The 5 Biggest Questions about Creating Social Media Content that Drives Action

Highlights from the Social CMO’s Live Marketer Monday Chat

Many B2B marketers are turning to social media for lead generation. However, with an overwhelming amount of information shared through social media channels, it is becoming harder for companies to stand out and engage their target audiences. Plus, when companies attempt to use social networks as another direct marketing channel, many find that this approach backfires and results in negative ROI.

There is a way to achieve ROI and generate high-quality leads through social media — learn to build long-term relationships with customers rather than going after a quick sale. In my recent live chat on Twitter with host The Social CMO, I answered the top questions on “How to Create Social Media Content that Drives Action.”

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Do You Use Social Media to Attract Customers or Position Yourself as a Thought Leader?

Do you want your social media efforts to lead to high-quality leads and recognition from your industry? While both of these goals can be reached, many marketers attempt to accomplish too much at once. They may use only 1 social media profile to try to bring leads to their websites and share the latest industry trends with their peers.

This approach can work if your customers are also your peers and would be interested in both your thought leadership and your products. However, if your customers are from other sectors, you may need to consider another strategy. When your social media messages speak to different audiences, you’ll have a hard time engaging anybody. For example, a potential customer from the retail sector may see your blog posts about the future of the software industry and assume that your content is not relevant.

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How to Create Social Media Content that Inspires Action

The following is an excerpt from “If a Tweet Falls in a Forest,” my section of Chapter 3: ACTIVATE in The Social CMO’s upcoming book.

Imagine this scenario …

You hear how one of your competitors is driving business through Twitter and want to see if you can achieve the same results. You open an account and become overwhelmed by Twitter’s language – a mix of symbols and slang that makes no sense to you.

After a while, you familiarize yourself with Twitter’s interface and grow excited by the possibility of getting your message out to a new audience. You post frequent tweets that ask your followers to check out your website, blog and latest promotions.

A few months go by, and nothing happens. No new leads. No sales. No amazing opportunities. You wonder if anyone noticed your efforts and reduce your time on the social networking site. You decide social media is a waste of your resources and go back to the old way of marketing your business.

Does this sound familiar?

If you’re like many marketers who experiment with social media, you may not understand how to develop messages that not only get noticed as they fall in the dense social media forest – but also get acted upon. Sysomos, a company that specializes in business intelligence for social media, conducted a study of Twitter retweets and replies. They determined that 71% of all tweets are ignored.

To succeed with social media, you must create messages that fall into the other 29% and inspire action. Let’s explore some methods to help you write content that resonates with your target audience, motivates them to take action and ensures your tweets are heard.

Make Your Calls to Action Social Media-Friendly

A major difference between writing direct marketing copy and writing for social media is the nature of your call to action. In direct marketing, most calls to action are designed to push leads further along the sales cycle. Since blatant selling doesn’t mesh with the conversational nature of social media, your calls to action should focus on building trust and sharing relevant information.

Here are 5 examples of calls to action for social media:

  • Ask your community to click a link to a blog post, video or other educational content.
  • Invite others to share their comments on a blog post.
  • Pose a question for your community to answer.
  • Encourage others to share your content with their friends.
  • Invite your community to download premium content.

Social media is often the start of a longer relationship that can lead to sales. Use these low-pressure, no-commitment calls to actions to start a conversation. Once potential customers grow to trust you, they will be more likely to take the relationship further by completing an opt-in form on your website, making direct contact with you or downloading a free trial of your product.

Stay tuned for The Social CMO’s upcoming book and especially my section of Chapter 3 ACTIVATE which shares many more ideas on how to create social media content that inspires action!

Rachel Foster

What Don Draper Can Teach You About Social Media

Warning: Mad Men season four spoiler alert ~ In the season four premiere of Mad Men, Don Draper puts the new agency in jeopardy when he refuses to open up during an interview with Ad Age. His lack of candour gives the reporter nothing to work with. This leads to a bland article that fails to distinguish Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce from every other agency and causes a falling out with a key client.

Although Don is forward-thinking in his campaigns, he failed to recognize the importance of the interview and how the PR could affect the agency. He put his need to guard himself ahead of the needs of his colleagues, his clients and even the Ad Age readers.

Don’s reluctance to be transparent reminds me of today’s executives who are still hesitant to adopt social media.

Perhaps these executives are used to having tight control over their brands and are reluctant to make themselves open for public critique. However, the critiques will happen – regardless of whether you’re using social media or not. Consider how you will look if people talk about your company on the social web and you have no way to respond.

Here are three things Don Draper can teach you about social media:

  1. Transparency is key – Don learned a big lesson about transparency in the season four opener. To save his image, he had to overcome his desire to remain aloof and open up to the public. The importance of transparency also applies to social media today. People will relate to you better if they get to know you as a person – not just as a brand or logo. Social media allows you to build your reputation by engaging in public conversations with your audience.
  2. You can get a second chance – Although Don mangled his interview with Ad Age, he had the opportunity to redeem himself during an interview with The Wall Street Journal. When you’re active on social media, you can also create your own second chances. You can immediately respond to criticism and turn negative publicity into something positive.
  3. Tell a good story – Don’s first interview bombed because it wasn’t memorable. During his second interview, Don changed tactics and told a compelling story that would get everyone talking about his agency. He recognized that people remember and share good stories. Today, you can tell your stories through social media. The more compelling the story, the more word-of-mouth you will generate.

What do you think? Is Don’s experience in the season four premiere relevant to marketing professionals today? If Mad Men took place in 2010, would Don blog and tweet?

Rachel Foster

How to Grow a Targeted Following on Twitter

When I first started using Twitter, I made a big – yet common – mistake. I followed only people who followed me. This resulted in a stream full of spam and total silence whenever I posed a question or shared a link.

When I reached about 1,000 followers, I decided to take a proactive approach to Twitter. I began to seek and follow people in my industry – people who care about the same topics I care about. Once this happened, I generated some great opportunities through the social networking platform.

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