The idea of participating in social media can be daunting – there are so many channels, and so many opportunities to connect. But you shouldn’t allow this to deter you from getting involved. Ready to get started? Follow these social media marketing tips and learn how to put your best foot forward.
1. Start Small – Managing social media can be a full-time job, but it doesn’t have to be. Businesses that want to succeed in social media should start small, and only participate in as many channels as they have time to manage.
2. Know Your Audience – There is nothing more important than knowing who you’re marketing to, and what they need from you. This will determine which social media channels to participate on, and the form your content will take (blogs, videos, Vines, Infographics, etc.)
3. Know Where Your Audience “Lives” Online – Sure, Twitter and Instagram are popular – among certain demographics. But, before you invest time and resources into a channel, you should consider whether or not your audience is there. For more on this, check out this chart from Business Insider that breaks down social media usage by channel and income bracket.
4. Provide Value – There are huge opportunities for businesses of all shapes and sizes to provide real value to their audience in the form of content – social and otherwise. You just have to decide what you can offer your audience – and do it better than your competitors.
5. Be Authentic – Your brand identity should be closely aligned with who you are as a business – and what you offer your customers. Whatever this is, it’s important that you, or whomever is posting on your behalf, interacts authentically. This means, sounding – and being – human.
6. Engage – If you’re using social media simply to broadcast updates, you’re only half way there. Social media is a communication tool. So, communicate!
7. Automate – This may sound like a contradiction to the directives to “be human” and “engage” but it’s not. Busy marketers should automate their social participation whenever they can. This will help with consistency, and will free up your time to participate more meaningfully. Use a tool like Hootsuite to schedule planned posts, and work it into your schedule to check in on your pages daily.
8. Promote – This is not a directive to promote yourself or your services on social media. Instead, you should be promoting your channels. Put links to your social channels on all of you branded content. And, when something worthwhile is happening on another channel (an interesting conversation on your Facebook page, for example) promote it on your other channels, asking users to weigh-in.
9. Track – You should be tracking your social channels using web analytics, and channel-specific tracking data, when available.
10. Be Consistent – In social media, consistency is key. This means consistency in messaging, in participation and in customer service. Don’t allow your channels to go dark because the person who handles them goes on vacation, and always respond to customer feedback in a timely manner.
Times have changed. The days of pushing out marketing messages are long gone. Marketers send messages vertically and most often one-directionally, for example commercials, billboards, banner ads, etc. Social media enables a two-directional conversation both vertically and laterally. Vertically through conversations on social media channels, in email, and over the phone, and laterally through conversations that take place between your customers without you. Sites like Trip Advisor, Yelp, Urbanspoon and even sites like Twitter and Facebook enable this lateral spread of ideas and messages. Lateral conversations take place daily about your brand with or without you, so how can you reward customers that value your brand and how can you convert haters into lovers? The answer is through stalking your customers.
Now I realize that saying the words “stalk your customers” sounds odd and I am sure many of you are thinking, “did she mean to say that? Was that a typo?” No, it’s not a typo and yes, I meant to say that. But when I say “stalk your customers,” I don’t mean find out where they live, work, eat, sleep and play and then follow them around in a trench coat with a video camera following their every move. What I mean is get to know your customers through their posts, tweets, updates on social media, and use that information to build trust, loyalty and intimacy with your customers.
When social media sites first started popping up in the early 2000s, I am sure you all remember how fun it was to stalk your exes, your childhood friends, that barista you had a crush on from your local coffee shop. And you loved social stalking didn’t you? So why not use your investigative skills to find out more about your customers?
I recently watched Gary Vaynerchuk’s 2011 keynote speech at the Inc. 500 seminar and was blown away by a story he told about how he gained a lifelong customer just by stalking them on Twitter. In case you aren’t familiar with Gary, he is an entrepreneur who turned his family’s liquor store into a household name by using the power of social media to drive sales, brand awareness and customer loyalty. Today, he is the president of his own social media marketing firm and was a featured mentor on Bloomberg TV’s start-up accelerator show, “TechStars.”
During Gary’s speech he talks about how his social media marketing firm, VaynerMedia has a department called the “Thank You Department” and that it isn’t a customer service department. To use his own words, “I think of customer service as offense and not defense.” Most businesses’ customer service departments are utilizing defensive tactics, fielding complaints, fixing issues, solving problems while for Gary’s business his “Thank You Department” focuses on offense. What that means is that they actively reward their customers without receiving any feedback either positive or negative from them. In the example he gave of how stalking a customer on Twitter led to gaining a lifelong fan of his business, he demonstrates this idea of having a customer service department focus on offense rather than defense.
From his example, a customer placed a sizeable order to his online wine store. He instructed one of the members of his “thank you department” to find out everything she could about this customer. They spent a month following the customer on Twitter and listening to their tweets and what they heard time and time again was that they loved the Chicago Bears and more specifically quarterback, Jay Cutler. He then had his team member order a signed Jay Cutler jersey off of eBay and send it to the customer. The customer later wrote them an email saying how much he appreciated the jersey and how much it meant to him. He then stated that he has been a regular shopper at a wine store in Chicago, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, and that the store in Chicago doesn’t even know his name. He is now going to buy all his wine at Gary’s store and that they have gained a lifelong customer. Gary’s wine store now stands to make hundreds of thousands of dollars just by sending this customer a couple hundred dollar jersey. Now that is how you can turn your social media stalking skills into driving sales for your business.
Effective social media campaigns begin with strategy. Before you begin to think about channels, artwork or giveaways, it’s important to take a giant step back and consider the purpose and goal of your social media campaign. Specifically, how does the campaign fit into your overall marketing strategy and initiatives? What do you intend to get out of a social media campaign?
Once you’ve answered those basic questions, you can start to think about the scale of your campaign. Specifically:
• What channels do you intend to include in your campaign?
• What resources will you need?
• How will you market your campaign?
If you wanted to run a Facebook-only campaign, for example, you might need:
• A custom Facebook tab
• Campaign-specific imagery
• A static web page for contest rules and details
• Facebook advertising to drive engagement
• Additional marketing collateral, including an email and press release announcing the contest.
If you wanted to run a multi-channel campaign, you might need:
• A custom Facebook tab
• YouTube videos
• Strong, share-worthy imagery
• A Pinterest presence
• A “sticky” hashtag
• A static webpage
Once you had all of these moving parts in place, you would want to “launch” the campaign with:
• A press release
• A dedicated email
• Blogger / influencer outreach
• Additional paid advertisements to drive awareness / interaction
Consider, for example, Speedo’s brilliant Summer 2013 campaign, Get Speedo Fit. This campaign included:
• YouTube videos starring Michael Phelps
• A mobile App
• A hashtag
• Useful onsite content
• A printable PDF describing the program in detail
• Strong imagery that was promoted on both Facebook and Pinterest
• An advertorial
• A press release
Speedo’s content, and message, was further proliferated by bloggers and fans, who wrote about, and shared, Speedo’s content widely.
But the genius of Get Speedo Fit was not the depth and breadth of its content, but its overarching theme and purpose.
Here was an apparel company connecting its brand identity – and products – to user need (fitness). In doing so, Speedo was creating not just a single sale, like or share, but positive feelings in its followership that had the potential to last far beyond the length of the campaign.