If you’re thinking that social media isn’t valuable, or not worth the effort, let me hit you up with some knowledge! Forrester Research tells us “social networks have become a critical discovery point and platform.” They are now the second most popular channel for website discovery, behind only organic search.” This should be a big eye opener for everyone who is thinking about the value of social media and if it pertains to your personal or business value. This should provide you with enough evidence to start looking at whether a social media plan should be developed around your personal or business brand.
Plainly put, social media here to stay! It is also tough to do and to do right. Without the right amount of time, effort and understanding, you will be looking to build something you aren’t quite sure of yourself. So, there is a problem here that needs to be addressed.
How do you improve social media amplification for content marketing? Social media is a key component of content marketing success today, there’s no question about that. That’s not to say that if you don’t have a social media team in place or social media accounts and profiles developed, content marketing won’t be successful on it’s own. It will just take much longer for the content to run its course in amassing organic traffic.
As you can still depend on organic search reach through content to be successful, it will be much harder to get your content in front of immediate audiences without some form of amplification or outreach efforts. Without some effort to promote the content you have invested in building, the early impact and potential immediate effect and reach of those efforts will be stretched out in a longer timelines to begin lead acquisition.
So, how do we solve this problem? How can social media help you amplify your message and story to your potential customer base? How can you achieve improved social media outreach with your content marketing? The tip here is to plan and plan well from the ground up. Of course, nothing’s set in stone, but I have a few tips here I think will help get you moving in the right direction if you are just getting started.
#1 Understand Your Personas
Understanding your personas and whom you are targeting is such a key element, it often goes unnoticed or has little effort put into it to be done correctly. Without this particular step in place, who are you are trying to get your message out too? Each persona will be different based on your businesses goals and objectives. Each has it’s own personality. Who are you looking to have engage with your content? If you aren’t taking the time to develop this step properly, you are more than likely aiming a dart in the dark at a target you likely won’t hit with your social amplification. All your targeting efforts will be wasted, and you won’t have any solid results to show for your hard work. This is the absolute first step in getting things right out of the gates!
Mike King (@iPullRank) via the Moz Blog, defines personas as “method of measuring market segmentation wherein we collect a combination of both quantitative and qualitative data to build archetypes of the members of our target audience”. In other words, as he puts it into laymen’s terms “we take predictive data to tell a predictive story about our users based on past behaviors and attributes”. Tip: Take the time to build your various personas. This will help you target the right audience moving forward. There’s nothing like spending all kinds of time in social media to lack any kind of valued result in the end. Don’t rush it and put some real time into the research needed to build these out correctly. As well, you might not have one persona to build, but several depending on your approach, business, brand, products, etc.
#2 Have your Business Goals and Objectives in Place!
This isn’t directly related to social media amplification, but it will come up down the line so I wanted to tackle it. Take the time to develop your social media business goals and have them properly mapped out with a timeline. Many companies don’t consider this when looking to invest in social media teams. If you are working for a small company, starting up your own small consulting firm, or even, working in an agency for that matter – make sure to take this into account. Build the goals and objectives and bring them to the team. Show the team you are thinking ahead and have ideas of what you need to do, plan on how to get there and what amount of time it will take.
Take the lead. Think for yourself! Without completing this step, you are just spinning wheels, which will likely affect the bottom line of your efforts in social later. This always makes it tough when a manager says “so, what did our efforts bring last month? How did we do?” If you don’t have goals set in place, metrics for tracking aligned – you can’t answer and look kind of silly to your boss and the rest of your team. The best way to get started is to set two primary and two secondary goals up. This could be about capturing your follower traffic early on or get as complex as generating a set # of leads per month based on your social efforts. Be in control of where you want to go and build strategies to help you achieve those set goals and objectives (KPI’s).
TIP : Give yourself goals to stay focused, so your work and effort don’t go unnoticed! Setting these objectives helps you identify how to get from point A to Point B, and so on early on, avoiding any headaches later down the line.
TIP #2: Use the S.M.A.R.T goals setup to help you with this stage. Keep them focused on the Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time bound premise.
#3 Understand Your Social Channels
As with the personas mentioned above, social channels have personality as well. Facebook users won’t react and engage like Twitter. LinkedIn users won’t react like Facebook and Google+ won’t react like Twitter. Each channel is different and each requires unique messaging to achieve objectives. So, you have to creatively craft strategy around the environment you are working in.
