And, beware of social media automation tools.
Let's face it, we've all gotten the "Hey, go 'like' this" on Facebook, or "Go follow me," "Subscribe to me," "Get this or that" on Twitter at least once in our online life from someone we don't know. Nine times out of 10, those pleas get ignored. In fact, more than likely, that very impersonal request gets filed in the requisite's subconscious as rude and impersonal. That's not the way you want to be thought of, is it?
Many marketers forget to do a number of key things and instead skip straight to asking "Hey, do this action for me" because they need "the numbers." When marketers think social media is all about counting fans and friends to measure success, they believe that mass pleas to gain followers is the path they should follow to reach their goals. Unfortunately, pleas like these land them on an annoyance list more often than not. Implementing a successful social media strategy isn't fast or easy, and while some monotonous things can be automated, building a following that is of quality can't be.
Why Should I Like You?
Being personal in the social media sphere takes time. It also takes a bit of skill to sort through all of the noise to discover how to utilize your time wisely to get that quality, loyal follower base. One of the ways to do this successfully is listening for key reasons to become a valuable asset in your followers' lives. When you become that valuable asset, you'll notice you don't have to ask people to follow you or "like" you anymore; your audience will actually recommend that their followers follow you because they find value in you.
Without giving people a reason to like you, even if it's "I need four more followers on my fan page to get the vanity URL," your message will get ignored. There's got to be some communicated reason for your audience or followers to pay attention, otherwise the message won't stand out and they just see it as more noise. You need to give your audience the value they crave, that they expect and demand in return for their engagement.
Avoid the Automation Temptation
There are a few social media tools and services out there for use on Twitter and Facebook that automate direct messages (DMs) or replies. I caution clients away from using these services for a few reasons; one is because people in the Twitter community are annoyed by automated DM services. The second is that using these services to send out automatic replies that pitch people to follow them on another channel, read their e-books, sign up for an email list, or any other action that isn't on the platform they are currently engaging in is viewed as rude. When people get these types of automatic messages, they consider it impersonal, and social media isn't about impersonal engagement. Instead of "pitching" to do something, why not take that automatic message and just say:
"Thank you for following me, I really appreciate the time you took to do so. I hope you find value in my conversation. If you do, can you let me know?"
Instead of sending messages like these out as soon as I hit follow:
"If you have a second could you drop by my FB page? http://t.co/URL WITHHELD :) - K"
"I'd appreciate your comments on my blog - Name of BlogPost/URL"
"Thanks for the follow! I'm a MOMpreneur and IM blogger, visit my site for tips! http://URLWITHELD"
Saying thanks isn't a problem. The problem comes in when you tack on: "but now do something for me" when you don't really know the person. Case in point is the last DM listed above. I got that from someone I followed. I'm not a mom, so why would I do what this person is DMing me to do? Why couldn't the message have just said, "Thanks for the follow, looking forward to getting to know you!"
I know from experience it's really tough to respond to each and every new follower you receive in a social media channel, let alone decipher between real humans and those spam bots. But in order to build a successful community, you have to take that time to get personal; to reach out and provide the value your audience seeks. If your audience is talking about how tough it is to do something, create a guide for them to make it easier. If they talk about needing to save time, find an article and share it with them.
The more you understand what your audience wants, and provide them with just that, the more valuable you become to them and the less you have to beg for "likes" and follows in impersonal ways. When your audience "likes" you because you're valuable to them, they will start suggesting to their own networks that you are a go-to person or company to follow, without you ever having to ask.
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Liana "Li" Evans is the author of the award winning social media marketing book, "Social Media Marketing: Engaging Strategies for Facebook, Twitter & Other Social Media" and she is the president and CEO of Da Li Social, as well as an adjunct professor for Rutgers University's Mini MBA Program. Liana has also been featured in the books "Online Marketing Heroes" and "Video Marketing An Hour a Day." As an established online marketing industry veteran with over 15 years of experience she's focused her unique skillset to specialize in integrated marketing and how companies can successfully strategize integrating all online marketing channels as well as offline traditional media. Her deep technical combined with a public relations background enables her to partner with clients for establishing successful online marketing campaigns that combine cross-channel tactics cohesively.
Li was the search engine optimization (SEO) and social media marketing architect for such companies as QVC and Comcast (Fancast) and has consulted with several other different sized companies such as AOL MovieFone. Her wealth of knowledge in dealing with large e-commerce and content sites allows her a wider perspective into what it takes to launch successful marketing campaigns in the online space.
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