Are you ready to capture the crown, take the throne, and finally rule the kingdom when it comes to growing your business?

Content marketing remains a powerful, effective method to nurture your audience and build a community. But with the influx of contributors, how are you beating out the competition?

When it comes to using social media as a marketing channel, your beliefs may need an overhaul. There’s no more showing up just to show up. Your audience wants a piece of you in the form of customized content that’s entertaining, inspiring or educational. And, that’s not even enough these days.

While content is still king, it’s no longer alone on the throne. Engagement is alongside, sitting pretty as queen. That means responses and action from you and your audience are REQUIRED. Together, quality content and involved engagement rule the social media kingdom together. These two tools have the capability to make social media one huge advantage in your business.

Engagement means you can have conversations and impact other people.

Whereas quantity was the currency in past days, today’s content is about quality and uniqueness—with a sprinkle of personality and pizazz—delivered where your customers spend time, on social platforms. People want social platforms to remain social (and so does Facebook).

Suck it up buttercup! If you want to rule your niche (or even just grow your business a bit), the magic happens where original, custom content meets community engagement. That’s the one-two punch you’ll need.

Welcome to my NEW weekly marketing tips! What are you implementing in 2018 to get results when it comes to social media marketing? Here are the two tactics I believe will help.

Posted by Smart Bird Social with Meghan Monaghan on Monday, January 15, 2018

Action and Conversation: How Social Media is Changing

Social media has always been about interacting with other people. Unfortunately, many businesses got caught up in posting links to ‘helpful information’ as a means to show value and to keep up with the need for lots of content.

I believe that strategy came from a common misconception that posting on platforms shows you’re active and a good resource for information. Kick that belief to the curb!

Social media has always been about interacting with other people.

What shows you’re active on social media is (wait for it) being active on social media. You know, actually talking to people on social media and relating to them on a personal level. Answering their questions. Having discussions. Reaching out. In other words, engagement!

As for posting with the hopes of being a go-to resource for links to helpful articles? That’s not going to work anymore.

In today’s crowded market, being a resource only works if you are THE SOURCE. Getting your social media community to interact with you takes original content that people care about (aka relevant) and that encourages conversations (aka engagement).

In 2018, you need to stop being a resource and BE THE SOURCE of information.Click To Tweet

You don’t have only your human audience to please. Algorithms rank everything you publish. The more your content engages, the more likely it will get seen.

Algorithms view the lack of engagement as an indicator of undesirable content. They’ll let your post sit on your feed without distributing it. That renders your content useless.

So, if you think engagement doesn’t affect your social media marketing, think again.

Are You a Giver or a Taker?

Here’s a quick exercise you can do to assess your content’s value without looking at any metrics.

  1. Choose one of your social media feeds.
  2. Review your last 20-30 posts by labeling each one “you” or “me.”
  3. Count your YOUs and MEs.

YOU = content that educates, informs, entertains, or inspires your audience for free (you’re helping them in some way)

ME = content that helps you make money or improve your business (such as sales, surveys, affiliate links, product descriptions)

Are your posts mostly benefitting you (lots of MEs)?

Or is your social media content focused on helping your audience (lots of YOUs)?

This exercise isn’t scientific, but it tells you what your content reflects about your business. You’re either a Giver or a Taker.

What does your social media content say about you?

There’s a reason why “you get what you give” is a saying. It’s true! The more you give to your fans—that means content, engagement, support—the more social media will be a real contender in your overall marketing plan.

Now, go one step further with analyzing your posts. Count how many of those posts require a click to access the information.

Clicks to blog posts, videos, and other platforms equate to WORK for your audience. They have to click and they don’t even know if that click is worth their time. Respect their time. Do the work for them. Give value without forcing your fans to work for it.

Highlight your longer content with a teaser so people can decide whether to click your link.Click To Tweet

You know that whole TL;DR thing? It’s one way to summarize your content that is “too long, didn’t read” into a helpful snippet.

Apply TL;DR to your social media posts to improve your content’s performance. Do the work for your fans. Yes, you want to drive traffic to your site. So, balance the linked posts throughout your feed.

Or, even better, combine TL;DR with a link to “more info.” Not only does this provide value, it also gives the reader a chance to decide whether they:

  • care about the topic
  • want more detailed information
  • want to invest more time in your link.

In doing so, you’ll build a TARGETED community who appreciates your knowledge, advice, and experience and who wants to engage in relevant discussions. Isn’t that the point of why you’re on social media in the first place? (The answer is yes.)

Custom content and engagement on social media - Summarize your point

Highlight your longer content with a teaser so people can decide whether to click your link.

How Do You View Social Media?

Stop looking at social media as a selling tool and a repository of links. Instead, think of social media as the place you go to hang out, converse, and connect with other human beings.

I’m constantly flabbergasted how businesses ignore their followers on social media. If you’re asking questions of your audience, then you’d better respond when they answer. And if they reach out to you, why aren’t you participating in that conversation?

Social platforms are more effective as a communications tool versus a selling tool.

