August 27th, 2015
The importance of social media marketing (SMM) is something you will probably already be aware of if you have spent any time reading up on digital marketing and its numerous benefits. However, a great number of novice marketers approach SMM in the wrong way, often thinking of it as a platform for directly driving sales in the same way that traditional marketing does. In reality, SMM, like search engine and content marketing, works quite differently, and rather than trying to drive sales, it is all about building up brand recognition, authority and consumer engagement. The following tips will provide you with a better insight into how a successful SMM campaign works:
1 - Define Your Goals and Develop a Plan
Developing an SMM plan is something you should do before you even go about setting up social media profiles for your business. It is important to define your goals right from the outset and determine why you want to use social media as a marketing platform. There are a number of different goals which you might be interested in:
- Driving quality traffic and more of it to your website.
- Communicate with other professionals and get involved in communities.
- Increase brand authority and recognition by raising awareness.
- Conducting market research through consumer insights.
In fact, businesses should ideally incorporate all of the four above goals into their SMM campaigns and base their strategies upon these.
2 - Choose Suitable Networks
Although Facebook now has well over 1.2 billion active user accounts and counting, there is a lot more to social media than this one website. There are also many other social networks, a lot of which cater to more specific audiences, and there are others which are primarily concerned with certain types of content such as videos or images. While the largest social networks, including Facebook, Twitter and Google+ can be useful in almost any industry, there are also others which provide you with a more suitable way to represent your work and your brand. Following are some possibilities in addition to the Big Three:
- YouTube is the number one website for publishing and sharing video content and commenting on and rating said videos. YouTube is a great platform for educating and entertaining your intended audience.
- Pinterest is a great choice for more visually orientated businesses, such as those in the travel, entertainment or fashion industries. It's also the number one site for publishing infographics.
- LinkedIn is the world's most popular social networking site for establishing professional connections, making it the go-to resource for business-to-business (B2B) marketing and personnel recruitment.
There are also plenty of niche- and location-focused social networks. With regards to location, Facebook isn't even the dominant social network in a number of countries. For example, if you wanted to reach out to a Russian- and CIS-based audience, VKontakte, often dubbed the 'Russian Facebook' would be your first choice.
3 - Gather Followers through Engaging Content
To achieve your SMM goals, you'll need to gather as many followers as you can. Social media is far more than just a tool for driving people directly from the social networks to your website. Use it as a platform to showcase your expertise and deliver value to your followers. Remember that quality always wins over quantity as well - you must provide content in the form of posts and updates which are interesting, entertaining or useful enough that people actually want to subscribe to your social media profiles.
The more followers you have, the greater your social media presence will be, and this in turn will help you to reach your goals. On the other hand, attempting to use social media platforms for directly driving sales will just make people unsubscribe, and you'll likely hurt your brand's image in the process. Always think before you post, and make sure that it is something that your intended audience actually wants to read. Every post should leave a good impression on your followers.
4 - Commit Yourself to the Longer Term
Building a community takes time, as does maintaining it in the longer term, and for this reason, any social media strategy should be ongoing. Too many novice marketers make the mistake of setting up their social media profiles only to abandon them a short amount of time afterwards. SMM is a significant commitment and one which has to last for the duration of your business. Once you have established your profiles, it is essential to provide updates and posts regularly and even more so to spend time on a daily or almost daily basis connecting with your followers by answering their questions and getting involved in their conversations.
You cannot simply leave your SMM campaign to work for itself. Results take time to start appearing, and there is no such thing as a quick fix, although many inexperienced marketers have tried to take shortcuts only to find that their entire advertising strategies end up backfiring on them. Unless you have a larger business and a whole team dedicated to your online marketing efforts, you don't necessarily need to post and engage constantly throughout the day, but you will need to set aside a small amount of time every day to your SMM campaign.
5 - Segment Your Social Media Marketing Campaign
Although every area of your social marketing campaign should work together, it is important to approach each one in a different way - social marketing with LinkedIn requires a somewhat different approach than marketing with Facebook, for example. What you absolutely must avoid is automating your social media posting in such a way that you have the same posts appearing on every network you use. This repetition will immediately make you look disengaged from your target audience. Nobody wants to follow a 'robot' - social marketing is all about giving your brand a human face. You'll need to approach each social network differently due to the fact that they serve different niches and demographics.
Getting the right tone and manner of communication might seem like a major task, but it is crucial to success. While people and businesses alike generally prefer a more personal and informal approach on Facebook or Twitter, a professional approach is far more suitable with LinkedIn. Other social networks, such as Google+, allow traditional bricks-and-mortar businesses to provide a more local presence as well, particularly with regards to local search results. Create real and meaningful connections by personalizing your approach based on the social network, your industry, your brand's image and your audience.