How To Use Social Media Marketing To Promote Your Business (Like A Boss)
The use of social media is prolific. In the next 3 years the number of people (AKA consumers, potential customers) using social media platforms will reach 2.95 billion. A third of the world’s population.
A recent study reveals that, on average, we spend 5 years & 4 months on social media over our lifetimes. Second only to watching television.
So many people spending so much time in so few places… I’m sure we can all see the opportunities that exist to promote our businesses.
So lets get into the HOW!
In this article I highlight 4 of the major social media platforms and provide tips on how to use them effectively to market your business.
I also touch on a few other social networks that are particularly effective in certain niche markets.
Next, you’ll learn how to chose the best platforms for your business and how to form a winning social media strategy.
Followed by how to implement that strategy in a way that sets you apart from your competition.
And a bonus section on how to understand the data created by your social media marketing to measure your success.
Use the below index to skip over the sections you are already familiar with:
- 4 Major Platforms For Your Social Media Marketing & Tips On Using Them Effectively
- Other Platforms That Might Suit Your Niche
- How To Choose The Right Social Media For Your Business
- How To Form A Winning Strategy
- Do Your Social Media Marketing Better Than The Rest
- Understanding The Data To Measure Your Results
There is a lot of information here. My recommendation is to read this article all the way through and then refer back to the different sections as you are implementing them.
The 4 Major Platforms For Your Social Media Marketing
With 2 billion active users Facebook is the most well known and widely used social media platform there is.
It also has excellent targeting options and a user-friendly advertising interface, making it the obvious place to start your social media marketing journey.
Some free insight though, don’t expect Facebook marketing to produce many direct sales leads. It’s most effective when used to promote content, create awareness and cultivate a following of people who like your message.
Don’t think of it as a place to sell. Unless your business is home industry i.e. Cakes, hand made trinkets or furniture, second-hand items etc.
It can be done, and there are people who will disagree with me because of their personal successes.
For me though, the return on effort isn’t there and the risk to brand is very high when you use Facebook as a sales vehicle.
- No hard selling! People use Facebook to connect with friends and family, find interesting things, laugh and switch off. Not to be sold to. They won’t take kindly to you upsetting their happy place.
- Create a company persona. Communicate like a person, avoid the official corporate tone. It might feel safe but nobody will engage with you. More about this later.
- Have a business goal. Create a plan. Build a campaign. Have one goal per campaign.
- Post as often as you can without compromising on the value to your audience.
- Be visually focused. Images and video take less effort to absorb, are remembered for longer and shared more often.
- Encourage comments by asking questions. Reply quickly to keep the conversation going.
YouTube is all about video. You probably knew that…
But did you know that YouTube is now the second largest search engine? And it’s owned by Google… the first-largest search engine?
Well it’s true. YouTube also has 1.5 billion active users that you can market to through entertainment, instruction or promotion. Achieve best results by doing a bit of all three.
Creating and publishing video is way outside of most people’s comfort zone but video is the most engaged with content on the planet. The rewards are well worth the effort it takes to create good video content.
Ever heard of Dollar Shave Club? One video fast forwarded that company’s success by years. And watching it now, 5 years later, it’s still funny. I doubt that Micheal Dubin regrets stepping out of his comfort zone to make it.
If you can create videos that provide value (tutorials, guides, product promotions etc.) then do it. And try to be entertaining where possible.
- Every video needs to have a purpose behind it. Think of a business goal and then create a video to achieve that goal.
- Your videos need to be high quality. Good audio, good resolution.
- Create a 5 second intro to reinforce your brand on every video.
- Keep it as short and as punchy as possible.
- ALWAYS include a call to action. Do this, go here, read that.
- Curate some content. Fill out your YouTube channel with relevant videos created by other YouTubers.
- Respond thoughtfully to comments.
- Video testimonials from happy customers are extremely powerful.
The B2B social media network. LinkedIn is a great tool to use to connect directly with decision makers.
This platform is all business and the users pack their profiles with personal career information like industry, job title, qualifications, employer and more. All of which you can target in searches to find your target market.
LinkedIn also has groups that you can join or create. Pools of like minded people who want to talk about your industry and don’t resent posts about business appearing in their feeds.
As with all social media (and life) though, don’t lead with a pitch. Focus on forming relationships and adding value, the sales will come naturally.
- Spend the time to create an “all star” profile for both you and your business. It makes a good impression.
- Don’t be as selective when connecting on LinkedIn. Facebook has “friends”, LinkedIn calls them “connections”. It’s business.
