Social Media Marketing

Social media is an effective tool for generating traffic and promoting your business.  Most B2C social media marketers use Facebook, while their B2B opposite numbers use LinkedIn.

In every local club and society, one of the leading figures is often a supplier of things that club members buy for their hobby.  Whether it is a model railway society or an astronomy club, the local business person (say, a shop owner) will welcome new members and nurture the enthusiasm of all the members, probably through a genuine enthusiasm for the subject.  As a trusted member of the club, this figure will never talk about his shop at the club’s meetings, but when the time comes for a member to spend some money on a new telescope, particular model locomotive or whatever, then all members know who to talk to about a purchase.

Social media is similar – you rarely mention your business, but you consistently engage with other social media users building mutual trust and your authority on the subject.  When they are ready to buy, they are more likely to come to you and in time, you may build a loyal following.  Always remember that people have come to social media for fun, whether that means watching videos or talking to their friends, and not to buy !

A good principle of social media marketing is to start slowly – it allows people to get used to you being around and you to see what works and whose opinion counts in this network.  While you’re watching, make sure your profile is interesting and accurate and has a flattering photograph.  Make sure your page has headers and background images.  Learn how to use all the features of the social media network you’re using.  Learn the terms and conditions too.  Make a plan.

Social Media Campaign Planning

It’s a good idea to decide what you want to achieve whether you measure it in terms of followers, leads or sales.  Concentrate on building relationships and the sales will follow if you have the right audience for your product or service.

You need to define who your users are and decide which network is for you.  Facebook works well for B2C, while Linkedin is better for B2B.  Google+ has many exciting features and is not being widely used for marketing – history shows that people are easier to market to when marketing is less common and Google + has some interesting features that other networks don’t have (eg Hangouts, Circles, integration with YouTube and a wonderful effect on your search engine rankings)

Check out where your audience hangs out by matching your audience demographics with the user base of the site (check out audience demographics on quantcast.com or alexa.com)

Think about how often you can post and where you will find content and if you have a team around you, whether one of them might be a natural social media marketer.  In the early days, assume that you will be sharing other people’s content, commenting and endorsing more than “transmitting” (normal party rules!)

Find the experts /influencers to follow and on the larger networks, find the right groups to join.

Content Planning

Your content needs to be a mixture of

  • Thought leadership
  • Tips and tricks
  • Fun
  • Announcements  (new employee, new customer, new product)
  • Conversation Pieces
  • Round-ups  (stuff worth reading that you’ve seen over the past week)
  • What your industry and chosen audience are talking about currently
  • Your brand story

Topical and relevant are also good – if the Olympics are running, blend that in, if a film has just come out, ride the wave of interest and if there is a relevant date (eg 300th anniversary of the invention of the sewing machine), make a bit of fuss about that (the Internet is fill of lists of upcoming dates like that).

Types of content

Text posts are easy to produce.  You don’t need any extra equipment or to assemble a team, but readers don’t have to read It and unless you have a good headline are likely to skim over it.

Image posts are the most shared- they are eye catching and can be instantly ‘digested’.  However, you need to be careful of copyright constraints – creative commons doesn’t always to commercial use of images.

Infographic posts– a special case of images, where data is presented in visual form making it easy to understand.  These often go viral and if they do so can permanently boost your traffic

Video posts – Videos are popular and engaging, but unless he watches them, your visitor won’t become engaged.  To make videos you need kit and editing software and you need to get organised – this is why there is still less competition in the video part of the World Wide Web and it is still possible to drive a video’s search engine ranking to page one of the search engine results quite quickly

Podcasting – Audio posts appeal to those who like to listen.  A podcast can be downloaded to your smart phone and listened to in traffic or in those spare moments in the day perhaps in the dentist’s waiting room or the post office queue.  Again, you need kit and editing software, but most of it is free.

Interactive Content

Interactive content drives engagement and makes your content more likely to be ranked by search engines and posted on followers’ timelines by Facebook as well as encouraging other followers to join in.  Make it relevant to your business to engage your target audience

  • Contests – a couple of simple questions
  • Polls – is black better than red ?  (vote yes or No)
  • Surveys – slightly more demanding of followers
  • Brackets – imagine that you wanted to rank 16 cricket players, you could do it on a knockout basis comparing two players at once – the ones with the most votes go through to the next round and then you pair them up again and vote again.
  • Galleries – show a number of eye-catching images and followers will probably ‘Like’ them

However often you choose to publish, stick to it and then your followers will know what to expect.

Finding your Audience

  • Having chosen your social network site, find your target customers.  Search the site using relevant search terms and have a look at the results that you find.  There may be large Groups that someone else has already assembled – join those groups and get involved.
  • Search for relevant published content, see who liked it and see which groups they belong to and join those too
  • Search for your customers by name and look at their interests as well.  Does that suggest any likely Groups ?
  • Use Facebook’s demographic filtering (within the advertising section) to find those of the right demographics who have stated an Interest in your chosen area.
  • “Borrow” a Twitter List
  • Let your audience find you by using hashtags on things that you publish.  Use hashtag directories
  • Create a Google+ Circle, invite a few members and then ask them to recommend others
  • Monitor social media networks for certain relevant terms and engage with those who publish about them

Engaging your Audience

It is important that the audience finds the content, so it needs to be syndicated (published on several channels) and promoted and then promoted again.

Nurture your tribe.  Respond to their comments, answer their questions and feed the conversation.

Converting your audience

I think it is best to convert your audience on your own website – there are restrictions on selling on some social networks and it also can muddy the social water if you’re seen to be transacting on social media.  So….

  • Build your email list
  • Set up your sales funnel (via email and your own website)
  • Always have a Call to Action
  • Link to your own website often
  • Be easy to find
  • Follow up any interest (outside the social network) with purpose (and more than once)

How we can help?

Social Media Planning – help with choosing your social media network, choosing content types, finding relevant sharable (even viral) content, defining your audience,

Finding your Audience – searching for relevant Groups, Authorities and Users, automatic monitoring of search terms to identify more possible audience members

Content planning – What kind of content does your audience want ?  How will you product it, when will it published ?

Engaging your Audience – Promotion and Syndication can (and should) be automated.  Comments management, Automatic posting of scheduled content

Converting your audience – building your autoresponder sequence, designing and setting up your conversion funnel,

Analytics for the whole thing – measuring what is going on to see what works and doesn’t work, tuning your social media activity to what the target audience wants

If you need help with your social media marketing, SMEsOnline is ready to help; just call +44 (0)7855 406652 or use the contact form

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