Content marketing is all the rage these days. For those not familiar with what content marketing is, the concept is simple: creating, finding and sharing relevant content for the purpose of building engagement between your target audience and your brand. The higher the engagement, the higher the reach, the more following and influence you have in the digital world. This should translate to higher sales for your business as more people learn about what you do, how you conduct yourself online, and view you as the expert in the field.
Why does content marketing work?
Content marketing works because people are tired of the traditional sales pitch. For years they have been told which product they should buy, who they should hire and what is going to work best for them. They are tired of being told where to spend their money. The internet has put the consumer back in the driver’s seat and what the consumer wants is for brands to display authenticity and transparency — to build some rapport before asking for their business. In fact, studies show 86% of consumers says authenticity is important when deciding which brand to support.
Content marketing is one of the best ways to display your authenticity as a brand.
An Approach You Probably Haven’t Thought Of
Taking this concept of authenticity, transparency and adding value through content marketing, allow us to introduce a technique very few businesses are currently doing, but could be to increase their social media influence and, ultimately, sales.
Social Media Groups
A group on social media, most commonly on Facebook or LinkedIn, can be thought of as a virtual roundtable. The person who starts the group can choose to make it private, meaning it is closed off to the public and people must be invited or ask to join it.
The group owner is the facilitator, often starting discussion topics, adding their own advice, simply engaging with the group members.
Make no mistake, groups are valuable for the participants and the facilitators. The participants benefit from highly focused valuable discussion with other like-minded individuals. But the facilitator is the one who is often seen as the expert. This is why, as a brand, aim to be the facilitator if you want to use groups as a potential marketing initiative.
Running a Group Step by Step
Let’s discuss a case study to help explain how this works and the benefits behind it.
Since we have a lot of dental clients, let’s say you are a dentist who decides to start a Facebook group to try and increase referrals to your practice and generate advertising revenue.
Step 1) You pick a topic. This will be the entire ongoing focus for the group so you’ll want to pick a topic that is open-ended to keep the conversation moving well into the future with a variety of different talking points. But you want it specific enough to create higher engagement and garner more interest. Not to mention, if you were to do something as generic as “All Things Dentistry”, you’ll be running into a problem where there are already hundreds of groups, already established, talking about all things dentistry. It will be tough to compete with an already established group.
You decide to create a group specifically on technological advancements in dentistry.
Step 2) You build your network. Finding a network of people who might be interested in joining this group and contributing to this topic is key. So you invite all the dentists you know, you ask them to invite dentists they know. Before you know it, you’ve built a network of 2,000 dentists, all of whom are interested in keeping up with the newest trends in dental technology. The more people the better, so long as they are qualified to be in the group. You don’t want the conversation to dissolve or to actual dentists to leave the group because others are adding input not worth the time for your actual target market to read. You’ll lose your group quickly this way.
Side note: some group administrators require incoming participants to provide proof they are in the industry when they join. This can be through a small questionnaire, a link to their website, etc.
Step 3) You create rules for the group and start the conversation. You’ll want to let people know what is off limits. You don’t want people advertising services unpaid, or using your group as a platform for their agenda if it doesn’t align with the purpose for the group.
Step 4) You facilitate the conversation and keep it moving. Don’t let the conversation dry up because the less conversation, the more people leave.
This is all great, but how is this supposed to make my business more profitable?
The answer to this question is not on-size-fits-all. You’ll need to understand what type of influence you’ve built, and who that influence is valuable to. In our case study, if 2,000 dentists are hungry to learn about technological advancements in dentistry, the influence you have as the group owner is worth a lot to an dental equipment distributor or supplier. Perhaps you can sell the space on your group page for advertising. Perhaps the supplier who is willing to pay to advertise can post once a week, or once a month to your group page in exchange for fees. Perhaps the dental network you’ve build becomes a referral source for you.
As you can see, there are a number of ways a social media group can make you profitable. Remember, the size of your group is your influence. If you are a realtor looking for more clients, perhaps you can create a group on housing improvements and invite your friends, family, anyone local who could regularly see the content. This puts you in control to drive engagement with this audience, establish your expertise while providing an authentic experience with your brand which in turn means you are top of mind.
Good luck and happy marketing!