The first thing you need to know about social media is that it is social. To be social you must focus on creating conversations with people that build relationships. First, always remember that you are communicating with people on social media. People have emotions, desires, logic, and reason. If you really want to engage people, you must speak to people’s emotions, desires, logic, and reason. Obviously, every person with whom you engage will have different emotions, desires, abilities in logic and reason. There is one desire, however, that all people share and if you understand it, you can capitalize on it. I am referring to the desire for social currency.
The basic idea behind social currency is that, like money, the more social currency a person has the more the person feels they are worth. People want to feel important. People feel important when others listen. This applies even if the person is not the original source of the shared idea. Want proof? Take a look at Twitter. Why else are so many people sharing 3rd party blog and news articles? In short, people want to share information that will encourage others to listen. If a business wants to capitalize on this, the business must provide social currency to the consumer. Social currency is nothing more than information. But, it is the type of information that is important. People will engage with and share ideas that are new, innovative, controversial, unbelievable, and/or highly entertaining.
Just a few examples of where you can find/supply social currency include: curated news/blog content, whitepapers, interesting statistics, challenges, surveys, tips, spotlighting customers, free offers, contests, focus on causes, charities, and community, secrets, Easter eggs on a website (think about Google’s Easter eggs).
The important thing to remember with this is that you don’t have to create all this! Share content from complementing businesses/people liberally (obviously, avoid sharing competitors info). For example, if you see a great article somewhere, Tweet it, post it on your LinkedIn and Facebook company pages and encourage others in the company to like it or re-tweet it. In addition to sharing content others have produced, be sure that you are adding a sufficient amount of original content otherwise customers will have no reason to visit your site.
Whether the content is original or curated, social media posting must be strategic. Never post on social media just for the sake of posting. Every piece of content posted on your social media pages must point directly and clearly back to some aspect of your business such as a product, service, technical capability, or the company’s brand image.
The final consideration for social media is for conversation. Successful conversations require that people talk, listen, and reply… not just talk. Building relationships with people on social media is also very important. To build a real relationship, there needs to be a certain degree of ‘personal’ disclosure so people can get to know your business on a personal level. Clearly, this doesn't mean you should share individual’s very personal information. Rather, you should show the personal side of your business. A great example of showing a business’s personal side would be to post fun-filled pictures of the company picnic, holiday party, or other business-social or business-civic event.
In short, the content you post to social media should be diverse. It should give a personal glimpse into the company, allow for conversation, and feed customer’s desires for social currency while wholly supporting your business’s strategic goals.