Many companies are hesitant to adopt the social media movement because of the uncertainty of negative comments or results.
The fact is that negative conversation will happen regardless of whether or not you are engaging in social media, so don’t hesitate, just jump on the social media bandwagon and engage. Social media has become a necessary extension of traditional marketing and, more realistically, an “x-factor” that can really make a different. I would like to share the five keys to social media success:
1. Be Genuine
Being genuine with your actions and personality helps establish trust, which is the key to creating and maintaining relationships. In fact, it’s that personality and honesty that will grab others’ attention and establish a strong brand reputation for your company. The more your audience believes you are genuine, the more receptive they will be to listen, distribute and become an influencer of what you say or post.
Creating an audience of influencers is the goal to achieve champions and supporters of your brand and promotions. Gaining that trust won’t happen overnight, but once it is established, it is important to maintain and not get caught up in the “quick fixes” of social media.
2. Engage in the Discussion
Engaging in conversations is the most important key to success as well as the most effective way to be genuine. The great thing about social media is that you don’t need to know the people to join the conversation. Social media connects you to people who have similar interests but to whom you would otherwise never speak. There are so many discussions out there that you can learn from simply through jumping in and engaging in the conversation.
When you are proactive in finding conversations and offering your advice, input or expertise, it will help build and maintain an audience. This helps get your audience’s attention, so they will think to engage with or recommend you next time there’s a question in your area of expertise.
If engaging your audience isn’t a top priority, you will lose them or, worse yet, have them turn against you or your brand. The best way to gain and maintain an audience is to authentically engage.
3. Build Relationships
Building relationships goes hand in hand with engagement. When engaging with others, you start to establish that trust and build on that relationship. Social media is the perfect forum to create relationships with partners, customers and potential customers. Simply by reaching out or providing advice, comments or suggestions to someone having trouble will open the doors for communication.
Twitter is a great resource to start, as it provides many opportunities to meet new people and learn from their knowledge or expertise. Building relationships using social media helps open many doors and provides you with endless opportunities to engage and build your audience. The greater the reach, the more effective your content and marketing campaigns will be.
4. Provide Valuable Content
When you provide valuable content, people will be encouraged to participate in your conversations — as well as forward that content along to others. Useful and informative content is the reason these people will follow and ultimately engage if you provide quality content versus quantity.
The value of the content posted should be focused on what your audience deems valuable, not what you think they should know. The best way to figure this out is to do some research and listen to other conversations, forums and or blog post comments. See what your customers are talking about, and tailor your content toward those topics. Focusing on the value of your content will inevitably end up increasing your reach, your brand awareness and the success of your social media campaigns.
5. Provide Fresh Content
Although it’s cliche, it is true: Content is king! If you have a few minutes of spare time, why not cross-post an article you have read, retweet information you found helpful or ask someone what they are doing now? Social media provides the ability to update on the fly and inform your audience with the latest news.
These sites shouldn’t act as or replace your company’s quarterly newsletter; that’s not why people listen to you. Fresh, informative and genuine content will drive return visitors and keep their interest. By keeping your content fresh, relative and current, people are more likely to become frequent visitors and ultimately influencers.
As you can see, these five keys to success in social media are very much intertwined with one another. Social media is only successful when you are genuine, personal, proactive, and provide value to your followers. So don’t hesitate — get engaged and build your brand.
Allison Canty is social media coordinator at Double-Take Software.