July 20, 2018 - WRITTEN BY GEORGE WANG
Think about scrolling through your feed on your favorite social media platform. What do you see?
There’s probably a lot of stuff you couldn’t care less about. A few funny pictures and videos. The ever-present ads for a million things you don’t want or need, and maybe one or two you do.
If you’re using social media as part of your business strategy (and if you’re not, you probably should be), this is the crowd you need to stand out from. It can feel overwhelming. What should you even write about?
Think about social media like chatting with a friend at a public cafe (but be careful not to get too chatty—see below for more on that). Don’t shout obnoxiously or be pushy about selling something... there’s too much of that in people’s feeds already. Instead, have an interesting conversation that others might “overhear” and want to chime in about.
To get you started, here are three topics to help keep your audience interested, and three topics to stay away from.
In a perfect world, every person who looks at what you have on offer would just “get it.” Fortunately, even though the world isn’t perfect, answering the questions your customers (and prospective customers) have about your business gives you a great opportunity to connect.
This kind of post could cover a variety of topics that people have asked you about, or address just one particularly interesting or important question. Make sure to encourage your audience to chime in with their comments and follow-up questions, and respond promptly so that they know you’re really “listening.”
One social media marketing trick that’s become popular lately is “trendjacking,” or trying to exploit a currently trending topic in order to increase your brand exposure. While it can give you a temporary boost in readership and engagement, if you try to jump in on subjects that have nothing to do with your brand, aren’t relevant to your customer base, or are too sensitive, it can come off as callous, tone deaf, and exploitative.
When there’s a lot of buzz about an event, it can be tempting to join in on the conversation. But unless the event is relevant to both your audience and your brand, and you can handle it in an unquestionably tasteful way, it’s better to limit your commentary on social media—or avoid it altogether. There are more reliable, less risky ways to build your audience.
The core of good content—and successful content marketing, whether through social media or a blog—is providing value to your audience. One great way to do that is by addressing common concerns, problems, and needs your intended customers might have, and offering a guided solution.
How-to articles help you demonstrate your expertise in your field, while also showing your audience that you’re interested in helping them even if they don’t pay you to do so. That helps build trust in you and your brand, which is invaluable for building a relationship. And if you offer a paid solution to the problem as well, it’s only natural to mention it in a Call-to-Action at the end of the article. Just don’t get too caught up in the marketing—focus on providing clear, genuinely useful instructions.
There’s a place for selling in your social media strategy, but if your entire strategy is to sell, sell, sell, people are going to get tired of you. Nothing turns off the average social media user faster than a page full of unabashed advertisement and demands to buy.
Instead, keep your content focused on things your audience cares about. Talk about the things that bother them about the industry you’re in. Talk about the problems they want solved (as long as they’re related to your business’s identity or the solutions you provide). Have a conversation. Show that you understand what they need. Then, if it makes sense in context, tell them how your offering can help.
“Listicles” are ubiquitous on the Internet, and while they can have issues, they’re also highly effective. When people are shopping around for different options—for dinner, for a new phone, for a way to improve their life—they go to Google and look at lists of the best and worst.
Of course, you must be careful not to be spammy or unoriginal. Remember, you want to give your audience something that will actually benefit them. Make sure only to post lists that are relevant to their needs. If you’re smart about it, you can even use listicles to plug your own product or service in the context of its position relative to competing options.
Think about the last time you saw a social media or blog post with a title like “How was your weekend?” Or how about “TGIF!” Or even “I haven’t posted in a while….”
Did you have any interest in reading further? Did you feel like the person posting actually wanted to connect with you? Or did you just scroll right past?
Here’s where our comparison to a friendly chat breaks down. Don’t forget, your social media and content strategy has a purpose: connecting you with your prospective customers. Make sure the topic is meaningful. Every post is an opportunity to build your relationship with your audience. Don’t waste their time and yours on idle chatter that doesn’t do anything to advance that goal.
The guidelines above should help set you on the path to making your social media and blog posts work for both you and your audience. If you need help coming up with titles, there are a variety of tools available to help give you ideas.