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The Softer Side of Social Media

IF YOU ARE PLANNING an online marketing campaign, it’s vital to set the right tone to avoid alienating your audience. Digital marketing expert Tiffany Wilson explains why the hard sell doesn’t work on social media

IT’S TEMPTING. You have a few followers on social media and you just can’t wait to tell them about your amazing service, results and listings. Unfortunately, this approach seldom works on social media and self-promotion can alienate and annoy your audience.

Hard sell marketing is when the marketer or business gets straight to the sales message. They are there to promote their product or service and make sure you know all about it. This type of approach is typically seen with traditional advertising and promotions such as print advertising, internet display ads, DL flyer drops or billboards.

Soft sell marketing takes a subtler approach and focuses on building long-term relationships, cultivating trust and nurturing the audience.

People use social media to socialise and see what their friends and family are up to. Constantly popping up in their feeds with promotional and irrelevant content will just annoy them and they will likely ‘unfollow’ you or block your content.

The other big reason to avoid the hard sell in social media content is that most social media algorithms are designed to give the user – not you or your business – the best experience. They therefore give higher preference to content which they deem to be ‘good content’ in the news feeds.

One factor used to determine this is engagement. Are people engaging with your content? If they aren’t, your posts are unlikely to receive much reach (if any). In other words, your posts are really a big waste of your time because no one is seeing them.

Your social media content strategy requires a specific approach to acquire and retain an online audience. Try implementing these tips to turn down the hard sell in social media content:

  1. Offer value

Write about or video what you know and share it with your audience, ensuring it is relevant to your industry or audience. Businesses which are successful on social media offer value to their audience, rather than bombarding them with reasons why they should do business with them.

By posting helpful content, readers can learn more about your area of expertise and see that you are committed to your following as well as providing them with entertainment. If you aren’t sure where to start with this, write down the top five questions you are regularly asked by your clients. There’s five content ideas to get started with!

  1. Show, don’t tell

Instead of telling your customers how great you are, show them. This ties in nicely with the above point on providing value, but it is also a great way to get your happy customers involved. Ask your clients for a video testimonial or a photo and share these stories on your social media platforms.

Another way to show and not tell is to showcase what you do behind the scenes of your job and give examples of your performance – Facebook Live and Instagram Stories can be a great way to do this. Thinking of your customers’ pain points or typical objections to doing business with you, consider how you can overcome them by demonstrating your worth.

  1. Involve your audience

Get your audience involved in your social media content. They don’t enjoy being talked at, so ask questions and respond. This interaction is the key to success within Facebook and Instagram’s algorithms. It gives you brownie points within the algorithm and your content will receive more reach and airtime in the news feed.

When creating content which is of value, you can use content from your potential audience – this is called ‘user-generated content’.

Sharing a relevant blog post or a photo from an audience member that is relevant to your industry and on brand will make them feel recognised, and strengthen your relationship with them.

Most social media algorithms are designed to give the user – not you or your business – the best experience.

  1. Get the content ratio right

We find that when it comes to structuring your social media content for the month the 80:20 rule is a good application – as in 80 per cent value, 20 per cent promotion. It’s okay to include some promotional messages and ask for the sale. After all, that’s why you are creating social media content in the first place.

The way you approach this should be subtle and conversational. You may not be asking them to buy right now, but by adding a call to action you can simply ask them to commit to your business in some way. This might be signing up for a newsletter, downloading a report, visiting your website or attending an event you are planning. Invite them to give you a call or stop by your office or shop for more information.

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Tiffany Wilson

Awarded the first-ever real estate industry award for digital marketing in 2014, Tiffany Wilson founded boutique digital marketing agency Chronicle Republic to help property, interior design and home improvement industry brands bring their stories to life. Visit chroniclerepublic.com.