The Nuts and Bolts of Social Media Marketing

We discuss the different aspects of a solid social media strategy

The Nuts & Bolts of Social Media Marketing

Social media is as important to your business as oxygen is to your brain. Almost.

Facebook has a global user base of 1 in 5. If you are still in denial about its relevance in today’s business world, then hire a professional marketing team as soon as you have finished reading this.

So many people are using social media that it has fundamentally shifted the way businesses run.

People are not only connecting with each other, but also with their favourite brands.

But running effective campaigns on social media is not as simple as creating a profile and posting stuff.

Sure, there are a lot of businesses doing that. But you want leverage over them, don’t you?

Especially if that’s how your competitors are marketing themselves.

So here are some lesser-known, very important tools to raise your social media marketing game.

Merging web design with social platforms

You might think that your website runs separately from your Facebook page or Instagram profile.

But that’s not true. The two are interminably linked.

Social media creates one of the most valuable sources of traffic you can develop online. It offers a link across all your business channels.

Web design has changed a lot since the arrival, and the subsequent internet takeover of social media.

Few businesses are not leveraging website conversions through social media marketing. Almost all websites have clear links to a brand’s social media presence.

These social buttons are not only good for SEO. Each social media platform varies in communication style and audience. Brands use this to expand their marketing efforts into different areas online.

Set of social media iconsImage source

Websites and social media are both important. Together, they create awareness and a sense of trustworthiness and authenticity.

Keeping an even aesthetic flow offers brand continuity throughout ongoing marketing campaigns. And it gives potential customers a chance to get a better “feel” for a brand.

People also love simplicity and uniformity. It feels organised and reliable.

A beautiful website design should carry through to your social media profiles.

In the same way, an interactive web design creates a recognisable brand, no matter where your audience sees you on the web.

Great designs encourage people to want to explore your brand across many platforms. And to hang around and get to know your brand.

The true meaning of quality content
Content marketers talk about quality content all the time. But what does it mean?

The answer is not universal. It lies in the detail of your social media marketing strategy.

If a brand knows exactly what its marketing objectives are, then its content will attract the attention of the target market.

Content creates the type of engagement that aligns with the marketing objectives.

The tricky thing about getting content right is the shift in the role of advertising.

Up until the age of social media, advertisers have told people what they want. They’ve pushed products through hard-selling. They’ve made flashy neon signs to get attention.

But humans got tired of it. They realised that social media brought brands to their knees. Consumers began to wield their decision making powers by voicing their opinions publicly.

This was something new. There was no platform to do so before now.

Marketing is now a conversation. Marketers are publishers.

There are no widespread hard-sell techniques that work anymore. Brands are having intimate conversations with a single audience.

This means that different types of content will elicit certain responses.

There is content that is off-putting to everyone, such as bad spelling and grammar.

Also, content that is unoriginal is not going to get people to trust you. They’re going to question your relevance and move on to the original source.

You need to be able to cite relevant sources for information that you share.

If you are sharing a link then you should also be sharing why that particular article is relevant to your business and how it can help your fans.

But don’t expect to get a lot of engagement through article links.

BuzzSumo and Rand Fishkin of Moz did some research and discovered some interesting facts about links and social sharing.

Social Media - White board discussionImage source

BuzzSumo used information from their database on 1 million articles that received social shares. Then they looked at the number of links those articles received.

“The vast, vast majority received zero links. In fact, 75% plus of all articles they looked at received zero, not a single one, social shares. Same with links, by the way. I think it was 90% plus for links or maybe even more. This is like a power-law distribution. You’re essentially seeing that a few articles get all the shares out there. Everything else really gets nothing. If you’re not going to be in the top 10% of content that’s created, don’t even bother” says Fishkin.

This doesn’t mean that they won’t elicit some form of engagement.

So it is still good for social media growth but it won’t be the match that ignites your ranking.

Instead, use blogging as a form of communication.

Write your own blog posts that you can link to social media. Offer a unique, industry-related view on an old topic.

It shows that you are serious about your businesses.

And that your brand actually does have something interesting to say, if only people would care to read it.

Testimonials are social media gold (stars).

Ask clients (nicely) to write testimonials that will boost your credibility.

Quality content is useful. It gives you the opportunity to leverage yourself as a market leader and you are someone people come to when they need information on your industry.

Share as much information as you can that is helpful.

You want people to say to their peers “if anyone has a possible solution, it will be (insert your name/brand here).

Share inside information. Don’t be afraid to advertise your prices. If you’re a plumber, offer tips in which people can save money by not hiring you.

That might sound immensely counter-intuitive. But people are looking for help. They are also looking for authenticity and transparency.

Don’t just be helpful. Be useful.

Use a blog post or create an image or an infographic that answers a common question.

If you can show people how to solve a small problem that will save them money. Your chances of them hiring you to do the big stuff will skyrocket.

