26 Sep Using Social Media to Grow Your Business
When it comes to the world of online marketing, social media is all the rage. Unfortunately, it’s filled with lots of hype, and it’s often unclear to the novice how to actually use social media to generate real business.
I’ll cut to the chase, because at the highest level, this is actually really simple. To generate business with social media, you have to do two things:
- Generate great content
- Be social
Of course, doing those two things may be easier said than done. Let’s start with the second point first, because for many people, it’s actually the more difficult one.
If you’re paying for advertising, you know what you’re getting. You purchase a certain number of “eyeballs” at a certain price. Then people either convert or don’t, depending on the quality of your sales process (including your website). The same thing is true in social media, but the difference is you have to generate those eyeballs on your own — you need to build an audience.
Part of the reason social media is much more effective than traditional advertising is that it’s (or at least can be) much more authentic. When people see an ad, they instantly tune out (or even purchase software to skip it). When people engage with you on social media, it’s because they like you — and the fact that they’re engaging is psychologically meaningful. But that’s never going to happen if you’re not interacting with them like a real person. If all you do is post your daily specials to your twitter account, your probably never going to get very many followers. But if you’re out there following other people (potential customers, competitors, experts from around the world, journalists in your field, industry blogs, suppliers) and actually engaging with them, you will absolutely generate followers.
What does “engaging” mean? It means reacting to their content in a meaningful way. If you like a post, click on the like button. But really, if you like a post, leave a comment — interact with the author. Get into a conversation. Or better, disagree or expand on the original. Don’t get all salesy and push your content — just interact like you would with a human in real life.
It can take a long time to build an audience this way, but it’s absolutely worth it. Having a few thousand loyal followers who love what you’re saying, share it on their own networks, and comment on it is hundreds of times more valuable than any audience you “buy” through advertising dollars. These people will be with you for life, and will serve as the kernel for any future activities you take up.
Generate Great Content
This is often the much easier part. You’re presumably in a business because you love it, and it’s easy to talk about the things we love. Exactly what kind of content you generate will depend on your personality, more than anything, but the medium is far less important than the message. If you’re gregarious and outgoing, start a Youtube channel. If you’re self conscious about your appearance, but a better talker than a writer, start a podcast. If you like to think through things in advance and generate multiple, methodical drafts, start writing a blog. It doesn’t matter — just share what you love.
Once you’re generating content, go back and include it in your social-media plan.
To get started, here are some great resources for various media:
- Podcasting: https://blog.bufferapp.com/promote-a-podcast
- YouTube: http://neilpatel.com/2016/08/23/4-quick-wins-to-increase-your-youtube-engagement/
- Blogging: http://www.wikihow.com/Be-a-Good-Blogger
Tortoises and Hares
The biggest reason people fail and social media is that they don’t understand that this is a tortoise situation. In order to be successful with content, you need to be generating at least one piece per week (and the more you can generate, the better). In order to get positive business results from social media, the research indicates that you need to be spending at least 6 hours per week (and the results get much better if you can spend 10 hours per week). And you need to do both of those things for months and months. Seriously. Which is why it’s critical that you love your topic. It’s very hard to write an article per week for 6 months, go out there and engage continually on social media, and only see limited results. But we go back to the beginning here. If a year down the road you have even a few thousand true fans that are making your content go viral, you’ll be crushing your competition — and your cost per customer will be much lower than through traditional advertising channels. This is a game for the patient — but if you’re patient, you will win.