Digital Marketing Boot Camp, Session 5: Megan McMullin of MeetEdgar shares her 5 step process of building out a social audience and creating engaging content that builds a thriving community.
I’m Megan McMullin from MeetEdgar, and I am here to share the five steps for social media success. This is a really important topic to me because of this little statement here:
“The average person sees about 400 marketing messages a day. So, how are you going to stand out in this world?”
We are going to be going over these steps so that you can make sure that your message and the attention that’s being pulled from all directions is truly able to get through on all the different ways that people are going throughout these messages during the day.
- Getting your mindset right
- Content creation
- Scaling the system
Step 1: Getting your mindset right
When we talk about social media success, the first step to success is getting your mindset right. Now, don’t get all eye-rolly on me because the mindset is such an important part of social media. You need to make sure that you are investing in your followers so that they invest in you. This concept is so important because when it comes down to it, you are someone who needs to be driven by the process of connecting with people over the product of having a million followers.
If you’re someone who is just comparing and looking at all of these social accounts with millions of followers and you’re not excited about actually going through the process of connecting with people in the real-life setting, it gets a little bit hard, and that consistency that’s so important in social media can oftentimes make you stop posting and can oftentimes make you say, “You know what? It’s just not worth it. I’m not seeing the results that I want.” You need to make sure your mindset is in a place that you are enjoying the process over the product of having a million followers. That’s how you reach that consistency, and that’s how you get excited about showing up and serving your community every day. So, that’s step number one of the mindset.
Be intentional and add value
If you are going on to social media, think about when you consume content on social media. Often, you’re there to really get in with your friends and family, to really get that great vibe of getting that social connection.
When you as a brand show up on social media, you need to be thinking about the time that you’re asking your followers to spend with you on social media, is that worth paying? They are actually going to be paying attention to you over their friends and family, right?
The mindset you need to have is that you’re being intentional and value-adding in a way that people want to really consume your content and connect with you in a way they connect with their friends and family.
You really want to be able to create this community over comparison. So, why is this important? It’s because the algorithms and everything that goes into social media is looking for what we call meaningful social interaction. So, if your mindset and the lens you’re looking through when you’re creating this content is to create community and to really get involved with your followers and their lives, it’s going to be a really great way to, again, enjoy the process and be able to show up for real people, because oftentimes, we forget so often that there’s real people on the other side of the screen.
So, don’t be comparing yourself to all of these other social media accounts out there. Remember your community and remember that one person you’re speaking to. This speaks to the importance of having an avatar, right? That person who you are speaking to, that one audience persona who you’re really excited to connect with, that’s going to be your community. And if you’re doing this right and you’re speaking directly into their pain points and your message is resonating with that one person, they’re going to bring others like them along, and that’s how you build this really great community. Rather than comparing yourself to the other brands in your industry out there, focus on how you are different and focus on how your message is going to resonate with people who you can solve their pain points for.
Being a thought leader
As you are going throughout this, I want you to think about standing out in the marketplace. And this is about having an opinion in your industry. So, this goes back to when we are saying people get about 400 marketing messages a day, right? How is yours going to stand out? It is about you having a specific opinion and being that thought leadership in your industry and in your niche that way.
So, how do you differ? Go ahead and think about the things that you can say that’s different from your competitors. Have an opinion and stand out. This goes into making sure you’re curating content and telling your followers about why you’re giving them that piece of content, what you learned from it, and really, again, sharing this side of yourself that’s a little more personable. It doesn’t always have to be about business because, again, we’re in a human-to-human connection space when we post on social media as brands and we want to buy from people. We want to know, like, and trust other people rather than just a logo. So, have an opinion as a person and share that on social media.
If you are someone who’s going to be a little bit afraid to repel people with your opinion, I want you to get that out of your mindset because when people come to your social media page, they should immediately understand if they are meant to be there and you are the person to deliver the message you’re delivering or if they are not meant to be there and they’ll move on somewhere else. Don’t be afraid of that because it goes back to the community aspect. You need to make sure you’re creating a community of like minded values and like minded people, and that is how they are going to be excited about engaging and getting that meaningful social interaction that plays into the algorithm.
