Not too long ago, I was talking to a marketing director at a midsize, well-connected Salesforce partner about his company’s need to do something about the virtual tumbleweeds blowing across the social media channels he had set up some time back.
“I know we need to do it,” he sighed. “But we need to have something to say first.”
My reaction was one of incredulity. This energetic company really felt it had nothing to say? No news? Nothing helpful it could share with its 200+ hopeful but unengaged Twitter followers? No insights into its chosen industry? Nothing it found worth saying about itself? No reason for anyone to choose this company over another?
This company wasn’t unusual, to be honest. When I talked to this marketing director, he actually had plenty to say about his company and its innovations, its place in the market, how it differs from its competitors, and the industry in general. But he had fallen into the trap of thinking that social marketing is for broadcasting only major product launches and tradeshow appearances.
The fact is, social marketing is about relationships. When you stand in front of someone at a cocktail party and have a conversation, do you only talk about your company’s big news? You’d probably run out of conversation pretty quickly if you did! No, if you’re having an actual conversation, and the person you’re talking to expresses interest and asks questions, chances are you’ll probably delve deeper into your company’s expertise: what it does for customers, why that’s important, how it’s important to do it one way rather than another way, what others are doing in the same space. Right?
Your social media needs to take a similar tack. Consumers, particularly those making considered purchase decisions, are eager to know what they can expect from you before they plunk down their money. It’s your job to make that easier for them by giving them all the information they need to know in order to consider your product or service, keeping them engaged with you, and helping them along their decision-making path that will hopefully lead to you. Sixty-one percent of consumers say they feel better about a company that delivers custom content, and are therefore more likely to buy from that company!
That’s where a solid content marketing strategy comes in. Social media sound bites will only work for so long without bigger content to point to. Without being able to dive deeper for information with you, your prospects may soon turn to those who can supply it.
Content can be just about anything: articles, pictures, video, infographics, whitepapers, podcasts, blog posts, and more. Content is where you can share your depth of expertise in your industry and provide your customers with the wealth of information that you have about the implications of their decisions. It’s not generally about you, but about you can do for them. And finally, it’s about inspiring them to take action to choose you.
Constantly give people valuable information for free, time after time and over time, and you will earn their trust and probably their business. Neglect your social media channels, and they will ultimately become detrimental to your brand. Turn your social media pages into “me me me” sales pitches, and watch people start to regard you as a telemarketer to be ignored.
It’s really that simple.
What advice did I end up giving this marketing director? Tell stories. Address objections. Solve problems. Invest in your content and make it so compelling that your fans and followers and customers will want to share it with their contacts.
Put all this quality content on a blog you start. Or on a YouTube channel you set up. Or on a photo gallery on your website. Or on your Slideshare account. Use your social media channels to broadcast and market it, and then interact with those who engage with it.
Your business has things to say; you probably talk about it all the time! And the peanut-butter-and-jelly pairing of social and content marketing can help you say it in a way that will ultimately send people down your sales funnel.
Lynn Christiansen Esquer is a principal at SocialProse Media. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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100% Agree. relationships are key!