Growing your business with social media requires a good amount of work. Being social online, understanding your audience, and creating good content are just some of the social activities that may help you achieve your desired results.
By now we all should know that social media is a great way to grow your business. Right? But do you use Twitter to grow your business? LinkedIn should be great to grow your business! No, wait, should I grow my business with SnapChat? What about Instagram to grow my business? Just what social platforms should you use to grow your business?
The answer, my friend, is not blowing in the wind. We have 5 steps you should take if you’re serious about growing your business with social. The steps are:
- Micro-segmentation or find your audience
- Psycho-demographics or know your audience
- Listening or stalking your audience
- Engagement or making friend with your audience
- Relevant content or making stuff that your audience actually gives a hoot about
What? You thought I was going to tell you about “the” hot social platform for business? Let’s get serious, you have to fish where the fish are; anything else is selling you a fancy lure that looks amazing and does nothing.
Micro-Segmentation and Audience Identification
To grow your business with social you first need to understand who your audience is and where they live. You might be thinking about personas when I say this, and you would not be wrong. We’re going to talk more about personas next segment. The art of micro-segmentation is to keep splitting your intended audience down into pockets or segments of real identifiable groups that you can find online.
For example, say you sell books. You can start with types of books like cooking and science fiction. Next you use search tools like Google, Twitter Advanced Search, Social mention and others to “find” the clubhouses of these people. Do they have a forum? Do they have a LinkedIn Group? Do they use certain hashtags? Are there certain websites they belong to or comment on?
Keep branching this out until you hit your point of diminishing return. Your map should look like a tree, and your eyes should feel like they are bleeding when you’re done.
Psycho-Demographics and What Makes Your Audience Tick
You have identified and micro-segmented your social media audience for your business. Now you start to get a better feel for who they are and what makes them tick. Depending on “where” you find them, different tools are available to give you demographic and psychographic information. How old are they? What is the gender distribution? Are they negative or positive in their sentiment about your business’ products or services? Do they also like country music, the NY Mets, and baby seals?
This type of work goes into persona modeling. The difference is you are looking at real life target audiences for your business and can get a much richer analysis of who they are and what makes them tick. But to really use social to grow your business there is another crucial step: listening.
How do you most effectively engage and influence a person you've never met through your social media posts for your business?
We asked Bruce Kennedy, Social Media Manager for Cision how he effectively engages with his audience on social media.
In one word, sincerely.
"You wouldn't walk up to someone on the street and start a conversation "I think you would like to hear what I have to say on this topic," so why do that on social media? You engage with them on their terms, ask them what they want to talk about, comment on what they are talking about and build a relationship from there. Asking yourself "would I approach someone like this in person?" is a good way to take a step back and make sure you are being sincere when engaging influencers. This also highlights why influencer marketing is so much more effective. You wouldn't show up to a party uninvited, knowing nothing about the people there. But if you really wanted to go you may work your way in with someone and have them bring you along."
Click To Tweet!
- Bruce Kennedy, Social Media Manager for Cision
Stalking Your Audience Like a Hunter (aka Listening)
The majority of businesses that try to grow through social broadcast. They may do all of the above steps and then skip to content marketing or just pure advertising to “talk” to their audiences. Broadcasting isn’t talking and is why most businesses fail to harness social media for growth!
What I recommend is to use a social monitoring tool such as Hootsuite to set up many streams to listen in on. The job here is to scan the various groups and their conversations to get a feel of what they are concerned about and put your finger on their pulse. But wait, what does this have to do with growing my business through social media? It is social first, forget the media! Pretend you are at a conference at a happy hour. You walk around the room listening to conversations looking for ice breakers to “get in” on the various conversations.
Do your homework on listening and then you will be able to take the next crucial step of engagement.
Be a Friend, Make a Friend, Bring That Friend to…
I once lived in the South and the phrase above ended with Jesus. In this case you want to make friends with your audience on social to bring them to your business or content. It is called engagement. The various social platforms all have forms of reciprocity or commensality built into them. Commensality means to eat together or break bread together. The real key to grow your business on social is to master engagement. To bring your audience over to you over time. Broadcasting does not do this very well. There is no “togetherness.”
Reciprocity also means you interact with your users. This can be a challenge to many businesses, especially those with compliance concerns. Figure it out. Simple acts of liking, sharing, and commenting can go a long way to building commensality. Then, when you share, reciprocity kicks in and your audience is much more inclined to share and amplify your content.
Social Content That Wows for Business
Congratulations! If you are still reading it means you realized that buying display ads and boosting posts on Facebook is not a great way to grow your business on social! Can you create good social content to help your business grow without any of the above steps? I doubt it, but, even a blind squirrel can find a nut.
Let’s review. You’ve identified various micro-segments, real people in real groups of interest to you. You have an idea of their makeup demographically and psychographically. You have been stalking, I mean listening to them. You have engaged with them, talking, sharing, liking some of their material. Can you see how this would help you make content to wow them? If not, good luck with those Facebook ads.
If you have a glimmer, then you have identified pain points and/or pleasure points in your target audiences. Your new #1 KPI for content: “Was it shared?” Despite all the work, and it is work, not all of your content will be magic. Your hit rate will be much higher though, and you have the ability now to “listen” and get direct feedback on your content.
Growing Your Business Through Social Means Being Social
I know you still want a platform recommendation, so here goes. I like Instagram myself. But, is your audience on it? Remember, it is social on media. Forget the media part. Focus on being social to grow your business. By monitoring your micro-segmentation, you will figure out what platforms people are using and why.
Now roll up your sleeves, and get into the top 5 social activities to grow your business on social. And drop me a tweet @Josepf to let me know how you’re making out.