Using social media today is no longer just being smart or tech savvy; it is imperative. Platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram are increasingly providing businesses with opportunities to engage directly with their audiences.
But to jump into social media marketing thinking that it’s only about a hundred likes and numerous comments is foolhardy. Getting more value out of marketing on social media involves a lot of strategizing and tactics.
Here are a few tips to help you speed up the process and maximize the outcome.
1. Create your profile early
Start building an online presence early. Establish a social image much ahead of your launch day. Use your profile to share information about your industry, and to update your audience about your progress. Make your profile a one-stop information resource for your audience.
Use your profile to ask your followers about their reviews of your products or offerings, start a debate or encourage a discussion to find out user opinions, hold contests, share tips and best practices, or post a teaser of your upcoming blog / video.
Connect with everyone and establish a relationship even before your product is launched. Use your profile to add true value for your audience. Use it as an opportunity to sell yourself. Remember that people have short attention spans, so always be direct and precise.
2. Build relationships with key influencers
Start building relationships before you ‘need’ them. Start connecting with journalists and bloggers who write about your industry. Read their posts, comment on them or simply share them on your page. Connecting and establishing a relationship with industry influencers and experts will help you tremendously in the future. It will be easier to reach out to them when you actually need them and it will be easier for them to recognize you, be more receptive towards you.
Once a rapport has been established, the relationship can prove to be mutually beneficial wherein the influencer can return your favor by retweeting your content, linking back to your website on his blogs, participate in your events as a guest or a key speaker, or pitch in as a guest writer for your blog.
These practices will lead to an increased number of followers, which will, in turn, boost your search rankings and propel your online position so that you eventually become an influencer yourself. Collaborate with influencers to build credibility. Use the recommendations of influencers to improve the reputation of your brand.
3. Identify your audience
To maximize the impact of social media marketing, it is important to first identify and learn who your target audience is. It is imperative to know who is talking about what and what they are interested in. Start listening to your target audience to realize what they want and where you can find your target market on social media platforms. Study these platforms and when possible, start your specific advertisement on those platforms. This will also help you figure out which social platform is the best match for you to reach your target audience. Figuring out where you can find your target audience can take time and requires you to search for people who are talking about subjects that matter to you.
There are several listening tools, such as FollowerWonk and SpiderQube, that can help you listen to your audience better.
4. Participate in the conversation
Participate in the ongoing conversations that relate to your interests or your business. Join Twitter or Facebook discussions, start chatting on Google Hangouts. You can also start your own forum and encourage people to join in and contribute their opinions on various matters. This will not only help you make alliances and learn about your audiences but will also help you raise awareness.
Although Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram are the most popular – not to mention receptive – other platforms could also be utilized by altering your content accordingly.
For example, although Tumblr isn’t exactly a platform where business would be entertained, IBM does an excellent job on it by adapting its content that taps into its audience’s likes.
Understand the community well and be active on it. This will keep the chances of your succeeding quite high. All you need to do is remember the thumb rule that whatever you share on social platforms should always have a 90:10 ratio. 90% of your content should include sharing other people’s content, updating people, spreading awareness and creating a connection with your audience. Only 10% of your content should be promotional.
Though this is not a hard and fast rule, but let’s just face it – people are not going to come too often if all you do is talk about yourself on the platforms all the time. Keep your audience interested by listening to their interests so that when you actually have something to promote, they will be more receptive.
5. Nothing in life comes for free
Social media marketing, like everything else, takes time and effort to yield results. You can handle social media marketing on your own, but if you have insufficient time, you will need funds to hire someone to manage it for you. Either way, it is going to involve some sort of cost. People who believe, or are made to believe, that social media marketing is completely free, face a lot of disservice.
6. Focus on what is important to you
Posting randomly on every topic on every known social media platform is not going to help much until you realize what it is that you are trying to accomplish and who and where your target audience is. Take some time to build a basic strategy and then focus on your audience and the platform they identify most with.
