Where’s the Buzz? Where are the fans, friends, followers, comments, links, traffic, search engine rankings? Where’s the customer engagement? You’ve heard all the hype, but where are the real benefits for your company and your customers?
You have worked hard. You decided to show up to the game but, as you soon found out, showing up doesn’t mean you will gain an audience.
If you’re like most businesses, you’ll have a challenge attracting new customers and growing your social network. Don’t give up. Here are 9 tips to help you generate the buzz you need.
9 Tips to Generate the Buzz You Need
1. Start with Crystal Clear Objectives
Failure to begin with measurable objectives is probably the most common barrier to creating buzz in your social network. Most businesses approach social media tactically and without a well-defined plan. They’re the proverbial “ship without a rudder”. Your social networking strategy should be tied into crystal clear business goals. What specific outcomes do you intend to attain as a result of social network involvement? Make sure the alignment is obvious and understood by all involved in the program. Once you’ve clearly identified objectives, then you can create a strategy that outlines which tactics make the most sense to reach and engage your audience. Defining a clear strategy can help you reach social media goals, including:
- Inbound activity
- Lead generation
- Reduction in costs CRM
- Decrease in customer issues
2. Pay attention! Show that you care
Pay attention to your customers’ preferences towards information discovery, consumption and sharing. Where do your target customers go online and what do they want when they get there? What is their social media skill level? Users have different skill levels in social media applications, just as they have different social skills in the real world. This information is essential if you want to connect in a meaningful way. Each engagement is unique to the user, long gone are the days of the “one size fits all” consumer experience and interaction with your brand. By listening to conversations you can reduce the time it takes to convert a prospect – to a lead – to a sale.
Listening is great, but showing you care is better. If you don’t, what’s the point? Be personal and put mechanisms in place to help your customers when they shout to the world “I have a problem!” Don’t worry about scalability because, if your after-the-fact fire-fighting becomes too costly, you will change your approach. You’ll find that it’s actually cheaper to “use this feedback” to train your support personnel and provide better service in the first place. Either way, your company and your customers will win.
3. Create a unique likeable personality
Whether you are a large multinational technology company or a small local day spa, the power of a transparent and authentic personality can inspire trust and trust builds loyalty. Show that you have values that your customer share and be honest in your interactions. Your personality can be the secret weapon that builds the kind of customer loyalty your competitors will envy. What does your brand stand for in the mind of your customers? I like Chris Brogan’s approach. He asks “What’s the soul of your brand? What’s the one thought that defines you – and it’s not features and benefits. Volvo = Safety. Apple = Innovation. Disney = Magic. What’s on the other side of your = sign?”
Lose the marketing-speak and talk like a real person. People share thoughts that are easy to remember and want to connect with people and companies they can relate to. If you don’t talk like they do, they’re not likely to invite you in. You can start by making up a good 140 character pitch that people will want to share. Communication is changing; you can’t keep saying the same old crap, the same old way you’ve always said it. Talk like us, and we’re much more likely to pay attention.
4. Recruit your network champions
Your social network will need critical mass to succeed and champions (raving fans) will help get you there. It is much easier to engage additional fans, friends, followers, comments, links, traffic, search engine rankings etc. if you have fresh, quality content being provided by experienced and knowledgeable experts. Your network champions, together with active members, create the critical value add for your network. Interesting stories, valuable links, and funny anecdotes proliferate quickly across the network. One of the defining characteristics of social networks is user generated content. But keep in mind, the vast majority of network participants are consumers, not creators of content so focus your efforts on your network champions. These advocates will sway over prospects, and could defend against detractors. Their opinion is trusted more than yours.
5. Test, track and refine
Failure to begin with measurable objectives is probably the most common impediment to proper social media measurement. Your social networking strategy should be tied into specific business goals. Web analytics, social media monitoring, CRM metrics, offline conversions and most importantly an integrated analysis can facilitate the feedback loop. Simply focusing on fans, followers, comments or sales can leave out some of the essential pieces of why some efforts fail and others succeed.
6. Don’t dive into social media unless you’re ready
You need objectives, goals and ways to measure success and accountability.
7. Don’t be an endless self-promoter
Know the difference between becoming a thought leader and being an endless self-promoter.
8. Don’t be afraid to try social media because it’s measured differently
ROI will be challenging with social media, but there are many ways to measure business impact. You need to have a baseline to start with.
9. Don’t try to “boil the ocean”.
Focus on your target niche and craft your message specifically for them.