Using social media for marketing can enable a small business to further their reach to more customers. Your customers are interacting with brands through social media, therefore, having a strong social media marketing plan and presence on the web is the key to tap into their interest. If implemented correctly, marketing with social media can bring remarkable success to your business.
However, “the goal of social media marketing isn’t to be good at social media; the goal is to be good at business because of social media.”
What is Social Media Marketing?
Social media marketing, or SMM, is marketing using various social media networks in order to achieve marketing communication and branding goals. Social media marketing primarily covers activities involving social sharing of content, videos, and images for marketing purposes, as well as paid social media advertising.
Social Media Marketing Starts With a Plan
Create a social media marketing plan and brainstorm about your goals:
- What are you hoping to achieve through social media marketing?
- Who is your target audience?
- Where would your target audience hang out and how would they use social media?
- What message do you want to send to your audience with social media marketing?
Social Media Marketing: What Are Your Goals?
Social media marketing can help with these goals in many ways such as:
- Increasing website traffic
- Building conversions
- Raising brand awareness
- Creating a brand identity and positive brand association
- Improving communication and interaction with key audiences
Marketing with Social Media
Here are some social media marketing tips to keep you on the right track across all your social media campaigns.
- Planning – Keyword research and brainstorm content ideas that will interest your target audience.
- Content is King — Consistent with other areas of online marketing, content reigns king when it comes to social media marketing. Let your customers wear the crown, provide valuable information that your ideal customers will find interesting. Create a variety of content by implementing social media images, videos, and infographics in addition to classic text-based content.
- Consistent Brand Image — Using social media for marketing enables your business to project your brand image across a variety of different social media platforms. While each platform has its own unique environment and voice, your business’ core identity should stay consistent.
- Blog — Blogging is a great social media marketing tool that lets you share a wide array of information and content with readers. Your company blog can also serve as your social media marketing blog, in which you blog about your recent social media efforts, contests, and events.
- Links — While using social media for marketing relies primarily on your business sharing its own unique, original content to gain followers, fans, and devotees, it’s also great to link to outside articles as well. Linking to outside sources improves trust and reliability, and you may even get some links in return.
- Track Competitors — It’s always important to keep an eye on competitors—they can provide valuable data for keyword research, where to get industry-related links and other social media marketing insight. If your competitors are using a certain social media marketing technique that seems to be working for them, do the same thing, but do it better!
- Measure Success with Analytics —You can’t determine the success of your social media marketing strategies without tracking data. Google Analytics can be used as a great social media marketing tool that will help you measure your triumphant social media marketing techniques, as well as determine which strategies are better off abandoned. Attach tracking tags to your social media marketing campaigns so that you can properly monitor them.
Know Your Social Media Platforms
Various social media marketing sites will require different techniques, so develop a unique strategy tailored for each platform.
Facebook’s casual, friendly environment requires an active social media marketing strategy that begins with creating a Facebook Business Fan Page. You will want to pay careful attention to layout, as the visual component is a key aspect of the Facebook experience. Social media marketing for business pages revolves around furthering your conversation with audiences by posting industry-related articles, images, videos, etc.
Facebook is a place people go to relax and chat with friends, so keep your tone light and friendly.
Google+ is the new Facebook competitor, and it promotes the same fun, casual atmosphere. On Google+, you can upload and share photos, videos, links, and view all your +1s. Also take advantage of Google+ circles, which allows you to segment your followers into smaller groups, enabling you to share information with some followers while barring others. For example, you might try creating a “super-fan” circle, and share special discounts and exclusive offers only with that group.
You can also try hosting video conferences with Hangouts and experiment using the Hangout feature in some fun, creative ways. Some social media marketing ideas: if you’re a salon, host a how-to session on how to braid your hair. If you own a local bookstore, try offering author video chats. If you’re feeling adventurous, invite your +1s to your Google+ Community. Google+ Communities will allow you to listen to your fan’s feedback and input, truly putting the social back into social media.
Pinterest’s image based platform is ideal for retail, but anyone can benefit from using Pinterest for social media purposes. Pinterest allows small businesses to showcase their own product offerings while also developing their own brand’s personality with some unique pinboards.
Twitter is the social media marketing tool that lets you broadcast your updates across the web. Follow tweeters in your industry or related fields, and you should gain a steady stream of followers in return.
Mix up your official-related tweets about specials, discounts, and news updates with some fun and quirky tweets interspersed. Be sure to retweet when a customer has something nice to say about you, and don’t forget to answer people’s questions when possible. Using Twitter as a social media marketing tool revolves around dialog and communication, so be sure to interact as much as possible
LinkedIn is one of the more professional social media marketing sites. LinkedIn Groups is a great venue for entering into a professional dialog with people in similar industries and provides a place to share content with like-minded individuals.
Encourage customers or clients to give your business a recommendation on your LinkedIn profile. Recommendations make your business appear more credible and reliable for new customers. Also, browse the Questions section of LinkedIn; providing answers help you get established and earns trust.
YouTube is the number one place for creating video content, with can be an incredibly powerful social media marketing tool. Many businesses try to create video content with the aim of having their video “go viral,” but in reality, those chances are pretty slim. Instead, focus on creating useful, instructive “how-to” videos. These how-to videos also have the added benefit of ranking on the video search results of Google, so don’t underestimate the power of video content!
Location-Based Social Media Tools
Social media platforms like Yelp, Swarm, FourSquare, and Level Up are great for brick and mortar businesses looking to implement marketing social media. Register on these sites to claim your location spot, and then consider extra incentives such as check-in rewards or special discounts. Remember, these visitors will have their phones in hand so they will have access to providing reviews which could hurt or significantly aid your users.
Reddit, or similar social media platforms such as Stumble Upon or Digg, are ideal for sharing compelling content. With over 2 billion page views a month, Reddit has incredible social media marketing potential, but marketers should be warned that only truly unique, interesting content will be welcomed. Posting on Reddit is playing with fire—submit spammy or overly sales-focused content and your business could get berated by this extremely tech-savvy community.
If you have content you believe the Reddit community (majority is young, geeky, liberal, and internet-obsessed) would enjoy, you could reap tremendous benefits and earn valuable traffic.
Using social media in marketing does more than improving site traffic and help businesses reach more customers; it provides a valuable venue for better understanding and learning from your target audiences. Social media is important because your brand doesn’t really exist online if you’re not represented across most if not all social media channels – plus it’s fun!