Originally published in Funnel Magazine.
Given the nature of online communication today, social media can be one of the most powerful business development tools available. It can also be the biggest waste of time.
Approaching social media without a plan is like throwing darts blind-folded. You might hit the target sometimes, but it’s a fair bet that you’ll miss the mark most often. In order to hit your target and generate results with your social media content, you need to have a strategy.
Your content is often what serves as the introduction to your potential clients. It’s like a handshake with the world, introducing who you are, what you do and what problems you can solve for those you serve. Then, when executed properly, content becomes the catalyst for engagement which leads to conversions.
Unfortunately, many businesses do not craft their content strategically. Some use their social channels almost entirely to sell. Some just share curated content. Some only talk about themselves. Some post only inspirational or helpful information. Sharing any of these types of content in a singular fashion is not enough.
The truth is that you need a strategic mix of three primary types of content in order to generate results via social media. You need to use content that will tell your story, benefit your audience, and drive traffic.
Tell Your Story
Telling your story sets you apart as a business. No other business has your story. Through story you can establish connection and create shared experiences with the tribe you serve. Stories are engaging, memorable, relatable and personal. Stories move businesses from being brands to being trusted allies.
No other tool captures the essence of an organization so completely as the sharing of its story because stories highlight what makes an organization unique. Multiple businesses may provide similar services or build similar products, but no two organizations share the same story.
Sharing your story on social is not a single effort. It is a continuous process of content sharing that reveals glimpses of your story on an ongoing basis. Collectively and over time, they reveal a complete picture of who you are, what you stand for, and the transformation you provide to those you serve.
Here are some types of content you can share on social media in order to tell your story:
Why Us - Create a “Why Us” series of images and posts that highlight different aspects of your organization that make you unique
Staff Features - Share stories of your employees: who they are, where they came from, why they love what they do, etc. Post photos, and celebrate team successes.
Photos of your space - The space in which you work helps to tell your story. From office décor to wall hangings to team interactions, enabling your audience to visualize you in your space creates a deeper bond.
Community Involvement - Share stories and photos about your involvement and interaction in your community. If you’re participating in a fundraiser or doing a team building activity, share those experiences with your online tribe.
Product/Service Features - Create a series of images and posts about the products or services you offer. Make sure these are not promotions rather highlights of the value in what you do and the products you create. Through this type of content, you’re telling the story of your products or services, not selling them.
Client Testimonials and Stories - Let your clients help tell your story. Their experiences may capture who you are and what you do in a way that resonates with your tribe differently.
In-the-Moment Experiences - Part of your story is how you show up at impromptu times. Don’t be afraid to share those with your audience. These unplanned posts give your audience a glimpse of the real you and reveal a deeper aspect of your story. They strengthen your emotional connection with those you serve.
Benefit Your Audience
The largest portion of your content communication (at least 70%) will be focused on achieving this goal: serving your tribe. By approaching your content marketing as an act of service, you magnify your impact. You are able to transform lives in small ways on an ongoing basis, and in doing so you create a demand for more.
More and more people will be attracted to your social feeds for the valuable content you are offering. They will experience transformation and come to trust you as a resource for what they need. This will cultivate relationships and ultimately lead to their desire for a deeper level of service from you, service they will pay for.
Benefiting your tribe is all about providing them with content that can serve some immediate need they have right now. This may be a need for entertainment, inspiration or information, depending on your industry or area of expertise. Here are some examples of the types of content you can share to accomplish this:
Inform your audience by sharing:
Articles (can be yours or curated from outside sources)
Other helpful information
Inspire your audience by sharing
Stories of transformation or positive impact
Inspirational videos or images
Entertain your audience by sharing:
Humorous and entertaining videos
Other tasteful humor
Driving traffic is what enables you to generate leads and convert social media followers into customers and advocates. Without this essential component, you will likely generate no business from your social media communication because while you’ll be serving your tribe you won’t be converting them into leads or customers. On the flip side of that, if all you do is drive traffic, then you will also generate no business because you’ll alienate your audience with too much selling.
Driving traffic encompasses all the ways in which you use your social channels to take your audience to another location so they can engage with your content more deeply. This may be to read a blog or to watch a video. It also may be to fill out a form in order to access a content offer or to purchase a program.
Not all aspects of driving traffic are promotional. They can be informative, inspirational or entertaining as well. When driving traffic is positioned as a form of service through delivering what your audience needs, then it is not perceived as sales but rather as support.
Here are some ways in which you can use your social channels to drive traffic:
Share links to posts on your blog.
Share links to your multi-media content hosted on other sites such as: YouTube, SlideShare, and Vimeo.
Share links promoting free content offers that are available via lead-capture landing pages.
Share links to landing pages for paid programs or services.
You can incorporate driving traffic into the 70% of content that benefits your audience when you post links to your blogs and other multi-media content. Driving traffic to lead-capture or sales pages should account for 20% or less of your overall content.