Use social for customer research
Social media is a social space, so let’s keep the social in social media. When you’re going on to post, you don’t want it just to be broadcast, right? You don’t want it to be something where you’re just shouting about your sales and you’re just shouting about your product. What you want it to be is a space where you’re learning as well. Your mindset on social media shouldn’t just be posting all the time, it should be that you want to go in there and actually research your customers.
Search engines like Pinterest and YouTube, especially for social media, should truly be used in a way that you are going in there and putting your search words in there, your keywords in there. So, me, someone who works for a social media company, would go on to Pinterest or go on to YouTube, and perhaps type the word social media. It’s going to give me a dropdown menu of all of the most commonly asked questions. Similar to Google's search bar, Pinterest and YouTube also do this. This is what you should be focusing on in order to find the questions that you want to create content on social media for because it’s a signal that your ideal customer and the people who are interested in your space, they’re already asking questions on social media.
Your mindset needs to be that social media isn’t just about you broadcasting, it needs to be about you researching and actually using the information there. As a small business owner, it’s really important to do this as well because it’s a way that you can keep up with the bigger research funds that some of these huge brands have in order to do market research. All of your customers are already on social media asking questions. So, go seek out those questions and use it as a way to help develop your audience persona and see what they’re already asking.
Your ideal customers talk to each other in Facebook groups, they talk to each other on Twitter chats. Use social media to go into those spaces and actually answer questions and be of value for people. If you have a Facebook group that you can go into that you know is similar to your brand, go on there and see the questions people are asking and, as your brand, answer them. Do you have a really great PDF or blog post you could provide them? It’s a great way to not only answer their question but also to get your brand name out there. Social media has gotta be that double side of actually getting your message out but also consuming what your customers are saying on social media. If you can get that and you can kind of combine the two, it is going to make a world of difference in the engagement for your accounts.
Step 2: Content Creation
For content creation, make sure that you are simplifying your message as much as possible. This is really important because a confused customer is not going to buy, right? If you’re confused about a message, again, going back to the fact that we are inundated with 400 marketing messages a day, if you are confused about what people are saying, it’s really hard for people to understand and say, “Yep, I will buy from this person.”
You really want to take the time to simplify it as much as possible, to make sure people understand to say yes when they want to purchase from you, but also to give people a way to talk about your brand because that’s going to be the easiest way for you to build trust with your community, it’s going to be a way that you can get out there and say, “You know what? If someone shares this piece of content to their community and their followers consume it, it’s really great because they’ve already trusted that person,” and they’re seeing your brand name associated with the person who shared your content, and that is going to be a huge value-add for you. Or out-in-the-world word-of-mouth marketing is really important too to make sure that you’re simplifying your message so people know how to talk about you out in the world.
Establish categories for your social posts
Content creation is also going to be something that a lot of times when you sit down and you start to type it out, it’s doing it in the space that you have time to do it. And you’re just sitting there and staring at your screen because nothing is coming to you. So, you go right to posting without having any idea of why you’re posting or what you’re posting. So, how do you solve this problem?
You solve it by having pre-established categories for your social media posts. And this truly helps you kiss that content paralysis goodbye if you’re able to have these categories set up. And you really see the fact that categories work in what I like to call the “too many tacos” feeling.
What is the “too many tacos” feeling? It’s when you go on to social media and you see a feed that’s just random, random, random or just broadcast, broadcast, broadcast. It’s kinda like saying if there’s a salesperson outside of your door and they’re just yelling about their discounts and yelling about the features of your product, are you going to go into that person’s store? Most likely not. You don’t want to interact that way.
If you want to be someone who is going to invite people into your community on social media, you need to have these categories set up because it takes it from this “too many tacos” feeling right here into this beautifully curated feed with a variety of different posting types. So, the categories you’ll have are, like, blog posts, your quotes, inspirational tips, promotional content a little bit sprinkled in. But you see how this really is more engaging for your followers.
