Effective Social Media Marketing in 5 Easy Steps

Social media is here to stay. As an entrepreneur or small business owner if you’re not using it to grow your business you are missing out. I am sure you have seen the statistics by now. In 2015, 73 percent of U.S. Americans had a social network profile, representing a six percent growth compared to the previous year according to Statista. The numbers do not lie. Social media is a way of life all over the globe.

As an entrepreneur or small business owner if you’re not using social presence on-line to grow your business you are missing out. By 2017, the global social network audience will total 2.55 billion, – according to Emarketer.

Below I’ve listed my easy 5 step process for developing a strategy for social media marketing.

1. Identify your goals.

For every company there should be a mission. Your company mission should have a mission statement. For every mission there must be a goal. What is the positive outcome or end goal that you want to achieve? You may want to become internet famous, you may want to get speaking gigs, you may want to promote a book or training program or you may just want more customers. Whatever it is you must write down your goals and the logic behind them. Understanding where you want to go and how you’re going to get there will help you devise the best plan and route you should take.

2. Get Brand Clarity.

Get clear on your brand before you put it out there. Answer these 3 important questions. What do you do? Who do you help? what do you want to be known for? Once you are able to clearly articulate the answers to these questions, you can communicate this on social media or in front of anyone. You must be able to clearly and succinctly say in one sentence what you’re all about and describe your business model in a way that makes sense.

3. Master the art of Pull Marketing.

Pull marketing is about client attraction. When you create core messages with strong call to action statements, you are setting the stage to have people in your target audience self qualify and respond with, “me too” or “I need that” or “where can I learn more?” Your goal is to have ideal prospects able to clearly see themselves in your business model. They need to be able to see that your company offers exactly what they have been looking for.

Social platforms are a great tool for utilizing pull marketing tactics. Whether you run ads or create a poll, survey, or contest you can get targeted leads using social media advertising and messaging. The key is crafting messages that your target market will respond to.

4. Connect and build relationships.

In order to sell anything to anyone you need to have a trusted relationship. This concept holds true on-line as well. You must truly connect, converse and engage with people on social media before they begin trusting you. One of the best ways to engage with people is by using groups inside of social media platforms like Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn. In these group you can converse and have electronic conversations with people and demonstrate your expertise. On social sites like Instagram and Pinterest, you have to use hashtags. On Twitter you use hashtags and lists to engage with others.

Whatever platform you’re on, make certain to showcase what is unique about you. You must be able to clearly articulate your unique sales proposition. When people do not understand what is different about you, they reduce your product or services to price.

Another great way to build relationships with people on social media is to follow, comment and share their content. On every social media platform, there is an opportunity to provide feedback by sharing, commenting or clicking a button to like the message. When you show up on that person’s social media page, they are sure to notice you, sooner or later.

5. Create an action plan and content marketing calendar.

Using social media can be overwhelming. That’s precisely why you need a social media action plan and a content marketing calendar. How are you going to mix social media in with your overall marketing strategy? You must understand that marketing works best when you have a few strategies complimenting each other and working together.

The number one reason why you need to put together an action plan is because, your ideal customers are searching for you on-line. For example: You’re a health & wellness life coach specializing in nutrition and teaching people how to lose weight without dieting and have a better relationship with food. Your prospect is on-line searching for key words like weight loss, healthy foods, life coach, diet and wellness. As an entrepreneur in that space, you must show up in the search when the prospects go looking for a solution to their problems.

For every industry, there are people looking for answers to specific problems. You must create messages for every problem that the people in your target market has. Social media gives you a unique opportunity to communicate frequently with your target market on a wide variety of topics.

As you can see, using social media as a method to grow your business requires you to go back to the basics and understand marketing 101. Once you complete each of the steps above, you will have a better handle on how to incorporate social media to grow your business.

Get More Reach With Social Media Marketing Strategies That Work for You

Your business is probably already on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and all of the other platforms you need to be in order to reach out to your customers. But even so, it doesn’t feel like you’re gaining the proper traction or posting the proper media to inspire the engagement that you know you need to get. In short, your social media marketing strategies aren’t fine tuned and some might even say, non-existent.

Finding the Strategies for Your Niche

One of the main problems with many company’s marketing strategies is that they are applying the same methods as a universal solutions program for their social media team. This means that essentially, they are taking social media marketing strategies that they’ve heard about and using them “as is” instead of tailoring them to their specific niche or industry.

