Putting the “Social” in Social Media

Though many recent analyses suggest social media sites aren't always the best platforms for brands to directly advertise their products to social media users, this doesn't mean that Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and so on are useless business tools.

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In fact, it's quite the contrary: social media use can be an excellent tool for increasing your brand's visibility and amplifying your company's message.   You just need to remember to keep the “social” in social media.

What exactly does that mean?  Here are three tips to get you on track when it comes to social media:

Define yourself as a media resource
Think of your social media presence as its own source for media.  You don't want your followers to see you simply as a company megaphone: you want them to see you as a resource for tips, information, and even inspiration too.

Ask yourself: Who are your existing customers?  Where are you looking to expand your sales or your brand influence?  And then what you do want to share with themWhat might they want you to share with them?

You don't want to just
“talk about yourself”

Keep in mind that you don't want to just “talk about yourself” either!  Find news that is relevant to your customers.  Post images or photographs that your followers can't find anywhere else.  Even if what you share isn't all about you, you can still define you and your brand as a resource for whatever is interesting, pertinent, or newsworthy to your followers.

 
Photo couresty jenny downing

Photo couresty jenny downing

Engage: listen and talk with, not at
Social media users are pretty savvy about recognizing when a brand's social media platforms are only a one-way street.  Most don't want to see you talking at them all day long.

Take some time to listen to the conversations that people are having.  What topics are they discussing on Twitter or Facebook?  What groups are people a part of on LinkedIn?  What are people sharing on Pinterest?  What are people doing in the images they share on Instagram?

After you've listened for a while, then you can start to engage with your followers and/or those you follow.  Retweet, favorite, or even respond to people on Twitter.  Share or comment others' posts on Facebook.  Participate in LinkedIn group discussions, re-pin on Pinterest, and like and comment on Instagram.

Finally, when you create your own content, make sure that it's something that others would want to listen to as well.  To reiterate, you want to position yourself as media resource for others.  The more social you are, and the more share-worthy content you create, the more you do to amplify your brand.

 

Think beyond audience: think community
This is what it means to be a media resource who listens to your followers and creates share-worthy content: instead of building an audience for your brand, you create a community around it.

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For an audience can only listen passively to you.  Worse yet, they can “walk out” and unfollow you.  But a community engages and interacts with you.

And when it comes down to it, having customers—or even potential customers—who engage and interact with you on a regular basis might be more useful in the long run than any static ad on Facebook or Twitter could ever hope to be.