If you’ve been online over the past few years, chances are you’ve heard about farming simulators. Video games like Stardew Valley, Harvest Moon and Animal Crossing have grown more popular over the course of the global pandemic, rising to become an increasingly prevalent genre in video games. But farming simulators are more than just a helpful way to pass the time. They can also be an effective way to learn lessons about planning, patience and profit, lessons which can also be applied to social media marketing.

In this article, we explore how farming simulators share similarities with growing a social media audience and what lessons we can learn from these video games to optimize social media marketing efforts.

Plotting Out Your Land: Forming Your Content Marketing Strategy

Diverse group plans social media strategy.

Don’t discount the value of the planning stage for your social media marketing process.

As anyone who’s sunk more than 24 hours into a farming simulator will tell you, one of the most critical times in the game is what happens before you even sow your first seed. There are lots of ways to set up your farm, but how you do so depends on your goals and what you want to accomplish. In the marketing field, we call this your content marketing strategy. Copyblogger defines a content marketing strategy as “a plan for building an audience by publishing, maintaining, and spreading frequent and consistent content that educates, entertains, or inspires to turn strangers into fans and fans into customers.” To get started on building a content marketing strategy there are a few questions you need to ask yourself.

What Goals Do You Want To Accomplish With Your Social Media Marketing?

Like many farming simulators, it can be hard to know when you’ve “succeeded.” Before you set out on your social media marketing journey, you will need to know what you are building toward. Your goals will naturally evolve as you create content and grow your business, but in the early stages, it is helpful to know what they are. Eclincher lists goals you might pursue with your social media marketing. Here are a few of the most common goals for social media marketing:

  1. Brand Awareness: Perhaps you want more people to know about your business. If you are relatively new in the field or there is a lot of competition, you will want to establish your business as one which your customers will remember.
  2. Enhance Public Relations: One of the first things many prospective customers do before deciding to engage with a business is a little research. The ratings a service or product has received online can have a strong impact on customer decisions.
  3. Build Community of Advocates: One of the best ways to turn single-time customers into customers for life is to grow your relationship with them. This involves customer service and interactions on social media. We’ll cover this more in detail when we get to growing your audience.
  4. Driving Sales and Leads: The goal of most marketing efforts is economical. Where you rank this goal in terms of your marketing strategy will have a strong impact on the types of content you create and how you structure your social media content.

Regardless of what motivates your content marketing, it is important to create S.M.A.R.T. goals. They must be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based. An example of a S.M.A.R.T. goal related to brand awareness might be, “I will grow my Twitter audience by 500 by the end of Q2.” If you want to learn more about building effective goals, check out this article about setting themes and goals for your business.

Which Social Media Platforms Would You Like To Use For Your Content Marketing?

Different demographics use different social media platforms.

Different social media platforms will help your business reach different audiences.

While new social media platforms seem to pop up every day, the five main ones to consider when it comes to social media marketing are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and TikTok.

The platform or platforms you choose to pursue will depend largely on who you are trying to reach, what your social media marketing goals are and what form of content will be best for your business.

As an example, TikTok tends to skew younger for average audience, and it is a good avenue for video social media content. If you have a business or service that lends itself to video content and are looking to reach an audience in their teens and early 20’s, TikTok might be the social media platform for you.

For a more in-depth look at the strengths and weaknesses of social media platforms, check out this article from Business News Daily.

What Audience Are You Hoping To Reach With Your Social Media Marketing?

Before you can create content that will appeal to your audience, you need to know who your audience is. What are their interests? How old are they? What are their goals? These are things you will want to consider before you begin creating your social media marketing content.

This process is known as forming a buyer persona. Hootsuite defines a buyer persona as “a detailed description of someone who represents your target audience. This persona is fictional but based on deep research of your existing or desired audience.”

In other words, a buyer persona is an imaginary person you can use as a target for your content. If you want to learn more about forming a buyer persona for your business’s social media marketing content, take a look at our article about the topic. If you use your fictional person as a guide for creating your content, you are more likely to receive the attention you are seeking.

Growing Your Crop: Keeping Up Momentum On Your Social Media Marketing Content

While farming simulators are not known for their realism when it comes to the time needed to grow a crop, even the best crops aren’t harvestable after a single day. Part of the satisfaction many people get from farming simulators is the practice of tending to something over time and watching it grow.

Growing an audience using social media marketing is similar. Ninety-nine percent of the time, you will not gain thousands of followers on social media overnight. Even if your post goes viral and you gain overnight fame, your audience will dissipate just as quickly if it isn’t maintained. Like many things in life, social media is a marathon, not a sprint. We’ve got a few tips you can use to make sure your social media continues to sprout new growth.

Create Consistent Content For Your Social Media Marketing

In farming simulators, you cannot expect a plant to grow if you don’t water it every day. Similarly, consistency is one of the operative words when it comes to social media content for your business. When your business’s social media page posts regular, up-to-date content, it signals to your audience that your business is active and engaged.

Social Media Marketing Takes Time

Growth doesn’t happen overnight. To optimize your social media marketing efforts, be consistent with your content creation.

But there is a silent audience you need to keep in mind as well, one that can have a strong impact on the success of your business: the algorithm. Sprout Social points out that, “social media algorithms tend to reward accounts that post on a frequent basis rather than every now and then.” In other words, posting daily or multiple times a day on a regular schedule will result in more of your content being featured by algorithms.

