Few months ago, I met a sales team lead, Ted who was looking for a social media specialist to increase his client’s business on the new technology platforms. The ideal candidate was someone who could bring 1000+ Facebook likes, acquire Twitter followers, redirect potential customers to the client’s website and improve Google ranking. Sounds pretty basic! After 2 cups of large steeped tea and 100s of Twitter and Facebook page visits, I advised him to follow a six-months plan to build a stable user base. However, he was looking for quick results and wanted all that within weeks. I tried to explain him that what he was asking for could be done with a budget under $5000, but was not recommended. His approach would not be successful in the long-term and it was not likely that the target audience would become loyal users. The 1000+ users would mostly be “ghosts” and would not engage with the brand.

Why do I remember the conversation and writing this blog post? Last month I got an email from Ted that he was considering a long term strategic approach to promote his client’s business online. He thanked me for the advice, shared his findings and gave some very helpful tips on how to successfully work with those on the fence about join social media and shared potential leads.

With that in mind I am writing this blog post on some of the best social media practices for social media engagement. This piece is based on my observations, studying social trends, listening to industry experts and reading over fifty articles, reports and blog posts.

 

Social media is about understanding your customers and building a rapport, not aggressive sales

Some traditional sales and marketing experts who embraced social media are using the medium as a technology tool to sell products and services, rather than engaging with their audience to get feedback or drive conversation. The goals are conversions and meeting sales targets. This tactic, might be successful in the short term, but would be unfavourable for the longevity of the brand’s social presence.

Majority of the users on popular networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest are millennial who follow or like brands to learn more about them before making a purchase. Social marketers should try to engage with customers and build a rapport with them. Aggressive sales could turn them away from the brand. Constant self promotion may come across as robotic and cheap and hurt the brand’s social media image.

The focus should be to listen to their audience and respond. A compliment should be appreciated and comments/feedback should be acknowledged. Every engagement is a sales opportunity, but in order to make that happen the user have to trust the brand and believe that it understands what the they are looking for.

 

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Be rational and realistic

Think through when setting goals and expectations. Social media is a great tool for tapping into new markets and connecting with customers – but it does not happen overnight. It is not advisable to jump to paid promotions immediately after creating a business page and bring 1000s of ghost users on your page.

Similarly, trying to manage social accounts independently without prior experience or research is unfavourable for the brand. Not every person who can create a Facebook page is a social and digital medium specialist. If the account is in the wrong hands, it could affect the brand’s online presence and reputation. It is best to get a professional on board to manage the social affairs, or at least a social media and marketing advisor/consultant in to assist with social media management for minimum eight to ten hours per week to help with the content and content calendar, monitor account activities, manage paid campaigns and train the staff on employee advocacy.

 

“The key to social selling is social, not selling”

~ Insightpool (Hillary Byers Settle)

People like talking to people, not robots. The person managing social media should talk with their customers, not at them. There is nothing more impact on social media than a humanized brand. The objective should be to communicate with customers and drive authentic conversation – and stay away from flooding the customers newsfeed with ads and links.

Messages that comes across friendly, respectful and less sales oriented are more likely to attract customers to your brand. The goal should be to build a connection with the audience and add value to the conversation. After developing a good relationship with the customers, the social handlers can slip in a couple of pitches of their products and see how well their audience resonates with that message. It is likely that the customers will be more receptive to the message as they now understand the brand better and can relate to it.

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“Social Media Is About Sociology Not Technology”

~ Brian Solis

Long term social media strategy should be to convert users into loyal customer. Build a relationship to make them “brand believer”. The followers should feel that the brand is relevant and speaks their language. The right content can lead to engagement, resulting in shares and retweets helping the brand to reach maximum people.

Short term tactic to mass promote the brand to random social media users or to get clicks on a link through paid adverts should be avoided. The impressions and conversion rate might look high, but customer retention and sales would be low. Mass (unplanned) promotions runs the risk of targeting the wrong audience and rubbing them the wrong way.

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Content is the King

The most effective way to attract and connect with users is by creating high quality content. The content should be engaging, informing, entertaining and most importantly relevant. When writing social content, the key is to know what not to write. You can have 10 posts a day, but that is not a wise strategy. The best content is the one which catches the user’s eye. To make content attention grabbing and share worthy it should be trendy, and have the right tone. Content with elements of humour usually do better. To make the content more shareable it is recommended to have images, memes and gifs.

To engage your audience and get them to give you their business, content should a combination of updates, offers, information, humour and sales pitch. Sales pitch should not be more than 20% of the overall content. They should be sharp, precise, with colourful images and call to action.

 

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About The Author

Malik Velani
Co-Founder, Social Infinity

I am a social media and marketing enthusiastic, a food junkie and I love cricket, pool, bowling, golf and video games. I also like photography – though it is not one of my strongest points. I am also, kind of, maybe into reading – my favourite genres are comedy, suspense, and …. religion (hence, I am a regular on HuffPost Religion). My areas of expertise are; strategic planning, social media management, user engagement, digital marketing, and team management. Super excited about my journey with Social Infinity.

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