Sometimes I want to shake my clients — gently, but with purpose. I want them to understand why they aren’t seeing the results they want with social media so that they can correct it and move in the right direction. Here’s the issue, though: social media success doesn’t happen overnight.

We’ve all been spoiled by the concept of instant gratification: instant messages, real-time status updates–hell, we’ve even got streamlined play-by-plays of our pizza orders!

But social media marketing isn’t magic. Posting on Facebook every day for a month won’t make people buy your product like soon-to-be-discontinued Twinkies. In fact, it’ll most likely drive people away.

Some people don’t see that, though. They think it’s a numbers game: more posts, more Likes, more followers, more PROFIT! They don’t imagine how their consumers see it, or if they do, they don’t see how consumers see it on social media.

I understand it’s a relatively new beast, and some salesfolk have had success with a relentless onslaught of ads in the past. Get it in front of them, get in their heads! Force your way into their subconscious so that next time they think about x product, they think of the service they keep hearing about.

That still works, of course, to an extent. With social media, however, all they have to do is click ‘block’ or ‘delete’ or ‘ignore’ and your ads, your posts, your connection to them is destroyed. Possibly forever.

So what should you do instead? The answer lies in the good ol’ phrase ‘quality over quantity.’

  • Determine Your Channels. You probably already know who you’re selling to, so this isn’t tough to figure out. Take it a step further, though. What social channels would, say, women ages 25 — 32 be most accessible? Twitter and Facebook, sure, but what about Pinterest? 92% of content on Pinterest is shared by women. It’s a sure-fire way to reach out to ladies online, so if they’re your demographic you’d better figure out a strategy on how to use it!
  • Figure Out Your Content. So you know who you’re posting to and where. Now answer the question what you’ll be posting. Saying ‘buy our things’ every chance you get will get you blocked or unfollowed instantly. Nobody likes spam in their inboxes, why would they want them on their dashboards? Instead, make sure you’re sharing content relevant to your company and audience’s interests — and that the copy of the posts are tailored to your audience, too!
  • Mix It Up. If you share the same post about your company on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+–why would I follow more than one channel? Sure, there can be some content overlap, but don’t use carbon copies. It looks lazy.
  • Share Others’ Content. ‘But it’s MY page, why would I share other people’s stuff?’ you cry. Sorry if this breaks your heart, but sometimes your updates and promotions just aren’t enough to keep a strong hold on your followers. There are exceptions sure, (if you have KILLER content that everyone finds kick-ass) but ideally you’ll want about 30% of your stream to consist of curated stuff. The key to this, however, is to keep this curated content relevant. Share something from one of your employees (to show your company cares about its people), an article by an influential figure in your industry (in hopes of gaining their favor and therefore the favor of their audience), or even just industry news in general (to portray how you’re up-to-date with what’s going on in current events!). If your feed isn’t quite so predictable, it gives more reasons for people to check in on you and engage with you more often.
  • Engage, Don’t Broadcast. I could write a whole article on this concept alone, but here’s the short version: social media is social for a reason. Interact with your followers, respond to messages both publicly and privately, and reach out to others who are influential in your industry. Humanize your brand by showing them the people behind the company, not just the product or service.

Just remember that even if you do everything above right off the bat, your success in social media won’t be instantaneous. It’s a slow-burning process that builds up over time, but with the right strategy and content, can carry your business forever. A huge audience doesn’t matter as much as a loyal one.

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