You walk into a networking meeting go up to the first person you meet, tell them about a great sale you have on and then move onto the next person and do the same. You go around the whole room delivering your sales message.

There are one or two people interested, a couple of comments but you have another meeting and don’t have time to hang around and respond, you have to dash off.

Later that evening you join a few friends down the pub and tell them about an awesome new product you’ve launched at work, you down a swift half and leave without joining in the wider conversation.

Is this the way to build up a loyal network of friends and work contacts?

No of course not, it takes time and effort to build relationships, it’s a two-way conversation.

So why do many businesses approach social media in this way?

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There’s a big clue in the title ‘SOCIAL media’, however the majority of businesses just focus on the ‘media’ side. Many business pages push sales messages out irrespective of the platform or target market, never interacting with their audience. The vast array of automation tools now available often means businesses don’t even have to visit their platform, it’s all managed remotely.

Is there a problem with this approach? Well no, not if you’re driving regular traffic to your website which results in sales, followers are increasing and your community is building.

However, I suspect the majority of businesses that deploy this method are seeing a decline in reach, followers and traffic to their website via social media.

Social media is a crowded space and continually changes in response to audience demands. What worked last year, is not necessarily going to work this year due to the continually changing algorithms/ ‘bots’ (as I like to call them) that filter out less active profiles, reducing the reach of unpopular content.

Social media is not a place to push out all your sales messages and hope for the best, it’s not an extension of your website, the content should complement your website messages but be executed in a very different way.  

Social media is a phenomenal marketing tool, customer service portal and a great place to test products before you go to market, if delivered in the right way. It should be given significant weighting in your overall marketing strategy. 

It is not only a place to attract new customers, but also a way to interact with existing customers and really build on those relationships. You should use your social media to develop a community that knows and loves you and ultimately, they will do the selling for you.

Quite simply you need to treat social media as you would any networking event or social gathering. You need to understand your audience, why they are on that platform and engage with them. It’s not just about posting out interesting content, but following and engaging in existing customers or potential customers content too.

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If customers, stakeholder and suppliers tag you in on posts or comment on your content, like, respond and share the content where appropriate. Thank them for taking the time out to engage with your social media platform and they will be encouraged to engage with you time and time again.

This not only increases your reach, but you will be identified by the ‘bots’ as being an engaging user of social media, you’ll rank higher in the searches and your posts will be given increased reach.

In summary drop the sales pitch and start interacting with your audience in much the same way as you develop personal business relationships.

Be sociable, #GetSocial. 

  • Before launching Social Media Executive, Becs Bate worked for Nomad Games, increasing their social media community from 400 to over 20,000 in the space of three years. Website: http://socialmediaexec.co.uk/