What is Social Media Marketing?
Social media marketing (sometimes abbreviated as SMM) refers to the utilizing of social media platforms to drive a community to action and increases traffic to a business. Anyone can blast information online, but a quality and effective social media marketing campaign will involve adapting to the ever-evolving trends in the community. Your goal in social media marketing should be the creation of powerful engagement!
The Utility of Social Media Platforms
Social media is just that – social! We can communicate in a variety ways to spread a message! Rather than just posting blocks of text, take advantage of the diverse capabilities of the different social media platforms. Every platform has a set of unique features that should be exploited to match the target audience. Get to know every social media platform to master their various tools! The right posting for your audience needs the right platform to reach them! For example:
Instagram, Tumblr, and Pinterest are among the more art centered platforms. Still, every platform has exciting features that lend to a creative mind for photos and videos. Play around and test the limits of the platform! You could use these to post inspiring and colorful quotes, infographics, and beautiful company photos. Make posts interactive, colorful, and shareable! Remember: most people online hate reading! Keep words to a minimum! Let images and other media do the talking!
Modern corporations use every social media to take advantage of the SEO linking. However, for strict business to business broadcasting, you’ll probably prefer Linkedin and Twitter. Essentially, social media platforms can act as virtual resumes, company billboards, and a listing of training resources.
Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube all allow you to stream video content live to your company page. This feature lets your followers have direct interaction with you by posting live comments! Everyone loves being the center of attention, so use these as opportunities to give the audience control! Try using live videos for Q&A’s, shoutouts, tours of your facilities, and event teasers!
We tend to associate social media with sarcasm and quick-witted humor. Be careful about being too edgy and controversial, but why not add an occasional joke on Facebook or Twitter? Let your audience know you can relate to them! Humor and smiles are universals in everyone! Your audience might be very diverse, but everyone can connect through laughter! Learn to laugh at yourself most of all! You don’t want to appear as some stoic, ivory tower business.
Ever hear of memes? Though they vary in format, generally they are iconic photos with brief captions. The Internet loves memes! They are trendy and quickly appear to poke fun at current events and pop culture. You can steal meme across the web, but it’s more fun to create your own. I personally like to use Meme Generator because it updates with the most popular image templates. Memetic is one of the best for mobile devices. If you’re savvy enough, you can create GIFs (multiple images animated together) using Giphy. Adding memes and other fun images to create an enjoyable atmosphere that will increase engagement!
Free Link Building
For SEO purposes, social media provides you the chance to have free links back to your business’ main website! Viral posts can reach millions just by using the organic power of shares! Google ranks websites through thousands of factors, including their “social presence”. If more people talk about and mention your site, it should rank higher in search results. Social media is part of a new phase of Internet “Web 2.0s” that offer free, hassle-free venues to promote content! Take advantage of the easy publicity! However, you should be careful not to post too often on social media and appear spammy!
Seven Principles of Effective Social Media
Okay, so we’ve established that social media is useful for any business or cause. But, how do you effectively manage professional social media accounts? There’s no secret formula to success as every market is different, yet you should strive to adhere to some basic principals.
Here are 7 principles of an effective social media campaign:
1 – Scheduling
Schedule your posts to release on a predictable pattern at optimal times. This process might require some research of your market, but there are general peak hours for each platform. You can easily schedule hundreds of posts on Facebook and Twitter using the free program Buffer, which every social media manager should master! You might want to try creating themed posts for each day, like “Throwback Thursday” and “TGIF”. Maybe you could release a featured YouTube video series every Monday or a podcast every Saturday! Have some fun exploring official holidays and more silly days of the year. Whatever you choose, make it predictable! Every follower should know what to expect when they see your posts! You might want to mix things up as your business grows, but keep themes relevant and cohesive.
Time is everything in posting! Posting awesome content at 2 AM might not get viewed much and will get lost in everyone’s feed by the time they wake up in the morning. Then again, you might have a broad international audience, and so you could consider customizing the content you release at certain times.
It’s important not to post too often and spam followers with an overload of information! Also, you’ll lose people posting too infrequently, like once a month! How frequently is too frequent? There’s no clear-cut answer, and this largely depends on the platform you’re using. 1 Facebook and Instagram post a day and 3-5 Tweets should be a reasonable goal.
2 – Responsive Engagement
Regardless of your established scheduling, don’t leave someone hanging if they’ve tagged, replied to, or private messaged you! Your physical business has operational hours, but your web presence never takes a breather. Eventually, you’ll receive lots of comments from customers offering advice, asking honest questions, or leaving the occasional angry complaint. You should reasonably reply within an hour, even with just a standard response. Be courteous and to the point. Don’t be afraid admit mistakes and give someone credit for pointing out an error.
Remember the number one rule of the internet: don’t feed trolls! A “troll” is anyone intentionally baiting a fight with offensive comments. Lively discussion around a post gives it more attention and possibility of being shared, but you have to exercise some policing power. Not all follower engagement is constructive. Also, bots might spam phishing link in comments. Delete these and any others that may harm your business presence.