For example, social media marketing strategies for restaurants are going to be very different than social media marketing strategies for Fortune 500 companies. Of course, when we put it like that, it seems very obvious-unfortunately, the constant failings of social media lets us know that it’s not. The problem arises because not only are the outcomes and goals of each industry very different, the means to the end have to be as well.

Why Using This Strategy for Your Industry is Vital

For instance, in our example above, a restaurant’s marketing strategies should be to entice viewers to come in and eat. This means that taking pictures of different dishes and posting them up on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram is a good ploy. That creates salivation for the food and people are likely to Like, Share, Re-Tweet, etc. the picture. That keeps the restaurant fresh in the customer’s mind and next time they are looking for a place to eat, they’ll remember how good the food looked and make reservations.

On the other hand, a Fortune 500 company isn’t going to get much interaction off of photo media. Sure, Bob in accounting might be interesting to talk to, but a picture of him analyzing graphs on his laptop in the break room isn’t likely to inspire the right kind of interaction. That’s because the goals of a Fortune 500 company on social media are likely to bring in more clients, keep current clients engaged and recruit top talent for the firm. The best way to do this would be to employ social media marketing strategies that establish the company as an industry leader. For example, sharing blog posts and articles that contain relevant and useful information is a great way to market yourself as on the forefront of the industry.

How to Tailor Your Social Media Marketing Strategies

Of course, with so many industries and niches out there, it would nearly impossible to go through each one, showing you how to tailor your marketing strategies for your exact niche. Instead, it would be more time-efficient to go through how different goals affect your marketing strategies. Simply think about what you’re trying to achieve and then match it up with some of the following suggestions. Keep in mind that interaction is the ultimate short term goal for social media, so whatever gets you to that point-no matter how strange or unconventional it may be-will be best for your company.

  • Expand your Customer Base. If you’re looking to expand your customer base through this marketing strategy, you’re going to want to post content that is highly sharable and branded. This means that the more viral potential your posts have and the easier it is for those posts to be traced back to you, the better it is for business. A great way to do this is to post links to your blog on your website, provided of course the blogs are high-value in terms of information and content. This allows people to share the link to your website, meaning the more viral it gets, the more leads will be coming into your site. Be sure there is a strong CTA (call to action) at the end of the blog leading to your contact or sales pages. If your social media marketing strategies in the past have shown to be effective when media images and video are shared, make sure the pictures are watermarked with your brand.
  • Strengthening Your Current Client List. Another great benefit of this medium is that you can strengthen your current clients’ loyalty. We all know that it cost more to bring in a new client than to retain a current one, so this is a big chunk of social media marketing strategies right here. The key is that you want to constantly provide value to your clients. This means that if you’re in an industry where new information is constantly coming out, you should be the ones providing your fans with that info first. Ask yourself this: what am I giving my followers in terms of value? If you can’t list at least five things, you need to start doing a better job right away. Alert your fans to events that pertain to their interests, share articles, posts, recipes, etc. Give opinions and loose advice but stay away from risk-the bottom line here is that you want your customers to remember why they need you in their lives every single day.

Using Your Social Media Marketing Strategies Wisely

When it’s all said and done, when it comes to social media marketing strategies, whatever works for you is the best rules to follow. Social media is still a fairly young marketing game (compared to television, radio, print, etc.), so nothing is written in stone. Even the so-called “experts” in the field are still fine-tuning their marketing strategies, so you can expect things to change on an almost consistent basis over the next decade or so.

Until that time comes and it become a science, the best you can do is keep your ear to the ground and stay afloat with all of the latest information, techniques and trends.

Social Media Marketing & Automation

I had a conversation with a client this morning that triggered this piece.

To his credit, he is what I call an ‘atypical’ client, in that he fully understands both the power of social media (when used correctly), and how much WORK one has to put in to gain any kind of traction in this marketing space.

Until you’ve done it, you don’t get it, and he’s done it.

On more than a few occasions, I’ve heard small business owners complain about the cost of hiring someone to strategize, build and run the chunk of their marketing that is social media (and let’s face it; isn’t it all social media by now?).

Because social media started out as something that only ‘teens took part in, it was purely ‘social’. So some business owners appear to be largely unaware of the impact that social media has now. They generally have no idea how muchwork it is to cut through all the white noise that’s already in front of their prospective customers on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.

Ask that business owner about buying ad space in their quickly dying local paper, and they’re all about it. But talk to them about social media/digital marketing, and the objections come fast and furious.

