Social media marketing has changed the way we do business, it's more engaging and less intrusive, or at least that's how it should be.
In my journey I've gone through a lot, maybe not as much as others but I've had my fair share of mistakes and disappointments. I'm here to let you know what I've learned.
This post is meant to help you understand social networking better and how to utilize social networking platforms for your business.
What Is Social Media Marketing?
Social media marketing is the process of gaining website traffic or attention through social networking sites.
Social media marketing can give several benefits, like an increased exposure, more traffic to your site, more loyal fans, increased leads, new business relationships, improved search engine rankings, more sales, reduced marketing costs, and better marketplace insight.
Any business that isn't using social media marketing strategies is missing out on all the benefits that those strategies can bring to the table.
Just think of how far they've come from being considered as novelty about ten years ago. Now, businesses and organizations simply cannot do without social media.
In fact, it is already considered a critical part of their marketing mix. Nowadays social media is essential for every business.
Social networking platforms allow you to reach millions and millions of targeted people in one single place. Not a bad thing, right?
How Are Search & Social Media Marketing Related?
As you may already know, I'm an SEO, but why would search marketers — or a site about search engines — care about social media? The two are very closely related.
Social media often feeds into the discovery of new content such as news stories, and “discovery” is a search activity. Social media can also help build links that in turn support into SEO efforts. Many people also perform searches at social media sites to find social media content. Social connections may also impact the relevancy of some search results, either within a social media network or at a ‘mainstream’ search engine.
The Meaning Behind Social Media Marketing
Before I continue, let me clarify something: I hate the term social media. There is no such a thing as social media, just the way people communicate.
Gary Vaynerchuk describes it as "the current language of the internet".
If you learn people's language and share outstanding content, you get their attention and you cut through the noise.
How To Create Great Content
Let's face it, we wish we could post the same content on all social networking platforms, — is it just me? — but we can't. Not if we want our content to resonate with people and drive engagement.
Engagement translates as more traffic, leads, and ultimately sales — who doesn't want more sales, right?.
There are a few rules of thumb to create outstanding content on social networks.
Rule #1 It Should Be Native To The Platform
Though the core functions of every platform may sometimes overlap, they are inherently different. Language, culture, and style change.
For example, some platforms support text heavy content like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+; others are better for visual content like Instagram and Snapchat. Some allow links, other don't.
This is something that should always be kept in mind because as Gary says, "putting the wrong kind of content on a platform will doom your marketing efforts."
The majority of marketers seem to forget that even though they are there to sell stuff, consumers are not. They are there to get some sort of value, and it can take many forms.
Sometimes it's in the form of entertainment, information, news, gossip, connecting with people, to feel important, among others. Social networking sites are like a drug, they make people produce dopamine also called the pleasure hormone.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain's reward and pleasure centers. Dopamine also helps regulate movement and emotional responses, and it enables us not only to see rewards but to take action to move toward them.
Similar to heroin, social networking gives us a surge of pleasurable sensation — a “rush.”
Your content must do the same and provide the same value and emotional reward people are seeking when they come to the platform. In other words, sharing native content.
But, what is native in the first place?
It really depends on the platform, for example, Tumblr is very artsy and supports the use of GIFs (short loops of video). A text post shared by a brand would be wasted there, but a funny picture or GIF would be great.
Here's a funny video by JelloApocalypse that captures the true essence of Tumblr.
Pinterest is a hub for beautiful pictures, stuff that inspires. Twitter is for people who love having conversations and the use of hashtags. Instagram is for glamorous people; selfies rule Instagram but the inspirational stuff works great as well.
In other words, you need to take the time to understand the platform before you go all in.
Native is speaking the way the platform demands it.
Rule #2 It Won't Interrupt You
I know you've most likely seen a video ad before actually watching the video you wanted to see on YouTube — it pisses me off every time. What do you do?
If you are anything like me: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Skip.
Nobody likes to be interrupted, yet so many people still do it. Great content goes in line with the stream. It doesn't interfere with your entertainment, it becomes it.
Rule #3 Usually Don't Make Demands
Gary shares this advice from Leo Burnett on his book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook for making great content:
- Make it simple.
- Make it memorable.
- Make it inviting to look at.
- Make it fun to read.
And the last one from Gary, make it for your customers or your audience, not for yourself.
Be generous, informative, funny and inspiring; we love all these characteristics and even more importantly, be yourself.
Rule #4 Make Micro-content
The original meaning of microcontent is by usability adviser Jakob Nielsen, who in a 1998 article referred to Micro-content as short content, like headlines, which need to be immediately clear and inviting to a reader, and which still make sense when removed from their original context. For instance, on a search engine result page, the article headline may be displayed with only a short snippet but not the full article.
