TABLE OF CONTENT
Social media is an effective way for any business to connect with customers and build a brand. It is among the most used, most influential and yet least understood forms of digital technology. This is because there are some incorrect assumptions about the world of social marketing. Your social media strategy really comes down to what your goals are, and who your target customers are.
These days, having a social media account for your business is a 'must have.' Gone are the days when an organization could tell people what they want and need through media advertising (radio, billboards, television, newspaper, etc.). Your customers are now more educated and savvy than ever before. Chances are by the time they have picked up the phone to buy a product, inquire about a service or make an appointment, they already know a great deal about you.
IMPORTANCE OF SOCIAL MEDIA IN BUSINESS
Social marketing is now an essential part of any online marketing strategy among businesses because of its cost-effectiveness, ability to reach targeted audience quickly and generate more sales/leads.
According to Mediabistro, 73% of small businesses are using social media these days. This obviously unveils the growing importance of social media among businesses. If you really want to reach customers and stay competitive, you really need to be using social media for your business. Here are some of the reasons why social marketing is so important for businesses.
Tapping the vast audience of the social web is a low-cost way to catapult a business brand onto the global arena. Brand awareness is the first step in almost every iteration of a sales funnel. Companies understand this - which is why they invest a lot of money in marketing for the sole purpose of introducing, and re-introducing customers to their brand. By constantly updating your prospects on all the brand and social happenings, they subconsciously start to view your company as an authority.
Exposure is defined as the extent your message penetrate your audience which means the more the exposure, the more your brand awareness among your audience. Lacking social profiles on platforms such as Tumblr, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+, Reddit, Stumbleupon, etc. would be a strategic miss for businesses looking to reach greater exposure in their market place.
NEW CUSTOMERS AND REVENUE
Social media allows you to increase your customer base. It is bigger than ever and you are guaranteed to reach thousands, if not millions of potential customers with only a few well-placed posts. Also, it is cheaper to run a social media promotion than it is to invest in offline media.
You have an opportunity to grow your customer base by simply creating and maintaining your social platform. You can also retain existing customers by offering customer service help through the social channel. This increases direct customer interaction and boosts credibility.
THE NEW SEO IN 2014
Although social media was not around when SEO first developed into an industry, it is now pervasive across all our culture and industries. Also, it provides a means to increase reach, distribution, and shareability. This provides search engines and readers alike with new metrics by which to measure quality - making it the fastest-rising search engine ranking factor in 2014.
In fact, experts have predicted that social media will become the third pillar of SEO in 2014. See the New SEO in 2014 by Krasi Dimov. Businesses that fail to implement it in their marketing campaign may be left in the dust by their competitors that do.
COMMUNICATE YOUR BRAND EFFECTIVELY THROUGH SOCIAL MEDIA
Promoting a brand effectively requires a talent for self-promotion and a certain generosity of spirit and strategic planning and self-control. While you can and should share your experience and the value of your business, products and services, it is important that you balance your self-promotion by promoting and helping others.
Let us face it, maintaining a public social media account is about self-promotion. But it is important to resist the temptation. This is because users in social media do not want to see self-promotion. Most of them 'liked' you because they would like to receive news and updates, discounts and offers in general, something they can BENEFIT from.
MAKE YOUR BRAND SOCIAL
Make your social media channel a vibrant and lively community by conveying the right message to socially engage customers. Show people that your brand is very close to them to satisfy every need by following the tips below.
Provoke Engagement - Always avoid one-way communication. Your Brand needs to be social through effective communication. If you really want to keep your audience interested, include interactivity on a continuous basis by filling your feed with a mix of different content. For example: surveys, contests, questions, etc. will increase social engagement.
Add Personality - People join social media to follow people and not brands. Add a personal touch to your social channel as your brand/business will look more authentic to your audience. Don't pretend to be someone else.
Build Trust and Credibility - Your posts should build credibility and trust. Show your audience that you are an expert in your field by leading the conversation. Also ask for feedback in order to spark conversation. You are the expert and they follow you because you are an expert.
Support Charities People Care About - A social platform is a perfect channel to support a very good cause. This is because brands are significant cultural influencers. Without focusing too much on your own brand, show support for what customers actually care about.
Understand Your Audience - You could waste valuable time and money if you don't understand your audiences. This is very important because you can't afford to waste the content you generate on audiences who are not the right match.
Make your content more valuable to your audience by paying attention to the type of content that enhance their life and satisfy their needs at any time. Also engage them with trendy news, offers and topics of the day.
Don't Disrespect Fans - Don't be disrespectful to those who are not well disposed towards your company. To nag at these people, will only put other fans off and make yourself look unprofessional. Also, don't use social media platform as an excuse to brag excessively and clog your fan's feeds with spammy, self-indulgent updates. This is disrespectful and will only make you lose your fans. It is worst if this is the only type of content you ever post.
Tell Them What You What Them to Do - Ask people to like, share and post your content. If you don't ask, they won't do it. You can incentivize them to take action, otherwise they may not. Since most social networks are viral marketing channels, asking them to share, like and post your content will increase visibility as well as brand awareness.
PROFIT FROM FACEBOOK
SELL WITHOUT ACTUALLY SELLING
Effective communication is one of the ways to sell without actually selling. Discuss topics that your audience really care about. Share stories, inform people about your products and services but focus more on how you can improve their life. Provide value - whether that means knowledge, a discount or a smile. Once you gain the trust of your customers and fans, they won't let you down when you have a product promotion. A great example is the post by OREO about the first flight around the world and their post during the power outage at the Super Bowl.
