When it comes to social media most of us are sucked in by vanity metrics – more likes and thousands of followers take us to dizzying heights – but real engagement is what’s worth its weight in gold.
- “84% of all B2B decision-makers begin their buying process via a referral” – Andrew Ford
- The way to make money is to have a social media strategy that asks: What action do you want your customers to take?” – Erin Kilpatrick, CPM, MBA
- “On average a customer needs to see your offer 7 or 8 times before they will engage.” – Erin Kilpatrick, CPM, MBA
First impressions matter: set about building trust in a digital world
According to Harvard psychologist Amy Cuddy people ask two questions when they first meet you:
- Can I trust this person?
- Can I respect this person?
From an evolutionary perspective Ms Cuddy says, “it is crucial to our survival to know whether a person deserves our trust.”
Andrew Ford, is CEO of Social Star, an agency that helps to create both personal and business digital brand platforms from websites to LinkedIn and other social media channels. He says the same perceptions and judgements apply when people are interacting with you on social media or engaging with your business.
“For someone to buy your product or someone to engage with you they need to have trust.”
Mr Ford explains that to gain trust in the social and business space “people need to like you and you need to have credibility.” He elaborates, “Likability, credibility and trust is the conduit for influence.”
According to Mr Ford social media is “a medium through which ideas travel” and the extent to how successful you’ll be in your business is not dependent on selling your product or service but how good you are at “selling an idea”. Mr Ford explains that an accounting firm “is not selling compliance or tax returns”, rather “they’re selling the trust that they’ll do a good job.”
How to build trust: influence is the currency you want in a social network
If ‘trust’ is the social building block and the ultimate ingredient for growing small or startup businesses, how do you go about gaining trust? According to Mr Ford, “influence is the currency that we want in building on trust.”
One of the most influential men in the world right now is 46-year-old CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, Elon Musk. He has a net worth of around $US20.1billion – unsurprising given he sold half a million cars in just 20 minutes. Love him or hate him, Elon Musk has a social presence and clout that most people and companies can only dream of achieving. But it’s not just that he has over 20 million followers on twitter that make him influential, it’s that he’s arguably the world’s best car salesman. And he can sell a car without even mentioning any stand-out features like cruise-control or an in-built GPS system. So, how does he do this?
Elon Musk’s influence goes back to Mr Ford’s idea of “selling an idea” rather than a product or service. He explains “he’s not selling a car” but “he’s selling a movement.”
It’s all in the pitch: formulate your message before choosing your platform
By focussing on global warming as the problem that needs solving right now, Mr Ford says Elon Musk masterfully takes us on a journey which “changes our perception of electric cars.”
“His approach (Elon Musk) is a game changer. It’s the mass market car that is going to make a dent in this problem we have – global warming – that’s going to potentially destroy the planet, and then (he) brings out the car and says we’ve listened to what you want. That’s a pretty good pitch.”
Appearances matter: What’s your personal brand? What are your values?
We’ve all heard the old adage, ‘a picture tells a thousand words.’ In his book, Blink, best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell elaborates on this idea and talks about the choices we make in an instant – in the-blink-of-an-eye – that actually aren’t as simple as they seem. Using this thinking, when we’re connected on social media it’s safe to assume we’re making snap judgements all the time.
Mr Ford alludes to a digital thumb print that we leave behind in all our social media interactions. He says, “everything is viewed through this digital world even face-to-face communication.”
“When I Google (a) doctor I’m going to see face-to-face, I’m going to make a whole bunch of subconscious assumptions about that person based on their single image online.”
Mr Ford says it takes about 8 seconds for someone to judge you based on an image. He says, “You might be the most awesome person the world, but if I can’t see that I don’t know that. The human mind cannot tell the difference between a picture and the real you.” The takeaway, make sure you invest in good photography and put your best foot forward.
Don’t talk at people: social media is designed to be social
Traditional media outlets were designed to talk at consumers without the opportunity for real interaction other than calls on talkback radio or letters sent into TV stations. Social media platforms on the other hand engage you in real time, with real talk – so it’s important that you engage in those conversations in a real way – this is where ‘trust’ comes back into the equation.
Erin Kilpatrick, is the Managing Director of Impact Marketing Services. She says, your prospective clients are “building relationships with you (on social media) and you now have access to all these people that you didn’t have direct access to before.” But she warns, “you need to be mindful that they don’t want to be sold to. They want to feel like they know you and they want to trust you.”
“Converse, engage and be authentic. Don’t try and build this wall in front of you. People want to buy from people – so tell your story – be authentic and you’ll find that people do resonate with you,” she adds.
Social media is not about free advertising
Many individuals and businesses make the mistake of thinking social media equates to free advertising – that’s not the case. Ms Kilpatrick explains, “you need an advertising budget behind it in order to be successful and you need to plan for that from the beginning.”
“We want to reach as many eyeballs as we can get in front of. And we want them not only to see what you’re doing, but we want to encourage them to engage with you because that’s how you start the conversation and that’s how you start to build the relationship. So, when you post something (you need to consider) how many people are you touching, how many times is it being shared, and how many people are you getting it in front of without having to pay for that.”
Take the time to plan your content
Just like a content strategy, you need a social media strategy. Ms Kilpatrick says, “You’ve got to have a direction of what you want your customers to do. What action do you want your customers to take?”
Your other content strategies, such as your audio strategy, will feed into your social media strategy.
Which platforms should you choose?
B2B = LinkedIn, Medium, Quora, Facebook business groups
B2C = Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, Vimeo
It’s more than just about choosing the right platform
Knowing how to choose the right platform to engage depends on how well you know your audience. So, make sure you know your audience – how old are they, what do they like to watch and what do they like to eat – think of them as a fully-fledged individual. Ms Kilpatrick says, “you need to hang out where they hang out.”
But Ms Kilpatrick warns while “building a profile on any social media platform is great” as “it creates awareness” – “at the end of the day you don’t own that platform.”
“Mark Zuckerberg can go and change the algorithm and he can effectively say we’re no longer supporting business pages and you might have had 100000 followers and 100000 likes on your business page, but it’s gone.”
A better way to move forward according to Ms Kilpatrick is to “interact in the format you own”.
“So, while you need to engage on these platforms and build the relationships, what you want to do is you want to try and get them off – whether it is getting them on a list so that you can send them emails directly or getting them to your website so that you can start to track information about them and encourage them down that purchasing journey.”
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