Clutter is everywhere. Radio ads, TV ads, billboards, print ads, and even online. That was the beauty of social media when it was new: no clutter. Businesses that jumped on to Facebook or Twitter early had a pretty good chance of being heard.
But now, it seems as though every business is on social media, and with newsfeed algorithms dictating most of what is seen, or not seen, it’s getting harder to be heard, or seen. And shouting isn’t the answer.
Yet you still need to be using social media. Clutter isn’t a reason to walk away. But it is a reason to think long and hard about how you are using various social media channels, and whether or not you are using them effectively.
Here are a few suggestions that will help you stand out, without contributing to the noise:
10 Tips for Being Heard on Social Media (Without Shouting)
- Understand the platforms you are using Twitter isn’t Facebook isn’t Pinterest. All platforms are different and each of them has their own set of unwritten rules and best practices. What might work on one might not work on another. Take the time to really familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of the platforms you are using.
- Cultivate a following I chose the word â€œcultivateâ€ very carefully. Understand who your customers are, and find them. Begin by connecting with your existing customers. Remember, social media is nothing more than a digital form of word of mouth, and word of mouth comes from those who already know you and do business with you. Then move on to those who are in your physical geographic location or fit your buyer persona. In other words, choose those you connect with carefully. Don’t just look to beef up your numbers. Relevant followers and fans are more important than big numbers. And don’t ever work with a service or consultant who guarantees they can grow your following by specific large numbers. Just don’t.
- Social media doesn’t exist in a vacuum Integrate everything. Don’t think about your digital marketing in ways that are different than your traditional marketing. If you’re on Facebook or Twitter, use your traditional outlets to let people know that. Link to your social properties from your website. Put them on your printed collateral. Talk to your customers about them in person or on the phone. And by all means, integrate your marketing message across all of your social channels. None of them stands on their own.
- Share great, relevant content If you want people to be interested in what you have to say, start by sharing great content. Think of it this way: everything you post is content. Whether it is a short status update, a blog post you wrote, or sharing an article you read, it is all content. By sharing great content that is relevant to your audience, you’ll build your reputation as someone not only to be followed, but someone whose links should be clicked. By doing so, you are not only a content creator, but a content curator. People will find you useful.
- Don’t be one-dimensional I’m in marketing. I love marketing. I read about it and talk about it. But if it was all I talked about, I’d be so incredibly boring. We all have multiple interests, as do our customers. Think more about the lifestyle of the people who buy your product, rather than just thinking about your product. If you are a dog food manufacturer, don’t just talk about dog food. If something interests you, it might interest your customers. I often talk about music, sports, the weather, area events, my pets, and yes, even the coffee I drink and the food I eat. Not only will this make you more interesting, but it will also make you more human and your customers will get to know you better, which is the foundation of any relationship.
- Converse This is common sense and it ties into one of those social media buzzwords: engage. But seriously, this is at the heart of social media: being social. Talk to people. Start conversations. Respond to them. This is how we build relationships and get to know people in person, and the same is true online. I’ve made so many great friends on social media, some of whom have become clients or business partners. It didn’t happen overnight, but it happened. They get to know me, and eventually some of them want to work with me. And not all of those conversations are about what I do. Remember point 5. The other aspect of this is understanding that a conversation is a dialogue, not a monologue. You’re not just there to speak into the air. Contribute to the conversation and engage in dialogue.
- Be present To really get into social media and do it well, you need to be there. You need to make a commitment. This isn’t something you put on a check list and schedule a block of time for. You need to be there. Often. Regularly. You can be on social media most of the day without really making it a time suck. With mobile technology and the right apps you can be there and converse without too much interruption into your day. Over time it will become a normal part of your everyday routine, just like the conversations you have with those around you.
- Be yourself Let your own voice shine through. This is especially important for small businesses where you are the face of the business. In a field crowded by other businesses just like yours, it might just be your personality and voice that makes the difference for potential customers. In an impersonal world, consumers are clamoring for more personal, human experiences. Oh, and that also means you should let your sense of humor shine through. You know, if you have oneâ€¦
- Put marketing on the back burner One of the biggest problems businesses have with social media is that they view it in the same way they view traditional media: as a megaphone for pushing their marketing messages out to the masses. I hate to break it to you, but the masses aren’t sitting there waiting for your sales pitch. People are on social media for a reason: to be social. And that means we need to be social as well. I’ve found that where social media really excels is in the area of customer experience/service. And, if you think about it, there’s no better form of marketing than providing your customers with a great experience. Much of what happens on social media is less about what you want to say, and more about providing a channel for two-way communication, and responding to your customers when they come to you.
- Be patient Social media is generally not about immediate results. It’s more about planning and focusing on the long term. It’s about building relationships, and as we all know, that doesn’t happen overnight. It’s so important to have the proper mindset and realistic expectations. If you expect rapid ROI, you’ll become frustrated quickly and that will hurt your efforts. Take your time, have fun, and build something special over a long period of time.
Now it’s your turn. Take an assessment of how you’re using your various social media channels. How do you stack up against these ten tips? Where can you improve? Give it a whirl and see if it makes a difference.
Do you have any other tips for those who are afraid of getting lost in the noise?
Absolutely! The small biz doing the best on social media are those that know what their target audience expects from them–and then they consistently deliver that content.
Consistency is key, and I think it’s also important to have what I call the “social media mindset.” A lot of it comes from how you approach your social presence, rather than merely looking at it as just another tool.