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This article was originally posted on the Social Media Experts blog. It has been updated for Seriously Social.
Whether you are new to social media or considered a social media expert, the truth is that you will always be learning and have questions.
If you are wanting to use social media to help market your business, you will be looking for the most effective way to increase your followers, engagement and traffic to your website. However it’s all too easy to get stuck on these metrics, when leads, sales and profit should be the driving factors.
We tend to think of social media as a shiny new tool in our marketer’s toolkit. In many ways, social media has been around for a very long time! In Tom Standage’s book, Writing on the Wall: Social Media – The First 2,000 Years, he looks at the ways humans have interacted socially over the millennia and how the recent return to social media isn’t all that new!
We can become obsessed by the tools and mechanisms, follow the “best practices” of so-called social media gurus and it’s easy to become confused and give up.
I want to go through 3 social media questions that get asked often, and I hope we can learn to break away from the herd.
#1 The 80/20 Rule…
Should I share my own content 20% of the time and other people’s content 80% of the time?
Have you heard of the 80/20 rule?
It’s known as the Pareto principle and came from the observation that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population back in 1906. Since then this ratio has been used to describe many things and more recently has been used to describe how one should share on social media.
We’ve been taught that being overly self-promotional and “salesy” will put people off and you should look at sharing other people’s content 80% of the time and leaving the other 20% for your content.
I would agree that pushy sales tactics rarely reap rewards on social media but that doesn’t mean that you should refrain from creating your own content.
With so much content being created and shared online, you need to make sure you are creating quality content that engages with your customers. It doesn’t need to be pushy or “salesy”- but it should be content that creates interest and engagement.
As marketer, Mark Schaefer puts it- it should be content that ignites.
If you share other people’s content 80% of the time, you are sending people away from your content and website. I’m not saying don’t share other people’s content, but don’t just share it for the sake of the so-called 80/20 rule.
Think through your strategy- share quality content that will engage with your customers and make sure that you own a large part of that content. Make sure you are focussed on building relationships online that will translate into leads and sales.
#2 How Do I Get More Followers?
It’s very easy to chase followers and to focus on the big social media stats!
Have you ever wanted more Facebook “likes”, Twitter followers, your Klout score or Google+ followers?
The problem is, if you only chase these statistics you could end up with a large number of irrelevant followers who never engage with you.
Instead of looking to increase your followers, look at building your community and building relationships with people and businesses relevant to you.
It is true that having 50,000 Twitter followers or 20,000 Facebook fans can give a feeling of importance, but if only a small proportion of these people engage with you or drive traffic to your website, you’re probably wasting your time and money.
To help with growing your Twitter followers and building your communities you could use tools such as:
For finding and building relationships with relationships you could use:
Finding the influencers in your niche is a very important strategy. Marketer, Paul Shapiro goes deep into how to do this in his article Get More (High Quality) Twitter Followers by Stalking Influencers – worth a read.
I’ve also written about how to grow your Twitter followers organically the right way and why you should never buy Twitter followers.
Finally if you want to grow your community on Google+, have a read of previous Social Media Experts article I wrote on How to Grow Followers on Google+
#3 How Authentic Should You be Online?
A dictionary describes “authentic” as being “of undisputed origin and not a copy; genuine”.
We may feel we’re being authentic online and we may feel we’re marketing our businesses authentically too.
But what does that mean practically?
How important is that?
Is that the same as being transparent or honest?
It’s becoming more difficult to stand above the crowd with the sheer volume of content being created each day. You need to find your niche and you need to create quality content. However, one way you can stand above the crowd and to be unique is by being yourself – being authentic.
For millennia, humans have done business with other humans, and despite us living in this digitally connected world, very little has changed. For further discussion, I talk about honesty and authenticity and how you can use social media responsibly in a this podcast.
A few years back I gained a new client as a result of a personal tweet. Most of the other tweets I had posted on social media and marketing had laid the groundwork, but it was the tweet where I mentioned I was walking in a local park with my kids that clinched the deal! I was seen as human, doing something real and fun – something that other humans do.
Don’t be afraid to show your human side or the human side of your business. It could make all the difference to your sales figures as a result!