Social Media Focus: Creating and maintaining your users' interest
Social media is ubiquitous, fun and challenging. With the world literally at our fingertips and with wide-open networks, we have incredible access – but also a tremendous challenge, when it comes to engaging an audience. How do you create content that captures somebody's attention? How do you generate interest?
You can read website after website, or blog after blog, that provides answers and rules to play by. Putting those answers into action, however, can still be tricky if several key points about social media are not understood.
The first key to success is to understand that social media is social. An obvious statement, sure, but true nonetheless. It is not the equivalent of traditional advertising. Advertising is essentially a one-way street, a unidirectional conversation initiated by the brand toward the consumer. Social media, on the other hand, is a conversation. It relies on content created by the brand and the consumer. When this exchange occurs, the consumer will think, expand upon, react and elaborate on content put forth, and spread it within their networks. If this does not occur, the result will be a decrease in ROI and little progress in building your network.
The next step is to understand the three fundamental concepts of traffic, engagement and conversion. Traffic is generated by creating content that directly impacts the consumer. It needs to be something they will react to and care about, which then leads to shares, comments, tags, likes or clicks. This prompts conversion, which impacts readers' behavior, and can lead to everything from increased sales, to exposure or, simply, website views.
To move into action, you need a unified strategy and goal, and to identify your target audience and platform – understanding what motivates them. The first question to ask yourself is: What is your goal? To raise awareness? Educate? Increase sales or patient volume? Improve an experience? It can be anything. With a goal determined, all content should be strategically planned with a consistent and unified voice. This will give your brand an identity that's unique and stands out in the chaos and shuffle of the social media landscape.
Part of your goal should be to grow a following of like-minded people who care about your brand and will engage with you. For example, if you're trying to build a breast augmentation practice, you might want to target young females in their 20s and 30s, and create content to attract them. Choose platforms in which your target audience is active – Facebook, for example, has the most number of users, 65 percent of whom are above age 35, and has the highest usage among ages 45-54. Deeper connections are facilitated via group pages, while ads and promoted content are relatively inexpensive. Instagram, conversely, is more visual and most popular among women and users less than age 35. Hashtags are a helpful tool on this platform, as they can be used to tell a story and create linked and liquid content. Twitter, although limited in length of text, provides the opportunity for real-time engagement; hashtags are easily used and trending topics easily accessed. Users are equal in gender and most popular with the 18-29 age group.
Additionally, when you do post, you want to do it at the right times. You want to know your audience, when they are active and the best times to increase reach. For example, Facebook is most used at 9 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., Thursday through Sunday.
Now that you have a strategy and goal, and identified your target audience and ideal platform(s), how do you create content that will interest your audience and engage them? Consumers are exposed to an abundance of content every day, so you need to create a "buyer's persona" when writing your posts. Content has a short lifespan and consumers spend seconds processing it, so it's important to design it in a way that will maintain the reader's attention. Compelling or emotional headlines, storytelling, photos and videos can successfully accomplish this. Stay positive and develop a personal and authentic connection with them. Once this relationship is built and trust is gained, you must encourage consumers to act, follow, share, visit a website or do whatever it is that fulfills your initial goal. Generally, the audience is more likely to truly listen if the content comes from influencers, friends or other members of their network, rather than the brand themselves.
Remember that you want your brand to have a unique and unified voice in the hustle and bustle of social media – a voice that will stand the test of time. The key then to longevity and success in building your network and creating posts that generate interest is to engage, change with them and listen to them. Constantly do your research, evaluate your ROI and metrics, and get feedback. This will keep you on your best game.
Also, it's easy to forget with all the "rules" that social media is fun. It's everywhere and everyone is using it, so we must have a presence that's not only unique to our brand but unified as a profession. The world is truly at our fingertips, now more than ever – we just have to use it right.