Once you recover the links that are usually lost in new marketing, you need to create value to make your audience grow. I present below 10 ways that can help your brand grow, increasing engagement and ROI, as well as conversions. The objective isn't an meaningless number but real people who are engaged and proactive.
How to become indispensable to your social media audience
1. Lead people in the right direction: unless you're Conan O'Brien, or lucky enough to have your own iconic brand, you cannot ignore the notion that if you build a community, all of these people will follow. It's highly likely that many people who know about you don't know that you're in the social web unless you lead them to you. Whenever possible, use your offline signposting to announce your online presence.
This image belongs to some of the messages used by Ushuaia on its premises to invite user participation - Source.
2. Communicate clearly: everyone in your organisation should understand -and embrace- the culture surrounding any business nowadays and take it to their customers, suppliers and anyone else they come across. This works especially well in presentations, conferences, meetings or exhibitions where you have the opportunity to make the most of the live setting to connect with anyone around you. Tell them where your brand resides in social media, what it's doing and how, and think of a way to lead them there to continue your conversation.
3. Attack incessantly: divide and conquer and aim to win. If you fail, at least you tried. There is great strength behind people. Identify those employees who have a greater affinity with new forms of communication and marketing and who can, to a certain degree, be influential. Encourage them to "carry" the brand online. Provide them with points of action. Reward them for their opinion leadership: appearing on media, writing an article / news piece about them on the main website / blog or more tangible incentives ($$$). The more employees talk about your online activity on their own personal social platforms, the quicker you'll reach more people.
4. Individualise: Why would you mention someone else in your own content strategy? Furthermore, why would you mention both the competition and your employees or even people who're not in your line of work? Well, I find it's a way of gaining credibility; especially if you quote or disseminate other people's content, pointing out its advantages and disadvantages, crediting other people's work. In a certain way it places you at a vantage point. Labelling and mentioning others with whom you could share an event, post or project could become a good strategy when everyone you quote shares the same kind of ego (more or less).
This tweet by Oscar Feito has several mentions, although it's missing a hashtag.
5. Show your streams: increase following on your social media activity by embedding your content in landing pages, websites, blogs, etc. There are several widgets available from official suppliers and third parties. They will allow you to export timelines to show them in different ways in places of significance like your website. This allows you to place your content in view of your audience and also increases your chances of establishing better social connections between your channels.
J-query is a plug-in that allows you to integrate social streams in a very dynamic way.
6. Them, not you: don't be the pretentious type of brand (or professional) who only talks about themselves. You know the type. Those who spend too much time on promotional duties instead of staying human. No one is saying you cannot promote your work. However, you won't reach many people and you definitely won't get much engagement or business that way. Being known for helping others in as many ways as possible is synonymous with things coming back to you.
7. Create the best possible first impression you can: this has to do with design, styles and excellence more than anything else. Well-defined, polished profiles images with suitable messages? Convincing and persuasive messages without being too obvious or sensationalist? An outstanding logo? Do you interact with your community? Do you do anything for your fans besides thanking them?
8. Build bridges so that people can reach you easily: an engaged community starts with a brand that is more engaged still. You can interview special guests, specialists or celebrities who're of interest to your community and to whom you have access. Or, alternatively, organise a hangout to clarify any doubts or questions about your latest project (for instance, like I did with the information session of the Stand OUT Program - spanish.) Promote your action, use a hashtag. Answer your audience's questions. Think about actions that bring you closer to your community so you can get to know them better, in person even. Becoming known for bringing people together to educate and entertain them is something that attracts attention.
9. Incite, encourage, motivate: you will usually find contests to vote for photographs and other typical stuff of the like. However, offering something for nothing can be a great way to at least grab the attention of an audience who (hopefully) may be interested in what you do. Whatever you offer must be in line with your brand's attributes. This will help in bringing to you people who are leads and, for the most part, keeping the opportunists at bay.
Josef Ajram uses very interesting incentives for the audience of his courses. For instance, this.
10. Adverts: paid advertising is something that is increasingly present in any brand's strategy. Nothing was ever nor will ever be free. If you think otherwise, time will take you to the place. With so much competition, promoting your content or making yourself more visible through adverts could be a good way to be different and stand out. I'm not talking about one-million-dollar budgets but about targets and strategy.
Are you with me? How are you becoming indispensable?
Photo credit: Quinn Dombrowski.