11 tips for using social to become an authority in your niche
Don't wait for Google to tell you to be helpful. Here's how to create authoritative "people-first" social media content for your brand.
It’s no secret that Google’s helpful content update has caused quite a stir in the SEO community.
While Google’s emphasis on “people-first” content may have come as a surprise to many content creators, users (and many SEO professionals) have been craving this change since the gain in popularity of the pre-recipe life stories that trended on food blogs for many years.
Here are some tips on using the helpful content update as a guide in making your social media channels an authority in your local niche.
Creating authoritative ‘people-first’ social media content
How do we create great content that serves users and ranks well as an authority in the SERPs?
One way to assist your website in solidifying your reputation is to make your brand a helpful authority in your online communities. Social media supports and promotes your website content and reinforces your position as a community authority within your niche.
I care about Google – why are we talking about social?
In case you haven’t noticed, social media sites rank well in the SERPs. Additionally, Google not only pulls review content from social but can see all of your content on your brand pages, in public groups and on other brand pages.
So while your social media profiles may not be a direct ranking factor, your presence and activity on social can affect Google’s interpretation of your brand’s authority and helpfulness on social media.
Here are 11 ways to use social media to become an authority in your niche.
1. Stay relevant
If you are sharing news, best practices, or industry-specific information, ensure it is relevant and up to date. Don’t share old advice and expect your followers to swoon.
Stay on top of current trends – both within your industry and social media in general. The more relevant your content is to your audience’s everyday lives, the more likely they are to like, engage, and share that content. Regular engagement expands your reach and your authority.
2. Keep it interesting
Alongside relevance, you want your content to be interesting. Sharing the same tip or news article that thousands of other pages share will not favor you. How can you put a unique spin on your content to push it to the top of the heap?
Adding unique commentary or analysis to already popular ideas or articles and niche-specific information will attract the interest of your audience. Doing this regularly will also earn their loyalty, making you their chosen authority within their niche.
3. Engage, engage, engage!
Engagement is a two-way street. Many business owners contact us with requests for help with their social profiles. Their biggest complaint? Low engagement and stalled audience growth.
Often, it’s because they are pushing out information to their audiences without ever going back to host the conversation they’ve started on their post.
Respond to comments, reviews, recommendations, and even questions or comments within groups relevant to your community or brand. This will subconsciously create trust with your audience, further helping build that brand authority.
Two-way engagement (or conversation, as some of us like to call it) shows your audience that you care about what they have to say and that your brand has actual humans behind it who want to get to know them. This makes them want to get to know you as well.
Increased effort into engagement and relationship building also makes them more likely to trust your brand with their families, friends, and community members through referrals and recommendations.
4. Solve their problems
Do your users have a question? Even if it has nothing to do with your brand, be the one to answer it! Be helpful, whether this is on your brand page, a community group or a conversation thread.
They will remember you going above and beyond to help them out when you had nothing to gain from the interaction and will choose or recommend you when it is time to spend money on what you have to offer.
Know complimentary companies that can further help them after your job is done. If you’re a landscaper, make sure you’ve got great recommendations for concrete, decks, and exterior painting companies.
Want to take it to the next level? Be ready to recommend your favorite taco shop, give them helpful tips on the perfect weekend getaway, or tell them about your favorite pediatrician in town when they ask in local community groups or on other pages.
Helping people when you won’t directly profit from the interaction increases your trustworthiness and makes you more memorable.
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5. Make it about them
Being helpful and authoritative involves going above and beyond when engaging with social media communities and users. How can you better serve them?
While they may not care so much that your carpet cleaning business just spent a small fortune on a new van, they probably do care that you now have equipment that is 30% more efficient, doing a better job cleaning their carpets while using fewer chemicals where their family eats, sleeps and lives.
Your restaurant customers may not care much about your new logo design, but they will be happier to celebrate it with you when you're handing them a new t-shirt with that logo.
Small touches can go a long way with your social media audience. Make it about them, and they will reward you with their time.
