Should My Business Invest in Social Media? [Essential Tips]
Social Media drives relevant traffic to your website
Social Media Marketing (SMM) is one of the fastest growing forms of digital marketing today.
It involves utilising several different social media sites in order to achieve a variety of goals.
Your target audience and potential leads are all currently using social networks to seek reviews, compare pricing, research offers and even to communicate with brands.
You can bet your bottom dollar that your competitors will be!
Understand this, for example:
- Facebook usage increased by 40% from 2013 to last year.
- Twitter is reportedly adding 300,000 users per day.
- LinkedIn’s net revenue for quarter 3 in 2014 was $568 million– a huge increase from the 2013 Q3 result of $393 million
Should we invest in social media?
Social Media usage is growing and, with such a huge amount of attention being focused on these online spaces, Social Media Marketing is naturally following suit.
It has been projected that digital marketing agencies will double their SMM efforts over the next five years and when you consider that it’s already huge business, it’s crucial that your company is involved.
There are several reasons why Social Media Marketing has grown in the rapid fashion that it has.
It offers an unrivaled edge in several key areas.
WHY SHOULD I USE SOCIAL MEDIA?
You can listen to what your audience are saying online
This is especially true on the more fast paced social networks such as Twitter.
By searching for keywords, trends and hashtags you can gage what users are interested in, are tweeting about and the problems they have which you can solve.
Go one step further and invest in social media listening tools such as Sysomos, which will monitor mentions of your brand across all social media networks.
Whether your brand is being complimented or slandered, you can interact with consumers and convince them that your product/service is what they need.
You can research your audience
Assess user’s profiles across various social platforms.
What are business professionals posting on LinkedIn?
What are consumers sharing on Facebook?
There are a wealth of tools and software online that allow you to analyse users and understand their interests, posting habits, locations, bio and more.
You can engage with your audience
Solve your audience’s problem by interacting with them, answering queries, solving problems, suggesting advice and generally provoking conversation.
This is a great way to retain their attention and increase their trust in your brand.
You can promote brand awareness
Through every social interaction, every problem solved and every helpful guide given away, you are promoting your brand and further expanding your reputation online.
It has SEO benefits
Now that social is a metric counted by search engine algorithms, it’s crucial that you are gaining the followers, making the impressions and receiving the interactions that Google will look to when ranking your content.
Apart from the obvious ability to advertise job opportunities on social media networks, especially professional sites like LinkedIn, social is great for evaluating cultural fit.
Received a CV from a promising potential new staff member? Check out their social media profiles – would their weekly posting of half-naked drunken photos and expletive riddled rants fit in with your company culture?
LinkedIn articles and Tweets now rank highly in Google
Due to the immense influence and authority of social media websites, the content posted on them is often highly regarded by the search engines.
Articles from LinkedIn and Tweets that receive lots of engagement and interaction are now often ranking highly in Google.
If you’re not on social media, you are missing this opportunity!
You can measure ROI
Contrary to popular belief, you can measure the ROI of social media.
Once you’ve set your KPI’s, use social media analytics tools to track these metrics.
The argument that it’s impossible to measure the impact of social media is ridiculous.
Brand awareness and reputation, for example, are core marketing and PR objectives that have and will always be hard to measure.
Nobody claims that the ROI of marketing and PR are impossible to measure.
WANT TO GET INVOLVED?
Firstly consider that if you’re not willing to invest:
…or are not willing to outsource it to a company who are proven, then stop reading now.
If that’s not put you off already, here’s how to start an effective Social Media Marketing campaign:
According to a recent study by Forbes, 90% of consumers have discontinued communications with a company because they receive irrelevant messages and promotions (spam).
Social Media Marketing is much more than whomever shouts the loudest wins.
Businesses need to connect with the listener and appeal to the needs of the consumer.
How can you do this?
Here are the basic foundations of every good SMM campaign:
Use scheduling tools
Social media should always be about real people and conversations; not blanket automation.
However, you must use tools to schedule your content for times when you don’t always have someone manning your accounts. It’s efficient and time saving.
Promoting content and paid amplification.
Without proper promotion and amplification through social media, your content will often fail to get noticed.
As content marketing becomes ever more important, competition for attention is increasing.
Don’t do your brilliant piece of work a disservice.
You could have written the best, most insightful piece of content in your niche in the last 10 years, but if no one reads it it’s been a waste of you and your businesses time!
From Facebook custom audiences and promoted Tweets to Featured Jobs on LinkedIn, social networks are finding more ways to monetise their incredibly popular services whilst allowing business owners great ways to promote themselves.
Planning, strategy & research
What social networks are relevant and important to your particular business niche?
What are your goals?
What are you trying to achieve?
Research is the most important phase of any marketing strategy and without it you can’t be efficient in maximising your social impact.
Whether you have a poor social media profile or none at all, you should consider either rebranding or creating one.
Ensure that continuity is maintained throughout as a differing brand message across platforms can confuse the audience and cause them to lose interest in your business.
Nail The Big Four
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn & Google+.
Connect and share.
Make sure you are using a business page rather than a standard, personal profile page.
A Facebook business (company) page is a great basis to interact with your customers on and provide a list of information for them to learn more about you.
A business page should look like this:
When you tag a photo, video or status, the content you post is shown on the wall of the profile you tagged causing them to receive a notification.
Your Facebook business page also allows you to add photos, share links, manage tabs to promote new products/services and expose your company through advertisement.
