When used correctly, social media a very effective method for reaching a wider audience. But how can you ensure you're taking full advantage and are using the right platforms and methods to drive the best results?
I was recently joined by Ian Moyse, a well-known sales leader who has a huge social media presence and was recently rated 2016's #1 social influencer on cloud, and #1 on ITSM, Ian has been featured in many social selling leadership reports and has advised many businesses on how to play the social media game.
Here, Ian shares his tips on how to expand your social media presence.
1. What to consider
- Influencing buyers - With 75% of B2B buyers using social media to research a vendor (IDC) and 57% of the buyers journey being done before a sales rep is contacted (CEB), the power of social really has evolved. Ian points out that even incremental decisions are being made, based on content shared through social media. 'That wouldn't have happened even 10 years ago,'.
- Transparency - The buyer and influencer dynamic has evolved - anyone now has the ability to find out everything about, you, your brand, your products, what others think of you. It's therefore more important than ever to portray yourself in the best way possible, across any mediums where potential customers may find you, in order to sway their buying decision.
- What are your goals? - It's not enough to just want to be a part of social media because you've heard it's 'good', you need to think about what it is you want to accomplish and where you want to go. As Ian says 'If you don't know where you want to go, I can't tell you which route to take.' Possible goals could be; to generate leads, to appear more established than you are, to gain a wider regional reach or to be seen as a thought leader.
2. Who are your audience?
After you've identified your goals, you then need to consider who the audience is that you want to reach.
- Customers - End customers
- Channel partners - Spread your message onwards to their customer base.
- Analysts - To become recognized in your field
- Journalists - To create an online buzz and get your brand out there
- Influencers - To improve the reputation of your business
3. How do you engage with your audience?
Social media's open 24 hours a day, so posting once a day likely won't be enough to grab your audience's attention.
What a lot of thought leaders do is they re-post their content, to do this effectively, however, you need to have a wide content library. As Ian says 'What are the chances your audience are going to see it 50 times'?
Establish a mix of good content you can re-use, and perhaps post your blog content twice a day, each day, at different times, across 2 weeks. You want to have as many people as possible see it, engage with it and share it on to their audiences. Using a social automation tools will enable you to schedule these in advance to go out at varying times.
At the same time, social media is called 'social' for a reason. It's all about communicating with your audience and starting up conversations, and these relationships need to be constantly nurtured to keep them interested, whilst also encouraging engagement.
Ensure you're also setting aside time to respond to comments and shares and building that trust through interaction.
4. How do you grow your audience?
- Focus - Don't be fooled into thinking you need to be on all social networks. If your business doesn't lend itself to visual display, why have an 'Instagram' account? Yes, it's a huge player in the market, but perhaps not for your industry. Instead focus your efforts on a few social networks suited to your industry. One way to determine this is to assess your competitors' efforts and where they're present and seeing engagement.
- Take advantage - Hashtags, keywords, Twitter lists, LinkedIn Groups - all of these are great ways to help attract your audience's attention. Spend some time researching and see how you can take advantage of each option. I would highly recommend conducting social listening to see how others are using these effectively. If you can identify a relevant niche not yet served then consider creating a LinkedIn or Facebook group and adding connections/ thought leaders in that space to it. This is a method Ian has found particularly beneficial for starting conversations, engaging his audience and sharing content (Ian's group now has over 33k members and continues to grow consistently).
- Social Selling - As Ian says, people talk to people. They don't like to feel they're talking to a bot. To do this, you need to take advantage of your sales people and give them training on how to use their social media accounts effectively, for building relationship and engaging with prospects. With 57% of the buyers' journey occurring before a sales rep is even contacted, building your employees online presence is a great way of helping influence buying decisions.
- Thought leaders - Do you have influencers, senior level employees or experts in your field that you could be leveraging on social media? This is also another great way of increasing your social media presence, building trust and adding a more human element to your messaging.
In addiion, here are some great tools which Ian recommends to help improve your social media performance and efficiency:
- Fiverr - Creative marketplace for finding digital services such as creating great profile imagery and social animations cheaply
- Ezgif - Converts videos to GIF's to make content and bit more social media friendly.
- Social media automation tools - To schedule relevant posts to your audience all at once.
- Commun.it - A tool to analyze engagement on Twitter & Facebook and to help you re-engage
The main trick is to constantly look for small gains and try to keep up to date with the advancements.
"I'm constantly looking for ways to make social media that bit easier for myself or ways to make me look a bit more professional - its' all about those 1% gains, they all add up."