Let’s be frank, social media is easy. It doesn’t take much technical expertise or industry know-how to publish a tweet. In fact, according to research conducted by the Pew Research Internet Project, about 74% of online adults use social media. It isn’t likely many of them are rocket scientists. The majority understands the media part just fine, but what is their message? Take a quick look at your Twitter, Google Plus, or Linkedin feed for about ten seconds and you will see that the majority of the content filling up the screen is nonsense that most likely only means something to the author.
If your aim is to engage others with your content, you need to focus on the message you are sending and to whom you are trying to reach. This will determine how effective you are on social media.
Use these 3 steps to send the right message to the right people, every time.
1. Define your purpose.
If you can’t describe in a few sentences what your purpose is, how can you expect anyone to care?
What is your purpose for being on social media? Are you trying to raise awareness for a cause? Market your business? Educate people about a certain topic? Clearly defining this to yourself will help you to craft the next steps in your strategy for building a platform.
Ask yourself, “What do I want people to take away from their interaction with me?”. There should be a clear benefit provided to the reader. Say you want your followers to know that you are a thought leader in X field. Therefore, every single post should support this goal.
2. Niche down. [Full-disclosure: I stole this term from productivity genius Tim Ferriss, but if you aren’t stealing ideas from Tim, you’re doing it wrong.]
Now that you have defined your core purpose, it’s time to nail down your target audience. As the old saying goes, if you try to be everything to everyone, you won’t be anything to anyone. There are exceptions and these include Fortune 500 consumer brands, presidential candidates, and pizza, because come on, everyone loves pizza. If you really want to maximize the message, you need to get really specific about who you are talking to.
To use another bit of adapted/stolen advice, this time from Ramit Sethi, author of I Will Teach You to Be Rich, I recommend the Two-Qualifier Method to help you determine your niche.
It works like this:
First, make a list of the different characteristics your target audience shares. This could be as simple as “is a male” or “is between the ages of 25 and 30”.
Second, put your list in order of the most to least important.
Now, plug the top two into the follow formula: [Qualifier 1] + [Qualifier 2] who need [The Value You Provide].
You will end up with something like this: [“Men in their late 20’s] + [that have recently had their first son] who need [advice on being a great male-role model].
Just like that, you’ve found your niche.
Step 3: So what?
Now filter everything through the following statement: So what?
At this point, you know what your purpose is and you know your niche in the market, so now ask if someone in that particular group would read your post and come away with what you want them to know.
Continuing on with the example from Step 2, if you want people to view you as a twenty-something-father-of-young-boys guru, then everything you share should be speaking to men in their late 20s who have recently had a son and want advice on being a great dad… Everything.
These principles apply to original content, insights into a particular topic, and curated content that you are sharing from a third-party. You may be fearful that you are excluding too many people with this approach. But let me tell you, that’s a good thing! It may also seem awkward and uncomfortable to go through these steps every time you sit down to write a tweet, Facebook status, or Linkedin post, but once you have done it enough times and you’ve refined your niche down to exactly the people you are trying to speak to, you will see your effectiveness on social media skyrocket.
While it is easier than ever to blast media, it is more difficult than ever to deliver a message, due to the sheer volume of content available on the web. These steps will help you to cut through it all and laser focus your efforts on only those who provide a return on your investment.