10 Social Media Marketing Tips to Help You Avoid Social Media Failure!

Used correctly social media marketing can give you a platform for brand awareness, exposure, networking, and a huge boost in traffic & sales. The problem is, most people don’t know how to use the social media properties correctly…

Social media marketing gives you an edge over larger competitors. Studies show that most companies are not yet adopting social media, leaving a sweet gap for the “little guy” to do big business in that space.

Follow these 10 simple tips to create your own strategy for Social Media Marketing success:

1. Map Out Your Social Media Strategy

What is it you most hope to accomplish with your social media marketing plan? What response do you expect from your target market? Ideas to consider in your overall objective might include:

-Branding
-Networking
-Exposure
-Inbound Links/SEO
-Relationship/Trust Building
-Customer Relations (think @comcastcares on Twitter)

2. Connect With Your Target Market

Get an image of your ideal customer or website visitor clearly in your mind. Who are they? What are they searching for? What do they want and need the most? What do you feel they expect from you through social media communications?

Consider what they experience on their end in everything you do. They are the person that you want to attract into your funnel, so you want to make a great impression – and also include a strong, specific call-to-action.

3. Offer Consistent, Quality Content

The content that you post to social media properties should be both consistent as in regular updates, and also consistent with your overall message or objective.

If you are an MLM recruiter for example, provide quality resources for recruits. If you own an ecommerce gardening site, offer gardening tips. Whatever your message, you want to make it consistent across the web.

This helps you achieve your branding objectives, and allows you to create the perception that you want people to have of you or your company. Anyone who follows you online should easily be able to fill in the blank: (You/Your Company) is known for ___ .

Being consistent with your message and your branding also lends toward your goal of relevance and theming when it comes to SEO, or Search Engine Optimization.

4. Focus on Content, Not Marketing

Most people get this backwards. If you focus on valuable, high-quality content then that content will do the marketing for you.

You shouldn’t have to digg or bookmark your own content, but rather focus on writing such great content that your readers give it an unsolicited digg or stumble for you.

Your job is to write, and provide easy access to social media services where your readers can share your content with their friends & groups.

When people like what you have to say, they will share it – period. And when they share it, the search engines will take notice. Write top quality content & updates, and let the rest happen naturally.

5. Caution! Do Not Over-Optimize

Social Media Marketing can help you achieve top search engine rankings for specific keyword phrases. But be careful… because there is such a thing as over-optimization.

Using the same anchor text everywhere that you link to (or request a link to) your site leaves a ‘digital footprint’, throwing up a red flag that you may be trying to manipulate the search results (or PageRank).

Avoid this by using natural variations in anchor text for the links that point back to your primary website. You need a certain number of “click here” or similar links to give balance to your optimization strategy.

6. Stop Linking To Your Home Page!

Social media is about micro-topical conversations, so consider how you can introduce internal offers or pages of your website into these conversations.

This will keep your groups and followers engaged in the topic at hand, and provide higher value to your readers.

These deep links, or links pointing to internal pages on your site or blog, help it gain authority in the search engines as well. All other things being equal between two identical websites, the one with more deep links will outrank the other. This also gives you more exposure in the search engine results, since your internal pages will begin ranking for specific relevant keyword phrases.

Tip: Your home page may not be the best link to share on your Profile while networking on social sites. Consider linking to your “about me” page instead for a more personable introduction to you and your site.

7. Provide a Valuable Resource

There’s a reason its called Social Media, and not Self-Promotional Media. Keep that in mind when you consider your social media marketing plan.

If all you post is self-promotional links and requests, you will eventually become a part of the “noise” and ultimately be filtered out by your target market. They may not unfollow or delete you, but they will begin to scan over your posts and tweets without even realizing it.

Avoid this by becoming a valuable resource in your niche. Share links to domains that you don’t own. And I don’t mean your own Squidoo pages or Facebook profiles – I mean domains you have ZERO association with. Provide value to your groups by sharing relevant links and resources.

You mean, you want me to *gasp* promote my competitors?! Yes – and become friends with them too. Interlinking and networking is powerful!

8. Social Networking

To truly achieve your social media marketing objectives, you need to do some social networking as well. Forget the word “competitor”. Other publishers or webmasters in your niche will be your best friends in the social media landscape!

