The One Social Media Resolution You Need to Make This Year

The One Social Media Resolution You Need to Make This Year

The One Social Media Resolution You Need to Make This Year

It’s that time of year again. If you’re like many of us, you’re probably deciding that this year will be different. 2017 will bring a better you, and perhaps a better business too. That’s right. You can and should make resolutions for your business. But before you get off to the races, preparing your long list of business resolutions, we want you to know that one resolution stands out in importance. It involves social media but doesn’t focus on crafting more posts or finding more followers.

This year, resolve to build a community

If you’re marketing to a target audience, you’re doing this social media thing all wrong. Your goal should be to build a community of people engaged with your brand. This means giving your fans a voice and providing them with information they will find helpful. Solve their problems; don’t just sell your product or service.

How Will You Do This?

Provide Great Customer Service

Anyone can sell products or services. Anyone can ask their target audience to pay attention to and share their messages, but not everyone can build a community. To accomplish this, you have to provide great customer service. To build a community, you need to give your audience a reason to care about you and want to not only pay attention to what’s going on with your business but also stick around after that initial purchase. You can do this by showing that you care about your audience via top-notch customer service.

1. Combine delivery of customer service via social media and traditional methods. Your customers should have options when it comes to reaching you, and they should never feel forced into using one method of contact over the other.

2. Kick the automation to the curb. Customers hate, hate, hate having to struggle with an automated system when they need help. While there are situations in which automation is helpful, you won’t make a community member out a customer who can’t get help from a live person.

3. Train your customer service reps well. They should know your business and its policies inside and out. And most importantly, they should truly care to help your customers. If they seem bored, annoyed, or clueless, you haven’t a prayer of converting customers into community members.

4. Develop a method for monitoring and tracking customer service contact. This will help you to improve your company’s customer service going forward and head off reputation-damaging problems before they become mountains instead of molehills.

Share Relevant, Helpful Information

Yes, you have products or services of interest to your audience, but what else do you have to offer? To build a community, you have to provide relevant, helpful information, not just once but all the time. This gives your audience a reason to come back repeatedly and consume your content. It gives them a reason to share with others and even provide their own relevant, helpful information. Without this, you are just like every other company with something to sell. You’re just adding to the social media noise.

1. Find out what your audience needs. You have your products and services covered. Now, focus on who your audience members are, what drives them and what they want from life.

2. Share content and messages that meet your followers’ needs. You’ve identified their needs, so now go ahead and meet them by sharing meaty, valuable content that speaks to those needs. Keep in mind that you don’t have to create every piece of content you share. You’ll want to provide a mix of original and curated content to your audience.

3. Don’t just share content; have conversations. Communities aren’t built by talking at people. Instead, engage in real conversations, sharing ideas back and forth, asking questions, and offering suggestions. Be genuinely interested and fully responsive. Your followers will know if you’re faking it.

Give Your Community a Voice

Your followers have stories to tell about their lives, about their interests, and about your brand. Give them a platform and a purpose for sharing what’s important to them with others and you. Their shared stories and experiences will build and nurture a sense of community among your followers and support an emotional connection with your brand.

1. Provide a safe place for your followers to share user-generated content. Take genuine interest in what they post, comment on it and share it. This content will interest other followers, inspire them to engage as well, and build the sense of knowing each other and being part of a community.

2. Encourage a range of user-generated content. Of course, videos and photos are among the most compelling types of user-generated content, but personal stories really hit the mark as well. Inspire your followers to share their personal stories by sharing some of your own and by commenting on and showing enthusiasm for the stories your followers share. This not only stimulates an emotional connection with your brand and a sense of belonging but also gives each person who shares a stake in supporting the community.

3. Let your community members sell for you. Building a community takes the focus off selling, but that doesn’t mean selling won’t happen anyway. Your community members’ content becomes part of your brand’s story, and as your community grows, so will your users’ reviews of your products and services. Likewise, many of your followers-turned-community-members will become brand evangelists, telling your story and drawing prospects to your business.

Most importantly, Build Relationships

Social media should be about more than just broadcasting your promotions and building up an impressive number of followers. It should be about more than just making sales, and that’s why your emphasis should be on community building this year. Without a personal connection to your brand, customers are likely to jump at the chance to patronize your competitors whenever they offer sales, announce new products, or simply shout for their attention. However, by developing relationships with your customers, and encouraging your customers to develop relationships with others in your community, you build a loyal customer base that will translate into more sales and steady business growth.

Start 2017 off on the right foot by focusing on building a community. With each step you take toward community building, and each relationship you develop and nurture, you’ll enjoy long-term benefits for your business.

