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From the Trenches

10 Steps to Pick-Up a Social Media Audience

Right Source | March 7, 2011

Sure, you may not care about how much a polar bear weighs. But if you’re a marketer, you’d better give your social media marketing enough weight to break the ice. Attracting—and keeping—the attention of the right audience can make or break your social media marketing.

While there are many ways to attract a following on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, when done well, social media often centers around blogging as a part of the content marketing mix. The following 10 steps will help your blog content pick-up your audience, so your organization never has to go home alone.

1. Know your audience. Don’t buy the girl who’s been drinking Miller Lite all night a calorie loaded, complex Dogfish Head IPA. Study your target audience so that you know what type of content they want and what type of hooks will likely work. So much information is publicly available online that you don’t even have to be the creepy guy staring across the bar (for your marketing at least). A little research on publicly available information like keywords and Twitter trends can go a long way.

2. Write a killer title. Unless you look like Angelina Jolie, you might not want to approach a cute guy without first knowing what you’re going to say to him. Just as with approaching a person, take what you know about your audience and use it to write your post’s title. Titles are a big part of your first impression across the web: they’re pulled into RSS feeds, show up automatically on Facebook and LinkedIn, and harness search engine traffic.  So treat the title as the first part of your pick-up line and set yourself up to deliver a good punch. Balance catchiness with search friendly keywords for a winning combination. (Check out Problogger’s title writing tips for some inspiration if you’re stuck.)

3. Don’t forget the first sentence. You’ve somehow delivered your pick-up line and gotten a smile instead of ridicule and shame. It’s all downhill from here, right? Think again, because it only gets harder. In all the talk about writing catchy, keyword packed titles, first sentences often get shunted. But they’re extremely important. Just look at literature. Would A Tale of Two Cities be the same without “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” and the rest of that epic sentence? Would 1984 be the same without “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen”? Maybe it’s because I’m a writer, but I think not. So don’t just launch into your blog post with any old sentence—make sure you’re writing a winner, or that you’re at least not flubbing it from the very beginning.

4. Use multiple hooks. You don’t want to go around using the same line on every guy or girl you meet. Widen your chances of success by using different lines in different situations. In social media marketing, this could mean using one line as a hook on Twitter, another on Facebook, and another on LinkedIn. Many people have all of their social media accounts linked, and post the same thing on each social media property. While this can save a lot of time, it does not take advantage of the different opportunities to optimize your hook that each channel provides. Simple things like tweeting hashtags and tagging Facebook posts can have a big effect.

5. Don’t be afraid to start over again. Everyone’s had a bad first introduction or a weak handshake. If you’re lucky enough to still be in the running at this point, making a joke out of the awkwardness and starting over again can get you back on the right foot. The same thing goes for writing blog posts: don’t be afraid to start over again. If you’re stuck on a title or first sentence, write the rest of the post first and then go back and try again. If you’ve got a great title, but by the time you’re done writing, you realize the title no longer applies, by all means, change the title. There’s nothing wrong with asking to try that handshake again.

6. Deliver as promised. You’ve got a conversation started, and have beat the initial awkwardness. Now it’s time to walk the walk. In the pick-up context, here’s when you would ask good questions, make eye contact, and say fantastically witty things. In blogging, here’s where you live up to your title and first sentence with solid writing and useful information. There’s not much more frustrating than clicking on a great title to find an awful blog post, yet this happens all the time. So don’t stand there saying “ummm”—follow up on your pick-up success with #winning content (couldn’t help it).

7. Close memorably. A good conversation can be ruined by an awkward ending: maybe it drags on too long, maybe it’s over too quickly.  Whether you’re trying to pick someone up, make a new friend, or impress a business contact, the end of a conversation is just as important as the beginning. The same goes for writing blog posts. Make sure your post concludes strongly.

8. Plan the next steps. Don’t walk away from that great conversation at the bar (park, library, wherever) without getting a phone number and making sure both parties know who’s calling who. Ask people to comment on your blog posts with a specific question: they’re calling you. You require an email to download content: you’re calling them.

9. Follow up. Don’t beg for a phone number and never call. Reply to comments on your blog posts, and reach out to people who have downloaded content. Use it in your email newsletter, or email it directly to people you think will like it. Repost it on Facebook or retweet it if a relevant topic comes up again in a few weeks (or a few years).  Make sure you’re giving your content a chance to mean more than a one night stand.

10. Track everything. It’s pretty easy to tell whether or not your pick-up efforts are working. If you get slapped after a certain line, you’re not likely to use it again (I hope). Measuring the effectiveness of your blogging and social media marketing is more difficult, but just as crucial for success. Identifying the right metrics, tracking everything, and making sense of the numbers allows you to adjust your strategy as needed.

Follow those ten steps, and you’re well on your way to being a pick-up artist. But don’t forget that whether it’s talking to someone at a bar or promoting a blog post, talent and luck still play a big role (being really really ridiculously good looking doesn’t hurt, either).

What are your best blogging pick-up tips? Had success or failure with one of mine? Comment, and let me know.

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About Right Source:

The Marketing Trenches blog provides thought leadership from actual marketing practitioners, not from professional thought leaders. Designed to help business leaders make more educated marketing decisions, our insights come directly from our experience in the trenches. You can find more from Right Source on Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), and LinkedIn.