"Micro-content should be an ultra-short abstract of its associated macro-content," Nielsen said. He discourages traditional newspaper headline techniques, such as puns, teasers, and other types of wordplay, which are more effective when the full story is already visible. He views the first word or two of each headline as extremely important to readers scanning a page.
Rule #5 Be Consistent
Every single interaction you have online will help you confirm you brand's identity; it may be a post, tweet, comment or a share.
You should learn how to use as many platforms as possible and communicate in their own language, it will help you tell your story in different and meaningful ways but your identity should remain constant.
What I mean to say is the format may be different but your personality and story should always remain the same.
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What Are The Best Social Networking Platforms Today?
Back in May, Social Media Examiner had its eight annual social media marketing industry report where more than 5,000 marketers reveal where they focus their social media efforts.
This industry report also shows you which social tactics are most effective and how content plays a role in social media marketing.
But for the sake of simplicity, I'll only mention where marketers are focusing their attention the most.
Despite already being the platform with the largest adoption among marketers, Facebook (67%) emerges as the one for which the largest share will increase their efforts, says the report.
That’s probably a reflection of its status as the most important platform overall, with B2C marketers (70%) being more likely than their B2B counterparts (61%) to see increased Facebook efforts in the near future.
Beyond Facebook, 63% of respondents plan to increase their use of YouTube, with Twitter (61%) and LinkedIn (61%) close behind in terms of planned increases. Twitter has taken a step back this year (perhaps due to low engagement rates?), after being the top platform last year for planned increases.
Meanwhile, not surprisingly, B2B marketers are more likely to be upping their LinkedIn efforts than B2C marketers (76% and 52%, respectively).
What I find really interesting is the fact that TrackMaven reports in an analysis of interaction rates for 51 million pieces of content on four major social networks.
Instagram has taken the biggest tumble in the first half of the year, with interactions per post per 1,000 followers plummeting by 26%.
But twitter increasing by 1% — perhaps its latest "in-app tips" have helped.
Growing Your Business Via Social Media Marketing
You can develop your business using social media, but it all starts with being active on social networks that matter and never let customers forget about you.
One way to continue reminding them that you are around is to make some noise on your social pages.
I see so many people making the huge mistake of treating social media as a broadcasting platform (spamming their affiliate links, content links, etc.) when in reality is so much more.
Social media marketing is all about building relationships with your audience and let people know who you are, what you do and what you believe in, in order to broaden your horizons and attract more potential customers, fans and maybe even business partners.
As a business owner, you should at least have a basic working knowledge of what social media marketing is all about.
You should know how to connect with people, especially your target market through social networking sites. Create excellent content that moves people to act and to create relationships.
There are a few steps that you need to follow if you want to use social media to help your business grow.
Develop A Strategic Plan
Social media marketing must be executed with a strategy that includes your goal and the measures of success.
The best plan is to develop social media engagement (this will help you grow organically over time).
It should include how frequently you are going to produce content, what the voice of the business will be and what response you expect to get from the people.
It is not about hard selling, but about forging relationships.
Do not overdo your sales pitch.
Instead, try to gain your audience’s trust.
Stir The Interest Of Your Potential Customers
Monitor and update your social media accounts regularly, do not to neglect the queries, comments and even complaints of your potential customers or existing ones (the capacity to successfully monitor social media differentiates a great business from a crappy one, customer support is key).
Timely responses are necessary to lower the chances of ruining customer relationships. It would be even better to attract your customers’ attention using visuals, such as beautiful or funny photos, which are often easy to share.
Also, hone your timing in joining conversations. If your audience is having a conversation in social media, most of the time, chiming in the conversation will immediately end it, after all, you are the expert.
You can also look for the latest object of your customers’ affection by searching for #hashtags, Facebook posts, or tweets.
Build A Social Media Community For Great Projects
Social media marketing can be used for the long run. You can maximize its potential if you get help from a social media community, such as Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, who shares the same interests as you do.
You can convince friends and their friends and colleagues to join that community, but as it grows, rules must be established (if people don't abide by your rules, just let them go, keeping them will almost always hurt your business instead of benefiting it).
Blog, Blog, Blog
Blogging is a proven effective tool in social media marketing. Your blog serves as your home base with your Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites serving as feeders that bring traffic to your blog. Every new blog brings new sales and traffic opportunities. The typical consumer behavior is to read about 10 blogs before making a buying decision.
I hope you take all this information and realize how to properly use social media marketing for you and your business.
Social media marketing isn't hard, but it takes time and consistency
Did you find this article useful/helpful? Would you kindly help me share it? 🙂
Now, if you don't mind I'd love to ask you a few questions.
- Are you using social media for your business?
- If you are: How? & Are you struggling with it? (I know I did when I first started)
Let me know in the comment section below 🙂