We’re pleased to welcome Benji Hyam as a guest author on #TKGenius today. Benji is an independent social media consultant and the Social Media Coordinator at Vistage International, which provides business coaching groups for CEO’s.
The success of your social media marketing efforts depends to a large degree on your ability to build the right community. It does your business no good to have 50,000 followers or fans if only 500 have any interest whatsoever in your products or services.
Additionally, pulling in key clients, customers, or company fans will help boost your overall social media presence. Those social media advocates are essential to expanding your reach and increasing your impact.
Yet, bringing in potential customers and social media advocates can be harder than it sounds. Here are some steps you can take to begin building the social media community that will best fit your business:
- Connect with movers and shakers. In any given niche, there are usually high-profile social media players. In some cases, these players are going to also be competitors. If that’s the case, you’ve got your work cut out for you, as any attempt to interact with their followers can be seen as a flagrant attempt to steal customers. On the other hand, if those movers are shakers are simply highly-active and reputable social media users, you’ve got a much better shot at making a difference. Connect with those users, comment or reply to their threads, and even consider asking for a link from time to time.
- Look for social media users who are existing customers. Your existing customer base will be one of the most powerful components of your social media community. These are the people who not only were confident enough to buy your product, but who are loyal enough to talk about it on Facebook or Twitter. In many ways, they become brand advocates for your business, and will do more to bring in potential customers to your social media community than you would ever be able to do on your own.
- Recruit people who are talking about your business or your niche. For example, search Twitter hashtags and keywords for people talking about your niche. Follow them on Twitter, and attempt to interact with them. A user with 100 followers who can become a brand advocate is more valuable than a user with 1,000 followers that’s not talking about your business.
- Watch out for auto-followers. There are a number of scammy applications out there that will generate a large social media community by using auto-follower technologies. If you use these kinds of apps on Twitter and they discover it, they’ll actually remove you from search results. Not only that, auto-follower applications simply add numbers; they don’t add people who necessarily have any interest or connection with your company.
- Engage your existing fans. Whether you’ve got 200 fans or 2,000, engaging and encouraging your existing fans will widen your reach. Give content to your fans that’s useful or interesting, and they’ll naturally want to share it. As each of them shares that content, your follower base will grow. Referrals from friends are much more effective and more likely to reach the right people than the outreach you can do by yourself.
- Consider targeted ads. If your social media presence is on Facebook, you might consider Facebook Ads. Facebook Ads let you focus in on very specific customer demographic information. If you want to put your company in front of users between 30 and 40 in Idaho who like Indie rock, you can do that with Facebook Ads.
- Provide incentives. Discounts, coupons, and other exclusive rewards are a wonderful way to build a social media community. These incentives will bring followers in, and because they’re easy to share you’ll see a large amount of social growth. While incentives by themselves won’t build a community, they can be an effective gateway for many users.
- Offer quality content. Provide social media updates that are useful and relevant. If you have a hardware store, put up a post on repairing cabinet doors. If you’re a manufacturer of camping equipment, put up a post on emergency survival during the winter. This kind of content not only grows your follower base, it increases your company’s authority and visibility in your niche.
Social media can be a wonderfully effective way to increase your business. On the other hand, you can waste a lot of time amassing a large number of followers that will never buy anything from you at all. Follow these tips and you’ll build the right kind of social media community for your business.
Benji Hyam is Social Media Coordinator at Vistage International. Vistage business coaching groups help CEOs build successful companies. This executive coaching organization is membership-based only and provides high-level executive development programs.