As someone who lives in the social media space, I’m surprised by those who assume that what we do, is still purely ‘social’, like it’s some kind of ‘add on’ to their already existing (or non-existent) marketing. Some even ask, “why should we pay someone to do this for us, when the tools are free, and from what we understand, can be automated?”

The question always makes me smile. It’s not a good smile.

I think that the majority of those who manage social media for companies large and small would agree with me when I say that managing this marketing aspect for those companies is anything BUT free.

It takes time, it takes patience, it requires strategic knowledge, and it definitely requires skill. Sure, the tools can befree, but even then, they’re only free to a certain level. Past that point, you’ve gotta “pay to play”. And if you’re paying, you’d better damn well know what you’re doing.

Learning how to apply strategy to the use of those “free” tools costs a lot more than money. It’s insane how time consuming it is, and you know how quickly those computer minutes can add up. That time, is time that the average business owner can’t afford to spend on social media marketing because he/she has a literal hundred ‘more important’ things to do, and think about.

He’s not interested in ‘getting his hands dirty’ with all of the testing and tweaking, and more testing and moretweaking of his marketing strategies. He thinks that he’s “spending good money” on someone who can simply put his marketing on autopilot, and forget about it.

Let me let you in on a secret; there’s been a ton of ‘chirping’ about automation when it comes to social media, but fully automating your social media marketing isn’t a good thing.

Social media for business is essentially meant to start a dialogue with your customers, past, present and potential. Period. Conversation leads to familiarity. Familiarity leads to trust. Trust leads to sales. It’s that simple.

With regard to automating your digital marketing, how does a customer ‘trust’ a robot?

So now you ask, “But Debbie, can’t I micro-target my automated social media messages, and set messages that ‘sound’ more human to those people?” Meaning, rather than automate all processes at random, you’re targeting to a specific type of market, and ‘programming’ a specific reaction to that market.

To which I’d say, “Sure you can! You can do whatever you want!” But the main problem with automation with regard to micro targeting is this;

Let’s say that you ‘follow’ me as a potential business lead/customer on Twitter, and, acknowledging that yours is a product/service that I could use, I follow you back. The act of following you back triggers an automated message on your part, thanking me for following, and/or asking a simple question by direct message or simple ‘tweet’.

The first problem with this is that if I know anything about social media, I’m going to take a peek at your own timeline to see if I’m one of dozens (or hundreds) who’re receiving the exact same message (in the email world, we call that ‘Spam’). You’d be surprised at how often that’s actually the case, which is a total turn-off.

The second problem is; if you’ve sent me an automated ‘direct message’, what happens afterwards when I send a ‘human’ response to your account?

I’ll tell you what happens; nothing. Radio silence. And as the human component, I’m thinking one of two things;

  1. “Why’s this dude ignoring me?” or
  2. “Crap. I just got sucked in by a robot.”

I usually assume it’s the latter.

So sure, your micro targeting paired with automation snared your ‘ideal customer’ and got her to respond, but you’ve chased her away by ignoring her or worse; making her feel like she’s been tricked into responding to your ‘robot’.

There was no ‘dialogue’. There was no interaction. And now your potential customer is chapped because she ‘spoke’ to your robot, thinking that it was human, or at the very least, that someone was monitoring it for interaction.

So with all this automation, who’s actually paying attention?

For some, the ‘social media game’ is about who can acquire the most followers in the shortest period of time. Targeted or not, they don’t really seem to care (just ask the CRM companies who’re auto-pitching their products to other CRM companies on Twitter).

They’ve got themselves an audience at whom they can ‘pitch’ their products or services. But when that audience actually responds, they get nothing back.

So essentially, you’ve sucked them in, so that you can ignore them. Or worse, now that they’re ‘following’ you, they get to see your ‘sales pitches’ in their feed, and you’re ignoring their messages.

That’s kinda crappy.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some social media tasks that can easily be automated, and in order to scale your marketing efforts, they should be.

But it takes time, patience and skill to set up and run a social media marketing strategy with automation that works in a way that doesn’t send your customers sprinting for your competition.

There’s no substitute for monitoring your automation processes. Period. And to that, I’m sure some would ask “then why bother with automation?” That’s another article.

From my client conversation about automation and micro targeting in social media; “If you aren’t gonna follow up when you get a response to someone that you targeted, then you are a total idiot and I’m curious as to why you would have a Twitter account at all, and try to get me to respond?”

I took the long way getting here, but he made made my point in a nutshell.