My #1 piece of advice for ANY entity on social media that wants to do a swell job is --> provide value to the consumer. This is nothing new. It has been preached in a million different ways across a million different blogs. It's common sense, isn't it? You want something from someone (consumers to engage with you on social media) --> So you give them something valuable to them in return (Here's the tricky part). Notice, I wrote "valuable to THEM". The value you create for your consumers cannot but what YOU think is valuable to them, or what you WANT to be valuable to them. The value you provide has to literally be something that they find valuable in their own life, and, as much as you try to control it, THEY have to decide what that is.
That last bit is where brands get hung up --> letting consumers decide a critical part of your brand strategy. When you have spent so much time cultivating exactly what you want your brand to be, it's difficult to give up the reigns and let consumers influence it. Few brand will admit this, but we all experience it to some degree. YOU know what you want your brand to be, YOU know what you want to be valuable to your consumers, so YOU build content that you believe SHOULD be valuable to them. This is where most brands miss the mark.
If you want to have an effective content strategy, then you MUST provide content that is valuable to the consumer by the CONSUMER's definition. Here are some tips to start:
- ASK your consumers what they want.
- Social media provides a perfect platform for you to dig into what your consumers are looking for from you. Use the lovely social media community you've build around your brand as a focus group for the types of content you should be creating. Sample questions include asking fans what they like most about your brand, to share content from your industry that they love, share trends they are seeing, and FLAT OUT ask them what they want from you.
- OBSERVE your consumers' online behavior.
- Find out who the influencers in your industry are, and track what types of content they are sharing most. Tweak those types of content to your brand, and be an active participant in the conversations they are having about your industry online.
- TEST multiple types of content.
- Throw something out there and see if it sticks. What defines "sticks? --> It ignites conversations with your consumers, and is shared frequently. The conversation piece of this is VERY important. Valuable content means that it is sparking multiple conversations across your network. Pull any and all types of content that are left dead on your social networks. If content isn't getting engagement, then there is absolutely no point to posting it.
Think of your consumers as someone you are trying to get to know in your personal life. What types of questions would you ask them? What would you want to find out about them on social media? You can produce the most valuable, beautiful content to your brand, but that means NOTHING on social media if it doesn't resonate with your consumers. It's the bare bone basics that you learn in Communication 101--> In order to maintain a relationship there has to be a give and a take on both ends.
- Marji J. Sherman