- Search for and connect with your target customers, industry thought leaders and counterparts at other organisations.
- Join relevant groups and contribute to the discussions.
- Create your own group targeting your ideal customers.
- Post high-quality, relevant information and share it to everybody you’re connected to.
- Get your employees to each create a profile and connect it to your company page.
I’m not convinced (or alone) that Google+ is a viable option as a social media marketing channel.
(I’d love to get some feedback on this in the comments. If you have had marketing success with this platform please share it with us.)
It’s not the platform. The Collections & Communities make sense and the interface is easy to use, and pleasant to look at.
It’s the audience. Research suggests that there are millions of users on Google+ but less than 90% have actually posted anything. And a bit of exploration reveals that the communities are tiny. The term “ghost town” is used a lot in articles about Google+.
Having said all this though, I still recommend using Google+.
You’ll only need one, but I’ll give you three guesses as to who owns Google+? And what else do they own? That right… the first-biggest search engine in the world.
This means that whatever you post on Google+ is indexed almost immediately by Google Search.
Try it. Post one of your articles on Google+, wait 2 hours or so and then search for it using Google Search.
Great for Search Engine Visibility!
Also essential for local SEO is your Google My Business listing. Create your profile to be featured in the all important local search results.
Some Other Platforms That Might Suit Your Niche
Know as the micro-blogging site, Twitter has around 330 million active users.
Your posts are limited to 140 characters for now, with a change to 280 characters currently being rolled out.
Twitter is useful for handling customer service. Questions, complaints, feedback etc. And for making announcements or launching new products.
Your post can go viral very quickly on Twitter. It just needs to be re-tweeted by somebody with lots a followers and it gets set on fire.
A visual social media network based on images and videos.
400 Million users. Owned by Facebook.
A brilliant marketing channel if your business is B2C. Fashion, food, art, weddings or travel.
Instagram users love to share experiences with each other so if you’re in the business of providing them, this a good channel for your social media marketing.
Another visually orientated network. Predominantly used by women and all about sharing ideas.
Over 100 million users.
Businesses in the categories of beauty, exercise, food, fashion, DIY and photography do very well on Pinterest.
There you have it. These are by no means all the social media networks around, but they are the best for marketing the majority of businesses.
Now that you have a good idea of what’s out there, let’s talk about how you can choose the best channels for your niche.
How To Choose The Right Platforms For Your Social Media Marketing
While going through the information above you probably noticed that each of the social networks have unique characteristics.
Different types of content.
Different expectations and tones of voice.
This means that you have to combine a few different platforms to get the best results.
To know which to combine you need to ask yourself the following questions:
What Are Your Social Media Marketing Goals?
Do you want more leads?
Connect with decision makers on LinkedIn using its powerful search filters. Join the groups that your potentials are in and look for opportunities to solve problems for them.
Paid advertising on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook is very affordable. You can advertise to over a 1000 (targeted) people for less than R100-00 (ZAR)
If you are in a B2C industry like beauty, exercise, food, fashion, DIY or photography then Pinterest is a good option for you. (Keep an eye out for their “Buyable Pins” function, currently being rolled out in the U.S but bound to be expanded globally in the future).
Do you want more brand awareness?
Facebook is king of brand awareness. 2 billion users and an effective advertising integration makes it hard to beat.
Don’t forget Twitter’s reputation for spreading content either.
Where Will You Find Your Target Audience?
The most effective social media strategies make use of demographics to target the correct platforms.
You’d be wasting your time by marketing on Pinterest if you are in the business of selling industrial equipment for example.
You need to find out where your potential customers spend their time and join them there.
What Type Of Content Do You Want To Create?
- Guides, white papers, articles – LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook
- Pictures, infographics, arty graphics – Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook
- Video content – YouTube, Facebook
- Memes – Facebook, Reddit
- Blog posts – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+
Where Are Your Competitors Marketing?
I don’t recommend just mimicking the social media presence of your competitors.
Use your competitors to make sure you haven’t overlooked anything and to confirm your decisions.
But don’t stop there.
The biggest opportunities that exist for younger businesses are in the fact that they get to build their foundations on the latest information, demands and trends.
So think for yourself. Your competitors are big and cumbersome heavyweights trying to keep up with demand. You are light and fast, trying to catch up to them.
Even though you are probably still learning to run, the odds are in your favour.
And Lastly, How Much Time Do You Have To Maintain Your Social Presence?
Most businesses should have one or two people available to focus partly on social media marketing.
95% of marketers reported that spending 6 hours or more a week on social media marketing resulted in increased exposure and lead generation.