How to Better Understand and Connect with Customers in a Digital World

How to Better Understand and Connect with Customers in a Digital World

How to Better Understand and Connect with Customers in a Digital World

“How to Better Understand and Connect with Customers in a Digital World” is co-authored by Sharon Hurley Hall and Christina Strickland”

With the majority of adult Internet users spending time on social media sites, it’s no surprise that social media is such an important way to get your audience’s attention and connect with those in need of your products and services. But if there is one thing many businesses have learned the hard way, it’s that talking at your audience simply doesn’t work. That sort of strategy (or lack thereof) results in your message becoming a part of the online background noise.

How to Understand Customers in a Digital World

To make the most of social media and really reach your audience, you need to do three things: understand who your audience is, understand what your audience wants, and develop ways to connect with your audience. Sound like a tough job? No worries! Here are some tips to help you get the job done.

1. Use Google Analytics

Install analytics software. Most people use Google Analytics, but there are other options too. Using Google Analytics, check out your social media statistics. Go to Acquisition – Social to find out which social networks are bringing traffic to your site, how users finding you via social media navigate through your site and much more. This information alone will help you focus your social media strategy.

2. Check Social Analytics

Next, look at the analytics provided by all the social media sites where you are active. Twitter Analytics, Facebook Insights, and Pinterest Analytics all provide information on your social audience. The depth of this information depends on the site, but you can usually see where your audience members are located, what their backgrounds and interests are, and which social media updates made them respond and share. Once you know that, it’s easy to use this information to decide on engaging social media content.

3. Identify Your Followers

If you want a holistic picture of your social media audience, then you’ll need an external dashboard tool. There are dozens to choose from at various price points. See if the data you collect matches your existing customer personas. If there’s a mismatch, then it’s time to revisit your marketing strategy. If there isn’t, then congratulations! That means you’re probably getting it right.

4. Find Their Influencers

One important thing to understand is who influences your social audience because you can also target those influencers for greater reach when you want to share your content and message. A good tool for finding influencers is Klear (formerly Twtrland) which allows you to see who your followers listen to. You can also find social media influencers with a Buzzsumo Pro account.

5. Listen to Your Fans

Use social listening software to find out when your fans and followers mention your brand and what they say about you. You can also discover what their hot button topics are and weave those into your social media strategy. Use tools like Buzzsumo to find hot content and Klout to find shareable content on the topics that interest them.

6. Pay Attention to Mobile Stats Too

Did you know that more than half of all Facebook users only access the site from mobile devices? Keep an eye on mobile analytics on all sites, so you don’t miss the moment when most of your customers go mobile too. That’s bound to happen at some point, which means that your social strategy will have to include mobile-friendly content.

7. CRM Your Inbox

Rapportive, which puts a mini-CRM tool right in your inbox, is a very helpful tool that is owned by LinkedIn. When you install the browser extension, you can immediately see whether the person who has emailed you is connected to you on LinkedIn, a snapshot of recent roles and – if they also use Rapportive – any social media accounts they have connected to their profile.

Once you have that information, it’s easy to visit those other sites and find out more about your prospect’s online activity. That means you can follow them on social media and have conversations on the topics that interest them.

8. Create Lists Wisely

If you want to go direct to the source, then use the features built into Facebook, Twitter and Google+ to connect with customers and prospects in a useful way.

If you want to keep your home stream uncluttered on Facebook, interest lists let you keep tabs on people and pages you like, without having to like them. Full instructions are on the “interest lists” page.

You can do something similar on Twitter by setting up themed lists. In addition to setting up lists of customers and prospects, I suggest you set up lists of people tweeting about the topics that interest your customers and prospects. That gives you content to share with them and deepens the connection. For best results, keep your lists short. That also goes for Google+, where you can set up circles in the same way.

When you’ve set up your lists or circles, check in a couple of times a week to join the conversation and find items to share.

9. Use LinkedIn

Whatever business you are in, there’s a fair chance that your customers, prospects and potential partners will be on LinkedIn. You should be too, because that’s where they’ll look for you. Take the time to fill out your profile properly. That means including a profile photo, a cover photo, your most recent jobs and some portfolio items. Then scope out relevant groups, but not too many, because you need time to participate in them. This really works for getting the attention of prospective customers and bringing business your way. It is surprisingly easy it is to build relationships through group discussions.

Use the data you gather and the tools at your disposal to understand what your audience members are saying, what they need, and what really drives them. Then, use this information to develop strategies and content that speak to their interests, make a connection, and encourage engagement.