In Part 1 of this series on using social media as a marketing tool for your MSP, we addressed the need to approach social media marketing with a well-designed plan, and some questions to help you formulate your plan. In Part 2, we’re going to delve into how to create relevant and effective social media content and provide some specific tips for getting your name and message out there in the social networking space – the right way.
We noted that you can have different purposes for using social media, but I’m going to focus on the two most common: to attract new customers and to communicate with existing customers in hopes that they will be more likely to a) continue to do business with you and b) refer you to others, thus bringing you new customers.
Content: Give them what they want
Too many businesses look at social media posts as just another form of advertisement, and the posts they write sound like mini-ads. But they’re missing the point. The reason for using social media is not to create clever sound bites about your brand that fit into 140 characters or less – the point is to build relationships with customers and potential customers.
Let’s think about the best way to build a personal relationship: A person who spends a first date talking about him/herself and ignoring the other person’s interests and needs is likely to find that the first date is also the last. Think of your social media posts as your “first date” with potential customers. Even when the objective of a post is to communicate with your current customers, it’s likely that others will see the post and it will help them form an opinion about how company and how it treats its customers. If that opinion is favorable, it can result in new business.
So the first step is to find out more about your target audience. What are their concerns, issues and interests? When you get questions or input about your services via email or phone calls or other one-to-one communications, respond to them individually but also use those questions and issues as topics for your social media posts. But pay close attention to how you word those posts. Remember that people don’t want to read a litany of self-promotional information. What they really want is solutions to their problems.
If your posts provide tips that customers find useful in their own businesses, they’ll keep following you and they’ll be more likely to recommend your services to others. More comprehensive solutions may be beyond the scope of a social media post. However, you can use social media to point your followers to your blog posts, white papers, videos and other materials on your web site that go into the details of solving their problems.
Consistency: Stick with it
We live in impatient times. We expect instant gratification, immediate payback; we want results right now. And if we don’t get that, we decide our efforts have been wasted and we move on to something else. That causes many people to lose out on what could have been beautiful relationships – both in their personal lives and in the business world.
Building an effective social media presence, as with most things of value, takes time. Once you’ve mapped out your plan, you have to follow through. That’s why it helps to create and stick with a posting schedule. Some businesses flood the social networks with posts for a few days and then go silent for days or weeks. If you have many good posts, dish them out slowly. Don’t deluge your followers, and don’t disappear for such a long time that they forget you exist. Maintain a constant presence and remember that quality matters more than quantity. Make them look forward to your next post.
Content and consistency are important factors in the success of your social media marketing plan, but something else that matters is which social venues you choose for disseminating your posts, and how well you master the use of those social venues. It’s not enough to create a few well-crafted “tweets” every day and send them out there into cyberspace. Each social venue has particular features (such as the Reply and Retweet functions on Twitter or the Notes, Events, and Groups features in Facebook). To get the most out of social media marketing, you need to learn how to utilize those features to more fully involve your audience. In Part 3, we’ll look at some of the major social venues and some ways to leverage their particular strengths.