Here is the single most important thing you must know about thriving on social media: it is absolutely imperative that you always provide value. What does this mean? It means that you’re going to be offering something concrete and tangible to your audience and giving them something that they can benefit from.
Think of your social media much like a product or a service in its own right and NOT just a means to get as many people to your blog as possible. This simple paradigm shift is the absolute difference between a successful social media channel and an unsuccessful one. You need to give people a reason to follow you, a reason to share your content and a reason to keep checking back to your page.
Don’t just expect people to follow you on Twitter because they ‘like your brand’!
So how does one go about providing value? In the case of social media, this can mean offering: Entertainment, Information, Discounts and offers, Inspiration
A good example of this is any of the thousands of successful channels on Instagram that post pictures of healthy lifestyles. There are a lot of great Instagram accounts run by fitness experts and enthusiasts and that include images of people working hard in the gym, looking great on the beach or downing protein shakes. People find this inspiring in helping them move toward their goals and so if the images are well composed and they
are well designed, then they are providing value in that way.
People know that by following that account, they’ll get updated regularly with new inspiring pictures to help drive them further in their own training. Another example might be to share links to informative posts on a Facebook account. If you have a blog about online business, then you can post links to news stories regarding SEO, to tips and ideas for creating content etc.
Don’t only post your own content – find and share the kind of exciting content that your audience can benefit from! (Note that this is all much easier if you genuinely are passionate about the subject matter – as that way you can simply share the things you’re reading anyway! But perhaps the best example of ‘social media as product’ would be one of the many Pinterest boards on Pinterest.
These tend to act as collections of ideas for interior design, for weddings, for personal style etc. Thus, many people will head to these pages whenever they need ideas and some brands that have come up with related boards have been able to garner huge followings that way. How do you know if you’re doing this right? Ask yourself this simple question: if your social media channel were to shut down today would your followers be disappointed? We’re not asking if they would notice – we’re asking if they would genuinely feel that something they enjoyed had gone. If the answer is yes, then congratulations! You are officially providing value.
Don’t Just Promote
What is the polar opposite of providing value? The answer is simply promoting your business. And this is what too many misguided small businesses actually use their social media to do. These tend to be the kinds of companies that feel a little stuffy and out of touch to the user. Local service businesses like plumbers and removal men, or more corporate operations like EPOS providers and time clock solutions/accountants. These are the companies that will use their social media to post things like ‘Visit our site and see why we’re the best at what we do!’. Or, ‘Our software solutions are second to none!’. This is literally just advertising and it completely misses the point of social media. Don’t do it!
Post What YOU Would Want to Read
So why is self-promoting wrong? The answer is that it’s not offering any value. People do not want to go out of their way to be advertised to and they don’t want adverts showing up in their home feeds alongside posts from their friends and family! This will simply demonstrate a lack of understanding on your part (hurting your reputation) and it will frustrate your visitors likely motivating them to simply unsubscribe and leave.
And can you imagine anyone actually clicking on a post about why you’re the best accounting company in the [INSERT AREA] region? No, didn’t think so… The best way to get a good idea of whether your posts are ticking the right boxes is simply to ask yourself: would you read it? If this came up on your homefeed, how would you feel? If you’d be pleased and then go on to read it and possibly share it, then it’s an ideal choice for your own social media channel!
But if you’d ignore it, or worse yet feel frustrated, then that’s a sign you shouldn’t do the same. Look at your own history on these sites and ask yourself why you clicked on the links you did and shared the things you did. What are the best posts you’ve seen in your niche lately? Why? What can you do to emulate their success?
The key here is to remember that your audience are real people who have the agency to follow whatever they want and leave when they want. Thus, you need to get inside their heads. Often that just means putting yourself in their shoes but another option is to create your fictional ‘persona’. A persona is a buyer biography – an imaginary individual that you will consider to be your ideal customer.
By getting inside their heads, you can know precisely what kind of content you should be creating/sharing and you can speak directly to that person with things that will interest them. One way to do this is to think of someone in your own life who would be your ideal customer. I sell fitness products for instance and I have a few friends who always want to get into shape and are always asking for advice but who never put the time in to get the results they need. They are the ideal customer for a fitness ebook or a protein shake and so I keep them in mind whenever I create content for my social media pages – I write to them and write in a way that will get them interested and engaged!
Learn How to Create Titles That Grab Attention
Writing content and sharing posts that can do this is the crucial skill you need to develop if you’re going to build and grow your social media channels. But there is nowhere where this is more important than in the titles of your posts. Your title is your first impression – it’s like wearing the right suit to an interview. In this case, if you want people to read your content, then you need to make sure you are creating really great titles that will really stand out and sound fascinating, unique and exciting.
We can see this when we look at clickbait and that’s the reason that clickbait has become some popular. In case you’ve been living under a rock, a clickbait title is a title that is designed to grab attention and encourage clicks. Often, it does this by piquing the interest of the reader with some kind of mystery or shocking statement. In other cases, the language might even be intentionally strange, such that people will be interested to click it and find out what’s going on.Here are some examples:
“Fitness Trainers Hate Him! Find Out How This Man Has Been Overturning Centuries of Fitness Advice” Or “Try This One Weird Trick to Get Rid of Body fat!” Or “This Man Told Me His Secret to Making Money Online… What Happened Next Will Shock You” Or “10 Tricks to Look Sexier Instantly. Number Four Changed My Life!”
In each case, there is some mystery. Who is this man who fitness trainers hate? What’s so special about number four? What’s the ‘weird trick’? These titles invite clicks because they sound and look interesting and readers can’t help but want to know more. What’s more, is that the titles all allude to the fact that the information can somehow change their lives or at least be shocking and controversial. In either case, this information doesn’t sound boring – it sounds engaging and enticing and it’s very hard to keep on scrolling past. Especially if you combine it with an image of someone looking very attractive, or before and after pictures showing an incredible body transformation!
Understanding the ‘Value Proposition’
Something to understand as you’re doing all this is what your value
proposition is. Your value proposition should go beyond just your social media. This is rather the entire ethos behind your brand and it should be the reason your business exists: your ‘why’. So what does all that mean? Essentially, it means that you should be aiming to sell more than just a product or a service, you should be selling a dream, an idea or something that can one way or another, improve people’s lives.
The old saying goes that you ‘don’t sell hats, you sell warm heads’. What this means, is that what you sell is more than the sum of its parts. What you sell is the result and the way that result makes you feel. And this is what will provide the emotion behind your products – the emotion that drives people to want to buy from you. If we were going to apply this to selling something like a fitness ebook, then your ‘value proposition’ would be the feeling of being healthy, sexy and strong.
Get your viewers to imagine what it would be like to have a six pack, to have muscles and to have the confidence and energy levels that come with that. Likewise, if you’re selling a make money program, then your value proposition should come from what it would be like to have lots of cash, no money problems and the ability to travel and buy nice clothes. It would be the attention that would get you from the opposite sex too. When you can tap into the ‘value proposition’ of your business, then you can find an emotional hook for your posts that will be relevant and that will make people actually stand up and take notice.