If you’re in the digital marketing industry, you’re either reading the title of this post saying, ‘Preach!’ or ‘Yes, yes, I know this already.’ But if you’re a business owner, you know that every dollar counts. Sometimes it’s hard to justify funding an effort that may not create immediate new leads or sales. Yet, businesses small and large are investing in social media. I’ll begin with the ‘why’:
Why Should You Invest in Social Media?
Print marketing is still very much in play and can be greatly beneficial to businesses, but it lacks a certain element that is at the core of social media: The ability to share marketing messages with your core demographic. Gone are the days when you’re in your office wondering if the right person saw your billboard or advertisement in the local newspaper. Now, you can use social media to create lists and groups comprised of your ideal customers, use social listening to understand what your audience wants and share product information with them. You can also dispel rumors about your company and correct any misconceptions – which can often lead to new customers. Let’s break this down, shall we?
What ‘Social Listening’ Is and How it Can Benefit You
Twitter, for example, allows you to search terms important to your business. If you’re a company that provides art and technology education, you can search the #educhat hashtag on Twitter as well as terms common to your industry like, ‘tech’, ‘wearable tech’, ‘digital art.’ You’ll see real-time conversations people are having about these topics.
Look up popular accounts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to see if there are best practices you can put in place. Better yet, social media gives you front-and-center insight into the activities of your competitors.
Creating Lists and Groups on Social Media
After you’ve done some social listening, you can create privates lists on Twitter of people that seem notable in this space, influencers, products that are being promoted and more. This will give you insight into the content you create on your blog (you’ll know from your research what gets shared most) and what your audience wants from you.
If you have an active email list, consider creating a Facebook group where you’ll share new product or service information, perhaps at a discount. You can also use a Facebook group to discuss trends in your industry, positioning you as a thought-leader in your field. And the more your audience trusts you, the more likely they are to purchase your product or service.
Tell Your Story On Social Media The Right Way
Prior to social media and content marketing, your company was at the mercy of the media. You could craft a perfect message, but they’ll publicize it the way they see fit, if at all. You don’t have to beg journalists for coverage anymore. Nor do you need to hope for publicity – you can make it. Create compelling content on your website that provides useful, timely information for your audience. Think of what is most important to them and become their No. 1 resource. Use social media to share your content. Build relationships with influential people on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn by sharing their content and providing them with content you think they’d like. Build your brand the way you think it should be built.
Social media is also a powerful platform to combat misinformation. If you’re not active on social media, your customers and potential customers could be talking about your brand. What if they’re tweeting about a bad experience? Or perhaps they’re sharing a post to your inactive Facebook page about an unanswered question. Be there to take care of your customers. Now more than ever customers are airing grievances on social platforms. These can be opportunities to set the record straight and ‘Be a hero’ to your customer. Social media is a pretty fantastic place to find out how much your customers love you, too.
And now for the ‘how.’
How Can Social Media Grow My Business?
It’s up to you how much time and money you’d like to allocate to social media, but the following aspects are essentials:
Create a Google+ Page
Google basically IS search, so it makes sense that they give precedent to their social network, Google+. Make sure your Google+ page, especially if you focus on local business, is updated with proper contact information. This is because Google+ is essential to local SEO.
Have a Content Marketing Plan
I could say, ‘Have a blog’ but creating successful content is about so much more than simply pressing ‘publish.’ You need a content marketing plan. The content you create should support your core business goals. If you’re hoping to become an industry leader in your space to gain more clients, share information that would be most useful to your target demographic. Understand how to use header tags to help your content show up in search, create a content marketing calendar to keep your efforts well organized and post regularly.
Great content is the engine that runs social media. Without it, your social media campaign is either dead in the water or simply just staying afloat. You want white-water-rafting-level content. Content that excites, invigorates and inspires your audience. That’s shareable content.
And keep that content fresh. This ensures that when Google scans the web for new content, you’re website isn’t left in the search ranking dust because your website is static.
Choose One Social Media Channel and Manage it Well
Ask your local digital marketing agency which platform is best for your brand. Don’t do everything 50 percent, rather, do one thing very well. If you’re a small business hoping to market a very visual product, consider investing money (for an ad budget, too) for Facebook and directly target your demographic. If you’re a restaurant, Pinterest may be your place to play.
Make Sure No One Else Is Imitating Your Business on Social Media
Even if you’re unable to manage multiple social media campaigns, search for your company’s name and variations of it on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and other social channels to ensure no one is posting as your brand.
Hand It Off
If you’ve found that you want your brand to be more present on social media, consider having an agency manage your presence. There are a number of agencies that specialize in social media marketing. I suggest finding one that also understands content marketing, SEO and web dev. Their social media teams tend to take a more holistic approach to social campaigns, which will bode well for your business.