Locate every competitor on your level (or within reasonable range) and create an “inner circle” of friends or business peers. These are people you can interview or be interviewed by, exchange links with, joint venture with, etc. Stop looking at them as competition, and start looking at how you can leverage each others’ position in the marketplace!

Tip: Don’t ask for favors. And don’t flaunt the favors you do. Simply follow, comment on, link to, or otherwise become “known” to select publishers in your niche. They will notice… and generally begin to reciprocate. Given a little time the relationship will form naturally and be incredibly beneficial on both sides.

9. Build Rapport

Get involved in discussions, reply to blog comments, ask for feedback (and then respond to it and act on it!). People want to know that you’re a real person, and not just “a company” – or worse: a bot spitting out links and sucking in cash.

Don’t be afraid to have an opinion or to express your thoughts on hot topics within your niche. Your unique voice in the market will attract your ideal visitors and customers.

Social media gives you an opportunity to be personable. An ecommerce site has its limits when it comes to establishing trust and building long-term customer relationships, so use social media as an opportunity to make a real connection with your target market.

10. Link Freely – And Don’t Apologize For It!

This is somewhat of a combination of tips #3 and #7. One thing that really makes me cringe is the 2 words “shameless plug” – promise me you wont ever use that phrase!

The people that follow you, subscribe to your updates, or ‘friend you’ on social media sites… want to hear your latest news and tips. If they don’t, they’ll quickly unfollow you – which is fine. This is not a numbers game or a vanity contest – it is a means of syndicating and socializing in a professional yet personable way.

There is a right and a wrong way to link to resources and content on social media sites. The wrong way is to say “read my blog post” or “visit my website”. The right way is to share a cool link (whether its yours, or something of interest to your readers from another website) and to open a discussion on that topic.

Have a clear objective, be a valuable resource, and use social media properties in the way they were intended to be used. Anything else will get you filtered out, unfollowed, banned or blacklisted… and ultimately be a complete waste of your time.

Done right, following these 10 simple tips, social media marketing can currently grow your online business faster than any other means.

7 Steps to Sell Your Boss on Social Media Marketing

With words like “tweet,” “blog” and “unfriend” entering our standard lexicon, there’s no question that social networking has a significant place on our contemporary culture. And it’s no surprise that many companies have been using social media online to connect and communicate with their customers online.

But the benefits of social networking aren’t always immediately apparent to some. And that is especially true for businesses who are interested in having a lot of control over their brand name and brand image. Convincing some that every business has something to gain from online media marketing can be difficult. It can be hard to see how Web 2.0 marketing can result in a positive return on investment (ROI).

When it comes to convincing your boss or colleagues to invest in social networks, it helps to have a plan.

Here the 7 steps you can take when it comes to selling social media marketing to your boss or company.

1. Explain how social media is an unbeatable research tool. When a company is effectively tapped into the social media landscape, they get to hear a lot of chatter that they wouldn’t hear otherwise. Those engaged in social media marketing campaigns will be able to monitor channels for any mention of their company, competitors, industry, clients and potential clients. Setting up a social media marketing listening campaign lets a company know who is participating and what is happening.

Thanks to tools and services like Quantcast, Alexa and TweetMeme, it is now easier than ever to track and measure what people are talking about online. This information is invaluable for developing future marketing strategies, both online and offline.

2. Match the benefits of Web 2.0 marketing with your company’s goals. Whether your company or your client is a service provider, a business to business specialist or a business to consumer retailer, there’s a social media marketing strategy for them. But in order to convince others of online media marketing’s benefits, you have to be aware of the company’s goals. Do they want to enhance their customer service operations? To they want to reduce costs? Do they want to manage their reputation? Social networking can do a lot to help achieve all those goals. When you know what your boss or company wants, you can show how this will help them achieve it.

3. Start small. Even if they’re not bullish on social network marketing, your boss or others at your company are probably aware of the range of social applications and services that are out there. They may think that launching a social marketing campaign will be a huge undertaking, one that will require many work hours just to set everything up.