Even if you think your business will benefit from being on all of the social media platforms, you should prioritise to find the return-on-time sweet spot.
How To Form A Winning Social Media Strategy
At this point you know quite a bit about the major social networks and you have a pretty good idea of which platforms you’ll be using for your marketing.
Now I’ll show you how to apply this knowledge to create a professional social media marketing strategy.
Here are 6 steps that you should go through each time you create a social campaign:
Step 1 – Define Your Marketing Goals & Link Them To Your Overall Business Goals
It’s fine to set a marketing goal like “increasing awareness by leveraging Facebook’s huge audience through its paid advertising platform”.
But start a step further back.
What is the point of increasing awareness?
It could be that one of your company’s goals for the year was to launch a new product and in the lead up to D-day you want to create anticipation around the product.
So you decide to implement a social media marketing campaign and your strategy is to increase awareness about the product by creating a video that demonstrates the product in action.
Then you aim to promote the video on Facebook, Youtube and Twitter.
When you set your objectives remember that social media marketing is a vehicle for top level company objectives.
Ask yourself (or your Board or line manager), “What are we wanting to achieve overall with this campaign?”.
Step 2 – Plot Your Route
What tactics are you going to use to achieve your goals?
Which types of content are you going to create?
Where will you promote your content?
Who will you target?
Using the hypothetical above we could plot a route like this:
- Create product demo video
- Upload to YouTube, Post to Facebook.
- Promote through groups and sponsored post advertising.
- Broadcast competition on Twitter giving away 6 free products to people who like and share the video.
- Create a Facebook Event around the product launch event and let everybody know that the prize winners will be announced there.
Step 3 – Create Targets, Set KPI’s
How will you know that your campaign has been a success?
And what checkpoints will let you know that you are on track to achieving your targets?
The target for our product launch could be 40 pre-launch orders and 60 launch event sales.
And the key performance indicators for this target might be 1500 likes on Facebook and 350 RSVP’s to the launch event.
Step 4 – What Is Your Budget?
Now that you know what you want to achieve, how much are you willing to spend to get the results?
The cost will be in time and money so make sure you budget for both.
Avoid the common mistake of thinking about marketing as an expense.
How much profit will you make from 100 sales of your new product? How much are you willing to spend to make that profit?
On the other side of the coin, know your limitations. If this is your first rodeo, start small, you’re going to make mistakes.
Step 5 – Who’s Doing What?
Create tasks, set due dates and assign responsibility.
Delegate. It’s liberating.
Download this free editorial schedule to keep everybody on track.
If you are flying solo, do the same because it is just an idea until you put it down in writing.
Step 6 – How Did We Do?
After the campaign is over, evaluate yourself and look for opportunities to improve.
Next time you can reach more people, drive more engagement and get more sales.
But only if you learn from your experience as a social media marketer.
The last section of this article helps you to understand social analytics data.
Some Extra Advice:
- Start by growing your followers. It’s a good way to get to know how the different platforms work and build up experience before you start putting money into large campaigns.
- Keep the financial investment low while you are learning to get engagement from your audience.
- Once your posts regularly get a good number of likes, shares, retweets, comments etc. Then create a more ambitious strategy.
- Slowly, slowly, catchy monkey. If you go for broke on your first strategy the chances are high that you’ll come up short.
Do Your Social Media Marketing Better Than The Rest
Use these principles to win the competition for your audiences’ attention:
Share On The Right Platform
You learnt earlier that the different social networks have unique audiences, preferred types of content and tones of voice.
Use this information to post your content where it will be most valued.
Customise For The Platform
Each Platform has its own way of displaying content.
Use the unique posting features to fully optimise your content. This will immediately set your post apart from the familiar sight of no description, a bad headline or a cut-off picture.
You should get familiar with the different publishing options available.
Don’t fret though, this is simpler than it sounds.
Use Imagery To Catch Attention
We all scan our social feeds.
I find I do it on autopilot a lot of the time. I scroll until something passes by that my brain flags as interesting. It’s not a choice I consciously make, it’s more of an impulse.
Only once my attention is focused do I decide whether or not to engage with the post. And I know that’s probably true in your case as well.
According to research, once I’ve stopped to make the decision, I’m 53% more likely to share, like or comment.
Are you the same?
Use relevant images as often as you can. Your engagement will improve.
Write Great Headlines
The headline is the second thing that people will look at when deciding whether or not to engage.
Writing good headlines is an art that takes practice.
Use this Headline Analyser from the Advanced Marketing Institute to check how compelling your headlines are.
