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10 ways to boost your social media strategy

Giles White - Monday, September 26, 2011

... Plus the one thing you can never forget

Every business wants a piece of social media these days. But once you're there, how do you grow a base of fans, followers and friends who want to hear from you, Like and Retweet you, respond to you, become your customers - and recommend you to their own friends and peers?

Here are 10 (+ one) practices that will help you and your business become very 'sociable':

1. Listen to your audience

I don't mean to sound like your third grade teacher or anything, but listening really is 50% of communication.

To understand who your customers are; the things that make them tick; and what they love, hate, and really need from you, take time to read what they have to say in social networks about themselves, their lives, their views, as well as your industry, business, website, social pages, content, the products and services you offer, or are considering selling.

People like to be listened to - and they like the people who listen.

2. Engage with them, don't talk at them

When it's time to talk, show your audience that you really do care about what they say, think and feel. Ask questions, reply to their comments, thank them, praise them where you genuinely believe they've deserve it. Much like all those things we love to hear from the people who matter in our real worlds.

3. Slip in to your customer's cyber shoes

When it's so easy (and cheap) to communicate with your target audience, there's a temptation to bombard them with deals, information and other messages. So every time you create a blog post, Facebook update, tweet, etc, sit back for a moment and ask yourself:

  • will people get some benefit from this, or is it just annoying and disruptive?
  • if I was a customer, would I really want to read/watch it?

Give them things they can use and they'll be much happier to 'see' you on their social pages.

4. Offer content and ideas they can't find elsewhere

Like the rest of the world, your customers/fans are drowning in a sea of information overload. The only way they can stay afloat is to ignore the bits that don't add value to their world. So how do you get read, re-read and recommended as an expert in your field?

You toss people life rafts of information filled with fresh ideas, viewpoints, statistics, or anything else that makes you one of the few businesses or people they can't afford to let go of.

5. Share your own stories

Relevant stories can offer a glimpse into your business, personality, values, etc. It could be a story about something that happened to you, a client or staff member. It might be funny, informative or heartfelt, such as charitable work your team does or supports. Photos and videos work well too.

Real stuff makes you and your brand more human.

6. Share their news with your circle

Let's face it, the real reason we all love social networks is that it gives us an opportunity to voice and be acknowledged for our views. That's ok, we're only human!

Sharing, retweeting, Liking and commenting positively or constructively on fans/followers/customers content is an endorsement that you appreciate their opinion, sense of humour, etc. How could they not then see you as a smart, likeable and all around fantastic person? :)

7. Timing is everything

When it comes to social content, you snooze you lose. Not just in terms of relevance to your audience needs, current trends etc, but publishing it at the time of the day/week when your audience is likely to be looking at their social pages.

8. Invite customers to be your fans

If you are trying to build your numbers, loyal customers are a logical place to start. They already like you in the real world. And when they comment, Like, retweet, etc online, all their social network friends and colleagues see your words/videos/photos of wisdom too.

9. Respond quickly to the good, bad and ugly

Good and bad word spreads fast in social media. In the past, Dell, United and other major organisations have lost millions of dollars through a single case of bad social media publicity. And it could have all been avoided if they responded immediately in a way that showed they cared and were taking action to help the customer.

People don't expect you to be perfect, they just expect you to treat them with respect when things go wrong.

10. Subtly show your credibility

No one likes a poser. But they do like to know that the people/companies they're buying or learning from have a good understanding of the industry, area, niche, etc they're writing about.

Once you listen, ask questions and understand what your audience need, don't stand up and yell "Hey you, over here, I'm brilliant I am at that!" Instead, weave your experience and knowledge into your stories, ideas, conversations and let them do the talking.

Never forget!!

11. Keep it real

People want to get to know other people, not companies. Don't try to 'create' a personality or readers will see straight through you. Yes, have goals, use the steps discussed above, but most importantly, just be your wonderful self.

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