If social media is on your to-do list this year, no doubt you’ve been doing a whole ton of reading and research on the topic, and what it means for business. And if you’ve done that, you’ve likely run across someone saying that one of the keys to successful social media participation is to share and be helpful.
But…how? What does that mean?
Your communication strategy for your business to date has probably included elements of public relations and media relations, advertising, direct response marketing, and more traditional marketing vehicles like collateral development, online presence/website, etc. All of those still have their place, and they typically lead with the brand and your desired messages.
But social media is characterized in part by creating and sharing content that helps educate, inform, or entertain your customers and prospects online. By contrast, this content leads with the helpful or fun parts that can contribute something of value to your audience, and the brand and “messages” are present in the background, if at all. The goal is not an overt brand impression, but a touchpoint of shared interest between the business and the customer they serve.
So, here are 10 ways to create or share helpful content in social media that you might try as you’re getting started this year.
1. Start a Delicious.com account, and bookmark interesting or informative articles and case studies for your industry. Share that link at the bottom of your outgoing email signature, or feature it on your website.
2. Link liberally to blogs and articles other than your own in your posts, to give your readers lots of other great resources to visit (and don’t worry that they’re going to defect to the competition if you do that. If your product or service is great, they’ll be back).
3. Use your Twitter account to share one of your posts or promotional pieces once for every 10 times you share someone else’s. Tweet videos, blog posts, articles, or news stories that highlight trends or progressive work in your broader industry. Yep, that includes sharing stories that don’t talk about you at all.
4. Write an e-book every quarter for your customers, answering some of their pressing business questions (and letting your logo on the page be the only promotion of your company in the document). For example, if you’re an accounting firm, write an ebook to help a small business set up their books at the beginning of the year.
5. Create a video interview series at the trade shows and conferences you attend. Do two-minute interviews with experts in your field, all answering some of the burning questions your customers have about their personal or professional needs.
6. Use your Facebook page to share the spotlight with the people that pay your bills. If you’re a household goods company, ask your customers to share their top tips for getting organized after the holiday season. If you’re a bakery, let your patrons upload photos of their beautiful (or disastrous!) holiday desserts.
7. Get a BlogTalkRadio account, and do a weekly or monthly podcast showcasing case studies from your customers about how they successfully solved a business problem, and all the learnings they had along the way. (Hint: don’t turn it into an infomercial for your product or service. Let them tell the story their way.) Make the archive easy to find, and share it in your newsletter regularly.
8. If you’re a B2B company that blogs, put together a post, e-book, or video series teaching your business customers how to set up and start their own blog, and help them find some others in the industry to check out, too.
9. If your team members speak at industry events or seminars, put the presentations on a company Slideshare page, and offer them for download. Be sure and use your other communication tools – including email, print collateral, and social networks – to let people know what’s there.
10. Do you do live events for your customers, like golf outings? Do you sponsor and participate in local charity events? Take lots of pictures, and put them on a corporate Flickr page (under Creative Commons license if you can) or your Facebook page. Feature them in your collateral and communications, and link to the images. Be sure to tag people in the pictures, too. People love finding themselves in pictures especially if it’s a good shot!
What would you add? What defines “helpful” content to you, and how would you encourage businesses to use content to connect with their customers and prospects? Love to hear your comments.