To engage with customers and start conversations that can lead to business, there’s no doubt that social media is a key component. But connecting virtually can be a challenge, which is why Erin Cowley of Maceys Grocery Store, asked the OPEN Forum community for advice about her social media activity.
“I'm worried about my social media posts becoming repetitive and boring,” Cowley says. “How do I keep the content I share new and interesting? I've been working for a brand new, small company as their online marketing/social media help and would love any advice on gaining and keeping interest in the company through Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and/or Pinterest.”
Take Advantage of Available Resources
Just as there is a social media outlet for just about everything, there are corresponding tools to help keep your content fresh and current. “Try Google Trends and Most Emailed News,” suggests small-business strategist and entrepreneur coach Bennett Johnson, an OPEN Forum member, who owns Arete Business Methods.
Johnson advises browsing what is trending and selecting, sharing and commenting on a few hot topics in order to connect to your target audience. “Write blog posts using those stories as examples,” he says. “Place the keywords of the news stories within your social media tags.”
OPEN Forum member Timi Garai is a client marketing manager for Antavo Viral Contests. She recommends using Post Planner: “This resource has features that help you find the most engaging content on Facebook and offers creative ideas for posting, such as questions, text-based status updates, trending content from your niche and the most viral images and quotes,” Garai says.
Involve Your Customers
Starting conversations on social media with customers whenever possible is ideal. Collect materials from them, such as photos, videos and essays, that you can share later on your social media channels, Garai suggests. “Fans love to see their content again, so collect it and use it in posts.”
Observe the 80/20 Rule
In order to create enjoyable and engaging content, stay on the topic of your expert subject matter 80 percent of the time and let them know you are a real human the other 20 percent, says OPEN Forum member Wayne Cichanski, co-founder and managing partner of Digital Blitz SEO. “Some of the most viewed items we see are silly things that you would never guess people would view,” he says.
Remember to keep it social by adding some fun content along the way that may not be directly related but matters to your local and online communities, agrees OPEN Forum member Gina Storr, social media manager and online business consultant for Cyber GMS. “For example, one of my clients caters to families, so I share articles about young people in the community.”
For clients with content niches, Storr takes advantage of Google Alerts and the iPad app SkyGrid to get a stream of interesting content moving. She also uses Buffer to schedule posts, Facebook Insights to find the best times to post there, and tracks Twitter content on Tweetreach.
Those on social media will take the time to read and engage if they feel like you’re offering valuable information, says OPEN Forum member Russ Waddill, partner with Neos Marketing. “Subscribe to and regularly read items relevant to your customers that can educate them, even if it is not your original content,” he suggests. “There are a lot of really smart people you can learn from in the social media community. Use this information to help your customers learn something, and they will reward you.”
OPEN Forum member Doug Bintzler, laboratory director of DNA Analysis, agrees. “Since my company is in a scientific field, I look for articles and research relevant to our business and post a summary with a link on both Twitter and Facebook.” He suggests looking for current issues that revolve around your small business and sharing them.
Understand the Various Platforms
Keep in mind that Facebook is a paid media platform, says Matt Plavoukos, head cook of BeBrite Diner. “You need to promote posts with Facebook to reach and engage. Google+ is critical to support good SEO, but your consumers may not be active, so while publishing content there is important, set your expectations accordingly. Pinterest is a great driver for e-commerce and retail.”
Achieve even more impact and mix things up by sharing Instagram pictures with Twitter and Facebook, and do polls with Twitter, suggests OPEN Forum member Ryan Clark, founder of Luxury Branded, which helps luxury brands go viral.
The wide variety of suggestions on creating engaging social media from the OPEN Forum community makes it clear that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Analyze your business and try these tactics, and you’re likely to see a marked increase in engaging social media posts and resulting business.
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