(Read Time: 5 - 7 Minutes)
Lately things have gotten insane when it comes to Social Media.
You've got the big 4:
You then also have Google+ hot on their heels, as well as a whole host of targeted and niche sites that have started cropping up.
Heck even Google and Bing are using social media for search engine rankings now!
In light of this, I wanted to share with you what the top 5% of SUCCESSFUL companies are doing with their social media presence to actually make real profits via social media, rather than just gain "followers", which is a rather quaint and outdated notion that can actually hurt your business.
100 Followers vs. 10,000 Followers?
It has become outdated -- not just in marketing terms but also for sales, traffic and conversions -- to simply look at the number of followers or "likes" your company has on social media sites.
Because it's not just about quantity anymore.
Pure numbers can actually HURT your company's SEO, and content sharing abiltity on major social media sites if your "friends", "likes" or "followers" don't interact with your content and brand.
In fact, did you know that Facebook uses an advanced algorithm -- and Google does too -- that takes into account not just how many followers you have, but more so, what percentage of those followers actually ENGAGE and INTERACT with your company and your posts?
It's true and it's becoming a bigger and bigger component in determining how many people see your content AND how high you rank in the search engines.
This "Interactivity Percentage" is being used by Facebook to determine how much of your content to display on user's walls, and being used by Bing and Google to determine how influential your page and content is vs. the pure volume of users that happened to "like" your pages.
In turn, you will actually HURT your company's reach, search engine results and bottom line by going after as many followers as possible instead of garnering a smaller number of higher quality and loyal followers.
This is a cautionary tale for companies that gain a social media footprint by trying to be all things to all people and then wonder why "this whole darn social media thing just doesn't work..."
Now that you understand a bit about quality vs. quantity, let's talk about what the top 5% of social media marketers and successful businesses are doing so that you too can start to gain real and tangible results from your own social media efforts.
What the Top 5% Do...
The most successful companies using social media to generate real PROFITS for their companies -- the top 5% -- are doing certain things that your company is probably NOT doing.
Here is a list of just a few:
- Specifically targeting their niche, not all-comers
- Creating GREAT content -- NOT just engaging followers
- Ensuring their profiles are up to date and enticing
- Rarely making sales pitches
- Delivering immense value to their audience
- Having a blog to redirect followers that want more
Let's talk specifically about creating GREAT content vs. just simply engaging followers.
Most companies think that if they hire a "passionate loyalist" or "brand advocate" that their social media quandary is solved forever.
Unfortunately, this couldn't be further from the truth.
The way social media is evolving, there is a paradigm shift evolving whereby the rules of engagement are becoming no different than they are for your regular company website and business.
In other words, when you walk into your local car dealership, do you want to know about the salesperson's children, what they ate for lunch or learn about the company party this weekend?
Or do you simply want to talk about the car you came to look at, take it for a test drive and talk numbers and financing?
Heck, you might even subscribe or "follow" alerts that gave you timely information about upcoming models, proper vehicle maintenance techniques, or how to lower your monthly payments -- but you certainly could care less about all the other frivolous stuff.
You want to deliver valuable CONTENT and actionable information -- not unlike what you are reading right now.
This is how you forge a long term, loyal, and even passionate relationship with the customers you are trying to reach.
Now don't get me wrong.
I'm not saying that you should abandon your roots, or be boring in your message, rather I'm saying that the reason users want to follow you in the first place is because of the INFORMATION they think they are going to get -- meaning valuable, engaging -- and yes, even fun -- information, not random frivolous information.
The path to brand awareness, loyalty and trust lies in repeated and consistent value added to your users' lives.
When social media was "new" -- and even now unfortunately for the 95% that get it wrong -- companies thought that if you just "engaged" your followers, when they would be ready to buy, your company would be top of mind.
As company after company has found out, this is no longer the case -- if it ever was in the first place, even when social media was still a novelty.
You see, what happens is that over time, people that follow your blog or social media presence because you are "entertaining" them, become the exact types of prospects you DON'T want.
In other words, those that don't value your products and services and haven't been "trained" that your news feeds and content are designed to build credibility, trust and help them in some very real way, not just bring a smile to their face, poke them, or get them to click the "like" button on your latest photo from the company party.
The Bottom Line:
The rules of engagement online -- and specifically social media -- are evolving such that they are mimicking a more traditional value proposition.
Let users/followers/visitors get to know your company, gain valuable insights and information about what you offer and about the industry you write about, and eventually they'll want to buy something from you as they come to see you as a trusted authority.
Make sure your company blog and social media presence are structured in such a way that you elicit passion, trust, authority and loyalty from your audience in a continuous feedback loop whereby all mediums play off of one another.
Then -- when the time comes -- because you've built up that equity, brand awareness and a trusted relationship with your visitors, they'll turn to you and your company FIRST before going anywhere else.
And that's the ultimate objective for any form of marketing regardless of the medium.
While you might not get OVER 40 MILLION followers like Lady Gaga, the ones you do have will become loyal and rabid fans -- which in the end is all your business should really care about!