How To Really Get Noticed on Social Media
It can feel like you are in the old lost and found box back in school – you know – that stuff that was never claimed and just sat there forever. You’ve set up your profiles, you’re posting every day, and still no one is coming, even to look through the box. You’re beginning to think that all of this is a waste of time and that only the big boys who already have a huge brand following – like Oreo – are getting traffic on social media.
It can be pretty depressing.
But, perk up. There are things you can do as a small business to get and grow a following, not the least of which is patience – otherwise you’ll give up. Growing a following, despite some of the huge success stories you have heard, usually takes time. Be like the tortoise in Aesop’s The Tortoise and the Hare fable, slow and steady wins the race. Here, however, are some things that can make that turtle move a bit faster.
Find Your Audience
Yes, you know that you have to develop that customer persona, and you know that you must read the research and find out where they are online. If you have a solid demographic, Pew Research will tell you where s/he has the most presence on social media. As a small business, start with the top two platforms or use #2 below to add to that research.
But here’s the other thing about finding you audience. You need to do a psychological profile as well. What type of humor does this person like? What type of entertainment? What TV shows does this person watch, what books does s/he read and if you dare, what are his/her political leanings? You are never going to connect with your audience if you don’t dig much deeper than the basic demographics of age, sex, lifestyle, job, etc. Nothing is worse than posting a joke you think is hilarious and your audience sees it as dumb, offensive, or just doesn’t get it. And it’s pretty hard to connect with an audience if you don’t “speak the same language.”
Picking Your Platforms
Pew Research will give you solid information. However, you have competitors who are also on social media, and you will have the same audience. It only makes sense, then, to see what platforms they are using and how much “play” they are getting.
Conduct a competitor analysis to see what kind of following your competitors have on which channels and, as well, what type of content is getting the most responses.
Again, if you are small, wade in this water – do not dive. Once you establish yourself on a platform, you have to give it your all and you have to be consistently engaging. This is no easy task.
Decide on Type of Content for Each Platform
There actually are some pieces of research on this that can guide you a bit. On the other hand, if you have done the right analysis of your competitors, you know the type of content they are producing that is getting the most shares on each platform. So, use that as a start point and add your own voice, so that your content writing and visuals become your own trademark.
Dollar Shave Club does this pretty well. Its audience is millennial men, and its product and service solve a real problem for that group. But they also know their audience well, and they know the type of humor and entertainment that will engage them. They can be a little off-color; they can joke about things such as stinky feet while they provide solutions to the problem; and they have a huge following (and profits).
You know you have lots of options for content, but if you don’t have visuals, your posts will never fly (or be read). Never post anything on social media without a visual. They will receive 94% more views.
Posts that appeal to emotions also get viewed and shared, and the most popular emotions are shown in the chart above. Get the emotional appeal in the headline and in the very opening text or caption. Emotional appeal is probably the most important factor in Upworthy’s Facebook content being shared so widely ,and why it has about 800,000 subscribers and in February of this year, had 200 million views. This is from a nine-member team of writers.
Stories, when told well and accompanied by visuals have good appeal. They can be humorous, inspirational or personal, but they tend to be shared when they spark a strong emotion. Jessica Eckstrom of Headbands of Hope has a Wednesday feature on Facebook, featuring a child with cancer wearing one of the company’s headbands. There does not need to be much said – the picture tells the story.
Your stories can feature your team, your customers, your favorite charity and so forth. Just be certain they are compelling and engaging.
Use Current Events
Not every post has to relate to your business. Holidays, sporting events (check out the number of companies that posted comments related to the super Bowl), and other newsworthy stories can attract attention, and, if done well, will be shared.
- Involve Viewers
By asking questions, having polls, surveys, quizzes and contests, and doing these thing regularly, you will keep viewers coming back to see what’s new. Just don’t disappoint. Lots of brands have “Throwback Thursdays,” “Whacky Wednesdays,” etc. Set up a consistent schedule for your interactive posts.
It’s easy to get discouraged when you are pumping out all of that great content and not much is happening. But you cannot let up. You have to set a schedule that you can stick with, or you will lose your current readers and you might as well close up shop.
Set a Realistic Budget
While social media posting costs nothing of itself, you should understand that there will be expenses. You may need help coming up with that engaging content; you may need to pay for automatic posting, so that you do not have to try to remember while you are busy running a business.
Now To Grow That Audience
Every new startup begins with family, friends and team members. They are happy to help you out by sharing everything you post. Beyond that, you will need to grow a following that will come to know your brand and ultimately become customers. Here are a few things you can do pretty quickly.
- If you are networking on LinkedIn, you are establishing relationships with owners of niches that are related to yours. Set up some reciprocal arrangements by which you agree to access each other’s social media pages every couple of days and share posts with your respective communities.
- You should have share and follow buttons all over your website and blog. Offer something of value if visitors will share your content or sign up to follow you.
- On a regular basis, pick a few people who are frequenting your competitors’ sites and see if they have Facebook or Twitter accounts. Friend request them and then begin to post and engage in conversations. You now have access to their communities, and if you post valuable, emotional or fun stuff, they will share too.
- Find trending hashtags for your niche by using a tool such as hashtagify.me. Use them in your posts so that people searching for content via those hashtag will find you.
- Use Facebook’s Promoted Posts, if you have some articles that were popular with your those who saw them and like/shared them the first time they were published.
- Cross-promote. Promote your Facebook page on Twitter and Instagram and vice versa.
It may seem slow-moving at first, but if you keep posting valuable/entertaining content, your community will grow; gradually at first, but then exponentially as new followers also share.
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