You’re about to launch your much anticipated social media marketing program. You’re happy because you spent $499 on that killer Social Media Marketing course from that famous guru with the hip horn-rimmed glasses, ripped jeans and spiky hair.
You have a Facebook fan page with the beautiful welcome graphic, a Twitter account, and a Google + account. Your LinkedIn Profile is 100% complete, with at least 10 recommendations from past clients and employers.
You even have those funky social media share buttons on your website.
You are a social media marketing machine ready to rock the world one Tweet, share, and + 1 at a time.
So what next? What exactly did that guru tell you?
Well, since social media is completely free, and lets you reach anybody in the world, you start sharing your specials, deals, offers, product launches and customer service policies. You can share all of this at no cost! Fantastic!
Then what? Oh yeah, you’ve heard you have to be “authentic”, so you start sharing the authentic “you.” You post every five minutes about whatever comes into your head…what you ate, what videos you like, that last meeting you had with your client. Anything and everything so potential customers can know the real you, because authentic communications is what it’s all about, right?
Oh, and you also heard content curation is cool, so you start sharing all the articles you find that you agree with, or that generate controversy, funny articles, serious articles.
And since you’ve heard that giving back to the community is the way to go, you promote tons of charities, especially the ones about the poor penguins of the Sahara, or the long-suffering grasshoppers of Matabeleland.
Your follows, likes, fans and + 1s go through the roof!
But sales are still flat. No new customers from social media.
What’s happening here?
Your Social Media Program Needs A Strategy
One thing that super-smart social media guru who sold you the course neglected to mention to you is the need for a strategy.
Well you’re in luck, because I’m here to tell you what that strategy is.
It comes in three parts:
- Narrow your focus to an ideal customer segment
- Create a remarkable difference and
- Tell a story your prospects want to hear
Your Ideal Customer
There’s an old saying: if you don’t set a goal, you’re like a boat adrift on the ocean with nowhere to go.
In social media marketing, if you don’t have an ideal target market, you’re not really talking to anybody.
The biggest mistake novice social media marketers make is they don’t have their audience in mind. They talk to an anonymous crowd.
And when you talk to an anonymous crowd nobody listens.
Instead you should focus on an ideal target customer segment. This is the niche, tribe or community that is a perfect fit for your products or services. How do you find this perfect target market?
Look at your current or past customers. Who are your best customers? What traits do they have in common? What do they like best about you? Create a target profile based on commonalities between your best customers.
If you’re a startup, what group of consumers has needs that aren’t being met yet?
For example, years ago coffee drinkers had 7-11 and the diner on the corner, and most would never pay more than 75 cents for a cup of coffee.
But there was a group of coffee drinkers who valued gourmet coffee and would be willing to pay $3.00 for it. This group was neglected and ignored by every place that sold coffee.
Then Starbucks stepped in to fill that void.
To stand out in social media, you need to focus on your ideal customer, or an ignored segment of the market that would appreciate your offering, because this group of consumers are especially receptive to you, your products and your message.
Your Remarkable Difference
What’s going to ensure that your ideal target market will actually pay attention to you? We’re on information overload. Everything looks like white noise.
As Seth Godin said in his book “All Marketers are Liars,” people only notice change, they notice something that’s different or out of place.
Having a remarkable difference helps your ideal customers notice you. It provides that change in their environment that makes them do a double-take.
What’s different about your content, your messaging, the way you interact with people? What’s your unique hook, your angle, your world view?
And will this uniqueness resonate with your ideal target customer?
Create a Story People Want To Hear
Now that you have a remarkable difference and an ideal target market, you’ve got to tell a story that ties it all together.
Most novice social media marketers want to talk facts and figures. They believe that logic will convince their customers to buy from them. Logic actually creates resistance, because they feel like they’re being sold to – and nobody likes that feeling.
Stories, when told with your ideal customers’ point of view in mind, can help you form an emotional bond with your potential customers.
You can do it with written content, online videos, webinars, seminars, infographics, eBooks, or educational email series.
Create content that educates, informs, inspires, motivates. But most of all, tell a story that resonates with your target market.
Then share this content on social media.
But Copyblogger.com presents that information in a fresh, irreverent style. They tell a story that appeals to their target market: “smart people,” marketers who look like artsy-fartsy granola types, but want to make money online instead of being poor.
And they want to make money without the cheesiness of the old-school direct marketers, with their yellow highlighters and bright red circles.
Their unique story and educational content has gotten them almost 90,000 followers on Twitter, and almost 150,000 subscribers to their email list.
Go forth and conquer
Having a remarkable difference, ideal target customers, and a story to tell are the fundamentals of a successful social media strategy. There are other important elements to consider, such as building your email list vs. having all your eggs in the social media basket, and building and managing the whole sales process from beginning to end.
But that’s material for another couple of posts. So stay tuned…
About the author: Fernando Labastida, the current blog editor for the Austin AMA, has been involved in sales and marketing for almost 20 years. He has carried a bag as an account executive for start-up and established software companies, and he has led marketing efforts in the U.S. and Latin America. He specializes in content marketing and copywriting, is a marketing evangelist for the firm Leading Results.