How can social media help you sell your product?

As product champions begin to leverage social media to communicate their brands, they must first understand the entire community related to their product. Though this community does include the potential consumers of the product or service, the range of the community goes well beyond just the customer. It includes vendors, competitors, key stake holders, and a sea of people who live on the fringes of the discussion but still participate from time to time. Our goal as social media marketers should be to engage the entire community and not just potential customers. Because if we do, we can potentially create brand ambassadors who will represent our products for us.

So how exactly do we get these people to trust us once we find them?

helping-others-post-it-noteIt’s simple. You help them.

That’s the big secret of social media marketing. Once you find a relevant group of potential customers and brand ambassadors, you figure out ways to help them and make a positive impact on them. In this article we are going to look at two ways to use social media to help the people in your community.

#1 – Be a curator of great content

As the old saying goes, “leaders read and readers lead.” At this very moment there is a mass of people writing about those things you care about and are related to your products brand. They don’t work for major newspapers or publication houses. They are people just like you and me who are using their free time to share their insights with the world. Some are paid, but many do it simply to help their communities. Some might even be future customers. They are talking about things your community cares about, you just have to find them. Once you do, help them out by sharing their content.

How to find great content

This was one of the most challenging aspects for me when I started out. Trying to sift through the incredible amount of blogs out there and find the ones that are relevant and well done can be a daunting task. Luckily there are several online services that have done a lot of the hard work already. Here are few of my favorite:

  • Alltop.coAlltopm – An absolutely incredible website. These guys have almost every topic you could ever imagine organized from A to Z. Once you pick a topic you are redirected to a list of relevant blogs. All the blogs on the list are currently active and have recent content.
  • Smart BriefSmart Brief – Once you have signed up and selected the topics you are interested in you will receive a weekly email that has about eight posts. Really great way to discover new blogs.
  • Right relavance logoRightRelevance.com – With a much more modern interface than Alltop, you can quickly scan recent articles that are relevant to your subject of interest.

How to share that great content

This is how you can really begin to develop and expand that online network. By sharing the things you are learning and reading, people in your community who you would never have met will begin to engage and follow you. Why? Because you are helping them.

So how exactly do you share that content? By posting it on various social media sites. My personal favorite right now is Twitter. This is because Twitter does not require your approval for others to follow your tweets. If you are tweeting great content (and using the right hashtags so others can find it), then you will begin to amass a following.

Another reason I like Twitter so much is that I can format my tweet in such a way that the original author is notified when I share their content. This creates a sense of curiosity and hopefully results in that author checking out my Twitter page (which has my brands web address listed at the top). If I am really lucky, that author will check out my blog and share one of my posts with their thousands of followers. My network is then expanded even further.

After using Twitter for a short time it became apparent that using the actual Twitter website was way too cumbersome. As you begin to engage and monitor multiple communities (using hashtags) you need a tool to keep track of all these feeds.

  • TweetdeckTweet Deck This is my preferred tool. You can have multiple columns all lined up that show you the feeds you want to see. Twitter owns this application, so changes in the Twitter user interface make their way over to Tweet Deck quickly.
  • Hootsuite A great application. They have been working hard at giving their user interface a more modern look. A frustrating aspect of using HootSuite is that the application does not auto-populate users twitter handles for you.

Hootsuite

#2 – Talk to people in your community

This is another great way to grow your network. By engaging in actual conversations with other people online, you begin to create real relationships with them. This is the equivalent of an online cocktail hour. Except instead of hundreds of people in the room, there are potentially thousands. That being said, the rules are the same. Have each conversation one at a time. Be polite and sociable. Over time you will start to bump into the same people and will actually form a relationship.

A quick side note about talking with others online. People like talking with other people, not necessarily companies. You might want to go undercover on this one and use your real persona to engage in these conversations. If you leave the right bread crumb trail for people to follow, you can help guide them to your product brand and potentially convert a customer.

Below are some practical ways to participate in the online social conversation.

  • Twitter Chats – These things are crazy. A whole bunch of people pick a time to meet up and tweet about the same thing for about an hour. A moderator drives the conversation by asking questions, and the participants tweet back the answers. Everyone can see each other’s responses by using the same hashtag. As the chat progresses, a whole bunch of side conversations ensue between friends and strangers alike. Great way to make connections. Because the conversation moves so fast, I recommend you use a tool like tweetchat.com to be able to slow it down.
  • Blog commenting – This is another great way to signal those authors whose content you really appreciate and enjoy. By commenting on their post and providing additions that strengthen their original idea, you can start to stand out and get noticed. Most comment tools have a field where you can provide your blog address, thereby driving the author and other readers to your website.
  • LinkedIn Groups – I am not as familiar with this social conversation tool, but I have a couple of friends who swear these are the best. One actually landed his dream job by participating in a LinkedIn group. I fully intend to investigate these more in the months to come.

My challenge to you this week is to go and find one blog post a day that is relevant to your products brand and share it with others on Twitter.

In the next post we will take a look at how to communicate your products brand by creating content that further helps your community.

If you missed the last post about why you need a social media marketing strategy for your product, then check it out by clicking here.

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