But that’s not necessarily true. A Web 2.0 marketing campaign doesn’t have to include a setting up a Facebook Fan Page, a Twitter account, a blog and a YouTube channel. In fact, it’s often easier to start small. Figure out which service will best match the stated goals of your boss or your company. It may be something as simple as registering a Twitter account and starting to engage people via tweets. Starting small requires little time and less cost. But the results can become apparent quickly. You can even begin to measure such results with a tracking service like Quantcast.

4. Set up a strategy and follow it. A social media campaign can appear strange and different, even to people who have plenty of marketing experience. If you don’t have a clear strategy for implementation and execution, reactions to your plan will be understandably skeptical to your social media marketing strategy. Take time to explain each step of the plan, describe why it’s being done and how it will benefit the company.

5. Look for examples of social media success. Lots of businesses, large and small, well-known and unknown, have been able to already achieve a lot with social media marketing. From Charles Schwab to FujiFilm to Goodwill, there are countless examples of companies who have been able to successfully use social networking to achieve their corporate goals. Find them and broadcast the results.

6. Anticipate Questions. It’s natural for people to be skeptical of new things and new ideas. While you may be well aware of the benefits of social media marketing, keep in mind that resistance may simply be the result of some people being overly cautions. That’s why it’s important to anticipate any and all questions or objections someone may raise. Find good case studies and other examples of social media marketing successes. Have these on hand to use as examples. Here are some common questions that skeptical bosses may have about social media marketing:

• Our customers aren’t online. This line of reasoning is being used less and less, but some companies may still think this is true. The truth is, at the cusp of the 2010s, nearly everyone is online. Online activity isn’t restricted to any gender, income level, education level, or location. There are countless surveys to prove this. One of the largest survey groups, the Pew Research Center, frequently provides data for online use, broken down by several categories.

• What if someone writes something bad? This is a common fear among those resistant to social media marketing. But studies show that when companies engage with customer complaints and criticisms, they end up looking better than before. Mention that people will likely complain whether you’re engaged in social media or not. It’s better for nearly every brand to appear involved with its customers. Even the angry ones.

• It’s too time-consuming. After setting up social media marketing accounts on networks like Facebook and Twitter, the actual maintenance doesn’t take that much time at all. You can spread social media marketing efforts among the staff, or you can task a single person to handle it. Either way, social media marketing doesn’t require countless work hours. Create a timeline showing the typical amount of time one will spend on social media every week to help prove this point.

7. Make your case. Prepare a short, punchy presentation that hits on all the above topics. Give your boss or colleagues plenty of time to ask questions. Think about your boss or colleagues’ personal preferences and consider how you can best sell your Web 2.0 marketing idea. And remember that there may be some things you don’t know. Social online marketing is still relatively new, and that means that there are still many unanswered questions out there. Be honest about what you don’t know, but make sure to point out all possible benefits to Web 2.0 marketing.

Social network marketing is an exciting new medium that companies can use to achieve just about any business goal. By convincing your colleagues or your boss of the effectiveness of this type of online marketing, you’ll be on your way to discovering the enthralling, challenging and rewarding new world of online business networking.

Reasons Why Social Media Marketing Didn’t Work for Your Business

An objection which I am given almost daily as I interact with prospects & talk to people about Social Media Marketing is “I have tried SM marketing before & it didn’t work”

In my opinion & experience there is huge value in social media but I am not deluded. I realise that not every business has found that it works very well for them or at least in the short term they didn’t see a decent return on their investment, whether that investment came in the form of expenditure of the their time, money or both. Therefore they conclude that SM marketing is a waste of time & money. But hold your horses!

SM Marketing may not be a good fit for your business, it’s true. However please don’t be too hasty either. Thousands of businesses are having fantastic success.
Before you toss SM Marketing on the scrap heap please consider these factors. Some of you may get validation that it really isn’t for your business but some of you may reconsider & give it a second shot, this time doing things a little differently.

Let’s look at some possible factors as to why to Social Media Marketing didn’t work…

1. All businesses are different & there are so many different variables when attempting to connect with your target market using SM marketing.

Social Media works best for companies that serve the whole of the country or even internationally. For those local businesses out there, it will be a little trickier. It’s just a fact unfortunately. There may only be a certain limited amount of people within your geographical location, interested in the topics you are talking about.

Does this mean local businesses shouldn’t bother with SM Marketing? No that’s not what I’m trying to say at all. I am just saying you need to have realistic expectations & also consider wisely how much you invest in Social Media.