Delight, educate, and entertain
When you’re creating your categories, it’s going to be different for every business because we all have that one unique customer that we are looking for. So, when you’re creating your categories, they, of course, need to go into the fact that they’re going to help convert them, whether it’s driving more traffic to your site or whether it’s people purchasing from you. What wins on social media is if you delight someone, if you educate someone, if you entertain someone, if you inspire someone, if you nurture these real relationships with humans, the conversion happens naturally and it becomes a conversation.
When we’re selling on social media, we’re truly just pre-qualifying to see if the person is right for your product or service and you’re having a conversation, and then it’s their choice. You see, that gets rid of the scariness of selling. When you’re just able to look at the way you’re able to delight, educate, and entertain people mostly, they will then get attached to your brand and make that conversion so much easier and so much more conversational, which is what sells on social media. When you are doing your promotional content, because we do have to promote on social media, think about the benefits. And this script is awesome for making sure that your promotional content doesn’t stand out as salesy.
So, when you think of your product or service, I want you to go through thinking:
- Because of…[list a feature]
- It will…[list an advantage]
- Which means…[list a benefit]
Go throughout this exercise of whatever your product or service is. For example, let’s take, like, a horse saddle. If you are going to sell a horse saddle, you could just say, “You know, look at this feature. Look at the nice weather. Buy this.” That’s not as inspiring as if you say, “Look at the leather on this horse saddle that will make it so that you’re more comfortable so that you can then go ride off into the sunset.” That benefit part at the end is what’s going to sell on social media the most.
When you’re writing your sales copy, please make sure you’re focusing on that benefit. With recency bias, that’s the last thing people are going to read, and they’re going to be emotionally connected to it. You need to start thinking about doing people a favor when you’re selling on social media. If you have a product or service that’s going to solve someone’s pain point, how exciting is it for you to be able to get out there and say, “You know what? Not having my product or service is truly doing you a harm.” Is it that you could save them time? Is it that you could bring them more joy with their family and friends? Is it that you could save them money? Whatever it is that you could relieve their pain points from is what you need to be marketing. So, remember people’s pain points.
Focus on customer pain points and benefits
Sometimes, in your promotional posts, it can be really helpful to bring those pain points up, actually, and remind people, because often, we don’t even think about the fact that we have that pain point in day-to-day life. So, remind people that you exist there for a reason and, again, have that conversation about how you can make their life better.
The three golden rules of content creation here in step two are going to be that you want to make sure you’re doing really visual things. So, stop the scroll by sharing a photo or sharing a video because we are visually attracted to things so much more than words. And then, you want to have that copy, sell it a little bit more. We think that we buy on logic all the time. However, we buy on emotions as humans so much more.
So, if you’re doing a really emotional photo, add a text in that’s logical. If you’re doing a really logical photo, just showing your product, make sure your text is emotional to get that beautiful marriage of motion and logic in your social media updates so that you are able to really confidently say that this is something that’s going to combine those two. And make sure, again, that you are building trust by showing your face. Take a selfie, get brave, get courageous on video because it truly does make a difference.
Step 3: Distribution
Creating all the content does no good if you’re not going to distribute it. I’m going to say something a little controversial to start out step number three, is that I want you to actually start posting less on social media if you’re just getting started and you’re not seeing a lot of engagement. Why? Because the algorithms are truly set up to look for that engagement in order to increase the amount of people who are going to see your posts.
So, on social media, what happens when you share a post, especially on Facebook, is they share it to a small, little section of your followers. If that gets good engagement, they’ll open it up and share it with more. So, if everything that you’re posting doesn’t get any engagement, it’s a signal to the algorithm, “Your community is not targeted, they don’t want to see it.” And the algorithm is there for a good reason, they want to serve up the right information to the right people at the right time. So, you need to play into that by saying, “Okay, I’m going to start slowly building in this engagement, asking questions, getting people interacting,” and then you can start posting more often on social media. Because it is okay if your strategy changes, especially small business owners because that means you are listening to your audience and you’re doing things right.
