If you want to make it online, you must have realized by now that the rules of the marketing game have changed. Traditional marketing methods like newspapers, direct mail, television, billboards and the YellowPages was the only way you could tell people about your business and let’s face it: It was and is expensive!
Nowadays with smart phones, tablets and computers a whole new playing field exists for the savvy small business owner to use it to his/her advantage. Thanks to social search and mobile phones, social media marketing is now the new norm in effective marketing strategies.
The following questions are key in understanding how to create an effective social media marketing strategy.
You can also click on each question to get to that particular discussion quickly.
Why is Social Media Marketing the New Norm?
Why is a Social Media Marketing Plan Essential?
What Benefits can You Expect with Social Media Marketing?
How to Choose Apps and Social Networks
How can I Create a Social Media Strategy that Works?
Does Your Social Media Plan Needs Adjustments?
When is it Time for Social Network Advertising?
How to Keep Ahead in Social Media Platform Changes
“Social media is here. It’s not going away; not a passing fad. Be where your customers are: in social media.” Lori Ruff
Today’s culture demands quick responses and consumers can get quick responses by doing independent web research, or seek advice from peers on the different social networks. Online sales can be highly emotional and are primary driven by fear, due to online security issues. Word-of-mouth sales are in general the method that has high conversion rates and that is exactly what is achievable with social media marketing or then relationship marketing.
By embracing social media marketing, small businesses can use it effectively to boost credibility, and niche authority. In addition, they will also minimize consumer fear by building consumer trust on the various social media platforms.
Let’s look at Five Basic Steps you need to employ, to set your social media marketing efforts up for success.
Effective social media marketing needs a plan. Here you must think how you can create a plan that will ultimately result in an enjoyable habit. Think in terms of flexibility and responsiveness. The very core of social networking is flexible and responsive. Your plan should follow suit in a loosely flowing manner with a minimal fixed framework, otherwise it will be rigid, and you will quickly became bogged down.
Have you ever watched a deep-sea program where thousands of fish bodies swaying in an ever-changing format all synchronized in one dance? You want to achieve the same with your social media marketing and if you follow a rigid plan, you will ultimately loose the rhythm of social networking and find yourself outside the social networking sphere.
To reap astonishing results you need to understand the nature of social networking interaction. You need to pay attention to the other dancers in order to create a flexible plan over a simple framework.
- Boosting of visibility and name recognition
- Rise in “expert” status in your niche
- Ability to inspire word-of-mouth buzz
- Ability to boost social media marketing with social advertising
- Increased desirability and exposure as a pre-qualified JV partner
- Increased web presence to “super affiliates” you befriend
- Increase in perceived value and trustworthiness factor
- Regular, consistent posting helps create strong loyalty, as well as attract more pre-qualified fans and followers
- Increase your visual recognizability (through shared photos, videos, profile pic)
- Aids in branding your business entity
Analyze your niche audience, by comparing their modes of communication, language style, and tone to your own personality. Find out where your particular niche market hangs out. Depending on this research choose (in the beginning) not more than three social networks where you can converse with them on a daily basis. Once these three networks are established move on and cast your net wider.
I’m sure you have heard this a million times but we all have only 24 hours in a day. You need to decide what time will you allocate for social networking and stick with it. If you don’t you will soon find that your days evaporate and you have nothing concrete to show. Next, you will need to create mix of real-time posts and automated, pre-scheduled posts. Use the real-time posts during your audience’s hottest time of the day. Using the above knowledge to create your plan and tailor it for maximum effectiveness.
Once you’ve defined your target audience full of prospective consumers, (as well as niche authorities and peers whose “friendship” would only amplify your own authority and reputation) it’s time to figure out which apps and social networks will fit your strategy.
This list gives you an idea of the currently most popular social networking sites. Your job is to figure out which of these is the best fit for you!
- The “Big Five” social networks are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest. Don’t forget about Instagram, as their growth is currently phenomenal. I do not advise you to actively go out and create a presence on all of them. Choose the ones that your target audience uses the most.
- The bookmarking social networks are Digg (my favorite), Delicious, StumbleUpon, FriendFeed, Reddit, and any bookmarking network or service specific to your unique geographic or international location that your audience favorites the most.
Other services to make social sharing easier:
- Friend.me+ (new service that posts from your Google+ profile to other networks)
- Bit.ly (link shortening and tracking service)
The secret to effective social media marketing is to (a) invest in and select the best social networks to reach your target audience, (b) to achieve the desired results with the absolute minimum social networks.
“Everyone starts out with nobody listening to them and nobody to listen to. How and who you add determines what Twitter will become for you.” – Laura Fitton
So glad you ask! The following seven questions will put you in the right mind-frame to gauge exactly what is necessary for a social media strategy that works.
- Which Social Networks is the Most Highly Interactive Component of my Niche? Are most of your subscribers also friends with you on Facebook… but with the bare minimum engagement? Maybe you have thousands of Twitter followers but only a few hundred Facebook fans… but you only were @mentioned once a year?
