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Question: Our company is expanding its social media program to try and acquire more business. Is there a good approach to mixing promotional content with other types of content?

I guess the first question to ask is if you were just starting to get to know a person, organization or business, what would be your response if the first thing they did when they introduced themselves was follow up with a “Hey, wanna buy this from me?”

While each social media channel is slightly different, therefore requiring a slightly different approach, if your goal is to acquire new business, then you have to consider those you are targeting would be people who either know little or nothing about your business. With this in mind, your content mix should follow suit.

There are no hard and fast rules for how much content you should share, how often you should promote, or what you should share, but there are some really good common sense approaches to follow that will make you more appealing to potential new customers. Here are a few things you should consider.

Focus on Usefulness: With 347 blogs being posted every minute there is no shortage of information on the internet. Think about the questions that most new customers have and share content on your social streams that will help them become more informed with regards to those questions.

Try Empathy: It seems like a lot of companies don’t think about how we like to be sold to when selling to others? Just spamming your new (or established) network with promos and sales pushes feels a bit like a tourist walking through “Times Square.” For those that haven’t experienced it, think if every 5 steps you took someone was trying to get you to part with money for things that no one really wants.

Promote Sparingly: As you build and establish trust there are opportunities to promote, but those should be chosen carefully. If you need a hard and fast rule I recommend that less than 10% of your content is directly promotional.

Be A Wealth Of Knowledge: Think about it this way, who doesn’t love sitting down and speaking to someone who knows a ton about a subject they are interested in? If it is helpful and told in a way that is interesting, this person is the life at any party (or online site).

Now if you are a sandwich shop your strategy may be a little different as you may try contests and giveaways to get people in the door. But for most service based businesses the most effective ways to use social platforms is to help your prospects learn about whatever it is they are trying to discover. As a byproduct of your educating them, they will begin to forge a relationship with your brand that can lead to sales down the line.

Social media for most businesses should be more than a bullhorn for promotion. Try provided value and information and see how it drives customers closer and prospects to your (virtual) front door?

Article first appeared on Broadsuite and can be found here.