September 13, 2013
We’ve all learned by now that a gaggle of Facebook friends and ‘likes’ does not equal a rocket ship of monster profit boosters. In fact, for many, a social media fanbase lacks the ability to quantify, and can, therefore, can feel like much ado about nothing. The truth is, if you don’t have a Facebook audience that actually wants to interact with your content, you’ve wasted your efforts. Likes are meaningless without the genuine desire to support your company. So how do you build legions of engaged social media consumers? With consistency, perceived value, dedication and a little bit of good luck. We can’t help you with the last must-have, but we demystify the first three below.
Incentivize Your Fans
Let’s face it — human nature is wired with a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” mentality. As such, it’s important you give the world clear reasons to join your social media brigade. That means bringing your demographic very clear incentives to engage.
Since you want them to do far more than just click ‘like’ on one of you posts, it’s critical that you offer valuable discounts, offers and intriguing content to make all users feel they are getting their time and money’s worth.
Sweepstakes and giveaways are huge when creating a loyal audience. Coupons are also effective, as long as they do more than just shave a few dollars off a purchase. The idea here is to create a bona fide perceived value with the services you provide. That’s a grand start to creating lasting consumer relationships.
Create Valuable Content
You know the difference between fluff content and pieces with genuine value. For starters, make sure to follow the 80/20 rule when you draft content. In this case, that means hawking your goods and services a maximum of 20% of the time in your content, and providing valuable information and news about your industry during throughout the rest. In fact, if you can do it with a 90/10 ratio, all the better. Don’t ever attempt a social media sales pitch; instead, woo them with valuable information.
How do you know what content is actually useful to your demographic? Here are some strategies to keep in mind:
- Mix it up. Write a variety of posts, and use Facebook’s analytics to determine where people are clicking, and which pieces folks comment on and respond to.
- Take a cue from marketing guru David Meerman Scott and empower your team to start newsjacking. This means you’re dedicated to covering big stories in your niche the moment they unfold; ideally before major markets jump on board. Tying your brand to hot-button news items the moment they happen is a genius way to make a lasting impression.
- Be proactive about listening and responding to comments and complaints from your userbase. If they take the time to share their opinions, they at least deserve a response; and if many are touting the same issue, it’s integral that you respond, and make that known to all who gave you the feedback.
Use Intelligent Content Strategies
There are a bundle of savvy content creation techniques that consumers across the board seem to appreciate. Follow these tips and your audience is likely to be far more engaged in everything you produce:
- Schedule social media updates in advance. Because the time and day you launch your posts can make or break the amount of people who see and respond to it, you’re best served to plan this out methodically, rather than posting impulsively. There are a bundle of tools like Hootsuite that allow you to schedule unlimited posts far in advance.
- Using quality images and videos is also a key strategy. Facebook, as a whole, is a visual medium, so play to those strengths by posting amusing and eye-catching images as frequently as possible. A contest touting a giveaway from your company is one thing; that same post with a photo of a fabulously grumpy cat will get you thousands more clicks and entries. Pictures are powerful — use them wisely.
- Finally, create appropriate content categories for your posts. One-size-fits-all does not work for content creation; users like to see where a post falls, categorically, before committing time to engage. The more you share about the topic and theme, the more likely you are to convince someone to go deeper. Your Facebook page should showcase these categories as well.
Use Facebook Applications and Tools
There is a substantial selection of tools that assist business owners in these efforts, and it’s foolish not to incorporate these into your social media strategy. Competitions and giveaways both feature specific apps in Facebook, making the process volumes easier. Wildfire is an excellent example of an easy and effective application to assist with these tasks.
Additionally, remember that metrics are your friends. Don’t forget to study your metrics carefully after each campaign launch to measure effectiveness. Many assumptions you carry about your audience will often prove to be untrue, so let your analytics tell you the truth about what they want to see and engage in, and be proactive about responding to this data.
Irreplaceable Human Contact
Above all, have a very human approach to your userbase; that’s the single greatest path to establishing a loyal group. This means having a staff member dedicated to sincerely responding to emails and posts, without the need for obvious canned responses.
Limit your broadcasts to a reasonably paced amount as well. There is indeed too much of a good thing in the land of Facebook — if you’re posting excessively, it doesn’t matter if the info is brilliant and timely, you can oversaturate feeds and turn people off in an instant. Post at least once a day, but no more than three times — people will just start ignoring your excessive posts or unsubscribe completely.
If you have a legitimately engaged social media fanbase, what are the secrets of your success? And what are some strategies you’ve attempted that fell completely flat?
Digital producer, game designer, Internet marketer and staff writer for SiteProNews, one of the Web’s foremost webmaster and tech news blogs, Tina Courtney-Brown has been shaping online businesses since 1996. She’s produced and marketed innovative content for major players like Disney, as well as boutique startups galore, with fortes including social media, SEO, massively multiplayer games, social networks and project management. Tina is also a certified Reiki practitioner, herbalist, nonprofit director and true cooking diva. Learn more at her personal website, or find her on Facebook and Google+.