People use social media to add value to their life – personally and professionally. There are not many hard and fast lines dividing these two in social media, especially on the more “casual” networks like Facebook and Pinterest.
Your customers are constantly looking for the next big thing that can add value to their life. If you are boring, stale and only pushing your product, they will immediately bypass you and go on to the next one. Attention spans are incredibly short and patience levels are non-existent.
You need to differentiate yourself from the ever-growing social media pack. How do you do that? By offering unique value to your online community.
Think of what you like to read online and who you follow on your social networks – why do you give them your time? Chances are you get something out of the relationship – whether it be helpful information, how-to tips or just a laugh.
Be realistic. Imagine your customers sitting at their computers or their phones, taking a split second to decide whether to “Like” or “Unlike” you (or “Hide” you), whether to “Follow” or “Unfollow” you.
Undoubtedly, they are all thinking, “What have you done for me lately?”
“What have you done for me lately?” doesn’t mean always providing giveaways and special coupons (although those certainly work and people love them).
There are other ways to provide value to your online community:
- Become an authority in your subject area (but don’t claim to know everything). This is the most time consuming aspect of providing value, but the most rewarding (and hopefully something you are aspiring to in your chosen career). Read everything in the beginning (until you figure out which blogs/new sources are the most useful) and practice what you preach. Know what you’re talking about. You would be surprised how often supposed “experts” know very little about their subject matter. If you set yourself apart by knowing your stuff and being able to explain it in layman’s terms, you will succeed.
- Be the go-to resource. You want to be the one that your customers think about when they need your services. Provide lists of great books to read (with brief reviews), synthesize long and technical articles and curate great content.
- Give away stuff for free. (Yes, really.) Giving away high quality content and useful information for free is a perfect way to build your brand and your reputation. Giving away great stuff is also a good way to get more newsletter and/or blog subscribers – have people give you their email address to get the free content. HubSpot ebooks are an example of this practice.
- Be responsive and accessible. If your online community engages and asks questions, answer them promptly. If you need to wait to get the answer, let them know you will get back to them as soon as you can. 24 hours is an eternity in the social media realm – respond immediately to comments, questions and feedback on your posts. By showing you are accessible and eager to help, you are setting yourself apart from the social media Ghost Towns – Facebook pages and Twitter accounts that are created but never (or very rarely) maintained.
What have you done for your customers online lately? What advice do you have for others? Please leave your feedback in the Comments section, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org – Thanks for reading!