Billions of world-wise users.
Pre-teens through retirees.
Reviews, connections, promotions.
Social media is not a hobby or sideshow.
It may even be the number one form of communication in the world.
Presidents use it.
Companies use it.
Are you using it to its full advantage?
The phrase “social media” creates a diverse range of responses. Some feel at home and thrilled – they love social media for the connections and opportunities to share and feel like part of a larger group. Others shake their head in worry that social media is destroying “real” relationships. And still others smile and rub their hands together thinking of the profits that can be made through effective social media marketing.
What is Social Media Marketing?
The simplest definition of social media marketing is to use the various forms of social media to bring attention to your company or product and profit. But those just entering this game may wonder how “likes” and “followers” translates into the hard currency.
The truth is a bit more complicated than simply making a page and posting some adorable cat videos. That’s the stuff for amateur, casual users. Social media marketers know that social media is a deep well of opportunity to connect with a huge, targeted market, but that converting sales is truly only done best through careful planning and development.
Content is Key to Social Media
If you think of social media as a recipe, you’ll need a few critical ingredients.
First you’ll need a platform, or oven, to fully develop your finished product. “Preheat” your oven by making an account and letting it age a bit as you figure out the more critical ingredients.
Next, choose a voice or persona that speaks to your audience and allows you to become one of your target market. Social media isn’t about preaching to a captive audience. It’s about making connections. Nobody wants to hang out or follow a pompous blowhard.
Then, choose the content that does double duty. Your content should speak to your audience while also bringing them closer to what you do and what you’re selling. This isn’t a chance to blast them with ads. It’s a more subtle connection. Give them what they like and they’ll like you.
Finally, follow your social marketing strategy as closely as you would recipe. Just like in baking, you’ll need to carefully combine ingredients and then wait. But unlike cooking things for hours in the oven, in the world of social media you won’t need to wait long.
In fact, some of the most dynamic changes can happen overnight. Here’s how:
1. Make a plan
A failure to plan often leads to a failure in business. If you don’t have a good marketing plan, you’ll be looking at a disorganized, expensive experiment with no defined variables. In short, a mess.
2. Show your softer side
— Britney Spears (@britneyspears) May 20, 2016
Social media is about being social. That means your customers want you and your marketing team to show a bit of personality. This doesn’t mean baring your soul, but a bit of personalization and authentic voice go a long way to helping your customers relate to what you’re saying.
3. Remember it’s about them
From the company perspective, your social media efforts are about the bottom line – conversions. For those conversions, however, your audience on social media must think it’s about them. So give them what they want.
4. Showcase social media on your website
One of the easiest things you can do to grow your business through social media is simply showing your social media connections on your website. If you give site visitors clearly visible links, they can follow them. Easy.
5. Link your profile back to your website
Every social media website and account requires a profile. This is your chance to connect the social media accounts back to your website. Be sure that every social media profile includes a link. If not you’re missing an obvious opportunity.
6. Share with everyone
Unlike PPC, social media doesn’t cost anything to share. So share with everyone. Post your message to relevant groups and ask others to continue to share your message, perhaps in exchange for a freebie or promotion.
7. Cross brand your social media accounts
— David Leonhardt (@amabaie) April 9, 2016
If you have a Twitter and a Facebook, are the two connected? They should be! This is true for every social media account you have. When everything is connected correctly, you should have a web of accounts all hard at work for you.
8. Use audio
While some like to read, others like to listen. Audio in videos and podcasts can be very powerful in social media, especially if you have something interesting or new to say.
9. Make short videos
— Ryan Biddulph (@RyanBiddulph) October 13, 2015
Vines and other short videos can create a lot of impact in a short amount of time. Short videos can be entertaining, educational or instructional and they don’t tie up a lot of time for viewers, so they are very popular as well.
10. Include reviews
Reviews are one of the driving forces of the internet. Including reviews of your own, especially honest and unbiased reviews, will give customers more of what they want.
11. React to the posts of others
It’s a big connected world out there, and you’re now a part of it. Link to others, retweet, share and join conversations. Being connected with readers and others in the industry can be powerful.
12. Encourage engagement
— Gary Vaynerchuk (@garyvee) June 11, 2016
Your accounts shouldn’t be a one-way show. It’s not just about you telling other people things. Ask them to tell you things in return. Be engaged with your readers and encourage them to be engaged in return.
13. Start conversations
Engagement can be as simple as retweeting or sharing content. To really maximize the social aspects of your accounts, start conversations. Post links to articles or share insight and then encourage readers to respond, much like you would on a blog post.
14. Always think about adding images
Everyone likes to look at the pictures, especially if the images are necessary to understand the post. Always look for new, interesting – relevant – images to share over social media.
15. Make your blog mobile friendly
An increasing percentage of readers are checking social media on their phones and tablets, not their desktop computers. Be sure that you’ve made your blog and website, especially those linked to social media accounts, mobile friendly.
16. Rework your old content.
If you’ve been in business for a while you have a ton of content. Old blog posts, ebook chapters, graphics. Why not refresh and reuse some of those? Do a quick revamp and post your old content online as new material.
17. Encourage community responses
Your readers and followers might be individuals, but hopefully there are other community members out there keeping an eye on you. Encourage a bigger response by engaging a full community or large audience. Who knows? You might shake up the industry.
18. Ask for feedback
It’s highly unlikely that you’ll be perfect from the start. Ask your professional network for feedback and ask your followers as well. This isn’t just feedback on your posts, but feedback on your account, style and offers as well.
