Ways to Plant Social Media Seeds
Social media is all about growing your brand's outreach and engaging your audience, Sundeep Kapur, author and digital evangelist at NCR Corporation, explained at the Publishing Business Conference & Expo in New York City this week. While social media is a powerful marketing tool, there are more seeds that need to be sown.
"Twitter is a lot like Hyde Park in London," said Kapur. "There are a million people ranting and raving, but only six people are listening. At the end of the day, my goal is to have more people hear what I have to say."
So, how do you go about reaching more than six people out of a million with your message?
Think of your social media strategy as a bird feeder. "Sprinkle a few seeds for cardinals in your bird feeder," said Kapur. "That bird will come back for more, and get comfortable with your bird feeder in the process." Once the cardinal is comfortable, it will bring a friend. Then that bird will bring a friend and so on. The cycle will become a trend and grow from there.
Citing the recent security breach at Epsilon in which major credit card companies and retailers' databases and email lists were exposed, Kapur said to be sure your customers feel safe in dealing with your brand. "This has opened up a new wave of customer vulnerability. Customers need a sense of security."
Bird seed was the main ingredient in the bird party at the feeder, but what's relevant to your fan base? Once birds (i.e., fans) flock to your social outlets (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and company blogs), it's important to keep them there. Other than offering standard special deals, discounts and coupons, providing engaging content is a must.
Content needs to be provided not only in social media spaces, but in your email campaigns as well. Each item should fit with the outlet you're using. For example, Twitter is effective at getting out your message, Facebook is useful in starting two-way conversations, and a company blog is a good way to provide better, more in-depth content.
What's more, you can use Twitter to help you decide what's actually relevant. For example, Kapur tweets his ideas for email subject lines. His "first responders" give him feedback about which subject line will work best — the poor man's A/B test. The lesson here is to always ask for feedback. Social media is a great tool to leverage feedback to your advantage.
Another way to acquire followers in addition to providing relevant content is by telling them why they should be interested in you. You have to do more than simply asking people to "like" or "follow" you. "Otherwise, you'll be just like Kohl's," said Kapur. "It has millions of Facebook fans, but what's the value in that? It says, 'Be part of us, we are millions strong.' This is less effective than just providing the reasons why people should subscribe to your messages."
Kapur suggested that you write down the answer as to why people should be a fan or follower of your brand. This way you won't be stumped if someone asks you the question. Take some time and think about why your brand is important.
Social media is "like a cable company," Kapur said. "We have 900 channels, but we only really want six or seven." Find those six or seven channels that your customers are on and provide relevant content across all of them. "Don't put all your eggs in one basket," Kapur cautioned.