With hundreds of millions of people online using social media, social media sites have quickly become a convenient resource for reaching out to potential customers quicker and easier than ever before. While there is potential for great return from social media interactions, social media marketing strategies require planning and proper execution in order to be effective. While the basic concepts remain the same whether you are reaching out to a crowd through social media or through more traditional means, there are certain practices that are especially crucial to having success marketing your business through social media.
- Have a Goal. Before creating a plan of attack for your social media marketing campaign, it is important to identify clear objectives you hope to accomplish through your online presence. Is it to improve visibility for your company or brand, are you trying to improve search engine optimization for your website, or are you looking to add a new channel from which to interact with customers, members, or prospective customers? When selecting goals, remember that social media marketing can go further than simply making money, but it can be especially powerful in developing customer relationships and keeping the brand at the top of consumer minds. Keep in mind that as your company's online presence grow and you gain experience interacting with customers and members on social media platforms your goals may grow and change, so it is important to regularly revisit the goal-setting process.
- Portray a Consistent Image. Before entering the ring of social media, ask yourself what your company's image will be online. Whether you decide to use a more serious or casual voice when posting and interacting with customers, consistency is key. Whichever style you settle on, remember to sound human! Social media members are looking to interact with people, not robotic institutions. Using a conversational tone will help customers get to know, like, and trust you, and these connections are what make social media so powerful.
- Be Where the Customers Are. In order to get the most out of your social media efforts, focus your energy at the social media platforms your customers or target audience already use. One way to get this information is simply by asking. Customers generally want to interact with companies, because it improves their product experience, so they will generally be happy to answer a short poll about their social media use, which can go out easily through email. Using existing email lists is a great way to find whether your customers use certain social media sites. Using the email search functions on Facebook and Twitter you can see how many of your existing member or customers are using these sites, to help you better prioritize your efforts.
- Tell Customers and Members Where You Are. Just because you have a presence on social media alongside so many consumers does not necessarily mean they know to look for you. One of the most crucial practices in social media marketing is placing links to your company's Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. pages in employee email signatures and on the company website. This will draw loyal customers to your pages, and their sharing of your content will be a valuable source of growth.
- Don't Just Join, Add Value. When joining in on conversations on social networks or blogs, avoid just jumping into the middle of the discussion to deliver a sales pitch. It would go a lot farther to add the knowledge and expertise you have to offer. Even if they do not directly promote traffic to your page, posts, comments, and tweets with relevant tips, notes on advances in research, or new trends in the field will help bolster your company's image and reputation. These types of posts indirectly drive traffic to your page as users may visit for quality information; using your site as a resource will lead them to your product. One easy way to get started with this is when retweeting on Twitter or sharing links on Facebook, add your own original comments instead of simply reposting the information. This provides another opportunity for customers to hear your voice, as well as shows them your original knowledge in the topic area.
- Be Engaging. When posting information through social media, remember to engage your audience. Using a conversational tone, ask your members what they think about a particular topic. This turns your page into a large discussion board, rather than just a place for formal communication. Listening and responding to what is said on your page fosters further participation in the discussion, so be sure to read everything and reply within a day or two. One tip for sparking discussion is to relate your product or area of service to a noteworthy national event, and pose a question around it to encourage discussion on your page.
- Be Active. Lastly, in order to make these strategies as effective as possible it is key to post frequently. On LinkedIn, one post per day is a good place to start, and one to two posts per day on Facebook is appropriate. Tweeting as often as once an hour is appropriate. When tweeting links, feel free to tweet them more than once in a given day because it is easy to miss individual tweets in the fast-moving stream of information.
Frank Brogie is the Product Marketing Manager at Repsly. When he’s not thinking about how to position and sell Repsly’s products, Frank loves to explore Boston by bike and hunt for vintage cars through a camera lens. On weekends you can count on Frank to organize a pickup basketball game or play disc golf. An avid podcast listener, Frank recommends Philosophize This, 99% Invisible, and Radiolab.