You know your brand is underperforming on social media, but what can you do about it?
Take a look around.
It’s that time of year again. You have to fight to get a treadmill at your gym. Your local park has become a racetrack for runners. And everyone’s talking about the latest diet fad.
We’re all getting in shape for summer vacation.
This makes it the perfect time of year for getting your brand in shape, too. Make your business into a lean, mean fighting machine before your summer vacation, and you can rest easy, knowing your brand will be ready to run at full throttle when you return to work, giving you the best possible performance through the fall and festive season.
Set aside any downtime you have over the next couple of months to get your brand fighting fit. We’ve got the tips to get you started. Some are for beginners, who’ve yet to even dip their toes in social media. Some are for intermediates, who need to bump up their game. And some are for experts, who only need a few small tweaks to be the leaders in their niche.
Let’s get your brand in shape!
Beginner Tips & Warm Ups
Take a deep breath. The first step is always the hardest.
1. Sign Up for Twitter and Facebook
Around 90% of readers are rolling their eyes right now. I know, I know, everyone’s on Twitter and Facebook, right?
You’d be surprised.
If you’re still procrastinating about getting started on social media, today is the day to start. You’ve got the know-how to read this web page, which means you’ve got it in you to use social media.
Seriously, if you can write emails, you can tweet.
The research is clear: if you engage with your customers on social media, they’ll be more loyal to your brand, and more likely to buy your products or services. What are you waiting for?
2. Set Up a Company Blog
I spend a lot of time with small business owners. They’re not dinosaurs, they’ve got a website, perhaps even an eCommerce store.
But when I ask them about their blog, they look confused and dazed. I might as well have asked how much of their market share comes from Mars.
“Now, I’ve heard of Twitter,” they say. “But what’s a blog?”
Here’s a simple statistic, and if this doesn’t get you straight over to Google to find out what a blog is, and how to set one up (I promise, it’s really simple), then nothing will.
Business to consumer (B2C) companies who blog generate 88% more leads compared to those who don’t. CLICK TO TWEET
That figure is 67% for B2B companies. (Stats here).
3. Decide Your Niche
Want to pick a fight you’re guaranteed to lose? Take on Amazon at their own game. Decide you’ll sell everything from ebooks to movies to toilet paper. Because selling everything means you’ll get richer faster.
No, selling everything means you’ll be trapped with a behemoth bank loan for all the stock you’ve bought, and no customers.
To sell online, you must choose a niche. If you want to expand later, you can, but for now, you must choose one product type or service, and be the best (or only) provider in that niche.
Choosing a niche ensures a steady flow of customers to your door.
Even Amazon started with a niche of sorts. It was an online bookstore, and grew from there.
Google started as a search engine. Now it has its own cell phone and tablet range.
Apple started making computers. Now you can buy books, music, games and movies from them.
Start with a niche. It’s the only path to success.
4. Post Daily Updates
So you’ve signed up for Twitter and Facebook. Now what?
You’re ready to start engaging, that’s what!
Get into the habit of sharing on every social network at least once a day, and blogging at least once a week. The more you share, the quicker your audience will grow.
Daily updates are perfect for Facebook. On Twitter, you eventually want to aim for hourly updates. That said, daily is far better than nothing, and the perfect place to start.
5. Find Your Brand Voice
Every brand has a personality. Zappos is friendly and approachable. Most banks are trustworthy, corporate, and distant. Apple is youthful and creative. Microsoft is conformative and slightly boring.
The good news is, brands get to influence their personality. Your brand is partly about how your customers perceive you, and partly about your products.
But it’s also about how you portray yourself.
On social media – which is where you talk to your customers – you portray your personality through your brand’s voice.
That means thinking about how you talk to your customers. Do you want to come across as playful and fun? Or a good listener? Or a creative problem solver? Or someone who understands young people?
All this influences how you talk on social media.
When you’re posting to social media, don’t just type anything that comes into your head. Reshape what you want to say into the voice and personality of your brand. Over time, you’ll start to think like your brand, and talking in your brand’s voice will come naturally.
