Marketing is all about putting your brand’s message in front of your ideal audience.
This means that you have to go where they hang out, and social media is the perfect way to achieve this. But many marketers fail to make the best use of this amazing technology in their marketing efforts because their strategies start and end with content and advertising.
While that may seem like adequate effort to some, in today’s world that’s not nearly enough, and here’s why…
- Almost 80% of internet users in the US are on Facebook
- 60% keep up with current news via social media
- 35% use social media to research or look for jobs
These numbers are reflected the world over which is why it’s no surprise that smart marketers are taking to social media to grow their businesses.
But How Exactly Do You Develop a Social Media Marketing (SMM) Strategy?
Going social isn’t as easy as just putting up a Facebook or Twitter profile.
It involves a lot more than just pasting some generic posts on your page.
In this article, we’re going to discuss some of the basics of what you need to do in order to create a successful social media campaign. This includes metrics and tactics that you need to master if you want to help your business succeed.
A Well-Executed Social Media Marketing Plan Has 4 Basic Stages:
- Stage 1: Listen
- Stage 2: Influence
- Stage 3: Network
- Stage 4: Sell
This cycle represents social success and begins with listening.
When you listen to your audience, you gain valuable insight as to how you can perform better in the other three stages. Listening will also allow you to develop a strategy to help you gain the most influence, build a strong network, and amass tons of leads and sales.
The key here is to display your information to your ideal prospects and customers on one or more of the top social networking sites where they already hang out.
A lot of marketers mistakenly think that social media is time-consuming work that offers very little rewards. But social media marketing doesn’t mean that you have to hang out with your prospects and customers full time.
It’s about finding ways to effectively execute the elements of your SMM strategy while minimizing costs. This means that you’ll have to invest some time into mastering the metrics and methods of all four stages.
So, let’s get on with it, shall we?
Stage 1: Listening
As with all your marketing strategies, you have to start with your target customers.
This is why it’s vital that you start with listening. As long as you’re a business and you have a product or service out there, people are talking about you and they are likely to be reaching out on social media.
But, whether you’re listening or not is another matter entirely.
People love to share their experience about the brands, products, or services they interact with and they’ll do the same with you.
There’s probably a conversation already going on about you on the social web – people are asking questions, comparing and sharing experiences, recommending your products, etc.
Some of the conversations may be positive, and some may be negative, but the people are definitely talking.
So find those conversations!
Respond to those positive comments with a big ‘Thank You!’ and celebrate them. But don’t ignore the negative comments. Those need immediate attention if you’re going to turn things around.
Doing this helps followers to know that you are present and accessible, and it is great for boosting public perception.
When you ignore these comments, it leaves a really bad impression with potential and current customers. No one will want to buy your product in the future if they think that you don’t care enough to help them afterward.
But when you answer those ‘not so nice’ comments (and even those downright mean ones), when you listen and respond appropriately, you build wonderful goodwill.
Not to mention that you’re able to connect with your followers and fans, find and fix problems that you may not have been aware of (and therefore make your product or service even better), and a host of other similar, unforeseen benefits.
But keep in mind that this only happens if you first take the time to LISTEN. Make this your number one priority and then use what you learn to make better decisions in the other three stages of your Social Media Marketing plan.
Stage 2: Influencing
During this second stage, your goal is to lead and direct the actions, attitudes, opinions, and behaviors of your followers. If you really have been listening, then this is going to be relatively easy for you to achieve.
You can use tools like BuzzSumo to find out what topics are trending and which of the conversations that are taking place are the most popular.
Once you do, the next step is to add your own AUTHORITY voice to the mix!
But how do you see if your influence is growing?
- You’ll start to see more engagement (retweets or shares of your posts, comments, etc).
- Your site’s traffic numbers will increase as people click on the links in your content.
- More people will start to share their thoughts, questions, and opinions and they will actively seek to interact with you.
- You will become recognized as an authority in your industry, and your brand will be one that people love to watch.
This social influencing stage is, of course, influenced by the results of the social listening that you performed in the first stage.
But, in reality, you will be listening at each and every stage. As you will soon see, once this social media marketing cycle gets going, you will be performing each of these stages every single day.
Don’t worry, though. It’s not as much work as it sounds, I promise.