Show Your Social Media Audience Some TLC

To keep your farm and your social media page healthy, you need to make sure to check back in from time to time. On social media, that means interacting with your audience.

For some people, the idea of interacting with a group of strangers can sound stressful, but the benefits of interacting with your audience are substantial. Three Girls Media Marketing & PR Specialist Daisia Conrad offered three ways social media can be used to grow a customer service relationship with your audience in a recent article.

  1. Fast and Easy Communication: Responding to customers quickly shows them that their satisfaction matters to your business. No one likes to be kept on hold. If you’ve ever called into a call center, you know how discarded you can feel when you’ve sat on hold for minutes only to have the call drop unexpectedly. Show your audience you care about their concerns by responding within 24 hours of their comments.
  2. Reputation Management: One or two weeds on your farm are a minor issue, but when they overtake your crops, they can become a pain to address. According to Three Girls Media CEO-President, Erika Taylor Montgomery, staying involved in the conversations happening around your business can help you “pick up on important social posts about your brand to highlight the positive and address the negative before it turns into a major issue.” When people consider working with a business, they will often see how that business responds to problems. When managing your business’s social media, make sure to approach all interactions with customer service in mind.
  3. Build Authentic Relationships: Ultimately, people come to social media to socialize. While responding to questions is a key component of social media management, one of your goals with social media should be to build a relationship with your audience members. People are less likely to buy from a blank slate. Your business is more than what it sells. It is made up of people. Show the human side of your company by interacting with your audience. This will help build customer loyalty and ensure that they keep coming back.

Diversify Your Social Media Marketing Content

In farming simulators, one of the most effective ways to gain money is to plant and harvest the most productive, highest yielding crops, but this approach is unsustainable in the long run. In games like Stardew Valley, harvesting a diversity of crops unlocks processes that are more efficient in the long run.

While it is not a direct parallel, your social media content will also benefit from being diversified. People come to social media on their free time. They come to view content that engages them, makes them laugh or gives them an opportunity to express themselves. If you continue to post the same kinds of content, you will begin to notice that your engagement and reach is lagging.

And because your audience comes to social media to have fun, remember that they have not come to read advertisements. Many businesses make the mistake of assuming that social media can be a platform for selling their business to customers. While converting your social media audience into customers might be one of your goals with social media marketing, remember that the goal is to entice and grow a relationship with your audience first.

To keep the social media content we create for our clients performing well, we use the 80/20 rule. That means that 80% of the content should be non-promotional and 20% can be promotional.

If you’re struggling to think of types of social media content to create for your business, here are a few options and their strengths:

  1. Questions Of The Day: These posts generate high engagement and interaction not only between your business and your prospective customers, but also between members of your social media audience. The more people respond to your questions, the more likely it becomes that other people will see your business’s posts.
  2. Polls: Similar to questions, polls give your audience members a way to interact with your business. They provide an intriguing visual component for people to see at a glance what other people have answered. Polls also have the benefit of having a low barrier of entry, since all that people have to do is click a button or respond with A, B or C.
  3. Who We Are Features: As we mentioned before, your business is more than a corporation. Even if you have a small business, it is made up of the people who put in the effort to make work happen. Featuring one of your teammates can humanize your business and help customers begin to form a deeper relationship with your company. Some forms that this sort of social media content can take are fun facts about teammates, questionnaires teammates have answered or advice from members of the team.
  4. Article Links Or News Updates: These posts tend to be lower impact and require less work on your part to create. As a business owner, you are probably integrated into news updates about your field already. If you find something interesting that relates to your business, share it with your audience. Doing so helps assert that you are aware of what is going on in your field, which helps build customer confidence in your brand.

Monitoring Your Crops: Track and Analyze Your Social Media Marketing Performance

As we mentioned before, social media marketing takes time. According to Metric Marketing, “You need to stick with a digital marketing strategy for about six to twelve months before you start to see meaningful results.” But those six to 12 months are still valuable for you and your business.

Monitor your social media marketing.

As your social media marketing continues, monitor what does and does not perform well with your audience.

As you create social media marketing content, see what performs best for your business. If you notice that a particular type of content performs well, consider including more of it. This process of analysis and readjustment can help you fine-tune your content to meet your audiences’ needs and hold their interest. Sometimes, this may lead to reevaluating your “buyer persona” or other assumptions you’ve made during the planning stage of your content creation process.

But not all changes can be so easily predicted. Just like how rain and storms can seem to arrive from nowhere, the internet can have “weather,” too. Sometimes what performed well one month might go out of fashion in the next. You may even notice that one particular type of content which used to perform well may suddenly be underperforming.

Here are a few types of “weather” to keep an eye out for as you monitor the social media content you’ve created:

  1. Hashtags: Hashtags are a helpful way for social media users to organize and search for content, but what people are interested in can change over time. Digital Beauty advises that hashtags should be reevaluated every 2-3 months.
  2. Developments In Your Field: This is especially true for areas like technology where new gadgets can dramatically shift the way people approach solutions to problems. Stay updated on the conversations in your field to track what you need to do to remain relevant in the conversation.
  3. Trending Topics: While it can be hard to predict what these will be from week to week, keep your senses tuned for what sort of conversations people are having on the internet. If they align with your business’s field, capitalize on them by posting about them on your social media page.

Need Help Plotting Out Your Business’s Social Media Marketing Strategy?

The Three Girls team of experts is ready to help your business grow. We offer a 30-minute no-obligation consultation with our CEO, Erika Taylor Montgomery. Contact us for a complimentary consultation today.

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