**This is an article I received in a newsletter and found it to be interesting and thought you might like to read it also.
Social tools have become an integral part of our personal and business lives. An estimated 80 percent of all Americans use social networks, and 54 percent of social networkers follow a brand via Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.
Consumers follow brands online for specific reasons:
They want to research a product or service before purchasing it.
They want to peruse customer reviews.
They want discounts.
Whether you are a one-person show or part of a large corporation, it’s smart to include social tools in your marketing mix.
In the next two issues of Bright Ideas Blogzine, I’ll acquaint you with two relationship marketing strategies that will help you grow a loyal community around your brand.
In this issue, we’ll look at how to craft compelling messages for your online outposts.
In the February issue, we’ll explore how to promote those messages.
You’ve likely heard, ad nauseam, that online content must be relevant.
But what constitutes relevant content?
Perhaps a better way of defining “relevant” content is to identify irrelevant content.
Let’s examine three Twitter updates posted by business professionals. My reactions are in parentheses.
“GREAT NEWS!!!” (Unless I know and love you personally, shouting a phrase in all caps with triple exclamation points does not entice me to click your link. In fact, your update is so irritating that I’m unfollowing you.)
“Just woke up.” (Really? I tweet while I’m sleeping.)
“Just ate supper. For some reason I feel like I’m going to get sick.” (Visualizing you getting sick nauseates me. Unfollow.)
To test whether an update is relevant, remember one key fact:
Your prospects and customers don’t care about you.
…Unless you’re a chef, they don’t care what you’re cooking for dinner.
…Unless you’re a celebrity, they don’t care who your latest love interest is.
Stop subjecting your audience to pointless updates about your personal life.
A second sad fact of life for online marketers:
Your customers are not on Facebook and Twitter to do business with you.
They’re there to jaw with friends and relatives, to look at pictures and watch videos.
Meet your customers where they’re at by crafting content that focuses on them. Ask them questions. Find out their challenges (related to your niche) and help them solve problems.
A mix of useful tips, interesting news and entertaining tidbits keeps your audience engaged. Don’t be afraid to inject humor into your updates.
“Retweet if you think men in kilts are sexy” is entertaining and relevant… if you work for a travel agency that books trips to Scotland.
People who follow brands on social networks love getting exclusive deals. They love posting reviews and testimonials about items they’ve purchased. But they hate – with a passion – “buy, buy, buy” messages.
Real estate agent, Joni Kerley (a Blogging Bistro client), limits direct promotions to about 10 percent of her online content. She posted the following “soft-sell” message to her Everett Area Real Estate Facebook page:
“Congrats to Laura and Chris Bohannan on the purchase of their first home. You were a lot of fun to work with. Enjoy your home!”
The update included a photo of the happy homeowners standing in front of their new abode, holding a “Sold by Joni Kerley” sign.
My friend Judy Gann, a librarian who trains publishers and authors how to sell their books to libraries, posted this soft-sell message to the Library Insider Facebook page:
“Drooling over the gorgeous library promotional brochure Library Insider client Ann Shorey’s publisher created for her. Wow! Can’t wait to hear the response from librarians.”
Joni’s and Judy’s updates are personable, allowing prospects to get to know them in a no-pressure environment. Rather than shouting, “Buy my stuff!” their messages subtly focus on the benefits customers receive from using their services.
During the next 30 days, craft 12 relevant, entertaining social updates that focus on your customer and use the soft-sell approach.
Laura Christianson founded BloggingBistro.com, a company that serves a full menu of social media services to businesses and individuals.