And there are many free and paid tools to help automate some of the tasks and make your work a whole lot easier. There are quite a few posts on our blog dedicated to Marketing Automation where you will find out how to achieve this.
Stage 3: Networking
This is where you start to connect with other social influencers and authorities. The work you put in here is precisely what’s going to really move the needle for you.
All businesses stand to benefit from social networking, no matter what industry you’re in. So it helps to know the secrets to social networking success whether you’re a noob or if you’ve been in the game for a while and you’re looking to scale and expand into new markets.
You can think of social networking as a sort of ‘live event’ where your interactions are online instead of face-to-face. But when you really think about it, networking is networking and it doesn’t matter where or how you do it.
And networking can lead to strong, lasting relationships with your prospects and customers.
How Social Networking Works
Whenever you have a new offer, publish a blog post, or produce any other type of content, you need to create posts that are specifically designed for the social media channels that you use for your business.
You’ll share content from your peers and (yes) from your competitors as well.
If it’s valuable and relates to your business’s primary topic, and if it helps your fans and followers somehow, then it’s definitely worth sharing no matter where it came from.
At this stage, you’ll also be engaging on a one-on-one basis with lots of people who are asking questions. You’ll be answering those questions and asking some of your own.
Stage 4: Selling
The final stage is where things get interesting.
I don’t know about you, but this is always the part that gets me excited: Selling!
- You’ve listened to your audience…
- And you’ve built authority in your niche…
- You’ve established a powerful network…
- Now you’re able to start putting offers in front of people…
- And convert them!
Everything that you do in your marketing efforts should be geared toward converting people, so this part of your strategy should integrate perfectly with your funnel.
But What Does That Look Like?
Good social selling involves practices that integrate perfectly with your funnels. You will use a lot of different channels to get people into your funnels (such as blog posts, PPC ads, re-targeting, etc.)
For instance, you may publish a blog post and within the content, there is an offer to opt-in. You then promote that content on your social media channels, making use of the second and third stages of your strategy.
The promotional activities you do on your social networks will direct targeted traffic to your content and once those people get there, they will see your offer.
For the ones who respond, you’ll have an immediate up-sell ready to offer them (an extremely low-priced product that will get them to convert from leads to customers). This is also known as a ‘tripwire‘.
And for those visitors who don’t respond to your initial offer, you re-target them with relevant ads that take them to the funnel. There, you offer them the same lead magnet or a related one, and an entry-level product afterward.
At the same time, you should do your best to up-sell and cross-sell other products to your existing customers.
For instance, if the customer bought a printer, they are likely to be in the market for ink as well. Re-target them with whatever offer is the next logical one.
The purpose here is simple: creating a buying path to boost the lifetime value of each customer that you get.
Your Social Media Marketing Success Metrics
There are a few specific metrics for tracking your Stage 4 efforts that you need to master if you want to know whether your overall social media marketing strategy is legit or if you should quit.
Listed below are just three of the most important ones:
1. Rate of Social Shares and Mentions
Each of these is like applause, and you know that people only share content that they find interesting or valuable. So, measure all the shares and comments that a piece of content gets on your social media channels.
2. Traffic by Channel
You need to know where your website traffic is coming from. Use BuzzSumo (you know I love that tool…) to measure the social traffic you get from each channel.
When you have a lot of engagement, it shows that your topic is one that the audience really resonates with. Conversely, low engagement shows that you kinda missed the mark with that topic.
3. Conversions from Social Media
Now comes the fun part: Calculating the conversions you’re getting from social media.
Now you know how much traffic you’re getting from each social channel, you can use that to calculate the percentage of visitors from social channel who are actually taking the specific actions you’re driving on particular web pages.
Your conversion rate will be directly proportional to the success of your social media marketing efforts.
Whether we like it or not, we now live in a VERY social world and our customers have their feet firmly planted on the social web. Your customers and prospects are constantly sharing opinions and experiences that are related to you, your business, and your industry.
The ever-changing social environment means that the way customers voice their praise and criticism of your products has changed. As has the way they consume information. Most importantly, the way they buy has completely evolved.
This means that if you want your business to be successful, you have to adapt to these changes, and the best way of doing that is by putting plans in place for listening, influencing, networking, and selling in the social media space.
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Updated: Originally published August 24th 2018