I know there are a million and one social media marketing tactics being touted by the experts. And I have no doubt that some of them work like gangbusters, too. But most of them, frankly, don’t. If you want to engage your social media audience, please keep reading…
And of all the techniques that do work, a common denominator is a giant time suck that makes social media marketing more of a job than something you do on the side to build your following, grow your prospect list and eventually make more sales.
So today I’m going to share my #1 social media marketing hack with you, and before I do, I’d like to offer you a word of caution:
While this works well with building your audience, there is also something about it that is just a little bit… inauthentic. Your social media audience knows that you are not staring at your screen and waiting with bated breath for their response to your latest post. And yet they want, or on some level even need, for you to pay attention to them and to care about what they think.
Let’s take a far-out example to illustrate: If you were a movie star, and I mean an A-list movie start like Al Pacino or Meryl Streep or Tom Hanks, people wouldn’t expect you to actually respond to them on social media. But if you did respond to them, or even if you just appeared to respond or even appeared to care what they think, it would probably make their day if not their month. “CAN YOU BELIEVE IT! BRADLEY COOPER REPLIED TO MY TWEET!”
You get the idea. You already instinctively know what I’m about to tell you, although you probably haven’t utilized it effectively.
Successful social media marketing comes down to establishing parasocial relationships with your followers. Parasocial is a fancy term for a relationship that a person imagines they have with another person whom they do not actually know, such as with a celebrity or a fictitious character.
Your goal is to get your audience to engage with your social media marketing personality in a manner that is meaningful to them but doesn’t take up much of your time or tax you emotionally. In essence, you’re making people think you care about them (and maybe you really do) but you’re not actually engaging with them on a personal one-to-one basis.
Your followers will know – at least subconsciously – that you and they are not besties, but it won’t matter. They will still get enjoyment out of the relationship and a bond will be built between them and your brand.
Here’s how that might work in your business:
- Get your followers talking about themselves in a way that relates to your business. For example, if you’re an office productivity expert, ask them, “What do you see as the biggest waste of time in your office that no one seems to care about?”
A question like this includes not just your own customers but also anyone who works in an office and would like to vent about their own personal time-wasting pet peeve. This allows your audience to engage in a way that is meaningful to them, regardless of whether or not they’ve read your book, taken your course or hired you as a consultant.
- Any response you give, no matter how minimal, will make the poster feel good. You’ve probably noticed it yourself when you post on social media and the creator replies with even just an emoji, there is a part of you that is saying, “Yeah, they recognized me! They noticed I exist!” It feels good.
Of course, you can always hire someone to respond to posts. And for those posts that you especially like, you can type out a full response to spark another conversation. When you do, others will notice and be more inclined to engage as well.
- Response is important – or even crucial – but it’s also a balancing act. If you try to give a thoughtful response to everyone, you’ll never have time for anything else. Plus, you’ll be seen as too accessible which will lower your perceived value.
“If everyone is special, then no one is special.” You’ve got to make your followers work to get your attention. Let them compete to have the best answers or the answers that spark you to reply.
- The highest form of competition for your attention? Sales. You might want to give a shout out to those who buy from you or ask them to post when they do buy. This shows others that people are buying your product and that you give your customers more of your personal attention, thereby creating even more sales and hopefully a snowball effect.
- Your goal in social media is to cultivate parasocial relationships on a mass level. This means it’s about the prospects and customers and NOT about you or your product. Your focus is on the audience you are building.
Post content that engages your current audience while bringing in a new audience. Foster a sense of community. Remember to ask relevant questions that potential prospects can answer and not just your current customers.
Doing all of this is easier than it sounds – it just takes practice. And the results of a well-executed parasocial relationship with your audience can be shocking. I’ve seen social marketers increase their engagement by several hundred percent within days of using this technique.
Leverage the Power of Guests to Engage Your Social Media Audience
An excellent social media strategy that offers high-value content and extends your reach is to leverage the power of guests. You don’t have to create all your content by yourself. By inviting guest experts to appear in your content, you offer even more for your audience while lessening the burden on yourself.
Why get guests onboard with your social media strategy?
By leveraging the combined experience of you and your guest, you offer more value to your audience. Your guest can fill in gaps where you’re not an expert in your niche. You can gain access to your guest’s audience. Some of their audience will check out your content because they’re there. It presents a great opportunity for networking. Invite new people you’ve met to join you in this win-win project.
How to Use Guests in Your Social Media Strategy
One of the best ways to incorporate guests into your social media strategy is to interview them. Find an expert in your niche and interview them for your blog, live stream, podcast, or YouTube channel. Ask them questions from your audience or get them to talk about their areas of expertise. You only have to come up with the questions and lead the discussion. Your guest will do the rest.
You can also invite a guest to create content for you. The most common way to do this is guest blogging. Let an influencer in your niche publish their own posts on your blog and interact with your audience. This gives your readers some variety and adds to the knowledge you can share.
You can also invite a guest to co-host a social media event with you. For example, you could hold an online seminar or social media challenge with a guest. With both of you promoting the event together, you’re sure to attract a lot of participants.
Brainstorm event or project ideas with potential guests or come up with ideas on your own.
Tips When Adding Guests to Your Social Media Strategy
- Spend Time Vetting Your Guests. Choose your guests wisely. They should be a respected expert, preferably with a large following. The quality and value they offer will reflect back on you.
A good way to vet is to start following influencers and experts in your niche long before you approach them. Then, when you’re ready to make a proposal, choosing who to contact will be a no-brainer.
- Relevancy Beats Follower Counts. While it’s natural that you want a guest with a large number of followers, don’t let audience size be the sole determining factor. If someone’s expertise is relevant to your audience, they’ll offer great value.
- Be Transparent. Be genuine and transparent about why you’re reaching out to the person. Explain the reasons why you’d like them on board and the benefits for them.
- Create a Winning Proposal. Create a customizable proposal template for current and future guests. Your proposal should explain the project in detail and explain the benefits.
- Offer Something in Return. You may want to offer guests something upfront in return for their participation. If you don’t want to offer something specific, leave it open for them to decide. Don’t offer them “exposure” but instead offer something you’ll actually do for them that has value.
- Make It Long-Term. Don’t think of this partnership as a one-time event. Guest projects are a great way to kick off a valuable long-term relationship. Think about events or projects you can collaborate on in the future.
Get into the regular routine of networking to seek out potential guests and including them in your social media strategy. The work you do finding them and incorporating them into your strategy will pay off.
I’m bestselling Wall Street Journal and USA Today author, marketing strategist, and entrepreneur Connie Ragen Green and I would love to connect further with you to help you to achieve your goals. If you are interested in learning how to optimize the syndication of your content, please take a look at my popular Syndication Optimization training course and consider coming aboard to increase your visibility, credibility, and profitability based on knowing how to engage your social media audience.