As brand marketers look to capture more customers on social media and previously hesitant chief executives (CEOs) begin to dip their toes into places like Facebook marketing in 2015, this begs the question, “How do we build organic growth through non-paid efforts?” I am here to tell you, after 15 years in the online branding business, as it were, that the real way to make friends, influencers, PR buzz, and new customers requires some true authenticity. Let me share three of the many ways you can start to build organic community development via social media marketing:
1. Create Real Relationships From Social Off-Line.
That’s right, take these social connections to meaningful place, whether that means on the phone, on Skype, on G+ Hangout, on FaceTime, in a coffee shop, or in a conference room. Make it happen. As we know in B2B sales, an important step in “getting to the sale” is to have the in-person meeting once all the details have been worked out and agreed. You can tweet to someone all day, but until you talk to them, you don’t really know their agenda, interests, influence, or personality. I make it a habit to take at least one new LinkedIn connection , one person I follow on Twitter in my lists, one new circle in my G+ community, one new Facebook friend off-line each week. I do the best I can and work a very aggressive schedule. Even a 15-minute phone can create a start to a beautiful working relationship.
2. Take Social Customer Service Seriously.
In social media, your customers are literally at your fingertips. Whether you are B2B or B2C, you have the opportunity to impress your customers every day. Any messages in Facebook should be attended to within an hour, if possible, especially if you are in a B2C business, and then 15 minutes. You want to win some organic customer love? Reach out to those that follow you on Twitter, those that like you on Facebook, and send them a nice Happy Birthday on their birthdays (super easy to see on Facebook), watch what interests they have beyond your brand (hobbies, passions), and think about what you can offer that suits those interests.
3. Truly Engage – Don’t Just Talk About It on Twitter.
Engaging with your social ecosystem means a number of things, all of which the world of digital marketing and content marketers have been trying to figure out for years. Let’s make it simple. To engage means to align with the interests and behaviors of your audience. In some cases, this may in fact mean sharing funny photos and compelling video. In others, it may require sharing sound research and whitepapers with quantified results. Once you do have an actual following, if even small, it means to support and share your followers’ content, to respond to their comments, to help them in what they may need help in. To engage in social media is not unlike supporting your in-store customer or having a real discussion with your B2B lead and really listening to what is important to them.
These are just three of the many ways you can start to organically build an organic community in social media. Social media marketing is not an overnight sensation, unless of course you are a YouTube music star, and even then stars need to follow these rules to support their fans. In social media, as in any other area of digital marketing, and especially B2B marketing, a great barometer of success is how qualified your networks really are. When you approach social from an organic development standpoint, quality is a natural result.