If you want to get any traction whatsoever out of social websites such as Facebook, Twitter, or industry-specific forums, you have to invest a LOT of your time in them.
You need to carefully observe how people interact with each other on the social site and then follow their example. Then, once you feel you’re ready to jump into the conversation, you need to provide lots of useful free advice or other interesting information, so people appreciate your input.
What kind of information would they appreciate getting from you?
Here are some ideas…
- Company information and mission: Share who you are, how you got started in your industry, your passion for what you do and why you do it.
- Public relations-style information: Put the word out about new product releases, new product features, press mentions or awards you’ve received.
- Customer service details: Post common problem solutions, product bulletins, problem solving, best practices, training and tips for using your products. Don’t be scared to solve a customer’s problem publicly if they post it publicly. It’s not a bad thing for customers to see that you stand behind your products, and that you’re eager to solve problems.
- Customer stories (with permission): Share stories of people who have had positive experiences with your products, or have overcome difficulties as a result of using your products.
- Fun stuff: Post games, contests, fun pictures or videos related to your products or industry.
- Special deals: Create offers just for your social media “friends” — but not with a heavy pitch, please! Just a link with a discount code will do — let your site speak for itself.
- Feedback and research: Questions, polls and surveys targeted towards your community or customers can be a great way of getting great market research data, product feedback, and information about the right direction for your business to head next!
- Expert advice: Establish your expertise by answering common questions and offering valuable information in industry discussions and groups. That doesn’t mean you answer every question by pointing to your product (even if it seems like the most obvious solution)! You want to earn trust first… and let that lead naturally to sales.
- Thoughts about your industry: Share your own ideas about what’s happening in your industry through blog posts, microblogs and group posts. Start discussions that matter to you, and invite other people to share their ideas alongside yours.
Few people head to social media websites looking directly for items to purchase — but they do appreciate coming across companies that provide great information and great service. And if they are looking directly for product recommendations, your presence and solid reputation could put you at the top of everyone’s list.
Remember that the key to successful social media marketing is not to leave out the “social” — listen first, respond positively, and keep the conversation going!