Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Simplifying Social Media: 6 Tips for Successful Social Media Interaction

You've chosen your social media platforms, selected some helpful programs, and now it's time to dive in. But you may feel an overwhelming sense of trepidation. How exactly do you interact with people via social media? What do you say? How do you say it?

In other words, how can you make your social media interactions successful?

In our next post, we'll look at ways to keep the content flowing - so you're never without something valuable to say. But first, here are 6 tips for social media success:

1. Put Yourself in Your Audience's Shoes

Take a step back and look at things from the perspective of your customers and followers. Ask yourself, "If I were in their shoes, what information or resources would I find helpful or valuable?"

In addition, ask yourself how you would like to be addressed. A person's tone may be less discernible online than in person, but it still comes through. For example, if you're in the business of educating people about a certain topic, make sure your posts incorporate a helpful tone, rather than simply barraging them with facts.

2. Provide Items of Value - for FREE

The main goal is always to sell your products or services. But the process begins by first establishing yourself as a credible business and then getting your name out there (i.e. marketing). By offering free, valuable content, you are reinforcing yourself as an expert in your field. You are also creating a connection with people, which makes them more likely to purchase your products or services - especially over someone else.

Also, remember that because of the Internet, people know quality content when they see it, even if it is in an area they aren't familiar with. Offering limited or flimsy content will only drive people away. You don't have to offer the moon on a daily basis - just be sure that what you provide is something your audience truly needs or wants.

3. Be Yourself

The Internet is saturated with thousands of businesses similar to yours. So if people are following you and/or your business, that means they relate to who you are

Thus, don't be afraid to let your personality shine through. As always, be professional above all else, but don't feel as if you have to fit into a cookie-cutter mold. If your business is just you, don't be afraid to post photos that give people a glimpse into your world, thereby strengthening that connection. Even if it's something as simple as the music you're jamming to as you work.

4. Don't Just Talk, Listen

Social media is a great way to get to know your customers and target market. If they had specific needs or wants, they'll tell you. If they don't like a feature of your latest service, they'll share that too. The days of relying solely on surveys and test groups are long gone. (Though those tools certainly still have their place.) Social media allows you to gather invaluable data, in real-time and right at your fingertips.

5. Don't Just Talk, Engage

As mentioned above, people follow you because they want to relate to you. That implies a two-way connection. Utilizing social media can't just be about you spitting out information - no matter how valuable it may be.

You don't have to reply to every comment or post, as that's obviously unrealistic. But make a point of truly engaging your followers. When someone posts a question on your blog, respond and answer it to the best of your ability. If your followers start a discussion on your Facebook page, get involved. Show your audience that you care about them.

6. Encourage Your Customers to Engage

Take things one step further - motivate your audience to engage with each other. Don't just let the bulk of conversations be between you and individual followers. Create a community environment where everyone feels involved and welcome.

This can be accomplished by creating contests, asking your followers to post pictures of your product being used, or engaging them in discussions about your product or service. Consider your particular business and come up with specific - and unique - ideas.

Does this list help ease your fears? Post any additional thoughts, concerns, of questions you may have when it comes to successfully interacting online.