Thursday, January 19, 2012

Are They Listening to You?

Rumor has it that social media is gaining in the "white noise" label. Instead of providing followers, likers, clickers, and engagers with inspiring, upbeat, exhilarating content and satisfaction, it's starting to become the doleful, sad-eyed, here-we-go-again obligation. With so many people engaged so often and so much in social media websites, we all feel like we need to show up. Unfortunately, this party isn't fun for everyone anymore.

As a business, this means you've got to step up your game plan. It's time to explore strategies that won't land your messages in the totally-tuned-out stream. It all comes back to giving your listeners value. Here's some tips to get your marketing campaign back on the right track:

1. Know your audience. This is nothing new. Business 101 that you should have taken and mastered years ago. Know the likes, dislikes, habits, affections and longings of your target market. Do what it takes to find out what they want, when they want it, and how they want it.

2. Know your social media sites, and what people use them for. Do you really  need a presence on Twitter, Facebook, Stumbleupon, Evernote, Pinterest, Digg, Flickr, and every other "sharing" site out there? There's something to be said about getting your name and brand known. There's also something to be said about ineffective investment of time and money, as well as knowing how best to reach your target market. Do your homework and find out which road is the best road for the street signs you want to put up.

3. Give your audience value. Now that you've got their attention, give them something worthwhile. There are thousands of blogs, websites, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, and even good old email newsletters to be had out there. Why does someone want to tune in to you? Because it's worth their time to hear what you have to say. Keep it interesting and worthwhile, and they'll even come back for more.

4. Be real. Telling everyone that you have the greatest product in the world is no longer the way to have them believe that and buy from you. You have to prove yourself. Which means being honest, real, and trustworthy in all the interactions you have with clients and customers. They need to believe in you. This is the reason you don't hire someone to run your personal social media profiles. It has to be you. If you need a profile for your company, create one that is seperate and easily identifiable as being a company profile. But don't expect that to be nearly as successful as your personal profile. Nobody wants to talk to the gatekeeper - they want the real story from the horse's mouth. Give it to them. Take the time to let people know the person behind the product.

5. Use strategy. Again, this is nothing new. But lots of businesses seem to think that having a social media presence is enough. It's not. You're only part of the white noise if all you do is exist on Facebook and occasionally Tweet something that you think is interesting. Social media is, after all, a "social" thing. The idea is engagement - getting in on conversations, joining groups, and becoming a voice. Find your target market and engage them. Join relevant groups and lead relevant conversations. When someone is interested, know how to help them find out more about you and your product. Have a plan in place and a strategy in mind.

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