So, distribution is really important, especially as I’m talking about, like, when to post. I want you to really consider that everyone’s audience is different. For example, we’re a social media automation tool, we have marketers who are online during the workday and on social media during the nine-to-five hours. However, you might be marketing to a mom who has to be online after her kid goes to bed. So, really take the time to dig into your Facebook Insights and your Twitter Analytics to see when your specific audience is online the most, and that way you can really overcome these hard facts right here.
- The lifespan of an Instagram post = 21 hours
- The lifespan of a Facebook post = 5 hours
- The lifespan of Twitter = 18 minutes
Make sure that you are digging into when your audience is online so that you’re showing up at the right time. Your Facebook Insights is a great place to do this, they give you a graph of when your followers are online the most. So, dig into that when you’re distributing your content.
You’re really doing a disservice to your content if you’re spending all the time creating it and none of the time promoting it. We always like to say, “If you spend one hour creating a piece of content, whether it’s a blog post, whether it’s a podcast, whether it’s a video, you need to spend eight hours promoting it.” Now, not all at once. Don’t freak out. It doesn’t have to be your whole day, it just needs to be over time, right?
This comes into play when you’re creating your evergreen content and when you’re really distributing your evergreen content to remember to promote it multiple times. Evergreen content is that stuff that’s going to really add value to your followers no matter what time of year it is. So, if you share it out once, it’s going to be what this purple graph here at the top-left corner is. It’s going to get a huge spike of traffic to your site, and then it’s going to peddle off because you’re not resharing it, and it’s going to go into the black hole of the internet. If you’re creating evergreen content and doing the work to actually promote it often and more than once, you’ll get this beautiful graph at the bottom where you’ll continuously get that great traffic to your site, you’ll continuously start to benefit from it while you sleep even because you didn’t have to recreate it.
When you’re doing this, I want to make sure that you also remember you’re always getting more followers. You always are getting new followers who need to hear your message and holistically understand who you are. So, resharing content is doing them a favor. Again, flip that mindset, don’t be shy about it, and if you’re afraid of repeating yourself, I want to remind you of two things:
- Not everyone’s going to see it, not everyone’s going to notice, and everyone loves to see really good content. So, if you’re someone who produced something really great and it shows up again, no one’s going to be mad.
- If you’re resharing your evergreen content multiple times, you never know when that message is going to resonate with someone at the right time.
Often, we forget that people aren’t ready to buy right away on social media, and you need to continuously repeat your message to drill in that you are the expert in your industry, you are the expert in your product, and make sure that when it hits someone at the right time, perhaps when they’re actually at their computer and can consume the content rather than standing in line at a grocery store with their phone. If you’re repeating the content, it might hit someone and resonate at the right time.
As you’re distributing this evergreen content, it’s also important to remember to distribute this outside of social media, reach out to others in your industry and see if you can get it as a backlink on their site to increase your traffic as well. This is especially important to make sure they know it’s evergreen content because they’ll know it will stay relevant and you’re not going to delete that link, you’re not going to break their link-throughs if they actually link it in their blog post. So, that’s another benefit of making sure that you’re always creating evergreen content.
Search engines truly do look at social media data to improve their search results and relevancy. This means as you’re continuing to share your evergreen content, again, multiple times, eight hours of promotion there, remember, as you’re continuing to share it and more and more people interact with it and share it themselves, this actually goes into search rankings in Google, and they see this as a much more relevant article than they would see as if you actually only shared it once.
This means that if you have a viral Facebook post that got shared multiple times, oftentimes, that Facebook post will be a signal to Google that they actually should relevantly show this up higher in their search rankings. If you’re only sharing it once and it doesn’t get reshared by people, you’re not getting that added benefit. So, remember that, again, by producing and distributing evergreen content, it goes into this beautiful cycle of your social media and marketing plan altogether.
To break it down simply, I know I just blabbed a lot about that, the better and more optimized social media activity you have, the higher you will be in search rankings, not only on social media but also in Google.