“Social media marketing involves investing a lot of time, energy and creativity. It’s a total commitment that cannot be overlooked”
Rob May, Senior Content and Social Media – Ludis Media
TIP: Make sure to take the time to understand each channel and how that will both impact your business and bottom line. Understanding each social channel will also help you understand the following you are establishing for each, as they are all different. “Make your goals a concrete, measurable and achievable as possible.“ A few sample goals a small business might set with regards to social media.
#4 Position Yourself to be an Expert
How do you take the time to build your professional profile and position yourself as an expert? Simply put, you need to spend time in the trenches. You need to market yourself to your audience as a professional by contributing value to the conversations at hand. To be seen as a leader, you need to take the time to develop out your professional brand and profiles across the various social networks that best suit what you are trying to accomplish. This will help you define who you are and impact both how and what you have to say. You also need to be willing to promote other people’s content, prior to looking for influencers to help you amplify your message.
This does not mean to stop writing and contributing, but rather, means that you should focus your efforts on engaging with others, sharing others content and amplifying their messages. Social media is about building relationships, but it cannot be done one way. You need to work to help build your relationships and contacts with those in the industry. Prepare to position yourself as an expert! The old saying “you have to be willing to give to get’ stands strong here. “The internet is an economy” as Carol Lynn Rivera of Web Search Social states, “When you build those relationships and when you share, promote and comment on other people’s work in a way that adds genuine value, then your presence will be known and appreciated and the sharing will be reciprocated.“ It’s a long drawn out process though and doesn’t happen overnight. It’s going to take time. You need to be patient, but vigilant about the work, time and hours you put in to get the most out of it.
TIP: Don’t amplify only your messaging and be a ‘self promoter’. Be flexible about your ideals online and work to spend time reading influencing articles and information that help you, ones that you find interesting. Find great content and help amplify that message! It will eventually come around to you in return, while also helping you build up potential new contacts and relationships.
#5 Be Consistent with all your Social Channels
With all the social channels to choose from out there, you should focus your preliminary efforts on the core channels to get your professional profile in front of the right people! You might be asking who the right people are if you don’t have those accounts yet created. Don’t worry, that tip will be a little below this one.
“Make sure to have brand consistency across all social media channels.”
Make sure to take the time to build out each core social channel (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+) at a minimum, and ensure that are all lined up with your brand image (your personal or business profile picture/logo). Dom some research to see if others will have an impact in your industry, or if for that matter, one of the main primary one’s won’t have an impact at all. Focus your efforts in the right place. Have the same picture in place so people can recognize you quickly (visual) across the different horizons. Have your description and any links in place across all platforms to help clearly define who you are and what your expertise is in. This will keep everything consistent as you build up your expert professional profile in your industry.
My Twitter profile page (connect with me anytime!)
My LinkedIn Profile page: (connect with me anytime!)
TIP: Give it a makeover! Every few months, make sure to set a reminder to review and refresh these social profile pages. Go over each one carefully. This might include a new picture or revised logo, or an updated professional description (business or personal), along with any new links you want to promote to dedicated landing pages on your site – Mix it up. Be creative.. Yes, I used something of a fun moment in my picture (Shazam!), but it hasn’t hurt. hasn’t helped me stand out in crowds of people online with which I’ve had numerous funny compliments from professional recruiters. I thought this example below was quite creative and fun, although from a brand building perspective, it does little to reinforce trust as an expert in any field. It’s just something fun to see how creative you can be!
If you are going to take this on every few months and do a social media makeover, check out this article, which will help you achieve a full scope in 7 days across all your channels.
#6 Contribute. Contribute. Contribute to the Conversation!
You can’t build an audience and amplify your message from nothing. You need to start somewhere. Spend time researching and listening to conversations that interest you. Join in and contribute to the conversations in your communities in order to drive awareness and engagement for others about who you are. Become a voice for others and don’t be afraid to reach out to people whom you have shared information (tag them in the share!) or conversation. It’s also important to take the time to be selective about what you are publishing, or about the conversations you are having with people. Make sure to contribute value to the conversation – or you are just adding another layer of noise to already swamped social network streams.
Tip #1: Take part online! Contributing in the communities you have researched out to join is the best way to gain exposure for your personal or business brand. That means asking questions, and listening to others in the field. It also means reading up on industry news research studies and being able to provide some value to the conversations with valued comments. The conversations won’t simply come to you. You will need to take charge, engage and join in; in order to get the full value of what social value can bring to your brand. These types of conversations can be both game changers for personal and businesses, as you will also establish friendships with like-minded professionals with whom you may even share a coffee with at a conference down the road!