19. Offer helpful new tools
Introduce new tools through your social media accounts along with your website. Or use your social media accounts to showcase helpful tools you’ve found that others may benefit from as well.
20. Utilize infographics
Infographics are the perfect blend of image and content. They post as a single picture, but they can share as much information as a fully developed white paper. See how infographics can work for you in social media and include them when you can.
21. Don’t forget about Slideshare
Slideshare is a digital presentation website built on a social media platform. That means you can use slideshares to create tutorials or overviews and then share them with the world. And naturally promote them through all of your other social media platforms as well.
22. Become a customer
Become your own secret shopper by following your own social media accounts. (You may have to create a separate personal account to do this.) By following your own accounts you can get the true customer experience and improve from your inside feedback.
23. Benchmark the competition
Be sure that you’re following your competition’s social media platforms. They are probably going to follow you, and that’s okay. Keeping an eye on each other is pretty standard in the online community and may even boost your connections in the industry.
24. Watch your youngest users
The digital natives, those who have always had internet at their fingertips, are your best indicators of trends and marketers. Keep an eye on these younger users to see where you need to head next and stay on top of business.
25. Keep adapting
Like everything in business, you will constantly need to adapt and change to stay abreast of the industry and stay current. Keep adapting to what customers know they want and try to find things they don’t even know they want…yet.
26. Produce new content
Don’t take the lazy way out and just retweet and share what others have done before you. Be the innovator and create new content and materials. Images, infographics, videos and text – all are powerful in social media.
27. Add value to the lives of your followers
We all like to be entertained, and fun materials can be valuable. Instructional materials, statistics and new, innovative ideas are also all ways to impart value into the lives and minds of your followers. Customers like value and keep coming back.
28. Keyword optimization
Your social media can benefit from a bit of SEO. Don’t forget to optimize your keywords when appropriate in your social media posts. Social media posts routinely wind up in search results – especially videos.
29. Utilize the power of hashtags
Hashtags in social media connect your post to a greater trend. And that means others who may not have found your accounts before may find you when you all follow a particular trend or account. Use hashtags to be part of a group or make up your own hashtags to start your own.
30. Add social media to emails
Think of the sheer volume of emails you send on a daily basis. Now think of how blank the bottom of those emails are if you aren’t including links to your social media accounts. What an easy way to encourage new followers – just make the social media accounts part of your signature.
31. Branch out into other medias
While Facebook and Twitter dominate the social media conversations for business, there are plenty of other social media options out there to consider. Try Pinterest. Or even Snapchat. So many options to choose from!
32. Keep social media close
While it can be tempting to outsource all of that social media updating to others, don’t. Or don’t outsource much. Social media should be your voice, your words. Not to mention having someone else destroy your company through a poorly chosen post would be pretty traumatic.
33. Have a plan for complaints
If you’re interacting with customers through social media, you can expect to find customers with complaints. It’s to be expected, and you should have a plan in place for addressing this concerns or negative posts in a way that satisfies the complainer without hurting your reputation.
34. Research other options
Stay on top of more than just what the competition is doing. There are always new forms of media and social media platforms being introduced. You should always stay current and dig into lesser known options to see where you can become an innovator or pioneer.
35. Use social customer service
Since you’re expecting complaints, why not take the bull by the horns and simply use social media as a form of customer service? You won’t just deal with complaints, but questions, concerns and how-tos as well – publically where you can build trust with others.
36. Make your own visuals
How many times have you seen stock images or recycled screenshots? Don’t be boring, make your own images by taking updated screenshots or creating new digital images or even – gasp – take pictures to use on your accounts.
37. Encourage content sharing
You’re posting content. Ask followers to post content. This can be a contest or perhaps a simple call for submissions. Just be honest in dealing with entries – don’t steal someone’s work without credit or prizes.
38. Ask followers to interact
Keep asking followers for new advice or comments. Don’t just ask once and expect it to continue. You need to keep cleverly asking for shares, follows and likes.
39. Participate in conversations
Look for conversations that have already started in social media and join in. Share your own perspective and perhaps a meaningful link or two for research or support. Gain trust and gain followers. Just don’t gain enemies – avoid the hot button issues unless you’re ready for the fire.
40. Research social ad options
Many social media platforms allow ads of certain types. Not all are beneficial for all companies, however. Do your due diligence and see what’s out there and what might be useful for your company and target audience.
41. Try Snapchat
Facebook and Twitter may be big for business, but the kids are on Snapchat. Why aren’t you? Of course, it might be tricky to figure out the best way to use Snapchat for your business, but it’s a healthy challenge.
42. Don’t be afraid of Instagram
Instagram is another option that may not scream out “promoting my business!” But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a great idea for… promoting your business! Images and videos have to come from somewhere. Why shouldn’t they come from you?
43. Rework your social media strategy
How’s that social media strategy working for you after a week? A month? A year? Keep it fresh and lively and never be afraid to revamp and rework it to keep your plans effective and on target.
44. Don’t stop.
Finally, don’t stop. Too often social media accounts go dormant or get neglected in light of other aspects of your business. If you stop using your social media account, you’re certainly going to suffer – you’ll have no presence left to help you out!
Social media marketing is a daunting task that can easily consume a great deal of time and effort, especially if you’re trying to stay in control of your own accounts. Your best strategy is to make a plan, make your plan fit in the time you have available and then update your accounts regularly with necessary adaptations for best results!