TARGET YOUR FACEBOOK ADS
When promoting your brand through social marketing on Facebook, it is important to target the right audience by narrowing your reach. You can choose the gender, location, age, relationship, likes and interests, workplace and education of your target audience. Facebook makes it easy for you to target your ad to people who are already connected to you.
You want to use your ads to promote your fan page by directing customers to your Facebook page from your ad. Don't forget to include a call to action in your ad too. If you want them to like your fanpage, include it in the ad.
Also, use your ads to increase "likes," "shares," and "comments". Remember that only about 1 to 6% of your fans engage with your brand, so the number of fans is definitely important. However, always resist the temptation of buying list of fans. Think about it - all these people don't have anything to do with your brand. They don't add anything to your marketing campaign. They are dead souls and are useless when it comes to increasing activity on your brand page. Why then should you pay for such?
LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES
Learn from your mistakes by finding out what actually interests your readers or audience. The fact that you feel people will be interested in your content does not mean they will be interested in it. Learn about how your fans are responding to posts. What are people engaging with more? What times are you seeing the most activity? Once you understand these things, you can plan your social media updates properly so your business can get the most out of every post.
COMMON FACEBOOK POST MISTAKES
A Facebook post can be bad for a number of reasons. According to Ian Cleary, the Founder of Razor Social - "The major mistake people often make is putting too much attention on fan count. Though it is not hard to increase the number of your fans, building an engaging community is more difficult. Therefore stay focused on building an engaging community." Other common Facebook mistakes include:
TOO MUCH TEXT
According to news released on January 21st by Chris Turitzin, Product Manager, News Feed Ranking on Facebook, "people generally don't like to interact with text statuses from pages as much as text statuses from friends."
See Facebook decided to decrease the importance of text status updates for companies.
Images help your users to identify you. Your audience should be able to identify your brand without even seeing your brand name in their field. However, the kind of content to post depends on who your audience is and what they actually want to see. According to a research carried by Elisabeth Diana, Facebook's Communications Manager, "posts between 100 - 250 characters (1 or 2 line of text) tend to get 60% more shares, comments, and likes than those that are more than 250 characters."
You want to keep the text short and interesting so that your users can take action. While Timeline changed/transformed Facebook into a more image-based platform, it's important to make your content interesting. Remember, too much of everything is bad. Therefore having a nice blend of texts, images and other elements will keep your users more engaged.
NOT USING LINK-SHARE
According to Chris, "the best way to share a link after this update will be to use a link-share." This is because "compared to sharing links by embedding in status updates, these posts get more engagement (more likes, comments, shares and clicks) and they provide a more visual and compelling experience for people seeing them in their feeds," says Chris.
Please note that sharing links to your blog posts and nothing else over and over again makes you appear self-centered. And while it is true you want people to find and read your content, you still need to maintain the "social" part of social marketing through effective communication.
Focus on effective communication by creating engaging content that begs to be shared and tempts people to link to your website or blog. However, you still need to monitor your page so that it doesn't get filled with links from Facebook spammers inviting your fans to click to win a free laptop or anything that looks like spam.
MORE THAN ONE CALL-TO-ACTION
Make it easy for your customers to take the required action without scrolling through a long block of text. You want to focus on one call to action so that your audience knows exactly what you want them to do next.
Don't leave readers confused about what they are supposed to do next. Studies have shown that giving people too many choices makes them anxious and confused. When you have too many calls to action on your post, your customers become paralyzed by the choices and may even leave your page.
This often leads to inaction - your audience is so put off by the daunting task of taking too many actions that they choose to take none at all. Therefore you want to include only one call-to-action at a time.
NOT RESPONDING TO NEGATIVE COMMENTS
Whatever you do, remember that no matter how fantastic your brand is, mistakes happen, customers get upset and complain. When you see any negative comment on your page, it is human nature to argue, delete, or ignore. That is why it is important to take a step back, take a deep breath, and try not to take it personally.
You need to ask yourself if there's any truth to the complaint because, if there is, then it needs to be addressed. Don't delete negative comments as this will only aggravate the person commenting or move the conversation elsewhere. Do block users who abuse the site, and remove comments that are inappropriate (i.e., derogatory, pornographic, racist, etc.), ones that are just trying to use your page to sell a product or service or ones that are too far off-topic.
It is not uncommon that an offended customer is trying to get an emotional response or reaction from their post. If the comment is an effort to pick a fight or clearly an attack, let it go. But if you feel it's something that needs to be addressed, then address it quickly. Words travel swiftly on social networks, so you need to respond quickly, especially during a crisis. You need to respond within hours if not minutes but definitely not days. A slow response might destroy a company's reputation.
USING OLD MARKETING TECHNIQUES
If you think in social media, you can use standard techniques, make traditional flyers or advertise the same way as Google AdWords or TV ads; you may want to think again. It is a whole different platform and you need to tweak things a bit in order to maximize profit from it.
You need to learn how to combine "social" and "marketing" so you don't offend your audience. For example, you cannot necessarily use social networking to sell, but you can talk about issues related to your products and services that will subtly help your sales effort. Also, you can pose yourself as an expert and use it to gather feedback about your products and services.
We are all learning in Social media. Every day is a new lesson learned, a new best practice established. And many of these lessons come by way of mistakes. You need to forget about your ego, always say thank you even if you do not agree with a particular comment or post. You may express your opinion but don't lay open to attack. This will make your fans feel appreciated and will motivate them to express their opinion next time.