A lot of people have an interest in using social media to promote their business. They see that their potential clients and customers are online and they want to reach them. Natural enough. So they set about pumping out their message and promoting their products on any digital platform they can get their hands on. And here’s what they are usually met with:
Crickets. Tumbleweed. The sounds of silence.
Here’s why. Nobody wants to be sold to on social media. Ask yourself: do you go on Facebook or Twitter to buy a product? Probably not. You go to Amazon, Etsy or Ebay to make a purchase maybe, but on social sites you log on to connect with friends, see their latest photos or funny posts or keep up to date on news and other trending topics.
Many business owners and marketers look to social media to see what they can get out of it. But in order to get real results you need to flip that mindset upside down and look for what you can give.
This can be tough to wrap your brain around at first. It’s not the traditional way of thinking about marketing. “I want to bring in sales and revenue, why should I give away my knowledge and resources for free??” One word: relationships.
Relationships (and the word-of-mouth referrals they generate) are probably the #1 way people in any industry generate business and make sales, online or offline. How do you build relationships online? The same way you would in person: gain people’s knowledge and trust. How do you get people to know you and trust you? Same way you would in person. Offer them helpful, valuable information – for free.
I’ve been on the customer side of this Know -> Trust -> Purchase model for online marketing and have experienced first-hand just how well it works (and how satisfying it feels). I frequently browse the web for news and developments about social media and in one of my Google searches, I stumbled onto a blog post by an entrepreneurial writer named Alexis Grant. I found it hugely helpful and informative plus I liked her style too. (Establish Knowledge? Check.) So I poked around her website some more to see what else she had to offer. Happily, I discovered loads more information in the form of articles, blog posts and online guides. This quickly demonstrated to me the extent of her expertise (Develop Trust? Check.) and inspired me to buy one of her online ebooks (Purchase Product? Check.) Although I’ll be the first one to tell you that cultivating a social media following takes time, relationships can simultaneously grow (and flourish) very quickly with the right foundation. Just look at me: I went from stranger to fan to customer in a few clicks.
If you’re just starting out on social media, or even if you’re a pro who has been using it for years, it’s important to remember to make generosity – authentic generosity that springs from a genuine desire to help, and not a manipulation to produce more sales – a fundamental part of your social strategy. Think about what you can offer (and you have a lot to offer!) to your potential clients that will make their lives easier or put a smile on their faces. With consistency, this approach will create relationships and loyal followers who will be only too glad to purchase your products and, better still, trumpet your business to their friends.