Far too many times, I’ve gotten lost in the trenches of Google learning about how to effectively rock my biz. I know you’ve been there.
What to post on social media
Best times to post on social media
How to get better engagement on facebook
How to make money with social media leads...
And the truth is, I’ve never read a single article that really taught me how to effectively utilize a social media following, let alone how to cultivate one from scratch.
You know how sometimes, you can get hit over the head with something a thousand times, but it just never… clicks? That’s how I felt about social media.
So I decided to just… Play around with it.
I played with it for years. I tried to nail down post times. I tried to get traffic organically. I tried to learn about ad targeting. But despite the lessons I was learning, and the practical experience I was accumulating, I still felt like I was shouting into a void.
After a long frustrating day of trying to grow a social media following out of thin air, I remember returning home to my partner. He casually asked me about my work day, and I dramatically flopped over on the bed in response. I was exhausted. I remember feeling like social media was some exclusive party, and I simply wasn’t invited.
Then it hit me like a ton of bricks.
Social media is a party. And my business simply was not invited.
This is the mindset that changed my business forever.
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I began to take the metaphor literally. How would you treat your social media posts differently if you were at a party with a ton of people you didn’t know? Likely, you would approach things a little bit differently. You most certainly wouldn’t be yelling about sales. You wouldn’t be talking into a void. You would be cultivating relationships, building a tribe, drinking the punch, and actually being social.
Social media is a funnel, NOT a sales tactic.
My biggest mistake in my months of “hands on research” was believing that I was trying to crack the code to use social media for major, instantaneous sales. In reality, I should have spent that time creating a funnel so that I could gain exposure and, ultimately, trust. This is the real secret to selling with social media. You have to use it as the beginning of a process.
Don’t want to spend years figuring it out? Thankfully, you don’t have to, because I have bullet points to show you. Boom.
While you’re at it, you should stop on over and get a freebie - which lists exactly WHAT and WHEN to post on social media (and some tricks of the trade, for good measure.)
Step 1. Exposure.
This is the primary purpose of social media, and likely where you’ll reach the most people. Let’s start with the party metaphor, then we can break it down into specifics.
If you walk into a party, the best way to get attention is to just start talking.
Inevitably, you’re going to get noticed. Period. People may like you, or they may not. That largely depends on what you’re saying, and what value you’re bringing to the party.
How do you bring value to a party? One quick and easy way is to be the guy who brings the beer and gives it away for free. Giving out free, high-value stuff is a pretty sure fire way to make fast friends. I promise if you walk into a party with free drinks (or something of similar value), you’re going to be pretty popular.
Another way to make a great first impression would be to come in and strike up a conversation. Take genuine interest in what people have to say. Check in on some of your close friends, let them introduce you to new people. Don’t be afraid to get in the trenches, grab a bag of chips, and chatting. This is pretty typical party behavior, and if all goes well, by the end of the night, you might even get lucky.
On the other hand, a quick way to make a horrible first impression is to show up to the party and immediately start yelling about how you’re having a one-time-only sale. Truth be told, even if it’s the best deal in the world, and EVEN IF THE PARTY IS FULL OF YOUR IDEAL CUSTOMER, nobody wants to be bombarded with that sort of thing at a party. I certainly wouldn’t trust, like, or talk to a guy who just came to my house and started trying to sell me shit I didn’t ask for. I’m just there to have a good time.
When you enter someone's timeline or newsfeed, you’re in their sacred bubble. This is their house. If you’re going to take up space, it better be with something extremely valuable. What can you bring to their social media feed that will make them excited to see you? What high-value, free content will jump off the page and immediately get people to go “Woah, who invited this awesome dude?”
Similarly, it’s great to use social media to actually be social and reach out to existing customers. If you have no existing customers, use it to talk, answer questions, and learn about your target demographic by searching keywords and joining the conversation when appropriate.
The worst thing you can do is enter someone's feed and immediately go into a sales pitch. Every once in a blue moon, this will strike gold, but it’s certainly not the most effective way to utilize the tools at hand.
Exposure is your first impression - try not to mess it up.
Make sense? Let’s keeping going on this train.
Step 2. Influence.
Once you’re at the party, and maybe starting to feel your groove a little bit, you can start to warm up to your peers. You came here to sell a product, and once they’re comfortable with you (READ: once THEY’RE comfortable with YOU, not the other way around!) you can start to influence them to favor you ever-so-gently. Maybe now that you’ve been chatting, you can offer to get a round of drinks for everyone.
What’s important to remember when you’re influencing your peers is that you have to go at their pace. You, unfortunately, don’t get to decide when they’re ready to hear you start screaming about a blow-out sale. This is their house. Their party. You run on their time.
Likewise, once your followers are more familiar with your brand, you can begin to influence them in your direction. You’re not entirely at the stage where you can start hard-selling, but offering something of value to your close peers is a smart move. If you can influence them to read/watch your content, they’ll begin to respect you more.
Unfortunately, in mass media marketing, the only way to know when your consumer is ready is by testing. Sometimes, your market is ready to be influenced as soon as they like your page. Other times, they need to read a couple of blog posts before they really get it. More often than not, they don’t want to hear ANYTHING about what you’re selling until they subscribe to your email list.
In smaller social media settings, like a facebook group, you can tell when your opinion is valuable and ready to accepted. Sometimes, it’s appropriate to even go out on a limb and say, “I actually wrote a blog post on this topic, would you mind if I sent it your way?” This puts the power in the hand of the poster. If they’re comfortable and wish to see your content, they’ll let you know. This one-on-one communication is a great way to quickly establish trust and begin influencing more immediately than generic tweets or timeline posts on your business page.
Step 3. Engagement & Conversion
You have the rooms attention. You bought a round of drinks, or ordered a couple pizzas. People are feeling you. Now it’s time to seal the deal.
If you did step 2 correctly, then everyone at the party is going to be hanging on your every word. They’ll be engaged with everything you have to say. At this point, you can politely steer the conversation towards the sale.
At this point, you’ll inevitably lose a few people. They’ll take a sip of their beer, turn the other direction, and totally tune out when they realize that not everything you have to offer is free. This is okay. If you nurtured your peers enough in step 2, you’ll have a few people really eager to hear more about what you have to offer.
In the social media realm, this is where you begin to see engagement on your posts. People sharing. People commenting. People joining a bigger conversation. When they engage with you, it shows a willingness to see what more you have to offer. This is where you can begin the conversion process.
I like to convert my audience with targeted facebook ads - after a certain amount of engagement (reading a specific blog post, liking my page, and some other interactions) then I begin to throw in advertisements for paid programs.
And guess what? It works.
Because at this point, they know me. They know that I bring amazing things to the table (like free beer). They’re ready to see what I have to offer, and I show it to them on their own time, only when I’m welcomed to do so.
This is the correct way to think about social media. No shouting into the empty void, hoping that someone converts like magic. There is no “secret”; only a delicate process, similar to the process of making some friends at a party… Slow and monotonous, but richly rewarding when executed correctly.
Remember to rock your biz.