6. Get Up Close and Personal With the Big 5
Once you’ve got to grips with Facebook and Twitter, you’re ready to expand your social media reach. Start with the Big 5 of social media. On top of Twitter and Facebook, these are LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google Plus.
LinkedIn is the professional’s social network, and is the must join network for businesses selling to other businesses.
Pinterest is all about sharing images of desirable objects. If you sell a good-looking or fashionable product of any kind, it’s the place to be. Even more so if your target market is women, as Pinterest’s userbase is 80% female.
Google Plus is rapidly rising through the ranks, and is essential for all small businesses. Being on Google Plus will become increasingly important for your business’s rankings in Google Search.
7. Find Your Brand’s Niche Social Network
The Big 5 aren’t the only places your customers hang out online. Search across the web, and you’ll find social networks and forums dedicated to anything and everything, from pets to finance to cars to getting smarter faster. Chances are, there’s a network online right now where you’ll find low-hanging fruit you can pluck for your brand.
If there’s not a network around already that’s a good fit for your brand, it means one of two things. Either there’s not a market for your idea and products (Hint: are you selling anything? Have you done any market research?), or you’re in a blue ocean, and you can lead the way by setting up your own social network.
Of course, you don’t have unlimited resources, so you need to carefully target how you reach out.
8. Pick up Some Hashtags
Whether you’re new to social media, or you’ve been at this game for years, you can benefit from searching out the latest hashtags in your niche.
Hashtags are included in tweets to help others quickly find what they’re looking for. That includes finding your tweets, and your brand. Hashtags, therefore, boost your visibility.
9. Get Your Brand Name on All Social Networks
Want to look professional on social media? Want to make it as easy as possible for your customers to find you, whether they’re looking on Facebook, Twitter or eBay?
Then make sure you have the same username for every social network. This consistency makes you easier to find, and it helps to build customer relationships and trust.
To quickly and easily find a handle you can use on all networks, head on over to NameChk. KnowEm offers the same service, and will even sign you up to every major social network with prices started at around $70.
Ideally, your username should be the same as your website and brand name.
10. Join a Twitter Chat
Or a LinkedIn Group. Or a Google Hangout. Or a Google Plus Community. The point is to get to grips with meeting people online and being social. At the other end of what’s said online is always a person. You’re meeting real people and making real connections, many of whom can convert into customers, or help your business in other ways.
Intermediate Tips & Training Runs
Now you’re starting to get serious, what can you do to keep your audience growing and engaged?
11. Monitor Your Stats
Social media users come in two varieties: those obsessed by metrics, and those who think “It’s social media, not numerical media”.
If you’re the stats obsessed type, you don’t need this tip. However, if you’re on social media “just to be social”, then you’re wasting business time and resources.
On any training regime, you’d monitor your fitness levels, your weight loss, your track times. Business is no different.
Social media is trackable. You can track traffic and conversions. You can see what works at engaging your audience, and what doesn’t.
You might not like what you see at first, but in the long term, you’ll be glad you did it.
12. Discover What Your Customers Really Think About You
This tip’s vital for businesses who’ve been running the grind for a while. If you’re the new kid on the block, you’ll have to be patient and wait awhile before you can do this.
Do you want to know what your customers are saying behind your back about your brand? Whether good or bad, bad ass or bemused, delighted or dumbfounded, you need to know. Only when you know what your customers really think of you can you start to put things right.
Go ahead and enter your brand’s name into the Twitter search bar (you can do the same on Google Plus if you want). What do you find?
13. Scout Out the Competition
Unless your niche is absurdly small you’ll have competitors and chances are, some of them are doing a great job on social media (equally, some of them will be doing terrible).
Want to know their secrets to success?
The beautiful thing about social media is that it takes no subterfuge, sabotage, blackmail or bribery to get insider information.
On social media, everyone’s strategy is out there, plain as day, for all to see.
All you need to do is look at what they’re doing.
