Step 6: Social Media Marketing Strategy
Welcome to the trendy part of crushing your competition. If you’re, shall we say, of a certain demographic, this is probably the part of this report you’ve been dreading. Facebook, Twitter and the like might have a reputation for being trivial time sinks, but their popularity means they cannot be ignored. When you start to see major corporations producing adverts that feature their Facebook page, instead of their official website, then you know you’ve reached the point where businesses can no longer afford to ignore these platforms.
The good news is that a basic social media marketing strategy has nothing to do with celebrity gossip, cat photos, or even the Trololo Guy; it’s about engaging with your clients. Like so much of smart internet marketing, social media is an opportunity to change the perception of the online part of your organisation from an impersonal entity hiding behind a laptop screen, to a tangible, likeable business with which people can relate.
Given the importance of social media to your Internet marketing strategy, you might be wondering why it’s featured towards the end of this report, rather than at the beginning. The reason is because social media is also a valuable tool for driving traffic to your website, but there is little point in doing so if you haven’t already optimised your website, set up your autoresponder and created some videos. Satisfy yourself that you’ve made all the necessary changes and additions to your website before you spend time planning your social media strategy.
And I don’t use the word “strategy” lightly. Don’t think for a minute that you can simply create a Facebook page and then you’re done. In fact it would be counter-productive if people try to reach out to you through your social media accounts, only to find that it’s not been updated in months and that no-one’s around to reply to their message. Ongoing management is essential, and although there is a moderate amount of time involved, it’s well worth the effort and there’s nothing to stop you from outsourcing aspects of the work.
There are many different varieties of social media, but I suggest you focus on the two most popular: Twitter and Facebook.
The easiest way to understand Twitter is to imagine a blog that only lets you make posts (tweets) of 140 characters. If other Twitter users are interested in your tweets, they can subscribe (follow) to your account and follow what you have to say. They can even reply to your tweets, enabling you to engage with your followers directly.
The really exciting feature of Twitter is that, when someone shares your tweet (retweets) with their followers, your message can gain exposure that is wider than just your immediate followers. Retweets can be passed around indefinitely, meaning that a single tweet can end up on the screens of, theoretically, millions of people. Okay, that scenario is rare, but the potential to broaden your marketing reach is there, and the opportunity to communicate directly with existing clients and future customers is a powerful one.
Figuring out what to tweet about is where many businesses come unstuck. Posting nothing but self-promotional content will turn people away, whereas information that is too trivial or personal can appear unprofessional. There isn’t one tone that is right for every industry, but generally you should aim for something in between the two. Tweet about things that are relevant to your business, and to your industry as a whole, but don’t be afraid to put some personality and opinions into the mix. Whether or not you want to occasionally tweet about the great movie you saw last night is up to you, but just ensure that trivia doesn’t dominate your offerings.
Take care of the above, and you’ll have a solid Twitter page that you can link to from your website, but if you want to be more deeply involved in the Twittersphere, then it’s time to start following others. Find people relevant to your industry, get involved in the discussions that they’re having and retweet some of the content to your own followers. It’s more crucial than ever that when you’re engaging with other people in this way that you don’t try to sneak in any self-promotion. You won’t gain any friends that way. If you add value to a discussion then people will follow you and find out about your business in a natural manner. This is far more effective than “spamming” other people’s Twitter pages.
Although there are some similarities with Twitter, Facebook posts are not character-limited, there is a much greater emphasis on photos and videos, and you’ll need to choose between a personal account and a “page”. I recommend creating a personal account for keeping in touch with friends, family and work colleagues, but I encourage you to use a “page” for your business instead. This seems to be standard practice at the moment.
Your approach to Facebook should be similar to the one I described for Twitter. Pitching should take a distant second place to engaging with your subscribers through conversation and mutual interests. Try to think of your page as a community that just happens to be hosted by your business. If your page becomes a place where people come to discuss and share things related to your industry, then you’ve nailed it.
If you’re already a regular Twitter or Facebook user, then really you have no excuse not to have active accounts for your business. If this is all new to you then I hope I’ve convinced you that this is worthy of your time and that it’s far easier to get started than you probably imagined. Stop thinking of social media as a time-waster for teenagers; social media is rapidly becoming the lens through which people – of all ages – view the Internet. If you want your business to be in plain view, then this is where you need to be.
Three things you can do now:
- Open Twitter and Facebook accounts and make your first tweet/post.
- Set up some Google Alerts (www.google.com/alerts) for search terms related to your industry. This will give you inspiration for things to post.
- Add links to your Facebook and Twitter pages from your website.
Three things you can outsource:
- Hire a graphic designer to create custom Twitter and Facebook page designs.
- Hire a ghostwriter to write a series of interesting tweets/posts related to your industry.
- Hire an assistant to monitor your social media accounts and interact on your behalf.
Additional reading and support
If you want to learn more about social media, visit the links below.
1. Sample social media accounts:
If you have any questions about the content of this chapter, please don’t hesitate to contact me at www.davesupports.com.