Using social media to market your business is a tricky thing to do. People and companies of all shapes and sizes often get too caught up in the second half of social media: the media part. We spend so much time worrying about the same things traditional advertisers and other forms of media do: viewership, engagement, link revenue, etc. Terms like “content marketing” and “viral trends” put so much weight on the media part that we tend to forget something important:

The social part is there too, and it’s most often more effective.

I understand that is a simple and sort of obvious statement to make, but sometimes it’s important to be reminded of this fact. People flock to social media because it can be a beautiful merging of technology and our social desires. It allows us to interact on a global level, and when done correctly, it can have an impact that no traditional form of media can match.

Unfortunately, social media is often done incorrectly. Yes, we focus on the social part in so far as we are concerned with user engagement. We ask users to “share”, “like” or “comment” without understanding the major point of the platform we are communicating on. This is like trying to be social on a quantity scale, like the people who seem to have hundreds of friends without a single one willing to take a bullet for them.

If you are using social media to advertise your product, service, or general business, you are asking people to take a bullet for you… or at least, bite the bullet with their wallet and possibly loyalty. Are the people who make up your social media metrics willing to bleed for your business? Rest assured, there are some companies that achieve this very thing.

As a teacher, I’m around Millennials and younger folks four or five times a week. These are some of the most tech savvy, desensitized people I know when it comes to social media marketing. They know the tricks of the trade because they have grown up with it, almost from day one. They are selective, skeptical, and cynical about how companies speak to them through social media, and yet they themselves will bleed for a brand or company.

If I bring up the Mac V. PC or Android v. IOS debate – holy crap, watch out. There will be people who admittedly defend their chosen technological weapon, even if there is no logical reason to do so. If I say that Apple sucks, I will hear about it. If I say that Android sucks, I will also hear about it.
Despite their critical nature of social media, they are still among the most loyal fans of companies we consider to be giants in the advertising industry. So how?

Great content? Yes, of course. Emotional connection? Usually. Some magic crystal that the CMO has under the bed? That one is classified.

Most of these companies have the same sorts of things every cliché blog post about “effective social media advertising” recommends, but even that’s usually not enough. If it were, then every single business that uses social media would have so much brand loyalty and customer engagement, they’d explode.

So what is missing? It’s simple: the social aspect.

The “social” in social media goes beyond sharing and commenting. It’s about the relationships you are building with them through social media. This is good news. Since you most likely have experience building relationships in your personal life, you have some skills to use that don’t require hours of metric analysis.

Good relationships are built on two important ingredients: time and consistency.

  • Time – Relationships require a certain amount of time and attention to build. You wouldn’t expect someone to marry you if there wasn’t sometime and experience between the two of you. Why should you expect your digital consumers to declare their loyalty for your business without time and experience as well?
  • Persistence – Relationships are like rollercoasters: there are ups and downs that require the motivation to stick with them. Persistence means that you are maintaining the social relationship and working to build or rebuild it when necessary. There are no quick, short fixes right here.

We can even reduce these ingredients down to one important concept: investment.

When you invest your energy into the social relationships you are creating with digital consumers, you are naturally putting the time and persistence that is necessary. Great content and marketing strategy is important, but if you focus on these alone, you will become too caught up in the media side of things. Keep your focus on the social aspect so then your great content and strategy are actually effective.

Use these tips to keep you on target:

  1. Expand Your Engagement – Skip the basic “call to actions”. Asking people to simply “like” or “comment” on your social media will only go so far. Relationships are two way streets. You and your company can become engaged with the other users: for example, “like” and “comment” on what they are talking about too.
  2. Expand Your Content – Targeted content is important, but that doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate different aspects or information that may more related to other digital consumers. Selling kayaks to adventure enthusiasts? Share some optimal travel locations you know about. Painting fences for single parents? Share some tips to get kids active outside in the backyard.
  3. Pay Attention To The Relationships – This goes without saying, but it deserves some attention: pay attention to how people in a relationship with you or your business are acting/reacting. Don’t stop at the surface feedback. If someone tells you that your product sucks, don’t think about you need to poor more money into the marketing budget. Think about how you need to connect your products to their needs more.
  4. Keep Investing – Lose any expectations of fast, quick success. Most successful media platforms are built over months or years. There are children with YouTube channels who celebrate every additional 100 people that subscribe. Avoid the trap of wanting success now, since that will bring back the tunnel vision on the media side. Treat your social media platform and the relationships around it like your business: it’s your baby.