- What is the best time to catch industry experts and influencers — and where? Are the experts and the potential customers on at the same time of day? If they are on at different times then you will need to split your social networking time. How much time will you need to service both sectors? Will it be more effective to schedule tips, links, and information at different times of the day?
- Where are you on the niche ladder? Are you mainly unknown? Do you already have you a core group of followers? Do you have to cast the net wider to attract more “friends” and fans unknown to you? Will it be best to focus on your core group of “friends” and cultivate them further? Which social network will deliver the best results?
- What assets or skills can you share, to enhance the lives of your target audience? Think emotions…. How can you entertain them? Brighten their day? Make them laugh? Touch their emotions? Educate them? (Though think of the latter more as “sharing.”)
- Do you share a balanced mix of facts, tips, humor, and links? Do you include a variety e.g. videos, images, quotes, links with custom images, plain text? Will you rotate your content in a structured way e.g. automated, scheduled post, or real-time? How do you plan to interact in the case of automated content?
- How will you incorporate paid advertising? What is your goal for paid advertising? Do you want more exposure, more sales, or more subscribers?
- Will you use special tools to track your results? Tracking and feedback are crucial to measure success. The time spend on educating yourself to interpret the statistics is time well spend and will ultimately lead to bigger understanding of your platform and the demographics of your target audience.
“You can never go wrong by investing in communities and the human beings within them.” Pam Moore
In order to fine-tuning your social networking plan, you need to track your social networks. Schedule time every week to check your stats and results of the past week. I discuss only four networks here but once you are familiar with the various sites you can certainly dig deeper into analytics of each one.
- Facebook Page Insights – A Facebook Business Page has the massive advantage that it provides you with unbelievable metrics. You can easily access it via the new Facebook Page Insight – the middle block just above your cover image.
- Twitter — track through your Bit.ly links or through Twittervision
- LinkedIn – to gain excess to their analytics you will need a pro account
- Google Analytics – According to Google the following four elements define your social impact:
- Network Referrals – how visitors from different social sources engage with your site
- Conversions – Measuring the conversion and monetary value of this traffic helps you to understand the impact of social on your business
- Landing Pages – Shows which pages and content are being shared
- Social Plugin – Show which content is shared and on which networks
It is very likely that the stats from Facebook and Twitter will mirror what is going on with your content on other social networking sites as well. Thus in fine-tuning these two you will probably find that other social networks are responding in similar areas:
- Look for content that generates engagement
- Evaluate the click-thru rate
- The correlation between new fans versus unsubscribes
- Geographic metrics – who are the people and countries that access your content
- Facebook insights can tell you if your content is inspiring or not by looking at the unsubscribes versus re-subscribes
- Mentions and @mentions (Facebook and Twitter)
It is important to know the stats but if you are interacting daily, you will develop a feel of what is working and what is not. Just by looking at the number of comments that spark engagement and discussion from other readers, you can pretty much gauge the popularity of your content. On the other hand, it is very difficult to figure out whether no engagement signifies indifference or disapproval.
Facebook Ads are a solid way to boost your social media marketing efforts. Once again, you need to decide what your goal is: more exposure, more people (likes) or more money (sales). The simple truth is your goal will guide you in choosing the correct keywords and images for the best results. It will also be a deciding factor in the advertising model CPM or PPC. If you want targeted traffic and sales, PPC is probably the best model.
Before starting your advertising campaign, research the current trends in the market. Interesting facts to take into account is that according to a Buddy Media report how you structure your ad is pivotal to a successful Facebook marketing campaign. Do your research and see how different keywords perform before crafting your ad. Specifics to take into account are that words like “buy” and “shop” has usually a “lower engagement” whereas “events” and “winning” show a higher engagement. Another factor to take into account is that the full URL usually gets higher engagement than a URL shortner.
Advertising on the right channels will definitely leads to greater visibility and give your social media marketing campaign a well-deserved boost.
If you are already busy in the social media arena, you will know that you need to keep on top of frequent changes. Just as feel you have conquered one social media platform with a perfect marketing strategy comes along changes and poke a stick in your well-oiled wheels and you need to start afresh. If you can relate, you know how frustrating this can be.
To stay ahead in the social media game it is crucial to follow top authority blogs in the social media niche. Subscribe to their RSS feeds and make it a habit to read them on a daily basis.
If you are a wise owl, then making Alltop.com your browser home page is right up your alley. First thing you’ll see when you open your browser is all the fresh social media news on the web and voila! You can pick the pieces that attract your attention.
The only way to stay on top of the social media game is by following authority blogs. That is your ticket to become a social media authority in your own right.
Social media marketing is effective and within reach of all new start-ups and small businesses. It is no more a question of should you or should you not – in this age of quantum technological advances you have no choice.
Paying attention to detail and creating consistent easy-to-maintain habits can bring spectacular results!
I leave you with this quote from Bonnie Sainsbury
“Social media will help you build up loyalty of your current customers to the point that they will willingly, and for free, tell others about you.”