Note: This post first appeared on The Center for Sales Strategy Blog.
When companies and individuals are getting started with social media, one of the recommendations that they usually hear is to set up accounts on the platforms where your target persona visits and start posting regularly. For some, setting up the account and posting every once in a while is all they have the time to accomplish; they don’t get past this very basic social media practice of auto-posting every few weeks. Given all the social media clutter out there, this approach won’t create a whole lot of engagement, and more importantly, it won’t create much impact or generate many leads. Face it… if your Twitter account or Facebook page don’t have many followers and you are only posting every once in awhile… you’re wasting your time and need to rethink your social media strategy. Or maybe I should say you need to have a social media strategy!
So how do you break through this social media clutter and create a more engaging social network? The answer: using premium content to establish thought leadership and expertise.
Social Media is More Cluttered Than Ever
Take a look at the amount of content uploaded or viewed on several popular social media sites and you will quickly understand what you’re up against— and why it’s important to post more frequently and with different messages, but also to create more engagement in order to break through the clutter.
95,235 YouTube videos viewed in 1 second
8,490 Tweets sent in 1 second
1,706 Instagram photos uploaded in 1 second
That's a lot of content going out every second of every day!
How to Break Through
Breaking through the clutter doesn’t mean creating a viral video or having a tweet that gets thousands of retweets. Rather, what we are talking about is rising above the noise and clutter so as to be seen by your target persona as an expert and a thought leader. Read this slowly: it’s more important to be seen by one interested prospect as a thought leader and someone they would want to do business with than by thousands of people who have no interest in what you have to say.
How to Use Premium Content to Break Through the Clutter
In the early stages of establishing yourself or your company in social media, your focus should be on growth in your reader/subscriber base.
If your effort is on behalf of a brand, we recommend highly selective advertising to reach your target persona.
If your effort is on your own behalf as an individual (probably with a very limited budget!), we recommend you develop as many industry connections as you can.
After you have reached a critical mass of followers, it’s time to implement your lead-generation strategy. Yes, you need to post more often (most blogs don’t have sufficient frequency), but you also need to post premium content that demonstrates your expertise in your field.
Indeed, premium content (e.g. white papers, infographics and videos), that you or your company has created, is the best content to post on social networks. This premium content establishes you as a thought leader and shows your network that you are the go-to person if and when they have questions.
Beware the Monologue!
You should be creating a dialogue, not a monologue. If you’re posting and no one is engaging, that’s a one-way conversation— and you shouldn’t be surprised when it doesn’t work very well. It’s called social media because it’s where people get social… they engage, they interact, they discuss. Think back to your college days for this metaphor: Don’t create a lecture hall, but a discussion section.
In order to create conversations— two-way communication— first understand that these interactions don’t just happen. You have to make them happen. So join lots of Facebook or LinkedIn groups and use tools like search.twitter.com or other social media listening tools. Then start conversations yourself, conversations within your area of expertise, on those topics where you would like to be seen as a thought leader. Thinking again of your days in college, these groups and other venues are like a fraternity mixer; if you’re a wallflower, no one will speak to you, but if you’re out there mixing, they’ll be delighted to converse with you.
For instance, if you’re a member of a LinkedIn group and see that there is a post about a subject that’s in your wheelhouse, thoroughly read through the thread and see if you have a point of view that can help add to the conversation. If (and only if) you have a piece of premium content can add value to the conversation without having it look like you are actively selling, then post your content as a reply, stating “here is something I put together that you might find interesting” or “here is something that helps explain the topic a little more.” It’s important to remember that the more premium content pieces you have in your sales library, the easier it is to engage in relevant conversations. Yes, this process of creating and joining in conversations is more time-intensive than just posting generic content on your own social media networks, but the the return on your investment makes it more than worthwhile.
You can be a superstar in your use of social media— turning monologues into dialogues and using premium content to establish yourself or your brand as a thought leader. Follow our plan here and watch your star rise.