By Ian Cleary
Quite often I give presentations to groups of entrepreneurs who think that social media is all about building up followers and fans.
You hire a social media intern to share some updates, you get some fans and followers, and that somehow generates business for you.
It doesn’t work that way.
People get impressed with lots of followers on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, but the truth is, the majority of those followers never see your content and you don’t get a lot of value from them.
Your focus should not be on social media.
What I tell to the groups I speak to is that they need to focus on strategic content, relationships, and technology.
I’m not saying social media is not important, but if you switch your focus a little, your social following will be a lot more valuable.
It’s not all about the numbers, and in this article I’ll explain why.
How are you going to get to the top of Google’s search results for your main keywords?
How are you going to get your content shared thousands of times?
How are you going to create content that will last for many years?
The answer is simple – you need to create strategic content.
In an essence, strategic content is a piece of content that has a clearly defined purpose and a measurable goal linked to it. Going beyond the basics, you need to think about content types that will work best for your business and help you achieve your goals more efficiently.
There are certain types of content – typically long form content – that can supercharge your results no matter your industry or business type. Think expert roundups, frameworks, or research posts. These types of posts take a lot of time and effort to produce but deliver outstanding results. You’re giving your audience valuable content, something of substance that will earn you more than just likes.
You can still create shorter blog posts focusing on long tail keywords but you need to create that amazing content that’s going to take 10 times more work but give you 1,000 times more value.
The first example of strategic content that comes to mind is a research report that has reached a cult status in the blogging industry – Andy Crestodina’s annual blogger survey. For 3 years in a row, Andy has been asking more than 1000 bloggers to complete a survey about how they create their content and presenting the survey results in a research post.
To find this article, I simply searched for “blogger research” on Google.
I knew it would be easy to find because it’s a great piece of strategic content. Google certainly think so placing it in the top 3 search results.
Andy produces this report every year and every year it gets a lot of attention, shares, comments, and links.
Research reports are a great way to build your authority with your content. If you provide unique insights into interesting topics relevant to your industry and your audience, more people will see you as an expert in that particular topic. They will link to your content, promote it on social media, and share it with their own audiences. Plus, Google will recognize your post’s value and rank it accordingly.
Create a research report or similar long-form content and you’ll get an evergreen piece of content that won’t lose its appeal over time.
Imagine if instead of allowing yourself to get caught up in vanity metrics (e.g. the number of followers, fans, likes, etc.), you spent time and focus on building relationships. This would make such a huge difference in the results you get. Vanity metrics simply can’t help you build a viable business, but building and nurturing quality relationships can.
There are influential people in your industry or niche, like industry experts, journalists, or bloggers that have wide reach on social media and can help you reach new audiences relevant to your business. If you spend time building relationships with relevant influencers you can help boost your brand’s online visibility and get your message out to a large number of potential customers who otherwise wouldn’t know about you.
That’s why you need to identify relevant influencers and build relationships with them through the following 4 stages:
*Tip: Finding influencers manually takes a lot of time, so I recommend using a tool like GroupHigh to easily identify and make a list of influencers relevant to your business.
Unaware. They are not aware of you at this stage, you’re at the starting line! This is the time to do your research and learn as much as you can about the influencers on your list. Follow them on social media and learn about their interests, their work, the type of content they share, what they enjoy doing in their free time, etc. This information will help you understand more about them and help you reach out in a way that they’re most likely to respond to.
Aware – You haven’t asked them for anything but you somehow got on their radar. You followed them on social media, signed up for their newsletter, shared their content, commented on their blog, promoted their e-book or webinar, etc.
They are aware of your existence, and even though it might not seem like it, this is a huge step forward to building a meaningful relationship with an influencer. Making any kind of connection prior to sending an email to an influencer will increase your chances of getting a reply.
Engaged – You are now engaging with the influencers e.g. they received your email and responded. By now you got to know them and you interacted with them on social media, so you were able to get their attention with personalized emails that didn’t come out of the blue.
If you made your call-to-action beneficial to both of you, and you made your ‘ask’ easy to fulfill, you’re probably seeing some positive responses at this stage.
Active – This is where you are actively engaging with influencer and this could develop into a mutually beneficial, long-term relationship. You’ve found common ground and are interested in creating opportunities to help each other grow. This is the stage that you want to get to with all the people on your list, but you need to be willing to put in the work!
Focus on the top 100 people that will have the biggest impact on your business and spend time building those relationship. The “side effect” of building those relationships will be more fans and followers, but that isn’t your main focus.
Before I drifted into marketing I spent years working in the technical roles in the software industry. This is where my passion for technology comes from! At the beginning of my career in social media and content marketing, I was a bit uncomfortable being called a marketer. But today, things are very different.
The evolving digital landscape, the explosion of engagement channels and data, and constant changes in consumer behavior helped fuel a symbiotic relationship between marketing and technology. As marketers, we need to be comfortable with technology because we rely on it to do our work – it helps us efficiently manage, automate, and analyze our marketing activities. We simply cannot run any campaigns effectively without the help of marketing tools and platforms.
Marketing technology helps us streamline our processes and automate some of the repetitive activities so we can focus on the things that truly move the needle – e.g. creating strategic content and building relationships.
It’s easy for entrepreneurs and brands to get blinded by the number of social media followers and empty metrics such as likes on their content. The notion that more followers means more business is far from true. You need to move your focus from social media to things that can directly improve your marketing results and your bottom line.
Focus on creating strategic content, building relationships, and leveraging the technology that will enable you to automate some of the processes and work more efficiently.
Source: Razor Social