Follow the yellow brick road
- Lead people where they should go
- Give them what they need along the way
- Take people for casual followers to active listeners to engaged community
Make sure you’re leading people where you want them to go. This goes back to the categories. It makes sense to have this system, and it’s not inauthentic to have this calculated out because you need to take someone from being a casual observer into trusting you so deeply that they’re really excited to not only buy from you but be a brand advocate. So, when you’re developing your categories and deciding when to distribute which category, remember that you’re leading people on a journey with you to not only get to know you as a brand but to convince them and have the conversation that you are the right choice for them.
Step 4: Engagement
You need meaning, social interactions. I said it before, I know, but I’m going to keep harping on it because it truly does make the biggest difference for you. You need to have the mindset that you want to create a conversation-based community to take advantage of the algorithms. And it surely is like dating. Let’s say you’re going on a date. Is the first thing you’re going to say to someone, “Hey, will you marry me?” No, that’s not going to go over well. Same when it comes to selling on social media. You don’t want the first post for someone to see to ask them to buy from you, right? That’s not going to build a trust and that’s not going to get them excited about a continued relationship.
Start asking questions to get to know people. You need to make sure that you’re not just broadcasting and doing all the talking. That’s not a fun date. You need to make sure you’re asking these questions. And they don’t always have to be related to your product or service to get that engagement, right? You can go in there and ask about what the last book they read was, where they travel. People love talking about themselves and connecting, and you never know how that’s going to really help them connect with other people in your community, giving you that great boost of conversation on your post, engagement that’s going to be a signal to the algorithm to show them more of your content.
Engagement algorithm hack
When you’re doing this, I always like to suggest doing an engagement-based question post from your questions category that gets a lot of comments. The very next post you post after that question one, make that one of your promotional posts because, again, the algorithm’s going to see people really liked that and it’s more likely they’ll serve up your promotional posts to people in your community because they’re seeing they like your content. So, that’s a great little hack to use to be able to really take advantage of the algorithm.
And you want to really make sure in the engagement strategy that you’re using hashtags, especially on Instagram and Twitter because they are categorized by hashtags in your status updates. I always like to really point this out because I think it’s a huge missed opportunity for many small businesses. You want to focus on the people that you want, where they would be hanging out, rather than the product that you have. So, what does this mean?
This means if you are someone who is going in and hashtagging… You know, for us, we’re a social media, it’s not going to be #automationtool, it’s going to be #smallbusiness or #marketingtips because the people in my community are hanging out in small business hashtags. They’re not hanging out in the automation tool hashtag, right? So, think about the person when you’re developing your social media strategy for hashtags more than anything.
When you’re actually posting for engagement, I want to make sure that you’re following the Pareto principle, whatever you want to call it, the 80/20 rule, 80% of your content should be really value-added content, and then 20% can be a little more promotional.
Going back to the categories, it makes it so much simpler if you’re just able to pop these categories and know that you’re going to do, say, four posts a day on Facebook, you’re going to do three of them as value-adding, either educational blog posts, how-to tips, productivity tips, clothes, inspiration, 20% a little more promotional. That is a great mix to start out with. And you want to really lead with the content that your followers want to see every day.
So, again, going back to knowing your audience persona so deeply that you know on Monday morning they want an inspirational quote. You know that they eat lunch alone at their desk so you want to serve them a YouTube video or a blog post that they can read during that time. You know after work, they’ll have more time to talk to you so you serve them up a question. Think about how you can support them throughout their entire day, and they’ll be excited to consistently see that content from you.
Get your lead magnet game on:
- Create a PDF download in Canva (or similar program)
- Create a landing page in MailChimp (or similar program)
- Promote it out!
As you’re going throughout the engagement period as well, you want to make sure that you’re really paying attention to your lead magnets. Lead magnets and engagement go hand-in-hand because you’re building this trust with your community by saying, “Hey, I have this really great PDF that’ll teach you how to write a blog post in five minutes,” whatever it is. If you’ve done the work to engage with your community and they trust you enough, they’re going to be more likely to click through on that, give you their email address in order for you to email them that PDF, right?
