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I am blogging on behalf of Visa Business and received compensation for my time from Visa for sharing my views in this post, but the views expressed here are solely mine, not Visa’s. Visit http://facebook.com/visasmallbiz to take a look at the reinvented Facebook Page: Well Sourced by Visa Business. The Page serves as a space where small business owners can access educational resources, read success stories from other business owners, engage with peers, and find tips to help businesses run more efficiently. Every month, the Page will introduce a new theme that will focus on a topic important to a small business owner’s success. For additional tips and advice, and information about Visa’s small business solutions, follow @VisaSmallBiz and visit http://visa.com/business.
Before the days of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, blogs, and so on, companies created static websites. In the early days of the internet, these websites were navigational, meaning they offered static information through one-way information delivery. As the internet evolved, business websites became transactional, and consumers could actually make purchases online. However, online communication remained primarily one-way. Businesses talked “at” consumers.
Everything changed with social media.
Suddenly, the world of communication between businesses and consumers was wide open. The audience of interested consumers that businesses paid hundreds, thousands, and millions of dollars to get in front of in the past was talking about products, brands, and companies on the social web—and companies could talk directly with those consumers.
In Content Marketing for Dummies, I wrote, “The most successful business websites are now customer-centric, and the content published is created with consumers’ wants, needs, and expectations as the top priorities.” I also warned, “Consumers are fickle and impatient. You need to give them information that makes them smarter customers and helps them in multiple aspects of their lives. Create a website and other branded online destinations (i.e., social media profiles, content, and conversations) that are customer-centric. In every branded interaction, give customers a reason to want to visit your website or social media profiles and engage with you and your content by adding value to the online conversation. A destination-centric content and social media strategy that focuses more on your business than on your target audience won’t get the job done anymore.”
One of the basic tenets of marketing is this: Consumers build brands, not companies. If your content and conversations through social media aren’t customer-centric, your target audience is unlikely to care about them. That’s why social media participation shouldn’t be self-promotional. A fundamental rule of copywriting is to understand that no one cares about you. They care about how your product or service is going to help them or make their lives better or easier so they can decide if they’re going to pull out their wallets and spend their hard-earned money on it. That means your content, copy, and communications must be laser-focused on your target customers’ real and perceived needs and wants.
Don’t publish anything on your branded social media destinations because you like it. Ask yourself this question first: “Is this piece of content or conversation useful or meaningful to my target customers?” If the answer is no, think twice before you hit the Publish button. If the answer is yes, pat yourself on the back and click Publish, because you’ve got a customer-centric and shareworthy piece of content that can drive word-of-mouth marketing and successfully build your brand.