Social media marketing is continually becoming competitive. Pushing your updates, comments, or posts out to your connections is becoming less valuable. Why? Well, your connections are being inundated by others in their network bombarding them with other information.
Whether it’s your blog articles, infographics or simply sharing a page on your website, your update, post or comments need to be found and seen in social communities. Why else are you spending time in social media marketing? The difficulty within social communities is the amount of content being published every day. Your content is becoming increasingly harder to find or even be noticed.
Whether you are telling people what you’re doing (Twitter) or confirming where you are (Foursquare) or showing people what you’re doing (YouTube), you are spending time raising the awareness of your business. That time has to ultimately have a return on investment.
If you’re in the media department the first response would be to spend money sponsoring posts by advertising within the various social communities.
For anyone in the marketing department following strategic processes or in non-media communications, you might be wondering what your options are besides advertising? Try tagging!
Social Media Influencers
Let’s define an influencer, relative to social media marketing, as a person who has a large and more importantly active following within a social community. This person may be an expert in their field or have a level of popularity within a community. We do want to separate a influencer from brand ambassadors or even brand influencers. For more about these two topics please read “How Brand Influencers And Brand Ambassadors Are Different” by Brooke Ballard, another SteamFeed author.
We want to be clear a social media influencer isn’t someone who is purely based on the quantity of followers. If that were the case they could not be a valuable influencer. In order for them to be classified as an influencer they have to have engagement with their followers and in turn their followers have engagement with the influencer.
Engagement in social media marketing is defined as a dialogue and not what most businesses do, which is to push out their updates like an ad. Social media marketing cannot be used as though it were interruption advertising on TV or radio. Likewise you cannot use automation in hopes that it is the end of your social media marketing process, rather keep in mind it is only the beginning. The rest of the process requires human beings to listen and interact in a dialogue.
Many of us have gone to our LinkedIn account and posted an update, shared something on our website or perhaps from around the web. The update or post in LinkedIn reaches your existing group of connections and that is about as far as that post will go.
If you were to locate someone within your connections who has a wide reach in the social community, then one message by that person will reach a larger audience. As an influencer they would have ability to make the message interesting to get engagement by the their network, who in turn would pass the message on to their network. In a short time you your message would reach thousands of people. This is why social media marketing has such huge potential, but only when executed strategically, with human beings and with engagement in a dialogue based on relationship marketing.
Curating and Nurturing Your Social Media Postings
When we think of curating something the first thing coming to our mind is an art exhibit, however, in social media marketing we are going to define this as organizing and selecting information you will present to your connections. This process means you need to find relevant content to your business, posting it to your social community accounts, and engage with your followers.
You can of course share something you posted on your company’s blog or website, however, you will be far more effective if that information was on a industry publication where you might be a guest author. A similar analogy would be the difference between giving a prospect your brochure compared to having an editorial in the newspaper. The newspaper editorial will have a greater impact on the prospect than your brochure.
You’ve organized the content you’re going to share, determined an effective headline and presented the benefits of what you are sharing. If you leave this shared post as is, chances are it will fade off into electronic never-never land never to be seen again.
In order to avoid having Peter Pan save you, your best course of action is known as nurturing what you have curated.
Let’s take an example of a post in my LinkedIn account that has not been nurtured. In this case the author was tagged in this post, however, without their engagement, the best we can see is the post having 65 views in 12 days.
In order to nurture your post in a social community like LinkedIn, you need to start by adding a comment to your post. As part of your comment, you will want to tag someone from you network by name. As you type their name LinkedIn’s system will start to try finding anyone matching the name, so you can click on them. The same happens if you were to tag a company.
In the above example before completing the name of the company SteamFeed, LinkedIn found the company so I can click on them to tag them in the comment.
Once a person is tagged in a comment they will receive a notice from LinkedIn informing them of the tag and recommending they respond.
Who you tag is important. You will want to have identified influencers from your network, which means developing a relationship with them and engaging in conversation before you start to tag them. This might include that you reciprocate and engage in their posts.
After the people you have tagged have engaged in the conversation, don’t even think about walking away! Your next step is to re-engage in the conversation, comment on what was said and starting tagging more people to engage in the conversation.
As the conversation takes life the views, comments, and likes will start to grow giving that post more exposure and thereby getting your brand name out to the community through thousands of people.
You will find spammers wanting to get into the middle of the conversation and if that happens clean up their comments by removing them. Keep the conversation clean and healthy.
The Nurturing Results
During the month of September 2014 in preparation for this article, I curated and nurtured posted articles from other SteamFeed authors into my LinkedIn account. The results were quite interesting and clearly shows how nurtured posts had more exposure than non-nurtured posts.
The author, Jessica Ann, engaged in this post and we were able to bring other people into the conversation. After two days we had 322 views, 11 comments and 4 likes.
The author, Brooke Ballard, engaged in this post and we were able to bring other people into the conversation. After three days we had 546 views, 8 comments and 1 like. You will notice, compared to our first example, we had less comments and likes, with more views. This has clearly something to do with who was engaged in the conversation and how many people they had in their network.
The author, S. Anthony Iannarino, engaged in this post and achieving the best example of nurturing. After eight days of activity we had 1,063 views, 12 comments and 4 likes. The constant activity on this post helped to generate the exposure it deserved.
Curate and Nurture or Waste Your Time
Making social media marketing work for your business requires more than merely posting or using automation to pretend you are doing social media marketing. Relationship marketing takes more time, but is more effective over the long run. Listen to what is being discussed, provide relevant responses, engage in a dialogue. One post that is nurtured is worth more than 10 posts that are pushed out through automation.
This type of engagement can provide similar results to sponsoring updates that have no commentary or engagement by anyone. Why spend advertising dollars on posts you are not going to nurture?
Building relationships with the right people in the social communities can expand your brand’s reach to a much wider audience, generating more traffic to your website, and ultimately more leads and sales. The process will aid in building a loyal audience through your authority on the subject and credibility you are building.