The importance of Social Media Marketing (SMM)
Social media is highly recommended for any business looking online to earn more customers and qualified leads. It allows companies and brands alike to reach their target audience on the sites they use most often, and to build trust by catering to those individuals’ wants and needs - so we've outlined some tips on how to determine which sites are best for you and your business.
How do I choose the right social networks?
Each social network is different, but they all have one thing in common – they allow companies to increase their brand’s presence almost instantly. So how can you make social media work to your advantage? Simple: make identifying, growing and engaging your brand’s audience the primary focus when developing your overall social media strategy.
Once you have a sound strategy in place, you need to figure out which social networks make the most sense for your business. When considering which to join, however, don’t think about yourself and your company – think about your customers.
Remember: social media is about the people you’re trying to connect with, not you!
If your customers use Twitter to keep informed on the news and interact with friends, join Twitter. If your customers browse Instagram all day looking at beautiful photos – AND you just so happen to have highly photogenic products and/or staff members – join Instagram. If your customers are mainly professionals who prefer to stay off the mainstream social networks, join LinkedIn.
Once you have created accounts for your company or brand on the most relevant social networks, it's vital that you take the time to customize your profile on each site. Here are a few helpful tips:
- Make sure you use consistent descriptions and imagery – failure to do so will confuse people
- Consult a graphic designer to ensure your profile photos and all other profile images are sized properly, and in the correct format - there’s nothing more embarrassing for a brand’s image than pixelated, stretched and/or poorly cropped profile images!
- If your company has multiple locations (such as a chain or franchise), make sure that the images and content you post are consistent with corporate brand standards
- Be sure to use keywords in your company description to help with SEO - just make sure you do it naturally! Forcing keywords where they don't belong will only hurt your company's perception
Don’t “set it and forget it.”
We like to quote Ron Popeil as much as possible. Not because we love his Showtime Rotisserie Oven so much, but because his slogan is highly relevant to the digital marketing world. Allow me to explain:
Your company’s social media profiles aren’t like a juicy, 5-lb. chicken – they can’t be put on a timer and left to cook. Instead, they need constant attention and management to ensure proper results.
Unfortunately, balancing multiple social media networks can be difficult and time consuming. The ongoing strategy and analysis alone can occupy the majority of your workday. Factor in all the other tasks you have to complete on any given day, and you can see how so many companies fall behind when it comes to consistent management their social media presences. The result is stale, neglected social profiles that make customers feel like those companies don’t care enough to keep them up.
What's the best way to get started with social media?
For a new business just starting out, or an established business trying to stretch a tight marketing budget, it can be expensive to hire a full-time social media manager. It can also be overwhelming to try and take on the task yourself, or to have an inexperienced member of your staff take on the challenge.
If hiring a social media manager or social media team is out of your budget, we recommend selecting a single social media network to focus on. Once you’ve selected your network of choice, challenge yourself to maintain it every day.
The "Big 3"
Below you will find three of our favorite social media networks, which we believe almost any business can not just participate, but thrive, on:
EVERYONE has heard of Facebook. Even my grandmother is on it! Facebook boasts over a billion users around the globe, and is the most frequently used of all social networks. It has single-handedly changed society, and it's a terrific marketing tool.
This social media giant allow businesses create custom pages to build awareness and engage their target audience. In addition, it allows companies to serve ads to highly targeted groups of individuals.
Want to be successful on Facebook? We recommend two things:
- Post one to two times per day (M-F, unless your business is open on weekends)
- Set aside a budget and develop a paid ad campaign for your business
Rule of thumb: Don’t post just anything! Instead, post things that your audience will find interesting and valuable, such as relevant news articles, interesting company facts, puzzles or trivia, entertaining photos and videos, etc. Posting all about yourself will only turn people away.
Remember: social media is a relationship-building tool – It’s not just for marketing/sales!
The key is to post content that forces your audience to interact with you AND your company page. If your main goal is to market and sell to your followers, you’re wasting your time.
Have information, news or something else worth sharing? Twitter is a great way to promote that content.
Twitter is one of the simplest of all social networks, and yet it is still very complex. Twitter requires users to limit their Tweets to 140 characters or less (including spaces). To have success on Twitter, users must master the art of crafting clever, relevant headlines to promote their content. If you take into consideration that as of July 2014, 9,100 tweets happen every second, you understand the need for making your Tweets stand out – otherwise they will be lost in the noise!
Beyond giving companies and individuals the ability to reach a massive global audience instantaneously, the true power of Twitter is its facilitation of conversations. Twitter allows businesses to engage current and potential customers, as well as vendors, strategic partners, media personnel, other brands, industry leaders, celebrities, etc. Very few social networks offer those opportunities!
Interested in using Twitter as a social media platform for your company? We recommend using a tool like Sprout Social to help manage your account. Sprout makes it incredibly easy to find and Tweet great content, and to engage and respond to your followers in a timely and efficient manner.
Because success on Twitter ultimately comes down to consistency, you need to commit to tweeting five to eight times per day – tools like Sprout Social allow you to schedule those Tweets at the beginning of your workday, saving time in the process.
Looking to make business connections, develop sales leads and/or grow your personal network? If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, LinkedIn is the ideal social network for you. LinkedIn allows professionals around the world to keep in touch, share contacts and share content.
Your connections are the most important resources you have on LinkedIn. The beauty of LinkedIn is that it allows you to see how you’re connected to someone, even if you don’t know him or her directly.
LinkedIn also tells you which of your connections has a relationship with the person you’re interested in meeting, which opens the door for you to reach out to your contact to request an introduction. These second- and third-degree connections allow for you to focus on forging valuable relationships that will ultimately help your business grow – pretty cool, right?
In addition to facilitating personal networking, LinkedIn allows companies and brands to create custom profiles, which can be used to share content, promote job opportunities and connect with other companies. Having a strong presence on LinkedIn can pay huge dividends in the form of business connections, sales leads and thought leadership.
The next step: get started!
There are tons of other social media networks we could have included in this post, but doing so would only have overwhelmed you.
We are confident that if you are able to master any of the three social networks outlined above, you will see positive results. Then, once you’ve mastered that network, you can branch out to additional social media sites. Before you know it, your company will be dominating social media!
If you're still feeling overwhelmed by the thought of putting your company out there on social media, get in touch with us so we can help you formulate a solid strategy and ongoing management plan!
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