6. Share content they want to see
Social media is not about pushing promotional content at people until they give you their money. The helpful content update understands the value and importance of giving people what they want, not what you want to sell them. Social media communities are similar.
Give audiences what they want, not what you want. What does this mean?
Scale back on promotional posts and increase the amount of valuable, helpful information you share with them. Try not to link to your website or sales content more than once every three to five posts.
What do you share in between? That depends on your brand, but some things community members tend to engage with include helpful tips and tutorials, user-generated content, and feel-good content. This will show your users that you're interested in them and what they want, not just using them for their wallets.
7. UGC shows that you care
A great way to increase engagement in a local community online is to share user-generated content (or UGC). Share photos from a community event and encourage people to tag their friends or share the post. People love seeing themselves and the people they know, creating a subconscious connection to your brand.
Local customers don't want stock images or photos of models in your local business. Show them that you know the same community. Encourage them to tag friends they see in photos or share the photo of their child in your shop with friends and family.
UGC is an inexpensive way to promote your brand while showing that you are an active part of your community. You're not some shareholder living 2,000 miles away. You live, work, shop, and play in the same places they do.
This makes you relatable and more human, even if they don't know you personally. In turn, local customers feel like they know you and are faster to trust you with their recommendations and dollars.
8. Know the micro-influencers
In most local communities, a local influencer will do more for your local brand than an endorsement from a Kardashian. Whether that is a local player from your state's favorite professional sports team or a local blogger who always has the scoop on where to be and what to do around town.
They trust the recommendations from people who live, eat, shop and engage with the local community more than they will take your word for it or even those of a famous mega-celebrity with no connection to them.
How can you use micro-influencers to help increase your authority?
- Invite the local mayor into your restaurant for a meal.
- Host a meetup at the park with a local moms' group.
- Provide items from your boutique to people you see promoting local brands in the larger Facebook groups or on Instagram.
Be sure to provide fantastic service without asking anything in return. If you turn them into raving fans, they'll bring you a ton of business.
9. Stop focusing on 'the algorithm'
I cannot count how often I see people posting promotional content and saying something like "adding a photo for the algorithm" or "posting about this for the algorithm."
This is not how it works, people.
Create great content that benefits your audience, not your brand or what you think feeds "the algorithm."
Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and all other social platforms want users on the platforms. Do you know what keeps users on the platforms?
Conversations, entertainment, shopping, and helpful information encourage them to spend time interacting with others on social media.
Give them what they want, and they will stick around. If they stick around, the platforms will reward you by showing your content to a larger audience.
You will become a local authority to these audiences, and your brand will grow. This will increase your brand awareness and profit over time.
10. Be helpful
Many brands are always looking for that quick fix or secret trick on social media platforms that will propel their business forward and make them the popular choice in their local community. Guess what? There’s none.
Stop trying to game the system and focus on providing helpful, relevant information to your audience. Be authentic and help by providing the information they need. Brands spend resources going viral or growing their followers that they forget to provide value.
Do something for your audience. Give them a reason to pay attention to what you have to say.
11. Have some fun
Seriously! Users can see when you're just cranking out content to feed "the algorithm." Stop doing this. (And while we're at it, can we please stop with the whole "the algorithm" thing? Please?)
Share content that you enjoy creating. This will carry through in your messaging, and your fans and followers will enjoy it more.
It's also OK to poke fun at your brand or industry. Many business owners fear their industry is too boring or technical for social media. Give your audience a chance; they may surprise you.
While plumbers and insurance agents may not have the most exciting topics, they can provide incredibly helpful content to their local communities. They can also share some relatable, entertaining information. Who hasn't had to call a plumber in the middle of the night or take on an insurance claim?
Align with your audience and show them how you can make these stressful situations less awful. Sure, it may not be as fun as selling snarky T-shirts or cute photo sessions on social media, but you're meeting your audience where they already are, and what is more helpful than that?
From Google to social to real life
While the helpful content update has created a stir, providing helpful, useful and relevant information to your audience has always been – and will continue to be – incredibly important.
This is not just about rankings and charts. It's about providing valuable information to real people in your community.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.