Every week, I go to my Twitter Facebook, Instagram feeds and randomly answer questions that businesses are asking in their posts. It’s their way to engage their fans. Sadly, more than 50% never respond to my answers. So, why are they on social platforms? What are they doing? Does anyone believe that ignoring your fans is a way to convince someone to buy?

If you think that your fans don’t notice your responses—or your lack of responses—you’re wrong. I repeatedly have followers like, reply to, and share my responses.

Content and engagement - people are watching your responses

People are watching your responses or lack thereof. How do I know? Because people often SHARE, like, or reply to my responses.

Your audience is watching. They’re judging and evaluating. Whatever you’re doing—and NOT doing—makes a difference. You’re either a Giver or a Taker, and people can definitely tell the difference.

Ignoring your audience means that there’s a good chance you’re hurting your business on social media. So, really consider if it’s the right marketing channel for you.

Social media is a way to communicate WITH your audience. Learn about them & they'll learn about (& from) you.Click To Tweet

Think of social media as your classroom and you’re the teacher. You’re at the front of the class and your students are watching. It’s your job to inform them in a manner that keeps their attention. Address their pain points and lead them to solutions. When they need more help, who will they think of? You!

How Can You Improve?

Every day you have the chance to impact people and involve them in a conversation. That’s engagement.

Once you change your mindset about social media, your need to feed the Content Monster will change. Instead of loading up a bunch of links to articles in your social media management tool, ask yourself:

  • What will I teach my audience today?
  • What can I share today that will make a difference in my audience’s life?
  • How can I enlighten my audience in less than five minutes?
  • What will I do to help solve their problem today?

The answer might be a weekly online show. Maybe you host a live Q & A chat once a week. Perhaps you record several one minute videos and distribute them throughout the week. What about a sound bite?

Whatever you come up with, start believing that the value of social media isn’t in overloading your feed with links but in delivering easily consumed value and engagement.

YOU as the Differentiator in Your Strategy

Social media isn’t about selling and it isn’t free. It’s a channel that requires an investment, not only of money and time but also of you as a person. And, that’s one of the differentiating factors about social media content in 2018.

People want to see YOU in your content and they want to engage with YOU on social media. The brands that do this will surpass the ones that don’t.

Let me re-phrase that a bit.

Your fans will find you through your CUSTOM CONTENT – the kind of content that only you can produce since you’re an original.

Your fans will fall in love with you (and buy from you) through your ENGAGEMENT.

The two co-exist like peanut butter and jelly or Kim and Kanye. On their own, they’re good. Together, they’re irresistible.

Content paired with engagement improve conversion

People want to connect with other people, ideas, concepts. They buy conviction, personality, and belief systems. There’s more riding on your content and engagement than what’s at face value. Hiding behind your content won’t work. Playing things too safe will hold you back.

Sprout Social surveyed more than 1,000 U.S. consumers and discovered that many people do want brands to engage in social discussion and their values. And they want them to do it on social media. (Although if they had asked me, I would have said “no thanks” to brands getting involved in the political fray.)

“Brands that take a stand in the right way can turn potential risks into business opportunities. People actually want brands to engage in these conversations and communicate their values. What’s more, they want brands to do it on social media.” – Sprout Social

That doesn’t mean expressing every detail of your life or all of your views on politics. Concentrate on what’s relevant to your audience, what aligns with your business, and what’s core to your mission. Your personality will shine in the process and humanize your brand, making you more relatable and appealing.

Welcome to what social media marketing looks like in 2018.

Social Media Content and Engagement in Relationship to Your Business

Custom content mixed with engagement opens the door to your social media fans, invites them in, and sometimes they’ll stay for tea and biscuits.

Blogging still works, especially for getting found in search engines. However, it’s a long time commitment, so offering more bite-sized types of content is a wise way to deliver content. And social media is the perfect place for short snippets of valuable information provided with a touch of branding.

Content aides your audience in understanding their problems and their solutions as well as why your business is the right choice when it comes time to seek assistance. That’s why it’s so important to invest in custom, relevant content that appeals to your niche. It’s one successful method to foster trusted relationships and convince your fan to say yes to you.

Custom content and engagement work well together to help your business.

The real boost occurs when you take that original content and pair it with conversations in real-time on social media. In my experience, content marketing works better and faster when engagement is added to the mix. Why? Because it humanizes your brand. It puts a face on a logo. Together, content and engagement make the perfect couple.

When it comes to purchasing decision time, who do you think your customer will choose:

  1. the business that has a nice website and looks good on paper? Or,
  2. the business with a personality, name, and face and who pulls at their heartstrings?

Your answer determines whether or not social media content and engagement are important enough to include in your marketing plan!

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Meghan Monaghan
Meghan Monaghan
CEO/Co-founder at Smart Bird Social
Meghan is a digital marketer with expertise and certifications in visual content, social media, web design, email marketing, blogging/content marketing, landing pages, and sales funnels. She helps entrepreneurs and very small businesses get found in search and social via custom content and do-it-yourself marketing tactics, systems, and strategies that she teaches online.

In an effort to empower business owners with knowledge and confidence, she creates content that informs, educates, inspires, and entertains. She contributes to blogs, including Social Quant and AccessWP, and can be found wherever there are rescued greyhounds afoot.

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