For example, Instagram and Facebook might be your allies if your target audience comprise youngsters. But if you are targeting an older and business professional crowd, then LinkedIn or Google+ might be what you need.
Explore your niche specialities and aspire to be an influencer in those fields. Find your own way to then reach out to people to explain and state your own ideas and thoughts in your own words rather than just restating what others have said.
To sum it up, FOCUS! Focus on your audience. Focus on the social media platform you want to use. Focus on what you want to say, to whom and when. Focus on what you wish to accomplish and then stick to it to achieve the result you want.
7. Use topics that are trending to your advantage
It can be a real bother to keep coming up with new and fresh topics to talk about. It would be much easier and time saving to just use what is already going on and trending around you. It is an effective and easy way to connect your content with something that already has people interested.
The trick here is to tie your own content to the trending topic while staying transparent, relevant and keeping it interesting. Trending topics can be easily found on Facebook, Buzzfeed, Twitter, Reddit and other social networking sites.
8. Leverage the use of videos and pictures
Gone are the days of static updates. Today, multimedia content is what fills the social media landscape. It is much more appealing and impactful to SHOW your ideas to your audience rather than just telling them about those ideas.
The ways you can turn your content into interesting videos are many. You can put up ‘how to’ videos, behind the scenes sequences, parodies, funny images juxtaposed with content, short infomercials and so on.
Not every video and picture is going to be a viral success, but if targeted towards the correct audience, every video will give you much more impact than static content.
However, it is important to think of creative and interesting ways of creating content that will directly catch your viewer’s attention and fancy.
Things like product demos, behind the scenes glimpses, how to videos, etc add value to something that your viewers might find attractive and intriguing.
9. Ramp up reviews and feedback
Encourage your audience / customers to leave you a feedback on and / or reviews of your products or services. Feedback not only helps you keep a check on your services, but also boosts your social media visibility.
Your customers will be more forthcoming in helping you out with their feedback if you offer incentives of various kinds, simple or otherwise. The idea is to lure them into leaving you a feedback. Incentives like discounts, a special prize, or a chance to win a huge prize often serve as great motivators.
Think of a few offers for the whole year way ahead and see which one works the best for you for the future. Use them and update them often to leverage maximum benefit out of each one of them.
10. The right time means everything
Knowing what to post and where to post will not have much effect unless you know WHEN is the best time to post it. Although there might not be an exact ‘best time to post,’ a data analytics firm called SumAll established that the best time(s) to obtain optimum results on various platforms are:
• 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. EST for Google
• 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. for Twitter
• 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. for Facebook
• 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. for Tumblr
• 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. for Instagram
• 8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. for Pinterest
It has been found that the best time to make the maximum impact is usually on Thursday nights as compared to the other nights of the week.
11. Keep learning
When it comes to social media, it is crucial that you keep learning and mastering new skills. Keep finding new ways to connect and engage with your audience. You need to become the master of your niche specialty for other people to take you seriously, follow you, and listen to you. Venture into new unexplored avenues (if any) like the audio, video, photography, image editing, and / or tailored content marketing to accomplish maximum results out of social media marketing and take them to new heights.
12. Conduct A / B tests
To learn whether your social media campaigns are reaching their desired audiences and giving you the maximum benefits, run simple A / B tests. An A / B test, also known as split testing, is a method of comparing two versions of a webpage (A and B), by showing them to similar visitors and then recording which variant works better. The one that gives a better conversion rate is then chosen for future use.
GetResponse and Optimizely are two examples that can aid a company with A / B testing.
We have come a long way with social media marketing. There are now endless new avenues and ways to make a business stand apart. Use them wisely, reap the maximum benefits out of them, and see your business bloom. Concentrate on quality rather than quantity.
Do not focus on the number of platforms you are active on, or the number of posts you have put up on social media sites. Instead, interact with the correct audience effectively and consistently on your topic of focus.
Be proactive and always find ways to maintain communication with your audience. Try to provide value to your readers through every conversation and communication they have with you. Try to adhere to this consistently and see your business take off like never before.