As a grandparent nearing retirement and learning how to do affiliate marketing, I have found it difficult to learn to use social media to promote my websites. There has been a whole lot of “learning the hard way”. So I thought I would put together a post on how to use social media for online marketing, for those of you struggling along the way I have. Below are a few words of advise on how to use social media in your online business.
Focus On Social Marketing
Answer your followers’ comments. Thank your followers individually if you can. Join discussion groups of like mided people, and comment on their posts. Build relationships and connect with people. Answer your followers’ questions and concerns. If possible, create your own discussion forum to help people through problems connected to your niche. Focus on the social aspect, and try to be helpful in all you do on social media.
Have a Social Media Strategy
Decide ahead of time your purpose for using social media. People don’t go to social media to buy things. It’s more of a discussion place. My strategy is to use only a few of the most popular social media platforms, and post mostly notifications of my newest blog posts, and direct followers to read and comment within the post. Then I can somewhat contain the discussion to happen inside my website, which is where I can contain my sales pitches.
Intagram and Facebook have a special purpose for me: On those two platforms I plan to send out a daily picture of my “outfit of the day”. This way, I can stay relavent, but don’t have to produce content as often.
Listen to Your Audience
Show your followers that you understand their comments. Take suggestions and make improvements based on what your audience tells you. Take their questions seriously. Adopt an attitude of “there are no stupid questions” when people ask you things. After all, answering them gives you more opportunity to put in more valuable content.
Pay attention to what’s not being said also. Actions speak louder than words, and it’s important to read between the lines to get at what your audience is really feeling.
Focus on Your Audience
It’s not always about you! Take on an attitude of being helpful and ask “how can I help?” As an example, I recently wrote two articles, one about the best states to retire to, and one about the worst states for retirement. One of my readers said he didn’t find his favorite state on either list, and wanted to know where it stood.
Instead of telling him he needed to go to one of the higher rated states, I gave him the stats on the state he chose and told him to weigh the aspects to see what he could live with and without. He was happy that I went and did that extra work to help him decide if his chosen state would be good or bad for HIS retirement. It was very gratifying.
Don’t try to be something you are not. People can see through a fake persona in a heartbeat. Tell people about your failures because they will respect you more, and will learn from your mistakes. Be yourself. And don’t try to come off as something you are not. People wamt to know that you have walked their same path and want to know what the drawbacks are to what you are selling, and want to know about your failiures as well as your successes. Don’t “spin”. Tell it like it is.
Admit when you’re wrong about something too. It actually shows straigth of character to admit you’re wrong and want to correct issues. Your readers will respect you more if you are proven wrong by them and you admit it, and do what you can to correct it.
Know Your Audience
Social media is a great way to get to know your followers on a social level. Pay attention to the demographics of your audience. This helps you figure out exactly what to say to reasure your followers that you do know them, know their concerns, and know how to help them. Are you talking to single moms? Retirees? Millenials? Banjo playing anarchists? Figure out who your audience is so you can speak directly to them.
Keep on Topic
Don’t post unrelated information on your blog. Social media participants go to their favorite platform to discuss specific subjects. In some forums, there are even rules about staying on topic, and you can lose privalages if you deviate from topic too often. They don’t want distractions. If you change the subject, you become a distraction, not a helpful, concerned person trying to solve their issues.
As an example, I was asked to reveiw a person’s website. It was about party and event planning. In the middle of this, she did a product review on her bicycle. There were a million other items she could have promoted on her site, like party venues, party producs, party stores, party ANYTHING. It was so distracting that I couldn’t go on critiqueing the site. Stay on topic. If you feel the need to comment off topic, go to another forum on the subject you want to discuss.
Choose the Best Platforms
By joining like minded groups on social media, you find out what platforms your audience is using to discuss your topic. Limit your social media sharing to those platforms. If you go posting to all the platforms, you may be wasting your time, talking to an empty room or two.
On your chosen platforms, create a compelling profile that will make people want to follow you. Make sure it is on topic all the way. I use two platforms for my outfit of the day, and three others for content promotion. I use one more just to have my content on another platform to get Google ranking.
There is a time and place for automation. People don’t want to discuss their issues with a robot. I beieive there is nothing wrong with an automated email or text that goes out to individuals right when they send their message, acknowledging that you received their question and will follow up as soon as possilble. But you must answer IN PERSON as soon as you can. If all of your communication is automated, people will lose their trust in you and will no longer listen to you. Remember your readers are PEOPLE and appreciate being treated as people, not machines.
Add Value to Your Promotions
Have something to offer your social media followers. People get on social media to feel they have had a good time and have taken something of value away as a result of their time on the platform. If you are constently pushing your sales pitch, people will get tired of you and start avoiding your messages.
Provide helpful hints. Relate a funny story. Tell what has worked for you and what hasn’t. Be a good listening ear and commisserate with your readers. Don’t always be in the sales mode. Your sales will come because people respect you and see you as a helpful person, and not always pushing a product down their throats.
Set a Time Limit on Your Social Media Involvement
Social media is fun and entertaining. It can get to be a giant time waster if you let it. It’s best to set aside a certain amount of time you wish to spend on social media ahead of time. Set a timer and be strict with yourself about getting off social sites as soon as that alarm rings. A ten minute check of Facebook can turn into a three hour discussion before you realize what has happened. Don’t let it eat your precious time you need for creating content.
Practice on Your Friends
If you are a soon-to-be retired grandparent, like me, you didn’t grow up with social media. Many of us learned to use it much later in life than the kids that grew up with it, and it’s been hard to take on this new skill.
I know that most of my social media success has been through a lot of trial and error, and is more by accident than by design. So I have a group of people I run my ideas through. I have them look at my posts and make sure I didn’t make any glaring errors, because I know that the posts on my screen look different than the ones that go out to the public. Having a trusted trial group helps keep you from making errors that will lead to losing your readers. I find huge value in having me “test people” go over my stuff.
This is where I want to stress the value of belonging to Wealthy Affiliate. There is a whole community of like-minded people who have been through the whole social media challange and can help you navigate around the pitfalls of social media. There is always someone, 24/7/365 that you can run things past. They will critique your posts and evaluate your situations, and will always have great advise on how to handle issues that come up. See my review of Wealthy Affilite here.
Social media has its benefits and its drawbacks. If you use it correctly, it can be a great asset to your website. If you go into social media without a strategy, it can be counter productive to your business success. Use it wisely, and it will pay off.
Thank you for reading, and please put your comments and questions below!