Today, nearly every successful business, online or not, relies heavily on social media. The Internet has become one of the main drivers of activity and sales.
If you are not active on social media, you are likely missing out on opportunities that your competitors are taking advantage of. Maybe you haven’t jumped in yet because you feel it is daunting and difficult. After all, how are you going to come up with new posts every single day?
Not to worry. Social media is not as scary as it seems. This guide will show you how simple it can be to get started on social media marketing and use it to grow your company.
What is social media marketing?
There are lots of acronyms in the online marketing world, but this guide is concerned with one: SMM or social media marketing. The concept of social media marketing is simply to use social media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.) to increase your business and brand awareness.
The whole idea is no different than traditional sales and marketing techniques. The technique is just applied to a new medium. As publishing has changed, so have marketing methods, but the goal remains the same. The goal of social media marketing is to find your potential customers and build a relationship with them so they will want to do business with you.
The problems many companies have when getting started with social media are found in the details. Social media can seem like a foreign land, especially to those who do not use it on a personal level. You may have questions like:
- Where do I find my audience?
- What do I talk about?
- How do I produce all this content?
Just like the days when companies would take out ads in magazines and newspapers, social media is all about publishing to the right platform. With the right message, at the right time. Let’s get started and build a social media strategy for you.
Building an effective social media strategy
Finding your audience
The number one, most important thing to do is to go and find where your audience is. How do you do this?
You need to be where your target audience is. First of course, you must know who your target audience is. Assuming you have done the marketing research and come up with two or three personas, you then want to figure out where they are.
Watch what your competitors are doing
One way is to check out your competitors. Find out which social media sites they are actively participating in and do some reading. Read and understand how customers are reacting with them and adopt what works for your company. This is a perfectly acceptable form of stalking!
Survey your own customers
Another simple way to find out where your target audience is to simply ask them. Send an email with a link to a quick survey asking your customers where they would prefer to engage with you. Or, use an unobtrusive pop-up on your website with one or two survey questions about their use of social media.
While it may be tempting to start with one platform, a multi-channel social media strategy will help ensure you are reaching the widest possible audience. After all, no one uses just one! In addition, as you will see later, there are economies of scale when repurposing content for social media channels.
Communicate with your audience
Once you have determined where your audience is you will want to start a conversation. The key word here is conversation. The goal of social media marketing is the same as any sales approach: to create a relationship. This process must be a two-way street.
If the conversation is one-sided, meaning you are posting lots of information and ideas with few response or comments to them, you are not truly engaging with your audience.
This may mean that when it comes time to purchase the type of product or service you sell, you may not be top of mind. Even worse, if they are truly engaged with a competitor, they will go straight to them.
One of the keys to effective communication is listening. This is no different for social media marketing.
It’s important to listen to what customers or potential customers are asking for, talking about, or even complaining about. Then, you should insert yourself into the conversation.
Your business should appear to be the expert, the problem solver, and by talking about the same things your customers are talking about, they will come to see you this way.
Don’t make the mistake of using social media just for marketing. Sure, announce big events or successes or news, but don’t make all of your content about you. Be sure the content is customer-centric, helping them do better and learn from you.
Coordinate your approach
Once you have identified your audience and the handful of sites that they are active on, it’s time to get down to content. This can often be the most daunting aspect of social media marketing.
Create a social media marketing plan
Start with your overall plan. The plan should clearly set out what you are going to do and the goals for your content.
Decide what you are going to talk about
Here is the meat of your efforts. Spend some time on social media and learn about the hot topics and issues that your customers and competitors are talking about.
Make a list of at least five topics that you can contribute to. Or, as mentioned previously, survey your current customers and find their pain points so that you can begin to address them using social media.
Pay attention to how customers and competitors are talking. Be alert for your own areas of expertise and topics you feel you can become the go-to expert for.
Create a content calendar
Once you know who your audience is, where they are, and you have a few topics that you know you can easily contribute to, it’s time to create a content calendar.
The social media content calendar is just a way for you to see what and when you will post and a tool to hold you to it. If you have a marketing department, they should be creating the calendar. A social media marketing calendar is no different than an editorial calendar or other marketing plan.
You decide when you want to talk about topics and where.
Repurpose content whenever you can
One of the benefits of being active on several social media sites, is the ability to repurpose content. This takes away the burden of having to write fresh new content every single time you post.
Repurposing helps your content creation efforts reach further than you might imagine. Some examples of repurposing are:
- Create a blog post and then create a tweet with relevant tags that links directly to the post. This may help to increase web traffic to the post.
- Compile many posts into one and create an ebook. You can then offer the ebook as a free download in exchange for an email address. You can promote your free website offering on all of your social media channels.
- Create an infographic and turn it into a goldmine. You can post sections of the graphic for short and quick posts. You can create a series of blog posts about the information in the graphic, perhaps doing a deeper dive into the data and link to the posts via social media.
Repurposing content not only helps you to reach new audiences on various sites, but it can also help you to make the most of your content creation efforts by resurrecting some older content.
If content is still relevant, just a little older, bring it back again. If the topic matters and the piece still has something to offer, say so and post it again!
If you haven’t started already, it’s time to start growing your brand, your image, and your business using social media marketing. There are no shortcuts when it comes to social media marketing. To be successful you must put in the time and the effort, and you must have patience.
If you follow the steps outlined in this guide, and you are consistent, there is no doubt that you will be reaching more customers and potential leads.
Additional Read: How to generate leads from LinkedIn strategically
There are no hard rules for how long it should take. It all depends on your industry and the state of your market.
Some of the more established markets on social media, such as retail, will take longer to build up effective social media followings and audience relationships.
Other industries, such as manufacturing and distributing, have been slower to jump on the social media marketing wave, and you may be able to be one of the first to have a real presence in front of customers on social media.
As with any strategy, a social media strategy will only be successful when it has defined goals and steps. Know your audience, consider that you are building a relationship with them and stick to your plan, and you will have success building your brand and your company through social media marketing.