Nailing your online marketing campaign is one of the best ways to put your business on the path to success. Yet, with so many avenues to choose from, where should you focus your efforts, and how do you ensure that you are reaching the right people?
For many businesses, whether they are brand new start-ups or larger firms seeking to establish an online presence, social media marketing is an important part of their marketing strategy. After all, the audience is already in place, well-connected, and ready to be engaged.
However, a poor social media presence can sometimes be worse than none at all. If your business has few followers, negative interactions, or stale content, it could be enough to deter a potential customer.
Rock Your Social Media Marketing
It is vital to hone your social media skills and make sure you are getting the most out of your marketing. Here’s how.
1. Choose Your Platforms Wisely
While it may be tempting to create a presence on every social media platform available, this is not always the best idea. By overstretching, you will offer a lower quality service across the board, with no guarantee that you’ll reach more people.
It is far more efficient and cost-effective to identify those platforms on which your target audience is most active. Tools such as Twitter Analytics and Google Keyword Planner are particularly useful for determining how and when people search for things related to your industry and on which platform.
By focusing your social media marketing on a select few channels, you will be able to give more time to your audience and create more valuable engagements with them. This is a great way to build trust, and show that your business is active, interested, and up-to-speed with modern media.
2. Plan Ahead
Every great marketing campaign begins with a plan. Not only do you need to know whom your product or service is aimed at, but also the specific message you want to deliver. Careful planning not only enables you to prioritize more effectively but also enables you to identify potential obstacles before you encounter them.
This can save you time, money, and reputation in the long run, as you will be able to take all factors into consideration when determining your schedule, budget, and short-term goals. You will also be able to develop an effective contingency plan, so if things beyond your control go awry, the rest of your hard work need not go to waste.
3. Advocate Employee Advocacy
Online consumers no longer want to deal solely with faceless enterprises. They are curious about the people behind the brand and they want to know their stories. This is where employee advocacy can be a particularly winning strategy.
Buyers are more inclined to trust recommendations from people rather than companies. Furthermore, when employees are seen talking positively and genuinely about the organization that employs them, it gives the impression that the business is fair, and enjoyable to work for.
Encourage your staff to share your brand’s content, give honest feedback about your products and services, and to give insights into the day-to-day happenings behind the scenes. This doesn’t mean giving away trade secrets, of course. But if a team member shares a snapshot of the new coffee machine or the view from their office on a sunny day, it adds to the humanity of your brand’s image, while also allowing your staff to be creative in their promotion of the business.
Take some time to set ground rules regarding what should and should not be shared, and keep track of which types of engagement have the most success. Over time this can even help to inform future marketing decisions, as you will have collected a valuable pool of data about a wide range of interactions.
4. Listen, Learn, and Evolve
At the heart of social media marketing lies the relationship between your brand and its audience. As such, your marketing campaign, along with your business itself, will need to grow and change in accordance with the needs of your customers.
Listen to feedback, and consider inviting followers to send in questions, or even participate in a live Q&A. If a popular suggestion is simply not viable for your business, don’t simply brush it aside and ignore it. Address the topic and explain your reasoning. You don’t need to go into great detail; your customers will appreciate your transparency even if they disagree with your reasoning.
You can’t please everyone, but the role of social media marketing is to enable your audience to feel that they are not only engaging with your brand but also helping to shape its future. This sense of agency is incredibly powerful when it comes to building trust and causing individuals to feel invested in your brand.
5. Embrace Automation
Of course, one of the things that make social media so appealing is the direct interaction between your customers and your business. However, no matter how great your team might be, they can’t be everywhere all the time. Yet if someone feels they have been ignored or neglected by social media, they will not only form a negative opinion of your business, they are also likely to be quite vocal about it.
Make sure your social media accounts state when someone will be available to respond, and consider setting up an automated reply for direct messages, informing the user of when they can expect a full response. This is especially helpful if you are using an automated content delivery system, which could cause followers to believe someone is active on the account when they are not.
Effective use of automation frees you and your team up to focus on creating more valuable engagements, starting conversations with your audience and fostering positive dialogue across your social media profiles.
6. Make It Amazing
This might sound elementary, but really this should be the foundation of your marketing strategy. Once you’re done your keyword research, pinned down your target demographic, and come up with the message at the heart of your campaign, you have all the tools you need to embark on a truly powerful marketing endeavor.
However, the toughest part of marketing can often be ensuring that your message is actually seen. By targeting existing customers, incentivizing sharing, and making sure your social media presence is mobile and interactive, you can greatly increase your brand’s visibility.
Many platforms also provide an option to boost your content’s visibility for a fee. For example, Facebook advertising and sponsored posts allow you to reach people beyond your existing network. Moreover, the algorithms that determine when to show a particular ad or piece of content are extremely sophisticated. This means these additional views should come from individuals who are likely to be interested in what you have to offer.
Bear in mind that these ads may be a buyer’s first point of contact with your brand, so it is important to make it count.
There is no one-size-fits-all strategy for social media marketing. After all, its strength lies in its versatility as a means of truly expressing your brand’s personality. By engaging productively with its audience, your brand is able to develop a unique voice and identity, which your customers will come to recognize.
To remain relevant, your brand will need to keep up with the times. However, once you have established its identity, and gotten your team on board, this will soon feel intuitive. The early days are the hardest, but with perseverance, diligence, and enthusiasm for your cause, you will soon develop the following your brand deserves. It is simply onwards and upwards from there.
This is a guest post by Victoria Greene, a writer and e-commerce entrepreneur. When she’s not traveling back and forth between the USA and the UK, she’s geeking out on any new social media news she can get her hands on. She loves sharing her marketing experience with other entrepreneurs and gets a real kick out of helping people improve their businesses.