Do you use social media to market your small business?
Are you creating content on social media channels which convert’s your followers into customers?
While many small business owners and entrepreneurs pump out the same generic pictures, videos or messages across all platforms, this is fundamentally the wrong approach to creating an effective social media strategy.
She described 3 tricks to ensure that you create the best content for your followers on each of your social media channels in order to convert them into customers.
#1: Forget Buyer Persona. Target your Ideal Buyer.
Deena believes that there are too many hypothetical scenarios when creating a buyer persona. She prefers to focus on who the business’s ideal buyer is:
“Buyer personas cast a very wide net. There are too many intangibles such as age, location (where they live), interests, etc that take your focus away from the more relevant concrete details you need to create an effective content marketing strategy.
The question we try to answer at Prialto is ‘What brings our ideal buyer value? Once I know the answer to that question then I create content which offers that value”
Prialto provides dedicated, managed virtual assistant’s to entrepreneurs and executives who are struggling with productivity and/or business growth issues.
“Our ideal buyers are people who do not have a lot of time and are struggling to get daily administrative work accomplished in addition to revenue generating activities that are crucial to business. So, they appreciate long-form content that is organised into lists, infographics and tutorials.”
Take a look at two of Deena’s recent blog posts:
Things to point out:
1. 5 is an easily digestible number of action items for busy entrepreneurs and executives to read and implement.
2. The contents desired audience is clearly defined. Your business= business owners and executives.
3. The outcome for the reader is clearly defined in the title. “Increase website traffic” and “best practises for your business”.
Action Item: How Entrepreneurs and Business Owners Can Define Their Ideal Buyer.
Ask yourself the following questions: Does your product or service either (1) Help solve a problem, or (2) Fulfil a desire?
Once you have these answers, move on to the following questions about your ideal buyer:
1. Which forms of media do they prefer to consume? (audio, video or written.)
2. From where do they currently source their information? (specific websites, social media channels, magazines or podcasts etc.)
3. What do they value most about their jobs or position?
4. What are their long-term career or business objectives?
Deena stresses that “our modern attention span has been proven to be less than that of a goldfish! So, marketers must think very carefully about their ideal buyer and what that buyer wants to see. If you do not hit the mark with your content then they will move on very quickly.”
“If you do not know what they value and how to create something they will cherish then you even have a chance to really get started.”
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#2 Understand what stage of the buyer’s journey your ideal customer is at.
The customer journey is a well-worn marketing adage which is applicable to most businesses, but especially in the B2B market.
It looks like this:
Stage 2 Interest: They begin to search for information on how to resolve their needs.
Stage 3 Consideration: They begin to evaluate their choices.
Stage 4 Purchase: This is where they make their purchase decision.
Stage 5 Retention: Your new customer conducts a post purchase analysis and may take further action.
Stage 6 Advocacy: They either become advocates of your brand or decide to move on to seek another brand which fulfills their desire or solves their problem.
Deena says “Your job is to skillfully move customers from one end of their journey to the next by first understanding where they are on that journey.”
“For example, if you are selling a face cream for dry skin, does the person know that they have dry skin? If not, how do you create content that makes them aware of this?”
“Alternatively, if they are aware that they have dry skin and they are seeking a product to solve this problem, your question then becomes: How do I create content for the person so they will include us in their internal consideration process.”
*Image courtesy of http://advicefromatwentysomething.com/
The above image is from a blog titled “5 Steps to flawless skin you maybe skipping” which suggests that it is written for people who are in the Awareness / Interest stage.
The purpose of the article is to help people who may not be aware of how to look after their skin OR people who are interested in improving their current skincare regime.
*image courtesy of http://www.lancome.co.uk/
The advert from Lancome uses keywords such as “Fight Oxidation” and “Cell Defense”. This type of ad is focused on those in the Consideration stage. Lancome is assuming that their ideal buyer is familiar with these keywords and that they resonate and have meaning to them.
Action Item: How Entrepreneurs and Business Owners can move their customers through the awareness and consideration phase using content.
The business case for your content: Start by assessing the business case for your content and its potential value to your ideal buyer:
1. Write down and clearly define what challenge you are trying to help your ideal buyer overcome.
2. What outcome would you hope they achieve by consuming your content?
3. Will your content inform, educate or entertain your ideal buyer?
4. Are there any other businesses that produce similar content? If so, how do you plan to add your own unique voice to the content? (e.g. Skyscraper Content)
The Awareness stage: Think about your content as being a mini-consultation with your ideal buyer. This stage is NOT about your business, it is about your ideal buyer.
Answer the following questions:
1. Why should your ideal buyer be aware of this particular issue?
2. How is it impacting others?
3. What are others currently doing about it?
4. What is the opinion of industry leaders on this matter?
5. What are some solutions? (do not be salesy)
The Consideration stage: This is where you can answer all of your ideal buyer’s questions. Create in-depth content detailing the benefits of your offering by answering the following questions:
1. What makes it unique?
2. How will it make a difference to the buyer’s life?
3. How do others feel about it?
4. How easy is it to use or integrate?
5. Who is it FOR?
Deena says: “At the Awareness/Interest stage, our content focuses on productivity and work life balance. We think about how to answer questions for our ideal buyers such as ‘How do I ease up my life?’ or ‘How do I get rid of these pain points’.