I believe that every business big or small should have a Social Media presence, remember it’s about quality not quantity. A few loyal fans & followers can still be worth a lot to your businesses bottom line. Keep them engaged & strengthen the relationships you have with them. You know your business better than I do. So if you feel that your business is extremely micro-niche or geographically tight then I wouldn’t spend any money on social media at all but some carefully managed time instead. 15-20 minutes a day spent interacting with fans & followers is more than enough to give awesome value to them & keep an active Social Media presence without breaking the bank or wasting hours on SM that could be put towards something more productive.

Consider carefully how much you invest in SM marketing. Make sure it’s the right fit for your type of business & is likely to bring more rewards than expenses.

2. Some businesses are just a better natural fit than others when it comes to Social media marketing. Social Media is all about engagement. For some businesses this is easy & for others there may be a little more imagination required.

Some businesses & organisations will always have pockets of people who want to listen & talk about the things relevant to their business. Fashion, arts & crafts, authors, restaurants, speakers, coaches, cookery, sports, theme parks, news, religion, charities, health, music, film, TV shows, the list goes on and on. There are certainly way more interesting enterprises out there than bland ones.

But there are bland ones. And you know who you are. Accountants, precision engineers, adhesive manufacturers, plumbers, locksmiths, taxi drivers, again the list goes on. Should businesses like these like this still use Social Networking? In my opinion yes, although less exciting people still need these kinds of services.

Get your thinking cap on & think of ways to make your business interesting or at the very least informative. This will still help to get people talking & interacting with you. Just accept that you may never get as many people talking as businesses in other slightly more “fun” markets.

3. You were trying to do it yourself but you were doing it wrong. A lot of people mistakenly believe that their dabbling and fooling around a bit with social media themselves counts as a well thought out & executed Social Media Marketing Campaign. And then they are surprised when it doesn’t work.

This is very common especially amongst small business enterprises that may not be able to afford to have it outsourced to a professional or have a marketing employee do it in house.

If you can afford it out source it. If that doesn’t fit well with your marketing budget & you have to do it yourself then get educated. There are plenty of courses, seminars, mentors & workshops out there to help you learn. If you are really on a shoestring budget spend some time scouring the web looking for free information on social media blogs, websites & video channels. But make sure you do. There is no point spending time on something if you are doing it wrong. Social Media marketing isn’t difficult & shouldn’t take long to get up to speed but it doing it the right way or wrong way is the difference between it paying dividends or not.

4. You didn’t give it enough time. Social Networking takes time. Relationships take time.

Expecting to do the Social Media thing for two months & then giving up obviously isn’t going to work. Please be aware that Social Media is not an instant fix but a long term solution.

Kind of sucks right? No not really. Because once someone is a true fan or follower of your business, who knows how many years into the future you will be interacting? If your business is a flash in the pan business then sure it will disappointing not to see results straight away. But if you intend to be in a business a long time, think long term. If you deliver good value to your target market consistently over a sustained period of time, your target market will begin to sit up and take notice. And then your social media presence will build momentum & take up a life of its own thanks to the viral nature of the internet.

Rome wasn’t built in a day.

5. A poor product or service will not be fixed by Social Media Marketing. Even if you are doing Social Media all correctly, there are factors outside Social Media which need to be in place first.

Market research, social proof, a website with good copy & a compelling call to action. Social Media is a good way to drive traffic to your website but if your landing page is poor & does not immediately provide what there are looking for then it’s all for nothing. If you have no testimonials or social proof then you will struggle to sell online. If there is no demand for your products or services then SM Marketing will not help you. Nor will telemarketing, PPC, SEO, Direct Mail, Yellow Pages, Radio or TV ads or any other type of marketing work for you.

I’m not saying that this is you, but trust me I have had people approach me with these problems, totally unaware that they had them. They wanted me to help them because nothing else was working & maybe SM Marketing would change it all around.

That’s not how it works.

If you are selling & business is going reasonably well, then yes jump on the Social Media bandwagon because you know your business works already. If you aren’t selling very well through any other mediums then go back to basics & don’t even consider Facebook, Twitter etc until that changes because it will prove fruitless.