These conversations can help influence direct actions if used strategically as in this example below. The use of a companies brand, and the social impact of potentially losing a customer over an booking cancellation due to an emergency, impacted the brands social reputation, and thus – because of those actions Priceline had to take immediate action to avoid 2 potential problems
- Losing a valued customer because of an issue
- Having their brand tarnished with an impact from social media with any new potential customer acquisitions.
TIP #2: Be respectful in the circles and conversations you join in, because you are looking to build a professional reputation among them and position yourself as a contributor and leader. If you want to challenge an article or data you read, or anything mentioned within your industry, do it with class. Be respectful of those who have already taken the time to build their reputations, and approach them in a professional manner, much like you would in your agency office or company.
#7 Find Conversations to Join in!
This part takes time, so be patient and with multiple social channels to focus on, it doesn’t make things easier. At this point, you are now looking to find conversations to jump into with both feet. This step is about finding key influencers and communities with whom you can share your research, and writing with. Those influencers who will help you amplify your message in the long run! These outreach efforts will only help you get your content to a much larger audience, once you have taken the time to identify them.
TIP #1: In social media channels, use various types of functions to help identify conversations or communities you want to join in. This might include researching and finding a few people on channels like Linkedin or Google+ that work within your industry that you have already decided had value. Then look into where and how frequently they are contributing. This will help you amplify your social profile quicker than just waiting to be found by others. Again, you need to contribute, contribute and contribute some more! It takes time so be patient and keep working at it!
TIP #2: Use #Hashtags in your research within the social channels that accept them (like Twitter, Google+ and Facebook) to help you find what you are looking for. They make it easier to find and follow discussions about brands, topics, events and promotions. These can help you find the conversations of interest to you that are happening now and get involved. Use Twitter’s internal tool to research out Hashtags that might be of interest.
@RedBull has an amazing social media team behind them, and they push the value of social everyday using their brand and products in the extreme sports industry. Tessa Barrera who was the former head of global social media explains that there is no secret sauce to their success. “RedBull simply understands how people use social media and builds strategies around that.”
Looking under the hood a little deeper, that breaks down and translates into three things.
- Understanding how people actually use the various social channels so you can effectively use them too.
- Having a good social media strategy.
- Being authentic and real.
It can also be good practice to sit back or monitor a conversation and watch it unfold. This will enable you to see how people communicate in these short bursts and tweets (Twitter only). It isn’t quite like having a real conversation (say on Twitter which has a 140 character limitation) so you are limited by how much you can actually say. The best option is to keep it under 120 characters, so you are able to let people inject their thoughts and info into a tweet you have made.
TIP#3: Companies and brands can use social media to monitor and join into conversations with customers who require assistance. Here’s an example of how JetBlue took a slightly upset customer at the airport, and was able to communicate in real-time, updates to flight info which may have (and likely did) help them keep a customer who was upset with the delay. This is just an example of how powerful reactive social media can impact the bottom line!
With time, you will become more comfortable with your postings and social channel contributions. At this point, and if you feel up to it, jump in to a conversation you want to have a say in! But be ready to provide some value in the overall effort.
Now with social channels like Facebook and Google+, in comparison, these areas offer more flexibility and larger comment fields to discuss postings, which help draw engagement. Below I used an example of the Google+ Mashable account. This particular posting came for the CES2015 conference taking place this week, from Mashable’s Google+ wall. It generated 59 comments and 309 + ratings when I had pulled a snapshot of the interactions to use as an example. It was only going to grow with the audience over time.
All in all, these amplification techniques should help you get your professional profile setup, get you started and help get you involved in your industry. You will need to take the time to see how you can best use social media to ensure it’s value in the organization. Using the various techniques and samples above, you should be able to start building your personas, establishing your goals, building and tweaking all your profiles, and find the conversations to join. Remember, it’s a long drawn out battle. Social media takes time and lots of effort to accomplish.
Next weeks follow up article will tackle specific ways to improve and grow your social reach, so check back soon!
Any comments are most welcome! If you are using social media beyond some of these basic examples, I’d love to hear about them in the comments section below!
Latest posts by Rob May
- Setting Yourself Up For Social Media Amplification Success! - 12 January 2015
- Google Buy Now Button Changes the Game for Amazon - 19 December 2014
- Bing Releases the Three Pillars of Content Quality - 17 December 2014
- Facebook Launches New Tools to Help Pages Better Target Their Audiences - 12 December 2014
- A Guide to Developing Content Strategy – Part I - 26 November 2014