Let’s face it. Social media isn’t going anywhere. Neither is the internet.
So, it just makes good business sense to learn how to utilize one of the most powerful tools at our disposal in this new era of marketing and branding. While it may seem like a footnote for many busy business owners, neglecting your social media presence and failing to build a community around your loyal clients and customers is setting you up for failure over the long-term. Remember that the people you connect with online aren’t just “online.”
They are actual people, real people, with thoughts, emotions, and busy lives of their own. Even though the connection you make with them may be virtual, its impact is not. They go on to tell friends and family about your business or services and it can increase positive word of mouth. Or it can increase negative word of mouth if you completely suck. Don’t worry, we know that’s not you.
Tips for Engaging Your Online Community
The first thing you need to keep in mind is that creating a social platform that’s engaged and mad about your brand doesn’t happen overnight. You can’t buy that kind of engagement, you can’t magically wish it into existence, and it requires consistency and commitment.
If you’re thinking that sounds more like marriage, you’re absolutely correct. It is a bit like marriage. You are engaging with real people, with real problems and hang-ups, mired in trust issues, baggage, and all the things that get in the way of good relationships. You overcome those hurdles by being committed to building the relationship and being consistent in the efforts you make to do so. Ergo, marriage, friends.
The second important piece of the puzzle is that you absolutely must know your audience. You have to know who the people are that you are targeting with your content and marketing efforts. There is no successful marriage of any kind without knowledge between the two parties. You must know your customers inside and out, what makes them tick, what motivates and inspires them, and on the flip side, you must allow them to get to know you and your brand on a deeper level too.
That starts with you telling your story in a way that resonates with those right people and connects with them on a human, emotional level. Connect your story to their story. Be all the buzzwords, except for real this time. Authentic, transparent, human, relational. Those characteristics became buzzwords for a reason. It’s because they work and it’s how many a successful brand has paved the way before you, created rabid fans and followings and raised up loyal brand ambassadors and evangelists for their business.
Also, remember that content is still king when it comes to the interwebs and social media. It will always be king because the internet and social media devour content like a hungry beast. Create evocative, emotional, problem-solving content and your online community will love it and share it far and wide, growing and infecting others like them with your particular brand of awesomeness.
As they go about their daily lives, talking about your amazing business, sharing your creative and totally share-worthy content, you will find new people begin to look up your business and find you, asking about your products and services and perhaps becoming rabid fans too. Just… make sure you’re easy to find online.
Set up profiles on a couple of the major social platforms (good profiles, not boring, half-hearted ones), make sure you have a website that’s clean and easy to navigate, and get your business on as many of those local search sites you can find. Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Yelp, and Thumbtack are good places to start.
Once you’ve selected how and where you want to be seen, start engaging. Never treat your social presence as an after-thought. Make a plan and work the plan and reap the rewards, slowly but surely.