Social media marketing has evolved and developed in the last few years to become a recognised and effective form of marketing and communication for many businesses.
It is no longer a case of setting up a business Facebook page or Twitter account, posting a few times as saying: “Yes, I’m doing social media.”
Any organisation that wants to use social media as a key part of their marketing strategy needs to give the content they are sharing the same thought and consideration as they would for any of their marketing channels.
Online marketing content needs to be well thought out and provide added value to your followers/fans. Does it provide good information? Does it excite or entertain them?
Good content can include; a blog post, a ‘how to’ video or information about your wider industry that is current and useful. For example if you were a business that made furniture then a great piece of content would be an edited film of you making something.
This video made by Ercol is a great example:
Pictures and video are rich content as they are most likely to be seen, and more importantly, shared by your fans and followers.
Make the content work
Spend time on creating that one piece of great content, e.g. the ‘how to’ film, and then maximise its reach by sharing it on as many platforms as possible. A film could be hosted on your website, blog and/or YouTube channel and shared via Facebook, Twitter and email.
Have a planning session with your team or get some social media assistance to help with this. Look at things like the natural calendar e.g. seasons, weather and public holidays but also think about your target customer. What drives them, what will they find helpful and useful. Then map this all out onto a calendar or spreadsheet so that you have something to refer to, to guide your content. This should help you to plan good quality content, but you also need to be able to react to changes and trends quickly, especially on social media platforms.
We are all driven by our emotions..
The content you post that is most likely to be shared (liked, shared, retweeted or commented upon) is that which stirs emotion. This is the most shared image ever on the internet:
At a recent workshop I asked the attendees why they thought this was, and they told me that it made them feel emotional and gave them a warm, fuzzy feeling.
Not all of your content can hit that hard but it is worth spending some time thinking about what you are sharing and how to make your social media marketing as effective as it can be.
If you are interested in learning more I am running a Social Media Strategy and Content Planning Workshop later this year.
The key to any successful social media strategy is in sharing good, relevant content.
This should be a combination of your own original content, either via images that you create or capture or through a blog, article, infographic or video. This will help to spread the message about what you do and also position you as a professional in your field. It can also help to push traffic to your website, blog, gallery or wherever you are keen for people to ‘land’.
Alongside this you should be regularly sharing the content of others. Social media relies on and is designed for sharing. By spreading the message of others you are helping to facilitate this and engaging on that platform. This should be a selfless act of sharing content that you find interesting and hope your fans/followers will find relevant. In turn others will share your content though and help to spread your message.
You should not be afraid or precious about sharing your content or others sharing it for you. This is what social media is all about. The days of controlling a message and being afraid of it getting into the ‘wrong hands’ are long gone. If you want to be successful in social media and use it to market yourself or your business you need to embrace this new way of thinking and working.
2012 is going to see social media develop and grow even more. No longer the preserve of geeks and teenagers, social media is now recognised as form of marketing that is being used readily by big corporations and small businesses to spread their messages.
Organisations can no longer just dip their toes in and ‘have a go’ at social media. To have an impact and credible presence on platforms like Facebook and Twitter they need a cohesive social media strategy and plan for content.
These are some tools you can use and things to consider when creating such a plan:
1. Review your general marketing/PR activity for the year. Is there anything that lends itself to being talked about solely, or heavily just through your social media channels e.g. participation in a recognised event, launch of a new product, partnering with other organisations?
2. Decide where you are looking to push traffic to from any activity. Your blog, your website, a bespoke website/landing page or another social media channel.
3. Use all activity as an opportunity to gain more fans/followers and tag and engage with other organisations.
4. Look up what national days/weeks are planned for the year: http://projectbritain.com/specialdays.htm
Do any ‘fit’ with your organisations activities/products? If so plan some activity to coincide with them and then you can tag any tweets/updates and become part of the trending topic that will inevitably happen to mark the national day/week.
5. Continually monitor your feeds and trending topics to see if there is anything relevant to your organisation that you can hook into.
6. Use photos and video regularly as part of updates and encourage fans to upload photos and videos and tag you in them. In general an update with a link will encourage 37% engagement whilst and update with a video will encourage 45% engagement (source: Eloqua).
7. Consider running a competition (being careful to abide by the rules for the platform you are running it on). Even a simple competition such as giving something away when you reach, say 500 followers on Twitter can increase engagement and reach.
All activity should have the objective of raising your organisations profile, spreading key messages and engaging.
If this all seems a bit daunting you can always employ the expertise of a social media agency to help you with this stage and set you on the path to being active and engaging in the world of social media.
You can easily use social media to market your business if you concentrate on the three principles of; having good content, sending that content at the right times and remembering that it is a two way process by engaging..
If you want people to ‘like’ your Facebook page or not stop following you on Twitter you need to make your content (your status update or Tweets) interesting to your followers. People will have generally ‘liked’ or followed you because they are interested in what your company does so make sure that you content is always true to what you do. For example, if you are a wine shop then post content about new wines you are stocking, deals you have on and little gems about the wine industry. Don’t moan about customers or talk about having to leave early to get your car fixed!?! A great way to regularly update interesting and relevant content is by linking to your own blog or a relevant article that someone else in the industry has written.
This is currently a hot topic in the world of social media and there are even tools such as WhentoTweet and TweetStats that can help you see when your followers are most active and time your updates so they have the best chance of being seen. Best practice says that you should be looking to update your Facebook page 3 to 4 times a week and your Twitter 3 to 4 times a day. The reason you need to be on Twitter more is that the feeds move faster to you have more chance of being seen. However, if you tag your posts correctly they should be getting seen by the right people anyway.
This is probably the most important part of using social media properly. If you are not engaging you may as well not be using these platforms as a form of marketing. You need to be checking all of your sites at least once a day to see if anyone has posted on your wall or mentioned you in a Tweet and you should ALWAYS respond in some way, even if it is just to say ‘thank you’ or suggest taking things offline it is a complaint (so that the rest of your followers know that you haven’t just deleted the complaint or ignored it). You should look to respond as quickly as possible and as a minimum within 24 hours.
If you start with these basic principles of social media there is no reason why you cannot become successful at using it to market your business or organisation. And, as with anything, the more you use it the better you will become and it will all soon seem like second nature.
- Melanie on Why you need a Content Strategy to make Social Media work
- Keith Osborn on Why you need a Content Strategy to make Social Media work
- Why you need a Content Strategy to make Social Media work - Social Monkey on Social Media Workshops
- Social Networking - Why Face-to-Face is still important on Norfolk Tweetup
- Melanie on Norfolk Tweetup