social mediaInternet marketing on social media is a free for all. Online businesses are accruing followers wherever they can find them, and throwing out content in the hope their social media “friends” will read, like and share.

But in reality, your content marketing strategy does not work in the virtual world.

The problem for most brands is that the audience they have asked to follow them are not interested in their products or content. According to Adage, only 1% of Facebook users engage with brands.

However, other researchers have found that brands are successful at engaging prospects increase customer loyalty. According to Bains.com, customers engaging with brands on social spend 20-40% more than customers purchasing through regular channels.

So how can online businesses attract the right audience and engage with them through social media channels.

Be proactive

Reactive marketing is a thing of the past now that social media and semantic search are taking over the marketing landscape. Online businesses have to attract customers to them by being visible.

This means publishing content and engaging followers on social media networks. However, if your followers are not a true audience you are wasting your time, money and energy.

Target a specific audience by joining groups which have members that have an interest in your brand and product. If no such groups already exist, then start your own.

Dedicate personnel to social media

It is not always possible for every small business, but if you can afford to dedicate a member of staff to manage your social media accounts, you can connect with customers in real-time.

Grooming prospects on social media is akin to wining and dining clients before they sign a multi-million pound contract. Socialites do not go to networks to purchase products and read adverts, they go to engage with friends, followers and content that interests them.

You therefore have to engage with social media users by answering questions, comments and sharing their content just like any other regular social media
user. But to do this is time-consuming and requires a dedicated networker.

Become an opinion leader

You should by using social media networks to increase your visibility on the web and position yourself as an expert in your industry. Providing you’ve followed steps one and to, targeted the right audience and have a dedicated member on hand to answer queries, you can raise your online profile as a trusted authority.

This requires being an opinion leader rather than just having an opinion. If you do express your opinion, give your reasons why you think things are this way and back it up with evidence.

Internet users are looking for information they can trust, but it is often the case that they will hear more than one option. So which do they trust?

Information supported by stats and facts is more likely to be believed than a random opinion.

You can provide stats and facts in your own content, but if you have not already published content that is relevant to the query you are answering, direct the respondent to content that tells them what they need to know.

In such situations, you should also publish your own content on the matter whilst it is fresh and relevant.

Social media offers many benefits to online businesses, but you have to use the platform wisely to appeal to relevant prospects, rather than systematically using the tools to blindly accrue a following that are not really interested.