You need to build that engagement in because you want to make sure you’re not just posting on this rented space of what social media is. You don’t own the networks, they can do whatever they want with your content. When you’re able to take people from your social media posts and engage them enough to trust you to give their email address… People get really kind of cagey about their email addresses, and you need to remember that building the trust in order for them to hand that over is involved in the fact that they are inviting you into a space, again, where they communicate with their work, their family, and their friends, in their email. So, that trust and that engagement is really important. So, use your lead magnets in a way that you’re sprinkling those in between engagement posts, in between a way that you’re building in that face-to-face human connection.
Step 5: Scaling the system
Oftentimes, when we hear systems and automation in social media, we get a little bit like, “That sounds a little dirty.” It’s truly not. It’s showing up for your followers in a way that you know is going to add more value and in a way that you’re able to then spend the time on social media, engaging with them and showing them that you are there for them rather than just kind of doing social media when you have time.
Scaling the system involves two steps, batching and upcycling. I like to describe batching as it’s because you don’t want to cook one cookie at a time. If you’re going to bring out all of the ingredients, like your flour, and your eggs, and your oil, it’s not going to be you baking one cookie, it’s going to be you baking a dozen. Same with social media. Don’t write one status update at a time. It can be so overwhelming when you’re like, “I need 20 pieces of content to create.” But when you break it down, again, into categories, it becomes much more manageable, when you’re like, “I have five pieces of content to create for my quotes category. I have five pieces of content to create for my tips category.”
You really need to customize this math. I’ll go through this, but please take the time and kinda customize to your posting schedule. Batching involves doing this. If you want to send six status updates a day, five days a week, to get a month’s worth of fresh content, that’s going to be 30 status updates. You multiply those two. Let’s multiply that out to a month. You have to create 120 status updates for a month’s worth of social media content. Does that seem overwhelming? Well, remember our categories. If you use six different categories, that’s you only having to create 20 updates per category per month. Again, so much more doable.
This is really exciting here too because if you do this on one day, if you block out four hours on your calendar to write all of these out, if you do this once a month, that’s you only having to create social media updates 12 times this year. If you’re batching once a month, that’s 12 times you only have to write social media status updates. And if you’re doing it in this batch, you’re able to create a more consistent story and a more consistent brand voice so that no matter what social network people find you on, they know what you’re all about and they’re really excited to engage with you there because they recognize you, and we love to recognize things and feel like we’re a part of a community no matter where we are.
When you’re using categories to batch, it also makes it a million times easier to do something that we call upcycling. So, upcycling is taking one well-researched piece of content, whether it’s a blog post, a podcast, a YouTube video, and making sure you’re getting at least 10 status updates out of it. How do you do this?
You take that blog post and you pull out some pull-quotes to do text-only tips. You take that blog post and you tell a behind-the-scenes story about why you wrote it or how you wrote it. You take that blog post, and you get your camera out, and you talk for a minute to your camera about the most important parts of it. This way you’re giving people the ability to consume your content in the medium that they want and, again, you’re giving that expertise out there. People will see that you’re repeating the same message, you’re going deep, not wide, and get really excited about that. Think to yourself, “How can one piece of content be turned into 10 status updates?” and you’ll get more mileage from it, and you’ll get more expertise out of it.
I’m super excited to have presented the five steps to social success, and I’m really truly excited to see what you go out and do with it. When you’re out there on social media, just remember to keep the social in social media and to have a system so that you’re adding value and showing up for your followers at the right time when they need to see that message so you can truly resonate with them and get the great content that you’re creating out into the world to do it a favor and solve people’s pain points.
Digital Marketing Boot Camp Schedule:
- Session 1: Digital Marketing Landscape for SMBs | Bill Hauser
- Session 2: SEO, Local Search & Google my Business | Jordan Polhemus
- Session 3: 5 Critical Components for Facebook Dominance | Adam Arkfield
- Session 4: The Basics of Email Marketing | Margaret Hamner
- Session 5: 5 Steps for Social Success | Megan McMullin
- Session 6: 5 Google Ads Concepts for PPC Success | Adam Arkfield
- Session 7: Optimize Your Lead Generation Strategy | Jonathan Naccache
- Session 8: Foundations of Data Analytics | Jenny Bristow
- Session 9: Understanding Marketing Performance with Comprehensive Reporting | Tony Lael