Engaging Your Audience

Are You Spamming Your Targets?

It’s ironic really, you spend time and money creating quality content that gives your target audience exactly what they want, but promote it in such a way that it gets regarded as spam. What I’m talking about is social media newsfeeds filled with links to great content, but posted with no thought for engagement or the channel being used.

Perhaps your blog is using a social sharing plugin that shares newly published posts through your Twitter feed. Pulling in your post title and the link to your blog post, it doesn’t even attempt to explain what’s in it for the reader.

Or what about those LinkedIn updates that simply state, “read my latest blog on xxxxx here”, is that inviting your connections to engage with you and your content? It’s not exactly a sociable thing to do, thrust a link at your audience without so much as a “how d’ya do?”

Social Media Groups And Sharing Blog Content

Even worse is the link spam in some LinkedIn and Facebook groups. I recently joined a new private group in a particular niche area of the travel sector, only to find the group is full of links to external content without any kind of content in the status update, just the URL for a page or blog post. Needless to say none of these “discussions” had any evidence of engagement: no likes, comments or shares.

In fact some group moderators are addressing this issue, and who can blame them. In one LinkedIn group that a client of mine is a regular contributor to, the moderator is taking a stance against blog posts saying,

“The time has come to take a stand against links to blog articles replacing discussion. Time was that LinkedIn groups would discuss things, ask questions, and so on. I am not offended by a blog article, but plopping a link onto a group is not a substitute for discussion as instead of people talking about a topic, the link directs people elsewhere and discussion is killed stone dead. They have their place, but on this group we’re going to do it differently :-)”

Unfortunately a few people have spoilt things for the rest of us…

How To Promote Your Posts Without Being Accused Of Spam!

In my experience posting content into LinkedIn or Facebook groups, is a very good way of getting engagement with a very targeted group of people. Instead of broadcasting your new content to everyone who’s following your company in a scattergun approach, this takes the conversation directly to those who matter.

Crucially, this is what it’s about – a conversation. You wouldn’t go up to someone at a networking event and say “here’s a link to a blog post I’ve written” without any exchange beforehand, would you?

So why do we think it’s OK on social media?

Instead, we should be starting the conversation and including the link to help support the discussion. As the aforementioned LinkedIn group moderator says,

“New rule: If the discussion post doesn’t share some discussion content in and of itself, if it’s only a link that can’t stand up by itself, by all means post it somewhere else but not here.”

Now, you might be tempted to take this moderator’s advice and post your links in other groups and forums, but is this really a good strategy? How many people are going to click on a link without some kind of explanation of who you are and why the link is relevant to them?

Here’s what I recommend you do:

  • Identify social media groups where your target audience hangs out. These could be LinkedIn or Facebook groups, Google + communities or regular Twitter chats.
  • Participate! Introduce yourself, join in discussions, and share your thoughts and advice with others in the group. Build a relationship and become a trusted member of the group.
  • Look for opportunities where you can share your content in a timely and relevant way. Perhaps someone has a question that you have previously answered in a blog post. However, don’t just post the link in the thread, instead give a summary of your opinion or advice and then share the link with a “I’ve written about this in more detail here, if you’re interested.”
  • Invite discussions about your content with the social media group. Although, of course, you would like people to visit your blog and engage with you there, engaging with you within the group is just as important, so don’t try to hijack the discussion away from the platform.
  • Create opportunities to drive people to your blog posts ahead of them being published. You can start discussions about your planned blog content weeks or even months before it’s published. This can help inform your content when you write it, but also creates an opportunity to revisit the thread with a “further to this interesting discussion on xxxxx I’ve written up my thoughts in this blog post which you may like to read…”
  • If you follow the ideas above you will not only be adhering to the rules of social media – being social, but you will also build your reputation, increase brand awareness and make genuine connections within a targeted group of prospects.

Automated Social Media Scheduling

Using scheduling tools to share your content is something many of us rely on. Although we may try to update our social media channels live as much as is possible; automating the process of sharing blog content is an easy cheat.

But not if all you’re doing is sharing the URL and perhaps the title. Instead go a step further by creating engaging and convincing updates that give your audience a reason to click on your link.

Ask your social media followers “do you have this problem?” or “did you know this?” or “would you like some help?”

Be engaging in the way your write your updates, “I thought you might like to read this because…” or “did you see the news talking about xxxx, if so this might be of interest too” or “this is a great post from xxxxx, read it and let me know what you think.”

You can still use scheduling tools like Hootsuite and Buffer, but your updates will sound much more compelling, less salesly and will get past your targets’ in-built spam filters!

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