The Internet is a really noisy place. Social media, even more so. This isn’t even news anymore; it doesn’t need to be said.
It’s important to keep in mind, though, because all that noise affects how brands and influencers talk to their prospects and followers. Many conclude that the current state of affairs rewards the loudest and most insistent voices.
While that’s not exactly wrong, it’s not the only way to approach online conversation. It’s not the best way, either. Talking is always preferable to shouting, even when you have to lean in close to make yourself understood.
So, where should you begin your gentler, more conversational approach to prospecting online? These six tips point the way.
1. Meet Your Prospects Where They Live, Work, and Play
This is the defining principle of guerilla marketing, but it also works well for digital marketing in general and especially for social media marketing.
You’re already segmenting your target audiences (or should be). Meeting those targets where they congregate is simply the next logical step in the process.
Don’t be afraid to get granular here. The more finely you target, the less you’ll feel compelled to shout to be heard. For every open-feed Facebook post you produce, start five conversations in a Facebook group frequented by potential customers. Target subreddits that could (or already do) host your biggest fans. Use your Twitter handle to encourage signups for your free newsletter that goes super in-depth on one really wonky topic.
2. Tell Them Something They Don’t Know
Once you’ve met your prospects, inform them. Tell them something they don’t know and preferably something they can’t find out elsewhere.
The YouTube channel for Asiaciti Trust is a master class in this tactic. The channel itself is well-targeted (meeting prospects where they are) and delivers actionable, useful information on the specific topics that audience seeks answers to.
3. Limit Self-Promotional Content
Never interrupt the delivery of actionable information to self-promote. It’s tempting, yes, but it’s a sure way to turn off your audience. Besides, that’s what calls-to-action are for.
The old 4-1-1 rule of thumb still applies in many digital marketing contexts. Call it the 80/20 rule for self-promotion if you prefer, as long as you inform and promote others more than you promote yourself.
4. Actually Respond to Social Media Comments
This is a difficult one for busy people (and resource-poor brands) and for anyone with thin skin. The comments section, that emblem of the Internet’s Wild West days, remains a minefield in spite of platforms’ newfound seriousness around content moderation.
Unfortunately, if you want to participate in the conversations your audiences will have with or without you, you have to hold your nose and dive in. Don’t wallow in the mud and don’t engage with abusers, but don’t let legitimately valuable comments pass unremarked either.
5. Carve Out a Tight Niche for Yourself
If you refuse to shout, the best way to make yourself heard online is to be more interesting and informative than everyone else. When you do this, people tend to find their way to you, and your audience grows organically. Eventually, you’ll reach the limits of your growth and will have to invest in paid outreach, but not right away.
The key to succeeding in this effort is to carve out a very narrow content niche for yourself that’s perfectly aligned with the core of your expertise. By positioning yourself as a legitimate expert in a specific domain, you’ll draw people looking for answers they can’t find elsewhere. Over time, you’ll build trust with these people and emerge as a thought leader in your field.
6. Ask for Feedback and Input
Ask your audience for feedback and input as often as you can. You won’t always like what you hear. But if you can learn to accept what you can’t change and stick with the strategy, you’ll soon find that your prompts create second-order conversations among your followers. These conversations occur within your personal or brand ecosystem, increasing engagement and loyalty without any additional input from you.
Start the Conversation Today
You shouldn’t give into the temptation to raise your voice online. But you shouldn’t be shy either. There’s a fine line between shouting at anyone who looks your way and talking so quietly that no one can hear you.
These strategies will help you walk that line and start productive conversations online. Over time, those conversations might turn into something more — a source of customers, revenue, influence, or whatever else you measure your success by.
None will matter if you don’t commit to getting started. The longer you wait, the louder the conversation becomes.