You can learn from what others are doing right – and what they’re doing wrong. If anything they’re doing makes you cringe, you know you can do it better.
14. Inspire Your Customers
Everyone has dreams. Everyone. We all have things, people or places we long for. We all want to be special.
Whatever you sell, whether it’s plumbing or round-the-world trips, you’re helping people fulfill dreams. CLICK TO TWEET
At the same time, we all have difficult days when we wake up grumpy, or things just don’t go our way. When that happens, we need a pick me up.
Get together a set of inspirational quotes to share on social media. Mix them up with an image if you want to, but most importantly, share them. Your customers will love you for it, and you’ll generate fantastic buzz.
15. Find What Your Audience Wants
Social media provides a low-cost, easy way to hang out with your customers. Following customers, you get a wonderful insight into their day to day lives, including their hopes, fears, dreams and problems.
When you know the problems your customers face, and how they talk about their problems, you can position your product as the solution. What’s more, you can do this in the words your customers use, which is especially powerful.
16. Ask a Question
Need more insight into the wants and desires of your customers? Ask them.
In fact, ask them anything. Ask them how their day is going. Ask them what they had for breakfast. Ask them for tips and advice.
The more questions you ask on social media, the better. Questions encourage a response, and show that you’re open to conversation.
Research by Buddy Media found Facebook posts featuring a question have a 92% higher comment rate compared to posts without questions. What’s more, put your question at the end.
Posts ending with a question were twice as likely to receive comments, and had a 15% higher interaction rate compared to posts with questions in the middle. CLICK TO TWEET
Closed questions with a yes or no answer (or “Would you rather … or …?”) usually work best, as they’re easier to reply to.
After you’ve started asking your audience what they think, listen to what they tell you. Listening isn’t a passive thing. Listening means taking action.
When your customers give you feedback, and you nod along politely, then ignore it, that’s NOT listening.
Listening means you take action based on what they say.
Let’s say you’re a crafty person who knits up sweaters. The first sweater you sold (to your adoring Grandma, who wanted to support your entrepreneurial spirit) was a red one. Because of that, red is a color close to your heart. But on social media, again and again, your customers tell you they don’t like red. And, truth is, you’ve never sold a red anything since that first sale.
Stop being sentimental. Sure, make a red sweater for yourself if you want. But in your store, include what your customers want. This is about them, not you.
18. Set a Follower Goal
How many followers do you want? Write it down. If you’re just starting out, a good goal is 100 followers. If you’re at 100, then aim for 1,000.
Do everything you can to achieve that goal. Follow people you’d like to engage with. Talk to others as much as you can. Email everyone in your network and ask them to follow you. Share useful content.
(The only thing you must NEVER do is buy followers. Bought followers are usually bots, and reduce rather than increase engagement).
By setting yourself a goal, you’re more likely to engage on social media every day.
19. Try Disconnecting for a Day
This tip is counter-intuitive, but it’s what we’ve found works for us at Social Caffeine. If we’re becoming disillusioned with social media, or our creativity is drying up in lazy, aimless web surfing, then scheduling tweets and having a Digital Detox for 24 hours is the way to go.
See how much work you get done by being offline, even if you can only handle it for a few hours.
Advanced Tips & Running the Marathon
Ready to lead the pack? When you’ve established a steady following, you’re ready to stand out from the crowd and become the go-to person in your niche.
20. Practice Calls to Action
Do you feel like you’re being pushy or selling out if you ask other people to help you out? Then you need to swallow some humble pie, because asking people to help you is the quickest way to get things done. And people love to help!
Research by Dan Zarrella of Hubspot found asking for retweets with a simple “Please Retweet” at the end of tweets increased the retweet rate by four times. That’s a huge boost in visibility for your brand. CLICK TO TWEET
On Facebook, share thought provoking articles, or inspiring quotes, then ask people “leave a comment if you agree”.
Calls to action are the foundation of any solid marketing strategy. Put down your ego already and ask for a helping hand.