Real time updates.
The big difference between Twitter and its closest rival, Facebook, is the 140 character ‘tweet’ limit.
This post restriction, as well as the layout and design, means that Twitter is much more in-the-moment than its social counterparts.
There has been many success stories for businesses on Twitter where companies have been clever and creative to build their following.
A great way to begin is to follow users in your industry to gain an insight into trending topics, queries and desires
Use @’s to interact with key influencers in your field and to reply to your followers questions include images, video and hashtags in your tweets.
Hashtags are a great way of joining in with current trends and discussions whilst also getting your Tweets seen by users who don’t necessarily follow you yet.
However, try to avoid following everyone and anyone in the hope that they follow you back.
Not only does it look desperate, but by following anyone without a proper vetting procedure, you run the risk of following offensive or inappropriate accounts.
Be mindful that users you follow come up on your profile page.
Also, be active!
Just like having an outdated or unresponsive website, when a user lands on your Twitter page and sees that you’ve not posted in months, it can make them lose trust in your brand and they’ll more than likely not bother following you.
Finally, avoid the common mistake of being irrelevant or offensive.
You may think that your edgy joke about the latest celebrity death is hilarious but your followers’ may not.
Avoid commenting on political hot issues unless it is relevant to your business practices and be wary not to come across as blunt or rude in response to customer questions.
Manage your professional identity.
A social networking site designed specifically for businesses and professionals that can be sorted by niche? What’s not to love?
LinkedIn allows you to create a personal profile page where you can list your skills, promote your content, connect with current and potential employees or get noticed by potential employers.
You can create a company profile page to exhibit your products and services, examine the competition and most importantly, generate leads.
Maximising your outreach on LinkedIn can be hard when you first set up your business profile page.
Naturally, users tend not to have the same level of interaction and practice with the websites design and features as they have with Facebook and Twitter.
Here is a quick rundown of the key features of LinkedIn.
Similar, to Facebook’s in its design, the newsfeed features recommended and sponsored news based on your activity as well as links and content from your connections.
On the right hand sidebar you will also notice user pages that you’ve recently visited and users who have recently visited you.
This is not only a great way to see who has been sniffing around your profile but also of potentially generating leads.
The tabs across the top of the page includes a link to your profile page where you can fill out your bio, contact details and skills.
For businesses it’s a professional stage to display prowess. Click to tweet
The job page allows you to, not only conduct a detailed search for a job you may wish to apply for, but you can also post job adverts to a highly targeted, niche audience.
Over 30 million students or recent grads are now registered on LinkedIn; one of them has got to fit the bill!
You can view companies and join or create groups on the ‘interests’ page.
Groups are a great way to create a specific collection of professionals that you can interact with, share content with, learn from and potentially do business with.
The search engines own foray into social media
What Google+ lacks in terms of actual social market share and impact, it makes up for in SEO benefits.
There’s a bunch of ways to optimise your Google+ profile.
Begin by linking it to your website and creating a custom branded URL after you have at least 10 followers, a profile photo and the account is at least 30 days old.
Images & Video
Engage your audience with shareable image content such as educational infographics and informational videos.
As we know, updates on social media networks that include images or videos are far more likely to get shared, liked and engaged with than standard posts. However, that’s not the only benefit.
Photos of events your team has been to, events you have hosted and of your team hard at work prove that the company is real.
Customers like to know the company they are doing business with have a face and that they are not scared to hide it.
Educational YouTube videos that help and inform your audience, without pushing a sales pitch down their throats, increases brand awareness and trust.
As powerful as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are, they’re not the be all and end all; especially when it comes to photos and videos.
Websites and apps such as Instagram, Vine, Pinterest and Slideshare have huge followings and are growing at a rapid rate.
Today there are 70 million Pinterest users and 100 million active Instagram users.
If you’re an ecommerce retailer or a business who sell physical products, then it’s vital that your brand is active on these channels too.
Blogging is a great way to share helpful information and useful tips with your target audience.
Well optimised, quality content, that is referenced and linked to regularly, ranks highly in the search engine results pages (SERP’s)
When blogging, remember to encourage replies with comment provoking questions.
Try finishing a blog post with the question ‘Do you have any simple tips that i’ve missed out? Let me know in the comments below’.
Make sure to embed social media sharing buttons or widgets in your post to make it easy for the reader to share the content on their profiles.
Be selective and don’t just choose every button there is as this is a sure fire hit for actually reducing shares.
If you know your readers don’t use Myspace, for example, why have the button?!
Now you’re all set up on every relevant social networking site to your niche and raking in the followers with great SMM, share the wealth through cross-promotion.
Promote a Facebook-fan-only competition on your Twitter profile or share your company’s latest educational YouTube video with your LinkedIn connections.
Maintenance/ Content calendar
Create a calendar of content and a schedule to the promotions you feature on your profiles.
You should be making your social media profiles available to more than one employee.
If you can maintain continuity and your brand message then having several employees posting regularly can give your exposure a huge boost.
A calendar will help you to keep creating fresh content that engages your audience rather than stuff that irritates them. To build relations you should post regularly and maintain relations with influencers and your audience.
SEEM LIKE A LOT OF HARD WORK?
That’s because it is!
Whether you hire and train a dedicated social media manager or outsource your SMM to digital marketing experts with experience, make it a priority.
If you’re a business owner or general marketing manager, you just don’t have the time and need to focus on the job you excel at.