“OMG if I use social media I can go to all these awesome sites and tell people about my product/service/website? And then they’ll buy my stuff? That’s so neat!”
That’s the initial thought process when someone considers social media marketing.
And it’s dead wrong.
People aren’t on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, YouTube to BUY YOUR STUFF. They might, as a byproduct of seeing you there – Twitter referrals consistently convert well for my products, for example. But heading out to a social media site to “get” people to BUY YOUR STUFF won’t work. Here’s why:
THREE PILLARS OF SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING
There are three “pillars” or methods one can use in their social media marketing attempts. The best strategy uses all three. The weakest and least affective uses the first only (and it’s, unfortunately, where most people get their feet wet, decide it doesn’t work and give up).
Pillar One: Broadcasting
When you’re broadcasting, you’re talking about yourself, your product, your service, your website. You’re using the social media sites as a way to transmit your (marketing) message to others. Yes, it’s necessary. Customers, web site visitors, prospects have friended you on the various social networks and it’s another way in which you can (and should) update them when there’s something worth updating. But it’s still just you yammering on about yourself.
And social media isn’t about the “me” (me talking about myself) it’s about the “you” (your customer, prospect, reader.) And that’s where the next two pillars of social media marketing enter:
Pillar Two: Customer Support
No, not just helpdesk kind of stuff (although that can be a part of this pillar). But supporting the people who have friended you by providing tips, info or news related to your niche. If doesn’t always (and shouldn’t always) have to link back to your site, and it doesn’t always have to have a link at all. You’re a dog trainer? You’ll help folks out with training their dogs. A real estate agent? Tell folks the myths about buying foreclosures.
What’s relevant to the people who’ve friended you? Talk about it. Having opened yourself up to your niche in this way, those who are following you will often ask questions which you should, of course, respond to (support them!).
Now you’re having a conversation. You’ve built a seedling of a relationship. When people say “social media is about relationships” that’s what they mean. Not you yelling from the rooftops about “ME ME ME!” (Pillar 1) but you SUPPORTING the people in your niche.
Do you think someone is more likely to visit your website, buy your product, etc. if they’ve had a little conversation with you before? Of course. That’s why social media click-throughs convert well for me. I talk to people. I try to support my friends on the social media platforms, they know me a bit, many of us have had conversations.
But there’s another pillar that will bring the effectiveness of your social media marketing way up:
Pillar Three: Round Robin
You’re broadcasting. You’re supporting your followers by providing them interesting and relevant information and responding to their posts (and maybe even initiating conversations when you see people talking about your niche). Now you take the “Me” out of the equation all together. You don’t exist. It’s your customers / web site visitors talking about you, your product or service to their friends and followers. This is when social media marketing gets REALLY powerful, but it’s unlikely to happen if you don’t initiate the process with the first two pillars.
If you create a positive experience for your social media friends in Pillar 2, they naturally want to “give back” to you (this is the “Law of Reciprocity”). In Twitter, this can be in the form of a retweet or unsolicited mention of how great your product it. Or in blogging, it’s a link back from their site to yours to a great blog post you wrote.
And when it’s OTHER people talking to THEIR friends about how great you are, rather then you broadcasting to people who are already following you, the effect is MUCH bigger. Someone posts that they really like my product, Crowd Mountain, to their friends. Their friends check it out. comments for They’ve gotten a personal comments for instagram recommendation from someone they trust (not me, the seller) for the product. Are they now even more likely to buy? Of course! And that’s the REAL reason why social media converts so well for me – because it’s not about ME it’s about YOU.
It’s not because I’m so awesome and so is my product and I tell people that everyday, it’s because other people are telling that to their friends everyday for me, without my intervention or my solicitation.
You need to educate the people you’ve friended to make this happen. How? By doing yourself exactly what you want them to do. Retweet an interesting blog post one of your friends has posted. They’ll see that you did, your other followers will see that you did, and will follow your example. Like a product? For no reason at all, without an affiliate link, tell people about it in a blog post – they will follow your example and perhaps choose to recommend your product.
Model the behavior you would like to see, and if you’re being a leader in your marketplace by being informative, helpful, supportive and opinionated (Pillar Two) people will do as you do. Evangelize for folks you support, and people will evangelize for you.
These are stages – it’s near impossible to get to pillar three without having mastered one and two. (Unless you’re Apple and already have had evangelists drooling over you). It’s an evolution from the least effective to the most effective, and you can learn as your grow.
Stop being a broadcast-only social media marketer (what’s social about that anyway?)! Move towards SUPPORTING your friends and followers, and then lead by example in teaching them how to evangelize for you.