21. Connect With An Influencer
There are people out there with tens or hundreds of thousands of followers. They’re trusted experts in their field. If only they knew about your product, you’re sure they’d LOVE it and share it with their network.
It’s time you started connecting.
Sending them an instant message “Hey check out my product!” is not the way to do it. That’s a big turn off, and unless they’re in a really good mood, they’ll ignore you.
Instead, use a more subtle strategy. Start out by following them. Engage with them from time to time. Get on their radar.
If you do it right, they’ll be curious enough to check out your product for themselves. You might have to send out some hints, but that’s way better than forcing it on them.
22. Make a Video
Both Youtube and Cisco have predicted that within the next couple of years, 90% of web traffic will be from video.
I know, putting yourself in front of a camera feels daunting. But speaking face-to-face with your customers helps them feel like they know you. Video builds trust much faster than the written word ever can.
With cameras built into every smartphone, and simple video making tools such as Twitter Vine and Hangouts on Air available for anyone and everyone, making quality videos has never been easier.
Infographic from Socially Sorted
(Not sure about video? Consider starting a podcast, which can be just as good at creating relationships as video without the hassle of being on camera, though unlike video, it requires a regular commitment).
23. Run a Facebook Ad
Ads are a double-edged sword, which is why they’re an advanced tool. Get it right, and you hit jackpot. A constant stream of new customers and fans who spend way more than you laid out on the ad campaign. Get it wrong, and you’ll find yourself bleeding money.
That’s why you must be careful.
Only use ads when you’re sure your product is popular with customers, and when you have a strong understanding of your brand.
And once you’re rolling, even if they’re doing well, test, test, test. Every tweak that boosts click-through rates makes you more money.
24. Create a LinkedIn Group or Company Page
Want to keep your professional profile private on LinkedIn, but continue to pull in leads for your business? Then a company profile is the way to go. A company page allows you to connect with and send out updates to anyone who’s interested in what you do.
If you’d like to engage more widely around a topic related to your niche, then start a LinkedIn Group. Choose the right group name, write a good description, and make sure the discussions are lively, and you’ll have a place to meet potential customers and show off your expertise.
25. Host a Twitter Chat
When your Twitter following reaches a certain level – say a couple of thousand followers – it can be tricky to know what to do next. You know you can continue growing at a trickle, but you’d rather see your follower count explode.
A Twitter Chat is probably what you need. Arrange a time with a few of your followers to meet up each week. Choose a chat topic related to your niche, and for each chat, invite a different thought leader from your niche to share their wisdom. Pick a hashtag for your chat, too. Twitter Chats set you up as an expert, and provide opportunities to meet many different people. Week after week, you’ll find new people coming to your chat session, and your follower count skyrocketing.
26. Host a Google Hangout
As with Twitter Chats, you need a loyal tribe in place before you can host a successful hangout. But once your tribe’s there, it’s a way to grow fast, especially as you’re creating trust with a face-to-face meeting.
You can use Hangouts to do product demonstrations, tutorials, client surgeries, or Q&A sessions. As with Twitter Chats, you can invite experts to be interviewed.
To take it to the next level, broadcast your Hangouts live using Hangouts on Air. Then your conversation will go out on YouTube, and be saved there forever for anyone to find. Remember, the more content you create – including video – the more opportunities potential customers have to find you.
27. Guest Post on an A-list blog
There are few faster ways of establishing your authority than having your writing appear on the go-to blog in your niche.
The more guest posts you write, the quicker your name and face will be recognized, and the faster you’ll grow your social media fanbase.
(Tip: Want to start guest posting today? Why not pitch us your idea? We’d love to hear from you!)
How to Choose a Profitable Niche
How to Find the Best Twitter Hashtags
Social Media Engagement Strategy: How to Increase Engagement
Convert with Content
For More Tips + Tricks
- Amy Porterfield
- Mari Smith
- Social Media Examiner
- Sprout Social
Like this? You can find more social media tips and tricks in the Social Caffeine Collection, a collection of 24 books on social media marketing.
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