At one time, marketers had a very limited number of marketing outlets to choose from and even fewer for small budgets. This gave small businesses very little chance of competing with local giants in the marketing game.
The internet however, and social media in particular, has revolutionized and democratized the marketing game. Effective advertising can be had for even the smallest business, product or service for a fraction of what it would have cost even just a decade ago.
Here are 10 of the best ways to harness the potential of social media in marketing.
1. Choose the right outlet(s)
With so many social media outlets to choose from, it can be easy to think more is better. In reality, however, you don’t just want to post on social media, you want to actually grow a following. Growing a following, however, takes careful cultivation and cultivation takes time. You may be better off tending carefully to a few outlets rather than trying to keep up on several. Think of it like planting a garden. You don’t just throw out seeds willy-nilly and hope for the best.
In addition, each platform reaches a different target demographic, so content created for one platform is not going to be quite as effective on another. You can, of course, go with the Big 3 (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter), but if you are marketing for a professional service like a CPA firm, your best bet might be LinkedIn or Google+, while if you are marketing for a small business that makes skin care products, you might be better off focusing on Instagram and Etsy.
2. Interact with your followers
While there are a number of services that allow you to automatically post at certain times, you need to also be checking social media regularly and interacting with the following you are trying to build. When someone asks a question, answer it, when someone leave a comment, respond to it.
Unlike traditional marketing, social media allows you to actually interact with potential clients and consumers, so be sure you are taking full advantage of it.
3. Use social media relentlessly to drive traffic to client website
Posting content from a website to social media is, of course, one way to drive traffic to the client’s site, but it is not the only way. When someone asks a question on social media, answer the question on the website and leave a link to the answer on social media. If someone brings up a good point that you think should be shared or expanded on, have a blog written about it and then post a link to it in the comments or share a link to an info-graphic on the website. Ultimately, you want to use every opportunity social media offers to drive traffic to the client site. If it doesn’t offer one, then create one!
4. Offer great content
Getting people to simply click through to your site via social media is hard enough, but once they are there, you want to keep them there. You won’t ever get them there in the first place, however, if you are not offering great enticing content. Of course keywords are important as is the judicious use of keywords, but keywords alone will only get you so far. In fact, none of the many tricks marketers often use to gain website clicks will really work anymore unless you are offering genuinely great content.
You need to think of social media and a website as a symbiotic relationship. Social media is the platform you use to spread the word about what is on your site, but then you need to have something valuable to offer once you actually get people there.
5. Identify your target demographic, hammer it hard, and forget about everyone else
If there is any one singular mistake that marketers make it’s listening to anyone that is not in their target demographic. Makers of the ED drug Cialis have spent years being the topic of ridicule for their twin bathtub commercials and logo. From articles in Psychology Today to parodies featuring Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, the jokes have never ceased. And yet, Cialis has remained a leading ED drug for more than a decade, twin bathtubs and all.
No matter how badly members outside of your target demographic may hate your marketing strategy, don’t pay them any mind. All that matters are the people who are buying your product. If it’s reaching them, it’s working just fine.
6. Use video
By 2021, more than a million minutes of video content will cross the network every second. It would take more than 5 million years to watch all the video anticipated to be circulating the web by that time. Demand for video content is on the rise and smart and savvy marketers are taking full advantage.
While professionally produced video is always optimal, it’s also not necessary. Whether you choose to have your own YouTube channel or simply post videos to Facebook, the world just can’t get enough of video content right now, so give them what they are looking for. There are a million and one ways to use video content on social media so get creative. Here are a few ideas of some great types of video to post on social media:
- How-to videos
- Client testimonials
- Daily, Weekly or Monthly V-log
- Interviews with industry experts
- New product launches
- Exciting updates
- Social responsibility projects
7. Clients and customers will always be your best marketers – so use them
When text messages were first introduced, they caused a great deal of uproar. It turns out that words, without any facial cues or body language are very confusing. This ushered in the age of emojis. Emojis give context to words and allow us to know when people are serious, joking or actually sad about something. Of course even emojis can be used in a sarcastic way, so they too are not infallible.
But it turns out, human beings are far more swayed by faces than they are by mere words alone. Getting clients and consumers to leave positive reviews is great, but if a picture is worth a thousand words, then even a short video will speak volumes.
There are no amount of exclamation points in a written review that can match the look on a client’s face when they are talking about a really positive experience they had with the business you are marketing for. But if you can’t get that, at least try and get them to leave a written review. Those exclamation points still help.
8. Learn to listen
Another big mistake that many marketers make is getting so focused on marketing their product that they forget to really listen to what their clients and consumers are saying. Social media gives you an almost unprecedented ability to essentially be a fly on the wall. In other words, you can read what clients and consumers are saying without them ever knowing. While they may not be saying a whole lot on your page, they are most definitely talking somewhere, so find out where and become an avid lurker.
If you can answer the questions everyone seems to have or solve some problem that a great many people seem to be experiencing, you will often be viewed as some kind of mind-reading genius.
9. Be both patient and persistent
Building a following takes time and it doesn’t happen overnight. You may get frustrated at first when content is only getting a few likes and even fewer shares, but don’t let that stop you. Just keep listening to what clients and consumers want and producing high quality content that meets those needs.
In fact, you never know when a post, tweet or video is going to go viral and when and if it does, you want to be in the best position possible to take full advantage of it. Having an established brand with a website full of valuable content will go far further to taking advantage of viral attention than having a skimpy site with only some basic information about the product, brand, service or company you are marketing.
10. Use advanced analytics
Most social media sites will give you some insights into who is reading, sharing, responding to or interacting with your content. You need to know more. For one thing, remember that social media is simply the highway you want to use to drive traffic to a website, so what you really need to know is how successful social media is at doing that.
In addition, you need to understand what users are doing once they get to the site. Are they simply reading the content that brought them there and moving on, or are they clicking through to other content and staying a while? Analytics can give you insight into patterns and behaviors that can help you tweak, hone and tune your campaigns to perfection.
Social media may be one of the most powerful marketing tools yet, and best of all, it doesn’t cost a fortune to use. From the smallest independent businesses to the largest Fortune 500 companies, social media offers a veritable gold mine of marketing tools and services. But only if you know how to capitalize on them properly.
Just like anything else in life, it takes a great deal of hard work, patience and determination to be successful, but if you keep at it, you will get there. A following is yours to be had, if only you apply yourself to building it.
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