I’m going to sum up this blog post in one sentence and cut straight to the point: If you want real results out of your social media campaigns, you need to put in real hours.
That’s it, plain and simple. There is no shortcut. You can stop reading now if you’re in a hurry. But if you want to see exactly what I mean when I say “put in real hours,” then stick around.
First, let me explain the age old problem faced by brands of all sizes that want to use social media to grow their business. They want the results, but they just don’t have the time, or so they say. So, what do many of these folks do? They either give up on social media completely, or they try to automate as much as they can so that they don’t have to do any real work.
They end up using social media as just another distribution platform, similar to the way they’ve been using email marketing and pay-per-click advertising. It’s another channel to fill with “stuff” with the hopes that people will click on the links and buy something.
Guess what? That is not how social media works.
To be effective, you first need to understand the nuances of each social media platform and the unique culture of the average users on each platform. For instance, if you’re selling handbags, you absolutely, positively need to have a strong presence on Pinterest (where over 70% of the demographic is female). However, you might not need to worry about LinkedIn as much as someone in a B2B industry.
In an ideal world, you could be everywhere at all times. But let’s be practical. It’s just not possible to have an engaging and active social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn, Vine, Snapchat, Tumblr, SlideShare, etc. Well, you get the idea. The list goes on and on. You need to pick and choose your playgrounds.
Once you’ve immersed yourself in these social channels, the real work begins. You now need to craft content that is “native” to the platform. For instance, after spending some time exploring the culture behind what works on Tumblr, you’ll notice that animated GIFs are a big thing over there. They get lots of traction. Therefore, the ideal approach on Tumblr would be to post animated GIFs, or at least visual content of some sort (not long-form blog posts).
All of this takes patience, as you’ll be working through a lot of trial and error. You have to put out tons of content to see what sticks, then, once you’ve found the right formula for a given channel, do more of that.
But, this is just the “content” end of social media marketing. We haven’t even discussed the “engagement” side of things.
You see, social media is about sparking conversations, so that your brand can build awareness, authority, and trust. Ultimately, this will lead you to more sales down the road, because people buy from those they trust.
However, publishing content is only one side of the coin. You need to also understand the best ways to engage with other users on various social platforms, and this takes continual effort on a daily basis. You need to be tuned in to the conversations that are already happening. What are people talking about? Then, you need to find ways to jump in on these conversations in a way that adds value for all of the participants.
Whenever you hear marketing experts talk about “listening” via social media, this is what they’re talking about. And sadly, this is what most brands are simply not doing, because frankly, it takes too much time.
Time is our most precious resource, so I can understand why we don’t want to waste it. But spending time to use social media as it was originally intended to be used is not a waste of time. So give it a try, put in the hours, make a real effort. You’ll be amazed at the response you can get.
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