are software programs that will automate just about everything for you these days. The truth is, 99% of this stuff is garbage. I would never send an automated direct message on Twitter. Do I appreciate getting one? Heck no! So why would I subject my audience to the same thing?
As for tools that I do use, one is Buffer. This tool allows me to schedule my tweets to go out over a period of hours instead of all at once. As long as I’m still coming up with the content, and putting effort into providing value with each and every tweet, this is okay. Buffering my tweets actually helps my audience, because with it, they won’t be subjected to seeing 50 tweets from me all within a span of two minutes.
4. Think like your audience.
Put yourself in their shoes. Why would you follow, like, circle, or otherwise interact with your brand? Is it to get force-fed a sales message every hour? Is it to hear about how great the company is? No! So then don’t act like that.
Most people will interact with you because they find value in what you’re sharing with them. So provide that value. Oh, and do it authentically and consistently.
Another thing to keep in mind, is how often you’d want to hear from your brand, if you were in the audience. Also, which platform would you like to see them on? For example, if your audience consists of business professionals, wouldn’t it make sense to put the most effort into the platforms that business executives feel most comfortable with? That would be LinkedIn and SlideShare, by the way.
5. Create content based around information, ego, and emotion.
There will be times when you are stuck trying to come up with quality content to meet the needs of your audience. In those times, think about these keywords: Information, Ego, and Emotion. Every piece of content you create, whether it be a blog post like this one, a tweet, a video, an infographic, or whatever else, should be based around one or more of these ideas.
You should try to inform your audience about something that applies to them, or boost their ego by talking about them, or work to elicit an emotional response from them.
If you can accomplish more than one of these things within the same piece of content, you’re doing really well, and if you capture all three, you’re a superstar. So look at each one of your tweets and ask yourself: Does this inform my audience, boost their ego, or make them emotional? If so, keep it. If not, scrap it and come up with something better.
As a quick side note, in this context, “emotion” can be very simple. It could mean making someone smile, or on the flip side, it could be a question that evokes a passionate response from someone. Either way, emotions are involved. I’m not talking about making your audience angry or sad, because that can backfire. Just get them connected to whatever it is that you’re sharing.
Okay, enough ranting for one day. I really hope you found this article informative (see, I’m using my own advice!). If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts, either in the comments section below or on Twitter.