“The key in social media is to share things of value.” Charles H. Green, Trusted Advisor
Why social media is crucial for your content
Creating fantastically valuable content for your marketing is vital, but great content doesn’t spread itself. Without help it can sit on your website, untroubled by visitors, and not reach the desks and minds of the people it was written to engage. Something is needed to get your content from A to B, and that something is social media.
Social media is your biggest content distribution tool. If you Tweet about your blogs, you will lead people straight to your website, where they’ll find the article that piqued their interest, and dozens more on subjects they may well be interested in too. The content works to demonstrate your expertise and build trust, generating good leads and sales.
Think of it as the candy-covered cottage that lured Hansel and Gretel to the witch’s lair. (Then stop thinking that, because you’re not doing bad stuff and eating children- you’re good guys.) But by advertising yourself with the kind of things that will attract your audience (like sweets – kids, it’s a no-brainer), you’ll get people to the place you want them to be. It’s a big spooky old wood out there, and you need something that guides people through it. The tasters of your blogs, written in the form of compelling headlines, are the neon fruit gums that will shine in a pathway to your website.
“Social media didn’t create content marketing, but it’s an unsurpassed tool for getting it distributed.” Copyblogger
One of the biggest points of Twitter, or Google+, is as a way of getting your content seen by a really wide selection of people. As a networking tool, it’s hard to beat, putting you in contact with far more people than you could ever hope to meet in the real world. Your growing network of followers will see what you’ve written straight away, and if they like it they’ll share it with their contacts, who in turn might share it with theirs, and so on, and so on. Valuable content creates a ripple effect, spreading your ideas across the web, to your kind of audience and often across the world.
If you’re writing a blog, you need to embrace social media – it’s not an optional extra. Otherwise all your wonderful words of wisdom will gather dust, which would be a big old waste of time. If you write it, you want people to read it – and social media is a great way of leading people to your content.
Valuable content rules for social media – a handy guide
There are many different social media options and there will be others to come, but if you want to get the best results across any social media/social network the same rules apply. Here are 7 valuable content rules to guide you, whichever social medium you select:
- Be there. Social media IS important – join the conversation or you’re missing a trick – be sociable, communicate on the platforms. And be consistent – show up regularly.
- Be valuable. Be helpful, entertaining, educate your clients – not self-promoting, annoying or boring – stop talking about yourself – know your customers – become a valuable source of information for others. All the valuable rules apply.
- Be generous, generous in the content and information you share, and generous to others – share other people’s content even more than your own – if it is valuable to your kind of customers, then share it – even if it’s a competitor who has created it. Chris Brogan, President of Human Business Works, and a genuine social media expert says to make 10 tweets about others for ever one tweet you make about yourself. Become known as someone who offers things up to others, and eventually people will come to you.
- Be interesting. Mix it up – all sorts of different types of content. Have something to say.
- Be human. People want to do business with those they know, like and trust – get people to know a little more about you – not just the work you, but the whole of you, or at least a bit of you – as much as you feel willing to openly.
- Be on message. Talk around your business mission – not relentlessly, but let the golden thread shine through your message so it’s clear to those that follow you what you stand for.
- Be polite. Say thanks to those that follow and share your stuff. And “remember your ABC – always be crediting.” (hat tip to Charles H Green for this one).
Your stream of tweets or your Facebook feed are bite sized chunks of content – make them valuable to your customers, share yours and others’ stuff, get people to get to know you – to know, like and trust you, and they’ll remember you when the time comes to buy, or recommend you when others need to do so.
Social media – the big 4 for businesses
But which social avenue to choose? Not all social media channels are the same; different channels have their own rules of engagement. You’ll be using them all for the same aim – to pull people back towards your website, and to expand your network- but it’s good to know the terrain so you can blend in like a natural.
As a business this is likely to be your number one marketplace for sharing your blogs, networking, engaging with potential clients. At present it’s by far the most popular way of sharing a business-related blog article. Twitter is a really broad church: it can work as well for professional services firms as party planners. You choose who you follow, so you can build up a targeted list of people that you’d like to connect with. Tweets are limited to 140 characters, so there’s no room for waffle. It’s possible to build really powerful connections on Twitter, fantastic both as a way of attracting people to your content, and expanding your network.
The biggest social sharing networking site in the world. You’ll find big brands there, as well as pages for businesses of all shapes and sizes. Facebook works by sharing your content with your friends, who in turn share it with theirs and so it spreads. ‘Like’ something on Facebook, and potentially it will be seen by thousands. Fun, lively, crowded. Great for some businesses, not so good for others (see: Should your business be on Facebook?)
The professional networking site, much less frivolous than Facebook, space to say more than on Twitter. A great place to publicise your blogs, connect with peers and potential clients. Commenting on other people’s discussions, and starting your own threads is great for raising your profile, although our ‘help, don’t sell’ mantra still holds. With over 100 million users worldwide, and highly ranked by Google, it’s invaluable for business networking.
Launched in 2011, this is currently big in the States, and becoming bigger in the UK too. Secure a presence here if you want to make the most of Google’s enhanced search function. Social sharing is going to dominate search engine rankings over the coming years – Google will deliver results search results based on what people are saying and recommending to each other, over and above simple keyword searches, so it’s useful to make a start here. We like the way it allows you to choose who you share information with, and it’s very intuitive to use – easy to update, easy to upload pictures and videos. Much less cluttered and intrusive than Facebook.
We’re conscious, writing this, that the landscape is changing fast. There are many other tools and the ones we mention today will date, but one thing we’re confident of is that embracing social media is crucial to the success of marketing your business with valuable content.
More social media articles
- Is your business Facebook-friendly?
- Twenty top Twitter tips
- Recommended reading – The FT Guide to Business Networking by Heather Townsend