On the flip side, retweet/reply to as many positive comments as you can! Show them some gratitude and tell them how awesome they are!
There are a lot of ways to invite positive community engagement. For example, some of my personal favorite posts on Facebook are those cheesy “tag your friends” posts. Be creative with variations and graphics to fit your business theme. Not every post needs to sell a product directly. Social media marketing is simply driving, motivating, and moderating a community of like-minded people. It might be appropriate to post things like, “It’s Almost Summer! Tag a Friend Who Needs Some Cool AC!” or something more casual like “Happy Mother’s Day! Tag Your Mom and Let Her Know How Much You Love Her!”
On Facebook and Twitter, you can create posts with embedded polls. While not strictly scientific, these polls can be a great way to gauge follower demographics and interests. Try posting a question to spark some friendly debate and see what happens! Maybe you’re an ice cream shop and want to settle the age-old question: chocolate or vanilla? Perhaps for a pet shelter, cats or dogs? For horror book clubs, vampires or werewolves? You should use these quick polls as a disguise for informal research on your niche’s trends. Try not to take sides yourself or step on anyone’s toes!
Again, be creative with your live posts! Why not take live questions from your audience? That’s way more engaging and interactive than just posting an FAQ page. You could also give them a live “backstage” access to your office space! Show them your secret base of operations and things that would seem “exclusive” to followers! Did you recently upgrade your company’s computer hardware? Live “unwrapping” videos are popular among younger audiences.
Give your fans some power to direct the content! Try hosting a contest through your social media! You could make it something as goofy and fun as “1000 Likes by 5 PM and Chris Will Post a Picture Wearing a Funny Hat!”. You could make it more business specific, like “Comment a Picture of Your Kitten to Be Eligible for Drawing of a Year’s Supply of Cat Litter!” The more valuable and wild the prize, the more engagement you’ll create!
3 – Relevant Content
Post content that makes sense with your business goals and philosophy. Just because something is trendy and popular, doesn’t mean it fits your company’s social media. Stick to content to has a defined purpose.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Does the post clearly communicate your business message?
- Does the post sell your product or service?
- Does the content powerfully engage the community?
- Does it drive people to share it on their profiles?
If you answered no to any of those questions, the post probably has little relevance being on your social media page. Keep postings centered around a consistent theme that aligns to the company overall.
Remember that your posts are tied to your company name in Google and thus play into your SEO! An air conditioning service company that has a lot of furniture posting will confuse Google crawls and adversely affect their ranking.
Careful who you reposts/retweet from online! Take some time to vet their profile and other postings. You don’t want to show support for a page with offensive and mostly toxic content.
4 – Diverse and Creative Formats
You should post a variety of different kinds of posts that communicate the same theme. Unless they are exceptionally insightful, blocks of text will bore followers! Try to throw in a picture or video in every posting! Better yet, include the copy in the image itself. Make the image faded or with colors that don’t distract from the copy.
Facebook has very specific guidelines for text in ad images for promoted posts. Be mindful of the “20% Rule”.
Your schedule of postings should include a set of different ways to drive engagement, shares, and clicks! Be mindful of basic copywriting foundations to sell your posts. Make them personal, with happy human faces that relate to your audience! Keep the message simple, brief, and clickable!
5 – Short and Snappy Call to Actions!
Just as in any web advertising, social media postings should include powerful CTAs that are short and snappy! Be brief in your wording, only using, at most, 40 words. Add some witty hook line to draw the reader into a click. Here’s are just some ideas:
- Pick a fight! Challenge a widely held assumption! Be a good sport about it though! – “Is it me or are Crocs back in style?”
- Paint a picture by using a hypothetical! – “Imagine the world without animal abuse…”
- Revive some memories (good ones!) – “Missing those skinny jeans? Get the body you deserve with a gym membership today!”
- Use a popular quote! – “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself… and a world without deep dish pizza!”
- Confess something! – “I hate to admit it, but the new Spider-Man is awesome!”
- Ask for feedback! – “What do you think of this dining room set? It’s on sale now for just $499!”
6 – Always Link Something!
Your primary goal in any social media post should be a viewer’s click! So, naturally, you need a link! Give your followers something to interact with on the post, whether it’s a video, hashtag, or linked image! All of your company social media platforms should connect and draw the reader back to one central hub – which will probably be your business’ main website where they will buy, donate, subscribe, etc.…
7 – Play it Safe
Finally, avoid extremes and play it safe to ensure the least number of people could take offense at your posts. Using some common sense and PC language, you can avoid embarrassing yourself to the general public! Avoid any mention of religion or politics. Copy such as “The Gospel of the Vegan Lifestyle” or “The Republican Approved Dry Cleaner” will turn a few heads and cause you to lose followers.
If you must reference a current event, you should try to use a local news publication or non-partisan NGO link. Everyone seems to have an opinion on how a corrupt or “fake news” media controls the world. Don’t feed into their hand!
Your job as a marketer is simply to provide positive, engaging information. Have fun being creative, but maintain professionalism and remember you represent the company to potentially millions of people online!
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