Do you think you aren’t getting enough out of your social networking software? Do you fear that you’re far below the optimal social marketing effectiveness?
If the answer to any of these questions is positive, the chances are that you are right. If we go into deeper analysis, you’ll probably notice that you’re encountering one or more of the following challenges:
- You’re not getting enough engagement
- You’re not seeing community members turn into customers
- Your community is not growing anymore
Anyone of these three issues can grind your business to a halt. A combination of two, or even all of them?
So, your community building efforts aren’t showing results, and your business stagnates because of it. Firstly, you’re not alone. These are common challenges businesses face. We can help you. Here is a list of 10 effective ways on how to get more out of social networking software.
1) Organize a plan
Although this may seem obligatory without saying, the fact remains that many entrepreneurs dive head–first into social networking without any plan whatsoever. Needless to say, such an approach is very, very wrong.
You have to first create a social media marketing plan. Focus on generated leads and conversion rates instead of trivial factors like retweets or likes. To be successful, you have to set a concrete, attainable, and measurable goal.
Discover insights that tell you how to set yourself apart from the competition. Or, try to look up to some of the strategies the marketing giants are using.
Only when you provide engaging content can you get real engagement from your audience. And engagement is the base of all social networking software!
2) Audience Targeting and Connecting
In order to be able to show your goods, you have to know clearly who you’re showing them to. A lot of businesses struggle with clearly articulating who they’re targeting – and that results in confused messaging.
“If you’re speaking to everybody, you’re speaking to nobody.”
Getting to know your audience and its traits, qualities, and behavior is vital to competent social networking strategies.
Start by creating clear buyer personas for all potential community members who will buy from you.
Then validate your assumptions through analyzing behavior data, skills, and interests, and classify them accordingly to the best results.
3) Lead and encourage communication
You have to allow the freedom of communication between your audience, as you expect them to turn into customers, of course. Incorporate a forum, allow online discussions, or establish chat-rooms; it all increases your engagements and activities on your network, leading to leads generation and increased conversion rates.
We also highly recommend that you have a dedicated community manager or team, to lead conversations on key topics (based on all the great audience research you’re doing) and tagging in community members to get them involved.
Richard Millington’s Book “Buzzing Communities: How to Build Bigger, Better, and More Active Online Communities” presents a data-driven approach to community building, and is a must-read for anyone wanting to build effective online communities.
Millington suggests that “community volunteers are the most effective means of scaling an online community”.
So as soon as feasibly possibly look to bring on some community volunteers. How? Invite your most active members to become leaders in the community.
Discover more tips about community building in 7 Things We’ve Learned About Community Building For Businesses.
4) Optimize Your Content For Engagement
It’s not enough to just make a profile in a social network software. You have to optimize it.
First of all, pick a short, identifiable, and memorable username. It should be short and catchy, while still remaining representative of your company.
A photo comes next. Upload something that is easily associated with your company; and most of the time that would be your company’s logo. Add a concise description and a trackable link.
In his book, Millington suggests that the best content is user-generated content:
“It is essential that members have the opportunity to contribute content to the community”.
5) Have a clear path for members to become buyers
It’s not uncommon for businesses to invest in building online communities for months, even years, only to discover that the community is sucking up a tonne of company resources and not generating sales.
If this is true for you, then it’s important for your team to design a clear “member to customer” roadmap to move community members through.
What could you offer people in your community that will get them to make a small or nominal purchase with you? This could be a guide, online training module, etc. What could you then offer them to move them to a larger purchase? A demo, walk-through, consultation, white paper, other?
A word of warning: Using social networking software for marketing purposes is, as you can probably guess by now, not just continuous posting of promotional content.
Use the famous Pareto principle i.e. the “80/20 rule” — it states that roughly 80% of results come from 20% of causes. Following this, only a fifth of your posts should be selling and promotional content. The rest of the content should be oriented towards your customers and their stories, engaging content, or something they will find interesting.
Luckily we have an insights gathering tool that can help you remove the guesswork.
And, customers really do appreciate being asked what they want, in a non-intrusive way of course.
So what do you do if you’re struggling to attract new member to the community? The next few tips will address give you some practical ideas.
6) Produce SEO optimized content for your site
Whilst SEO is a long-term strategy, it’s one you’ll need to take seriously if you want to continue to attract new members to the community.
Insert SEO keywords subtly and in a natural-sounding way. Keep your content optimized in order to stay in the upper part of search results.
Always keep in mind SEO optimization of any content you put online as a way to attract potential members. Regardless of whether it’s blogs, articles, podcasts or youtube videos – always optimize for search engines.
7) Share powerful member case studies
It’s important to highlight and acknowledge the stars of your community (i.e. your paying customers, and volunteer advocates) publicly. After all, without them, you wouldn’t have a business right?
A well-crafted case study will not only present a profile of the type of people that are in your community. It will also reveal how both the community and your product or service has helped them overcome specific challenges.
Like attracts like.
You can ask the members being profiled to share their case study with their networks, and more often than not they’ll gladly do it.
Who doesn’t want their 5 mins of fame, right? (At least their mum will be proud!)
It’s also worth noting that case studies are more powerful, and believable than testimonials.
8) Incentivize members to invite their friends
Your best community sales people are the members themselves. Therefore, working out ways to make it easier for them to refer others is essential. One idea worth exploring is running contests and giveaways for community members.
For example, you could offer your product or service, or something that your community members covet, as a prize for the community member who refers the most people to sign up for the community.
One tool that works really well for viral contests like this is Viral Loops. There are a few others out there if you search.
Another strategy we’d recommend is “surprise and delight”. Find ways to surprise and delight your community members, and if you do a great job they just might share their joy on social media.
Read more about this in 5 Ways Brands Can Use Social And Email Together To Surprise And Delight.
9) Reach People Everywhere
A thing of crucial importance: Go Mobile. You have to keep in mind the lightweight, mobile community, as it takes the increasingly larger portion of online marketing.
- Optimize your enterprise for mobile users
- Send push notifications (get their devices out of their pockets!
- Allow location data on your content (which is a major boost to marketing)
Advocating your social presence everywhere is a must. By the way, you can automate a lot of these tasks using Task Automation For Your Community With Zapier.
10) Choose a platform that can meet all your requirements
Choosing the right social networking software is much more than blindly picking a platform and program and ‘going along with the flow’. Of course, not every social platform is the best choice for your business.
That said, you can have accounts active on multiple platforms (in fact, this is advisable – the more the merrier), but it’s advisable to have a unified strategy and clear targeting of your audience.
The better alternative to this is getting a sophisticated social networking software which contains all the customized features that both you and your audience require. Furthermore, clean and intuitive navigation, seamlessly integrated with visible buttons, and a rich, stylish text editor can make a difference between a visitor and a customer.
Our community platform deals with all issues stated before in this article.
Designed to inspire people, CMNTY creates a space for your audience to communicate, participate in online events, and reward discussion on related topics in chats and forums. We pay a stunning amount of time on making every part of our product polished and eye-candish. We like it simple, effective, and beautiful, while still very informative and adjustable.
Lastly, our community likes it too. Whether static or mobile, since we’ve built our network to be fully compatible with people on the go and their mobile devices.
Ready to take your social networking software to the next level? Try CMNTY 14 Days for FREE.