Social media and marketing are two terms that are increasingly viewed as one and the same. In truth, while there is a certain segment of the user community that maintains their social media profiles purely for social reasons, an increasing majority of users also see social media as useful advertising tool. If you are in the latter category, you can use these tips to craft a simple and effective social media marketing strategy for your business. Best of all, you will pay nothing (or next to nothing) for creating a very effective advertising strategy!
Tip #1: Choose Your Social Media Platforms With Care
Social media giants like Facebook and Twitter regularly cull and deactivate accounts that have not been used within a period of time. This is done to keep their content relevant and fresh and also to keep their use statistics accurate. In the same way, you should choose which social media platforms you engage with carefully. Your business will not be helped – and may be harmed – by keeping a social media account open that you do not actually use.
If you have limited time to spend on social media, choose just one or a few platforms to engage with. Facebook and Twitter still command the largest user databases, but Instagram, Pinterest and other image-oriented platforms are rapidly gaining ground. The key is to choose the very best social media platforms for your products and services.
Tip #2: Seek to Create a Lively Online Community
Rather than viewing your followers and fans as wallets, you will have greater success in social media marketing when viewing them as your community. Interacting with them on a personal as well as professional level (where appropriate) can do more to increase brand awareness and loyalty than any number of special offers and discounts – although those are very helpful too!
Here, the more you can do to make your content humorous, memorable, relevant and timely, the more success you will have in building an online audience that sticks to you like glue. Also, do your best to promote your fans’ content as well – retweeting, re-posting, liking and connecting with them about what matters to them most.
Tip #3: Share Happy Customer Stories
You can use your social media platforms to share customer testimonials. Many customers would be just delighted to see their face and name and a short quote online! You could provide a form on your website and regular reminders over email and on your social media platforms for how to submit a testimonial that might get featured.
Tip #4: Use the Inexpensive and Effective Social Media Advertising Options
Google Adwords, Facebook ads and other inexpensive, highly targeted advertising programs are tailor-made for even those with the most limited advertising and marketing budgets. So long as you know who you are trying to reach and where they are (in terms of location as well as which social media platforms they prefer) you can use these programs to your benefit. You can target very specifically to demographics including age, gender, area of the country, interests, status and more.
Tip #5: Connect with Other Influencers on Your Chosen Social Media Platforms
If you notice that such-and-so has a huge following, this indicates a person of influence within your social media sphere. Not only can you friend or fan these folks, but you can actively seek them out and begin to build a relationship with them. One great way to bring yourself to their attention is to continually re-post or re-tweet their content.
Another great way to build a relationship is to extend an offer to cross-promote – you promote their brand to your audience and they promote your brand to their audience. You may also want to host a Google Hangout or Twitter Chat together to bring your audiences together and expand your reach jointly. The more you befriend other industry influencers the faster your own audience grows.
Tip #6: Steer Clear of Self-Promotion
This definitely seems counter-intuitive at first – after all, isn’t promotion the whole reason you are spending all this time on social media in the first place? Yes and no. You do want to be able to promote what you have to offer, but you want to do it in such a way that your community online doesn’t quite realize they have been promoted to until they are already purchasing what you offer.
In all of this, it is vital to understand that you are your own best representative for your brand. Social media marketing is all about relationships. It is not about products and services. People buy from people, not companies, so your community will be buying from you, not from your company or your brand. The more people get to know you and what you stand for, the more they learn about your company and what it stands for as well.
Tip #7: Position Yourself as a Reliable Source for Breaking News
Sharing current content, trending content, newsworthy content, will mark you as a vital news source as well as a place to buy products or services. This will keep your community tuned in to your social media profiles for other reasons than just because they need a product or service your company offers.
Did NASA discover another planet? Post about that! Did you just donate to help disaster relief victims? Retweet the donation link. Did your cute dog (or any cute dog) just win a noteworthy competition? For sure share that! Keep on top of the current news and events feeds and you may soon find you are being shared and re-posted and re-tweeted as well, with the effect of improving your brand awareness by default.
Armed with these seven simple tips, you can take your company’s social media presence from bland and boring to vibrant and engaging, increasing customer loyalty, sales and brand awareness without doing anything more than just being yourself!
- 22 Ways to Increase Social Media Sharing – Infographic
- 10 Social Media Strategy Ideas – by Rebekah Radice (Thanks Rebekah for the inspiration for this post)