It’s a safe bet that most of your customers are active on social media.
Therefore, it stands to reason that your marketing efforts should include reaching out to existing and prospective customers on various social media platforms. But this form of marketing differs from more traditional approaches and if you’re not careful, you risk alienating potential customers who thrive on social media because they don’t want to be subjected to a hard sell.
So how can you leverage the increasingly powerful resource of social media and boost your company’s marketing efforts? Here are four effective strategies to implement:
1. Know where your target audience “lives” on social media. It may be initially tempting to build your company’s presence across the vast spectrum of social media platforms. But the ROI on this approach is minimal, since not everyone wants or needs your product or service. Instead, do the necessary research to determine where your target audience hangs out—be it Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. By concentrating your efforts on one or two channels, you greatly increase the potential for gaining the right kind of followers, in the numbers you’re looking for.
2. Offer content your customers want and need. Social media marketing is a natural extension of your content marketing efforts. By generating informative and useful content, you establish a bond with your customers, which can translate into increased sales and loyalty over the long run. And the best place to promote your content offerings is on your social media platforms.
Just make sure that the content you offer isn’t overtly self-promotional. Focus on producing blog posts, articles, white papers and videos that “provide some key insight in your industry or tell [the audience] something they didn’t know before.”
Then tweet or post a link to this value-rich content and invite your followers to comment on the material and offer insights of their own. Over time, this builds a community of like-minded people that’s a fertile breeding ground for new sales leads.
3. Include a call-to-action (CTA) wherever possible. Yes, we said don’t be self-promotional, but on the other hand, neglecting to include a “next step” for interested consumers amounts to a wasted opportunity. On every social media platform you occupy, there’s a place for your business profile. Always craft a profile that’s enticing to prospective customers, but one that also includes links to your website’s home page and/or other pages with sales offers and giveaways.
The same principle applies to the content you promote on social media. These articles, blog posts and white papers should include a link towards the end that takes users directly where you want them to go. Links going to your home page from a social media post “are wasted clicks,” notes online marketing expert Jonathan Long. “Nobody has time to try to find offers. Send them directly to your offers, and this will greatly increase your conversion rates.”
4. Listen to what customers are saying. Social media marketing isn’t just about strategies to push content on your followers. Social media is first and foremost about community, and your marketing efforts will be doubly effective if you pay close attention to the topics and concerns expressed by others on your chosen platforms. As time passes, users will respond to your content, but they’ll also have things to say about your products or services (good, bad and ugly), and they expect you to be listening.
Whenever possible, respond to comments and reactions to the content you provide. Always be respectful and, at all costs, avoid getting into ugly online squabbles. These achieve nothing except to tarnish your reputation. Instead, thank commenters for offering feedback and—if those comments focus on product shortcomings or issues—promise to do all you can to make future improvements.
Social media marketing is a great way to increase brand awareness, as long as your strategies accommodate the “rules” of this new frontier.
Want more insights on social media marketing? Check out TAB's PULSE Survey on Small Business and Social Media.