Are you finding that your social media audience is stagnant? Have you lost momentum with your customers and followers?
According to marketing legend Gary Vaynerchuk,
If you’re doing the same thing (day after day) and your business isn’t growing, you’d better listen to your audience.
It’s easy to post on social media. It’s harder to grow your audience loyalty. Inspiring trust, confidence, and loyalty takes time, thought, and consideration. We’re not talking set it and forget it. You have to be all in.
While it’s true that social media can be used as an amplifier, you aren’t going to get much out of it if no one listens to what you have to say. Even worse, you can easily come across as false, boring, self-centered, and uncaring.
Ready to avoid those pitfalls? Follow the five steps below and you will be on your way to building an audience that you love – and that loves you.
1. Show You Are Human
No one loves an emotionless robot. Yes, automation can reduce a portion of your posting effort. But part of the true value of social media – and the content you post – is that it gives you an opportunity to humanize your company. That’s where you can begin building audience relationships with your customers and others.
Try these easy tips to give your content a personality:
- Use humor. Don’t be afraid to be self-effacing or to capitalize on a woe that everyone can relate to. For example, check out this hilarious video about a major customer support fail: “Don’t Be This Guy”. Sharing a laugh helps quickly build a bond.
- Have a personality. Is humor not your style? How about warmth, intelligence, caring? Think about the way you’d like people to consider your company. Then bring that emotion out through your social media posts.
- Use visuals. Engaging visually with your customers gives you a chance to show your company’s personality. Moreover, visuals make your content more meaningful. In fact, a recent Stone Temple Consulting study shows that if you include an image with your Twitter post, you’ll have twice the likelihood of a retweet or favorite. Moreover, if you have a smaller follower count, it’s still worth it. Simply adding an image to your tweet generates 5 to 9 times as many retweets and 4 to 12 times as many favorites.
- Be honest and open. If you or your company makes a mistake, own up to it quickly. Support a cause? Let your followers know. Making a change in company direction? Don’t wait to advertise it. Vulnerability can work to enroll your audience. The more transparent you are, the stronger your customer trust will grow.
Looking for more hints for making your online communication more human? Check out 5 Tips to Make B2B Content More Interesting.
2. Enroll Your Audience
Wondering how you can let people know about your awesomeness without making it obvious that your tooting your own horn? Try enrolling your audience in your promotion efforts by turning your fans into exposure.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your customers. Audience participation lets you create emotional connections with your customers. It strengthens loyalty and drives engagement with your company. It also lets your audience know you care about their input, which helps grow their confidence.
In addition, outside validation of your products, services, and brand is very powerful. According to social media expert Mark Schaffer, 85% say that reading content that other people share helps them understand and process brand information and events. That’s why it’s important to empower your fans to become your evangelists.
Looking for some specific ideas on how to bring your audience into your marketing efforts? Check out the article, How to Include Customers in Your Content Marketing.
3. Talk Back
Remember that social media isn’t a one-way street. If you want to succeed on social media, take the monolog and transform it into a dialogue.
Feel a bit nervous about how to begin? Try these easy tactics:
- Respond. According to research from Sprout Social, 5 in 6 messages that need responses are not answered by brands. Sprout Social also says over the past 12 months there’s been a 100 percent increase in the number of messages to brands that require attention. In other words, customers aren’t simply mentioning brands on social media. They are looking for engagement.
- Don’t ignore criticism. People want to know that you care about what they have to say. When someone mentions your brand, the worst response is no response. Even better, according to Jay Baer, one of social media and customer service’s iconic influencers, answering just one complaint on social media can increase customer advocacy by 25%.
- Reach out. Monitor social conversations and provide useful information. For example, you can say, “Hi! I saw you had trouble with/were asking or talking about XYZ. Here’s an eBook/blog post that could help you out.” Follow up later to see what the person thought of the offering.
- Mention people. The “@” is a powerful tool. When you mention specific followers via Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or other channels, they will pay attention. The conversation becomes personal. If you keep the posts relevant and catchy, your engagement will grow exponentially.
- Join the conversation. There are lots of existing conversations to join. Look for Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, Twitter chats, and more. Don’t be spammy. The idea here is to develop relationships and provide relevant information, not to simply throw your content into people’s streams.
4. Work With Influencers
Working with influencers can be a great way to build trust. After all, influencers have already gained the confidence of a group of followers. If you can get influencers to promote your offerings, you can hop on that train.
Here are a few tips to remember when it comes to influencer marketing:
- Pick the right niche. Yes, there are plenty of big names out there. But don’t start up relationships with just anyone. Your purpose is to find people with an audience that could potentially become your customers. That might mean you’re looking for someone who is an expert in physical therapy or ship building or data analysis. The more relevant your niche can be, the more likely you are to build trust with folks who will convert to business.
- Look past fame. Remember that not every influencer has to be someone famous or even someone with a huge following. In fact, if they aren’t hugely famous, there’s a better chance they will respond well to your approach.
- Return the favor. Be sure to write about the influencers you want to build relationships with. Repost and comment on their posts. You have to grow their trust before they will use their voices to sway their audience.
For more information about how to merge content and influencer marketing, read the article, Influencer Marketing: How to Supercharge Engagement with Your Content.
5. Don’t Be Self-Centered
While, of course, you want to share all your great content with the world, remember that social media isn’t about a “me, me, me” attitude. As with face-to-face relationships, a true connection with your audience can only be built if you look beyond yourself.
- Be helpful. When you reach out to your audience, don’t always look for something in return. Yes, you want to build your email lists, but not every interaction has to be (or should be) about pushing downloadables. Sometimes it’s simply important to show you care.
- Curate. Retweet some of your followers’ posts. Show your followers interesting content you’ve discovered around the web. Let your audience know that you are following the news, the latest trends, and research. Not only will you discover an easy way to grow your content marketing efforts, but you will also show your followers that you care about the world around you. Curation can also be fairly easy and cost effective if you use free tools to boost your efforts.
- Broaden your focus. Talk about topics that are tangential to your main focus. For example, you may sell website-based customer service tools but talk about how to use social media for customer service. Or you may be a hotel but talk about easy travel tips. Your followers want to know that you care about ways to make their lives better. Talking about a wide variety of topics related to your business helps make you your customers trusted resource and shows that you care about the broader experience.
Use this handy dandy infographic as your checklist
Not sure you can remember all these tips? Check out this awesome infographic made with the data visualization tool Visme.
And don’t forget that providing outstanding customer service is a great way to build trust. Whether you are using social media, website engagement tools, or the basic telephone, show your customers that they are the most import part of your world.
Have any other ideas for building audience trust, confidence, and love? Share them with me in the comments below or tweet me up at @HollyChessman.