20 Best Tips for Connecting with Your Social Media Audience

20 Best Tips for Connecting with your Social Media Audience
What does social media success look like?
It’s not about quantity of fans, followers or likes. It’s about making a measurable impact on your business’ bottom line, and you can’t do that through social media without first creating a connection with your audience.
To help guide you on the quest to social media marketing victory, we rounded up the advice of 20 experts on how businesses can spark and grow relationships with the people in their social sphere.

Begin with the end in mind

1. “I don’t care if you’re big or small. B2B or B2C. New or old. Enthusiastic or suspicious. You need to know how and why you’re getting involved with social media so that you can rightsize your resources, relationships, and expectations. A social media strategy allows your company to focus on being social, without worrying as much about doing social media and the tactic du jour. It provides guidance (and math) that help you make better and more effective decisions in the social universe.” Jay Baer for Convince & Convert
2. “How do you want to use social media to help your business? What goals do you want to achieve?Make your goals as concrete, measurable and achievable as possible. For example, if you currently get five new leads a month, setting a goal to get 100 new leads in the next 12 months is more realistic than setting a goal to get 5,000 new leads.” — Heidi Cohen for Social Media Examiner
3. “Before you hop on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus or Instagram – get hyper-focused on your audience. Who is your target market? Understand their area of expertise, what they’re talking about online and how you’ll use content to make a connection. You’ll also want to do an online audit of your competition to see how (or if) they’ve reached your target audience and where opportunities still lie. The key here is to cater your content to the specific needs of your audience. Stop trying to be everything to everyone.” — Rebekah Radice

Tell an interesting story

4. “Don’t be a brand that only talks about itself. You know the ones. They spend far too much time being promotional as opposed to social. No one is saying you can’t toot your own horn on Twitter, Facebook, and the like. I am saying, though, that one of the best ways to attract new fans, followers, and business in general is to be known for helping others in as many ways as possible. Your turn will come.” — Bob Cargill for ClickZ
5. “People want to engage with interesting stories and brands, and they want to find topics and companies that they can relate or aspire to.  It’s important that your social media content and conversations are true to your personality, your brand, your customers and your business.” — Megan Ritter for Rival IQ
6. “Instead of blending in with your competitors by slightly repurposing the same old topics that you all have written about recently, come up with your own topics that offer your unique take on situations. Show your audience that you’ve got something valuable to offer and you’ll see your audience come back again and again.” — Ryan Kettler for Convince & Convert
7. “Your prospective clients know where to go to find your product catalogs and deals. They often look to social media to provide them with very different types of material. Rather than rehashing the same exact information from your website or store, why not take the opportunity to have conversations instead? Look for users who are a part of your target demographics and connect with them. For example, a home automation company might seek out users hoping to find ways to control their appliances from their smartphones. Use short interest keywords to discover these prospective contacts and post information that can enrich their lives.” — Anna Johansson for iMedia Connection
8. “Be transparent. You don’t have to give away all of your business secrets. Take customers on a behind-the-scenes tour, actively solicit feedback, and introduce employees.” — Laura Fagan for Forbes

Respond and proactively engage

9. “Social media shouldn’t be used as a stopgap; it’s an opportunity to engage with your customer right then and there. Equip your social media person with the tools and knowledge to respond directly, or let them find out the answer if they don’t know and communicate it with confidence.” — Jana Francis for OPEN Forum
10. “Engagement goes beyond addressing customer concerns. The real power is in building relationships with both customers and advocates. By monitoring topics relevant to your business, you’ll discover opportunities to engage with potential clients and advocates.You can start by simply complimenting someone for an article they published, or sharing some of their content with your audience. Sometimes just offering to help with a challenge someone is having can be the start of a great relationship.” — Brandon Olson for AWeber
11. “Somewhere right now there’s an online conversation happening about what you’re interested in – join it. Find these conversations and get involved – keep the message short but let your passion show.” —  Dave Brown for 99U
12. “Smart brands leverage consumers’ comments, compliments and even criticisms on social media to strengthen the brand’s image. Provide an easily accessed customer service and communication channel via social media to add to a brand’s credibility.” Suzanne Delzio for Social Media Examiner

Set high standards for every piece of content you share.

13. “There is no such thing as effective social media marketing without content. Your social media strategy originates from your solid content marketing strategy. Great content gets people to share, and that sharing widens your audience to a whole new world of potential fans, friends, and customers.” — Copyblogger
14. “If you do not have great content to build your social media marketing, what will happen is the following: people will not follow you, because they don’t get anything useful from you, people will not help you build your brand and share your posts, because there is nothing to share, your accounts will not grow, your results will not be what you were looking for.” — Susanna Gebauer for The Social Ms
15. “You’ll want to find content that matches the message that you’re presenting with your own content creation. Your curated content should boost your created content and work together. This is what you use to feed the content monster every day – a mixture of your own content and your curated content.” — Peg Fitzpatrick for Buffer

Understand each platform

16. “You can spend countless hours creating content on a topic that is highly interesting for your audience. However, it may never get consumed if your delivery is not right. Every social media platform has its own culture. There are certain norms that must be followed in order to get your voice heard.” — Matthew Peladeau for Duct Tape Marketing
17. “Since different sites serve different purposes and audiences, it needs to be repeated that it’s important to get familiar with the major social media platforms used by your target audience. Avoid redundancy, and simply “dumping” content across all channels. Concentrate on the platforms where you have the highest chance to engage with your audience.” —  Neal Schaffer for Curata

Use analytics to refine your approach, timing and content

18. “Monitor specific key terms relevant to your brand with a media monitoring tool to pinpoint your community’s interests as they relate to the problem you’re solving or value you’re adding. Beyond monitoring your brand name, deciding on other keywords to track is as simple as choosing terms related to the problem you solve and mission of your product.” — Shannon Byrne for CoSchedule
19. “[…] listen to the fans and followers who take the time to find you online, and take their suggestions or feedback to heart — even if the comments are negative.” — Stephanie Walden for Mashable
20. “Pay attention to on-site analytics that most major social media platforms offer today, and consider using a universal monitoring program to help you keep track of results, mentions, and other important metrics. You can also figure out which of your posts are most successful with some good old-fashioned experimenting. Try posting at different times of day, on different days, and take note of which posts are more or less successful. Consider any other variables that may have affected the success of these posts, such as the popularity of the content. Take notes so that you can measure change over time so you can refine what times of day your audience is best receiving your posts and what kinds of content they are most receptive to.” — Rachel Catlett for Business2Community
For more tips from some of marketing’s brightest minds, check out the other posts in our 20 Best Tips series.

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