Friday, December 07, 2012

Getting Started With Communications and Social Media Part 2: Audience and Relevancy

By varying the content and writing a poem, as well as posting an unusual image, I got a record response for my client Menlo Pilates and Yoga.

Last week in Part 1 of "Getting Started with Social Media," I discussed several "cool tools" to help with time management in organizing your status updates, tweets, posts, etc. This weeks's installment focuses on audience and relevance, and of course, the chicken and egg can you build an audience if you don't know what's relevant to them, and how can you know what's relevant with little or no audience to start?

Here are 10 suggestions to getting a jump-start on relevant content:

1. Build Your E-News Subscriber List First

Many of the small business owners I meet have the same pattern in common: they exhaust themselves working on their blogs, while pretty much ignoring their e-lists. Despite all the well-worn cliches about how "the secret is in the list," and "your list is gold," many don't realize how true this really is. If no one is reading your blog and you are not yet an influencer, you should use your newsletter to grow your audience, and similarly, push it out through social media to heighten your online visibility. Publish links to your latest issues on Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, and you can even create a Pinterest board dedicated to your e-news to grow your community.

2. Listen, Watch, Comment

A lot of advice for being effective social media today starts with listening to what is being said about your topic, niche, and brand. Know the problems your clients, members, and future stakeholders have, so you can create relevant content that provides solutions. Pay attention to your competitors' content and the reactions they are getting, so you can pick up quick tips on what works and what doesn't. Set up Google alerts for keywords in your industry. Comment and link to other blogs that deal with similar content.

3. Know Keywords for Your Niche

Whenever I write any copy for a client, I research keywords for their niche first. In that way, I can maximize the SEO potential of my content, and cast the net as wide as possible to attract potential audiences. Use keywords in your newsletters, website, blog posts, etc., and connect them to your social media updates for maximum visibility.

4. Survey and Ask Questions

Use the tools you have in place to find out market research about your community. You can use Facebook or Twitter posts to ask questions that provide information on how your fans enjoy spending their free time. What are their hobbies and careers? What thrills them or drives them crazy? How often would they like to hear from you, and what topics interest them the most? You can also use your newsletters as survey tools, and reward participants with a prize or giveaway.

5. Experiment With Multimedia

Audiences today expect to hear from you in a multitude of ways, and if you don't vary your content delivery, you may be losing valuable online attention to competitors. Posting interesting and unusual photos to go along with your blog posts and newsletters makes them that much more "sticky" for your audience. Adding video to the mix, where you either provide how to's and tutorials, interviews, or tell your story in a way that moves people, can create a lasting bond with your readers, and help ensure their loyalty to you. Podcasts are another popular tool to share information, interviews, and tips with your audience.

6. Make An Offer, Grow From There, and Be Generous

Sometimes you may not know exactly what your audience needs, but you have a pretty good idea to start with. Offer a small free item in your next newsletter, connect it to your social media messages, and see what response you get. If you get a fairly good response, offer your next item at a small price, and your next one at a higher price, making it clear the value added they are getting, and providing positive user feedback as much as possible. Be as generous with your audience as possible, so they know you care about them and want to help them.

7. Publish Testimonials

It's great for your customers to tell you how much they enjoy your programs or publications, but if they don't provide written or video testimonials, your business will remain a well kept secret. Use your website, newsletter, blog, and social media, to highlight positive customer feedback and create the buzz you want. Encourage tweets and posts so that you build brand excitement from your brand ambassadors...those who are genuinely excited about your business.

8. Have At Least 1 Great Book In You

The excitement and interest in ebooks is at fever pitch lately, particularly with Amazon's "Create Space" and other self-publishing programs launching everyday. A published book really is a great calling card, and not only shows your audience that you are serious, but adds to your credibility and authenticity as well. Not sure where to start? Group several blog posts with a similar theme together, and organize them as a PDF bonus download to go with blog or newsletter subscribers.

9. Publish User Generated Content

People love to see their own content being shared. Keep notes on questions clients or members have asked you, and use them as the foundation for a blog post or Facebook update, along with your answers, if course. Let your community also fill in the answers and have some fun and good discussion.

10. Link and Cross Promote

Study who else is out there that you admire or would like to link to, and work on growing the relationship. Subscribe to their publications, give them a Retweet or a Share. The laws of reciprocity do hold true here, and you'll be surprised how many people will give you a link or a shoutout if you ask, and if they like what you are doing.

I hope you find these tips and Part 2 of this "Getting Started" series helpful.

Now it's your do you stay relevant for your audience? Feel free to post in the comments.

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