“My job on social media is to create awareness and peak their interest so that when they are ready to move into the next phase Prialto is part of their consideration.”
“By the time our ideal buyer visits our website, they are pretty much at the Consideration/Purchase stage of their journey.
#3 Figure out your social media channels and your communication method.
Not all social media channels are built the same. In fact, I previously wrote that every social media channel you decide to use requires its own strategy.
Developing a strategy for each channel requires A LOT of hard work, especially for small businesses.
At Prialto, Deena uses Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to generate consistent, qualified leads. The key to her success is that she recognises each channels strengths and tailors her approach to creating content based on those strengths.
“We use all three channels very differently; For us, LinkedIn is about thought leadership. Every piece of content we create is focused on building Prialto’s reputation. We want to help our clients, ideal buyers and employees to do a better job.”
“Facebook is used to create awareness about our services. We join groups where we believe our ideal buyers are, and contribute to discussions. We do not push engagement. Our goal is to simply understand what the audience is trying to achieve and help them to realise that there is a service that can help them.”
“I personally am a big fan of Twitter. We focus on sharing other people’s content along with our own. For example, if we identify someone as an ideal buyer, we share their content so that they look at us and become familiar with the brand.”
“I refer to our distribution strategy as being a ‘virtual handshake’ ”
Software design company, Adobe, also uses a similar approach to their social media strategy; Their LinkedIn company page focuses on thought leadership pieces and interviews with industry leaders.
Alternatively, on Adobe’s Facebook business page they share quirky video interviews and images of the creative work done by customers who use their software:
Prialto takes a similar approach to sharing different content in different areas:
“Our primary goal is to be considered thought leaders within our industry. What we place on LinkedIn is repurposed on Facebook, but instead of being long form articles I create an attractive image or infographic that is easily digestible and shareable. The foundation (facts) are the same but it’s delivered in a different way.”
Another important observation made by Deena is that every platform has its own “social tone”.
“On LinkedIn, there is room for social tone. But it has to be backed up by concrete evidence and case studies. You are more likely to email your colleague something useful rather than something that’s just for entertainment or social-centric.”
“The social tone on Facebook is far more laid back. People feel comfortable to comment and start conversations, and to share those conversations. That’s why we listen carefully to the conversations taking place.”
Action Item: How Entrepreneurs and Business Owners can create a social media strategy.
1. Go for the low hanging fruit.
Speak with your customers and ask them which channels they use and what purpose they use each channel for? You will find that everybody uses each channel differently.
For instance, some of your customers will use Snapchat to film social events like parties, concerts or eating out at restaurants. They use Facebook to interact with friends and family or to have meaningful discussions. Others will use YouTube if they want to learn how to do something.
Depending on whether your content informs, educates or entertains your ideal buyer, use the appropriate channels.
2. What is your average buying cycle?
If your business is B2B, quite often your buying cycle may be weeks or even months. Sometimes, it’s years.
If you own a B2C business then your buying cycle may be seconds, hours or days depending on the level of investment. Figure out which social channel will best serve your buying cycle and how quickly you can influence people to make that purchasing decision.
3. Look at what your competitors or similar businesses are currently doing.
If you are just starting out, this is a low-risk strategy. Find your competitors online and research what type of content they are creating and how engaging it is. Also, consider the social tone of the channel and how they engage with customers.
4. Decide which channel best visually represents your business best.
Do you sell products that are best represented visually? If so, channels like Instagram or Pinterest are the best channels for your business. If you sell a service which is intangible, what is the easiest way for you to communicate the benefits to your ideal buyers? Would it be in video form, written or something else?
5. Which channel provides the most bang for your buck?
If you decide to put an advertising budget behind your content, which channel will deliver the most return on investment? Which channel provides the most engagement (likes, clicks, shares etc.) for the lowest cost?
For example, LinkedIn is great for B2B businesses, but its advertising tools are more expensive than Facebook or Instagram. For this reason, many LinkedIn experts believe that if your customer lifetime value is below $15,000 then it may not be a worthwhile investment.
6. What subscription tools do you have to capture your audience’s information?
This is very important but frequently overlooked. Social media channels are rented store fronts. This means that although you may have 10,000 likes and followers, you do not own that audience. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc. own the audience.
Owning an audience means having access to that audience’s contact details (email, phone number, address, etc) separately to the social channel you are using.
Ask yourself: “How do I move this audience from a fan or follower on my social channels to owning their email address or phone number.”
Think about what incentive or offers you can make your ideal buyer in order to engage with them away from the social channel.
Note: If you want to know why it’s important to own your audience, ask the content creators who built their audience on Vine, MySpace, Friendster, Google+ or Xanga.
Are you ready to start creating content that converts your followers into customers?
What content do you plan to start creating? Are videos your thing, or do you prefer images?
Start by considering what your ideal buyer is looking for, understand where they are on their buyer’s journey, then decide which channel to use and what to distribute.
Have any questions? Leave a comment below and let me know if you need help with your social media strategy.
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Also published on Medium.