Post At The Right Time
Take a page out of the Nando’s marketing book here.
Content created around current events always performs well.
Our brains instinctively make the connection and flag the post as relevant to our lives.
The other aspect of sharing at the right time is literal.
Share when your audience is most likely to be online and is most likely to appreciate your content.
This article will give you an idea on general rules. Use it as a starting point but know that every niche will have its own set of variables to take into account.
You are the best person to know what these are.
Create A Brand Voice That Appeals To Your Audience
This infographic, created by Stephanie Schwab, can help you with that:
Choose one from each quadrant to create your voice.
- Character = Authoritative
- Tone = Personal
- Language = Simple/Savvy
- Purpose = Enable
If I’m practising what I preach, you can hopefully tell that this is the brand voice I’ve chosen for Mind Map Marketing.
Don’t just post promotional content or links to your blog.
Engage with your communities. Add value where you can. Ask questions (the geniune kind! Warning: Small rant follows… I find it so insulting when people ask “questions” on social media that are nothing more than poorly disguised self-promotion. If your marketing strategy is targeting the gullible, you’re in the business of fraud).
By being a genuine part of a community your credibility goes up and the members there will be more receptive to your content when you post it.
Pay To Promote
Make use of the advertising options.
Unlike traditional paid media the barriers to social media advertising are very low.
Pay to put your content in the news feeds of the people it was created for. It might cost a few hundred Rand (ZAR) in school fees at first but by using the analytics data you can find out what works and what doesn’t.
Don’t think that because you have thousands of followers they will all see your content in their feeds.
Organic reach (the free kind) on Facebook is between 2 and 18%. Depending on the size of your following.
This means that if you have 1000 followers, you’ll be lucky if 180 of them see your post.
Shocked? I was too.
Understanding The Analytics Data To Improve Your Results
What Is Analytics Data?
Web analytics is the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of web data for the purposes of understanding and optimising web usage.
All the social media platforms spoken about in this article have built-in analytics reporting.
Analytics data is grouped together into the following types of metrics:
- Reach: This is audience size. In print media it’s called circulation. Think of it as potential audience reachable.
- Impressions: This metric tells us how many people actually saw your post in their feeds. Sometimes also called ‘Reach’ so make sure which metric you are looking at.
- Engagement: Number of people who interacted with your post. Likes, shares, comments, +1’s, retweets etc.
- Conversions: Predefined by you. Refer to goals and can include clicking to page, sharing, filling in a contact form, subscribing to a newsletter or making a purchase.
- Page Views: Self explanatory.
You will come across quite a few others but just stick to these for now. As you become more experienced the other metrics you see will naturally start to make sense to you.
Why You Should Take The Time To Understand The Data
Social media analytics data gives us insight into how often, and in what ways, our content is being interacted with.
Understanding this information is a crucial part of understanding your audience and optimising your content for them.
Without knowing these things you would have to guess how successful your campaigns were.
Did we hit the mark? Or some poor bystander behind the target?
Should we do another campaign?
How can we improve?
All unanswerable questions without analytics.
Benefits In A Nutshell
- More targeted, effective posts and content.
- Less money being wasted on advertising to wrong people.
- A more optimised social media marketing strategy.
- The ability to provide better customer service.
- The ability to measure the return on your social media investment.
Third Party Analytics Tools
There are many high-quality third party analytics tools on the web.
My advice is to use the built-in platforms provided by each social network.
The reason for this is that you need to be on the platforms to keep your feel for them. You tend to lose perspective when going at it from another source.
It’s like driving a simulator vs going around in the real thing.
You also lose some functionality when using these third party tools.
Analytics Dashboard Previews & How To Access Yours
How to access: Click on the “Insights” navigation tab at the top of your Facebook Page.
How to access: Go to your business page and click “Analytics”. Then choose which of the 3 data sets you would like to see.
How to access: Go here and turn on.
How to access: From your Google+ page, click the “Manage Page” button and scroll down to the insights section.
How to access: Go to analytics.pinterest.com and login
That’s A Wrap
Phew, that escalated quickly!
I know it was a long one, but hopefully you’ve found everything you need in here to achieve social media marketing success?
Like I said in the beginning, don’t worry if you didn’t fully understand something. Refer back to the sections as you are implementing them and things with fall into place.
Alternatively, if you’ve appreciated the information in this article but don’t have the time or energy to do your own social media marketing; please give us a call.
Over To You
Now it’s your turn.
Please let me know what you thought in the comments below. Your feedback is always appreciated!
Feel free to ask questions and start a conversation as well.