Be outrageously visual and bold

People love colourful things.

The old English idiom “A picture is worth a thousand words” couldn’t be more relevant in today’s online existence.

Images and colours demand people’s attention online. They should speak to your audience even without words and captions.

Instagram is a blur of colour that generates over a billion likes a day.

If that number isn’t astounding enough, there are 60 billion images uploaded in a single day.

Let that number sink in. It’s 8.5 times higher than the world’s population.

We consume pictures much faster than words.

Images rule the social media world. They should be a lead-in to what you want to say with words. The more visual you are, the longer people will stay.

It’s almost impossible to imagine how a picture gets any exposure in that crowd, though.

Instagram developed the genius hashtag search method to solve this problem. Do some research and make use of relevant hashtags to increase the exposure of your posts.

Video content is even better.

Fortune said this last year:

“When asked at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women International Summit in London where Facebook would be in a half decade in terms of mobile and video, Mendelsohn said the social network would “definitely” be mobile, and would “probably” be “all video.”

So if you’re serious about our social media marketing efforts then get filming.

Be pitch perfect

Imagine an internet with no colour. Would you still be instantly identifiable by your voice?

Along with a unique look, your brand needs a voice. One that is consistent across all channels.

You have to consider how you want to communicate with your audience.

Knowing the type of language that your target demographic will respond to is a vital piece of information.

If not, you will run the risk of sounding like lots of different people, all sending a different message.

This can get messy and confusing.

When you hear someone you know in a conversation you recognise the sound of their voice, their tone and any unique speech patterns.

After a while, you will even begin to understand their thought patterns and the direction in which they might take a conversation.

If someone else joins in the discussion they might take the conversation in a different direction.

They may have a different accent. They might change the subject halfway through an interesting topic.

The same applies to social media.

Is that a corporate CEO talking? Or is it a twenty-three-year-old surfer?

Too many people posting without proper voice guidelines will turn your profiles into unintelligible noise.

A brand needs to be clear on the use of language variances like colloquialisms or industry jargon.

Create a chart if you have to. That way, if a team is working on your social media profiles there is a point of reference. Create a clear guideline that includes words to use, words not to use, and ones to avoid with indistinct meanings.

With a consistent brand voice, you present as a reliable, industry authority.

And remember the right voice isn’t necessarily yours. A brand must use an identical language to the people that need to hear its message.

And the only way to do that is to take the time to listen before you speak.

Because when you do, it sends the loudest message in the clearest voice – that your social media strategy is right on point.

What it means to be relevant on social media

Social relevance means being able to connect with society and the way that it is organised.

In social media, this means not chasing as many followers and likes you can gather without giving much thought to how you are connecting with society.

Brands need to know what influencers their target audience are listening to and responding to.

Build trust by being good

Be socially conscious of how you can get your fans to share. This doesn’t only apply to content, but also extends into real life.

Get behind an existing awareness campaign.

A Movember campaign poster featuring Darth VaderImage source

Humans love feel-good stories. Creating a campaign that sparks a level of social consciousness will get people to invest in a charitable project as well as your brand.

Offer a portion of your sales to a charitable organisation.

Hold a blanket collection drive for the homeless in your area, for example. Encourage people to do the same in their area. Create a unique hashtag and get followers to take photos then use the hashtag and tag you.

Encourage participation by offering something extra to pensioners. Use social media to challenge your competitors to do the same.

This social awareness both online and in real life will create pride and brand loyalty.

Remember to say thank you.

Be polite.

Be personal.

It’s important to remember this. No matter how large or small your following is, your fans don’t have to follow you.

If you don’t engage or show appreciation, they’ll feel taken for granted and will move on to a brand that appreciates them.

If one of your followers does something commendable, don’t be above giving them a public shout-out. Taking the time to engage on a personal level is a good investment in your brand.

And it’s free.

Stay humble.

Don’t be too self-promotional.

Apologise for mistakes. Don’t get defensive if you aren’t immediately forgiven.

Be dignified and do your best to learn and move on.

Is it good content or conversions first?

If your business is to sell a product then it makes sense to drive traffic from social media to your website for conversions.

The more social followers you have, the likelier you are to increase your conversion rate, right?

The problem with this is social media creates casual onlookers. If your business is local or a niche it will be even harder to maintain high conversion rates.

Your brand will get followers for many different reasons. They might like your product. Or they just like your posts. But they are not guaranteed to buy your product.

The key is to modify your website and use appropriate call-to-action (CTA) buttons on social media that drive conversions rather than follows.

Follows will happen naturally as your customer base increases.

When you have enough people buying your product you can start shifting your goal focus. You can then revamp your marketing campaign for higher engagement.

Being savvy with your social media marketing will elevate your businesses goals. But too many people don’t pay enough attention to the research that needs to happen before you go online.

A clear and concise social media strategy creates a rock-solid foundation on which to build a loyal following.

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