The content marketing choices you make will have a direct influence on how your audience perceives you, interacts with you, and trusts you. If you make the right choices, you will develop a loyal following that will translate directly into increased business, a better reputation, and improvement to your bottom line.
1. Choose Your Content Marketing Channels
There is no one social media channel that is the best for every business. However, every business should pick a few channels for their content marketing efforts, because not every channel fits every need.
Focus on the social media channel or channels that make the most sense for your customers and your messages. For example, are you a:
Dentist with a local following? Facebook might be a great channel for you.
B2B company that is making connections with market influencers? Twitter and LinkedIn might make the most sense.
Design company that’s ready to show off its coolest material? Instagram and Pinterest are fantastic places to showcase your work.
2. Choose the Tone That Represents YOU
Once you decide which social media channels fit your business, it’s delve into how you want others to perceive your company. To do so, think about your company’s voice and the information you want to share.
As you make these decisions, consider both what your audience will respond best to and the medium you are using to convey your message. For example:
Technology company on Facebook – This could be a good place to ask your audience questions, share educational videos, and post photos that demonstrate your quirky sense of humor.
High-end restaurant on Pinterest – It’s time to show you are a true foodie and you’re willing to share your vast knowledge. Take out your camera and take shots of your delicious dishes, locally sourced ingredients, and beautiful décor. These photos could link to interesting articles about the meals you created, your chefs, local growers, recipes, and more.
Travel agent on Instagram – Want to show how much your customers love the great trips you’ve arranged for them? Share the beautiful pictures of their amazing adventures. When your followers see the incredible places they can visit, they’ll get ideas for booking their own vacations.
3. Choose the Right Content To Share
Now it’s time to start sharing!
The first rule in sharing information via social media is to remember that, whether you’re sharing via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or any combination of channels, it’s a SOCIAL process. That means you shouldn’t look at social media as a straight advertising effort.
You can of course mix in an offer for a deal, information about a service, or details about a new product. At the same time, remember that the bulk of your sharing efforts should be about strengthening the relationship between your business and your audience. Once you’ve built up trust and appreciation for your organization, customers will be much more likely to choose you over the competition.
Here are some examples of content you can share:
Your own blog posts and videos – You should preferably share content that contains more information, advice, and “how tos” than marketing.
Articles and videos from influencers in your market – Make sure to give the original creator of the piece credit. That will help establish your trustworthiness, keep you from being a plagiarist, and gain some attention from the influencer who put the piece together.
Pieces developed by your customers – The fact of the matter is that comments from your customers will always be more trusted than your own. In fact, customers rank word of mouth as a crucial influencer when buying consumer goods, big-ticket items, and financial products. In addition, 91% of B2B buyers are influenced by word of mouth recommendations when making their decision to purchase. Check out the piece I wrote on how to include customers in your content marketing for further ideas.
4. Choose the Right Time To Share
If you send out social media updates all willy-nilly, you will have a hard time establishing credibility or gaining audience interest. You will be much better served by developing a content marketing schedule.
Here are some ideas to keep in mind as you set up your content marketing schedule:
Time of the year – You can base your messages around holidays, seasons, or the weather. You also should keep in mind what dates might cause your customers to make a decision or change (for example, tax season, end of the business year, health care renewal, or Black Friday).
Events – Your messages can change depending on what events you and your audience are interested in. For instance, you could focus on the speakers at an event like Social Tools Summit, cutting-edge topics to be discussed at Dreamforce, or prominent women in business for the Massachusetts Conference for Women. For more ideas about taking advantage of an event, read the piece I wrote about how to develop a ton of content by attending an event.
Influencers – Make a list of influencers you want to build relationships with. Each month, make sure you add to your schedule opportunities to post articles from their blogs, comment on their posts, and/or repost something they have posted.
5. Choose To Be Human
While it's important to plan ahead as much as possible, there are some things that have to be done in real-time. Remember I said that social media is all about being social? Well, it's not very social not to reply when someone interacts with you.
Yep, you actually have to answer people. That "real live" interaction is something that frightens many businesses. But the truth of the matter is that when your audience replies to something you sent out, you've been handed a fantastic opportunity.
Show the people who follow you that you're not just a robot or an uncaring business. Connect with your customers Take advantage of the moment and demonstrate that you are truly trustworthy, personable, and human.
A digital conversation can be similar to a live one:
Someone tweeted your post? Say "thank you!"
An admirer posted a link to your blog post? Retweet them and let them know how awesome they are.
Did a person comment on your Facebook or LinkedIn post? “Like” their comment and make a comment in return.
Even complaints are a great opportunity to prove that you listen and respond to your customers. Be polite and find a way to take the conversation out of the public eye. If you offer a variety of non-social media channels for customer support (e.g., email, phone, and chat), you will be able to take the time to truly understand the source of the issue. You will also provide a convenient means to settle issues in a personalized, private manner. Who knows – you might even transform a detractor into a loyal customer!
6. Choose To Be Trustworthy
Whether you are talking digital or not, your customers want to know that they can depend on you to follow through with your promises. For instance:
If you offered a deal, honor it.
If you told your customers that you couldn’t solve a problem immediately, send regular updates about how the issue is being handled.
If your customers let you know that they loved their experience with your products or services, ask them if they’d be willing to write you an online review.
Direct customers who need assistance to additional resources, even if you aren’t the organization that can provide the help needed.
The choices you make when it comes to content marketing will have a big influence on whether your audience trusts you. The stronger the trust between your customers and your business, the better chance you have of improving your bottom line. And that’s a good choice indeed.
Have additional ideas about great content marketing choices? Let me know about them via email or hit me up on Twitter at @HollyChessman.
About the Author
Holly runs Holly Chessman Marketing, a premier marketing firm that provides strategic advice, digital services, and social media guidance and education. Named one of New England’s Top 40 Influencers in Content and Digital Marketing, Holly fully understands the power of online engagement. She is passionate about implementing marketing strategies that result in quick growth, rapid revenue and happy customers. Holly has worked for a variety of tech companies, as well as spearheaded her own marketing consulting firm. She is regularly quoted in a variety of major publications. Holly is also not afraid to embrace her nerdy side (as evidenced by her love of Neil Gaiman and her “talking” TARDIS).
This article was originally written by Holly Chessman and published on Maximize Social Business.