Your LinkedIn and social media audience is an asset. Focus on nurturing relationships with them before you start worrying about how well you're managing your social media channels.
Between 75% and 97% of buyers are on-line, researching the type of services you provide right now and approximately 52% of them will buy something, immediately, as a result of this research. In fact, a recent study of social media demographics by author, marketer and speaker @WarrenKnight, indicates that 88% of all Pinterest users purchased a product they'd pinned. However, with many Pinterest users following big brands, it's not going to be easy for you to be included in the list of companies who benefit from this activity unless you've built and nurtured an audience.
There is a growing movement, on the web, of marketing experts, who are suggesting that even some of the most revered social media authorities are getting tools like LinkedIn wrong. This article by Kristina Jaramillo supports this thinking and makes for interesting reading.
Why your audience must be your single biggest investment from social media
If you're a small company and perhaps the business is just you, focusing solely on channel management is not going to be a recipe for success. In his book, 'Audience - Marketing In The Age Of Subscribers, Fans & Followers', Jeffrey K Rhors @jkrhors, suggests that too much emphasis is spent, by businesses, on managing their social media channels - scheduling posts, tweeting, writing blogs and sharing etc. Most fail to nurture the most important asset in this equation, which is the audience they were intending to reach in the first place.
Think about this for a moment - if you were to place a value on the next LinkedIn connection you made, what would they be worth and would that valuation alter your decision to connect or what level you chose to engage with that person?
Let's say you receive a LinkedIn connection request today, you view their profile and recognise that they fit, nicely, with the profile of a number of your best customers. What is that demographic of customer normally worth, financially, during the lifetime you spend working with them? Once you've made that calculation, you now have an asset.
Unlike a piece of machinery or other tangible purchase, it's going to be slightly more difficult to take a LinkedIn prospect to your bank manager (remember them?) and exchange their value for hard cash. However, if you begin to treat your audience as if they are a tangible asset, then I guarantee that you will start to look after them a little differently, you will value them more and nurture them, so they increase in value over time.
Last week, I had a conversation with some business associates about the value of building a huge Twitter following, compared with the time it takes to make this happen. If you are one of those people who has a massive following (10k +), how many of those 'tweople' do you manage to engage with each week, 1-on-1? It might look impressive to have 20 'squillion' followers but how is that audience translating into financial value to your business - how many of those followers are a genuine asset to your company - are they buying anything from you? If you're trying to get your head around Twitter, I'd highly recommend you read this great article by my good friend, Solicitor, Donna Beckett, who regularly attracts new enquiries to her website, using Twitter.
Seekers, Amplifiers, Joiners, what's your plan to nurture these audiences?
Jeffrey Rohrs, perfectly categorises the audiences that you need to be engaging with, if you are to build your audience asset base - they fall into 3 groups; Seekers, Amplifiers and Joiners.
Seekers - they control you.
Think about your behaviour, on-line, as a Seeker, for a moment. If you need a problem solving or perhaps you want to improve something in your life or business or maybe you simply have a question, you need a quick answer to, where do you look - on-line?
Up to 97% of buyers will research a product or service, on the internet, before ever approaching a supplier. Google is the obvious first step, closely followed, if you're like me, by social media, possibly Twitter - if I want to know what's going on in the world or find an expert, Twitter is a great resource.
Nurturing your Seeker audience
- Seekers are looking, on-line, for what you have to offer - they're not always certain exactly what they need but they know they have a problem that requires solving.
- They will only find your solution if you rank well on the web or if they search directly for you. You need to ensure you are sufficiently active on-line or that your profiles are properly optimised so you appear on their search radar - you need to grab the attention of Seekers or they will pass you by.
- Once you have their attention, you need to engage with your Seekers to focus them on the solution you have to offer and create a need for them to get in touch with you.
- You cannot control, only influence, Seekers. They may find your website or social media profile and then choose to leave, just as suddenly as they arrived. If your website or social content does not grab their attention and create a need and a sense of urgency to contact you, easily, then you won't build much of a Seeker audience.
Amplifiers - they will spread your message
Do you know who your amplifiers are? Picture the faces and profiles of those people, who regularly retweet your content, comment on your updates and share your message with their audience. They know, like and trust you and what you have to say, to the extent that they are prepared to share your content with their audience. Amplifiers can also be business partners/associates/clients, who are happy to refer you to their networks and customers through word of mouth.
Amplifiers share your content for two reasons;
- They see value in your message and feel that their audience will also benefit from hearing it.
- They experience a perceived sense of importance, value and relevance whenever they share something of benefit with their audience - a secondary personal gain, in effect.
Nurturing your Amplifier audience
Treat this audience as if you would a family member or a close business associate. Personalise your emails, don't just send your generic e-newsletter or marketing messages to them - thank them for engaging with your content and especially for sharing it with their networks. Like, comment and share their social media content and most importantly, keep in touch with them regularly.
Joiners - your most valuable audience
Who are your joiners? You should know them well, they are; people who have subscribed to your newsletter, joined your Facebook or LinkedIn group, downloaded your website videos, attended your past webinars or seminars. Joiners could be fellow employees or colleagues and some joiners will be customers or will have bought your services in the past, they may have agreed to receive your permission based email marketing and connected with you on LinkedIn. In short, they have accepted contact from you at a level that all Seekers and many Amplifiers have not. They are also, potentially, the audience you forget about most frequently.
In your pursuit of new customers, it is all too easy to neglect your Joiners but forget about them at your peril. You need a process to keep in touch with them regularly. Perhaps you can become an amplifier of their social media content, for which they will be grateful or maybe, again, your email marketing needs to be styled more toward someone who is a Joiner, rather than a Seeker? What additional value can you add to their business for free and what services could they upgrade to, for which they will pay you a premium fee to receive? A Joiner is 50% easier to be convinced to purchase from you than a Seeker will be, so why continually chasing Seekers, whilst neglecting your Joiners?
Building a proprietary audience must be your goal
When it comes to building followers on social media, you do not 'own' these audiences and technically, you do not have their explicit permission to market directly to them.
Your social media strategy must be a means to an end and that end is to have your audience become Joiners, by subscribing to your proprietary audience list, your database. Only then can you be confident that you have an audience who really know, like and trust you and who want to hear from you.
If you've found this article useful, please would you share it with your audiences too and if you have any questions on the subject matter you can connect with me on LinkedIn.