09 Jan 10 Secrets of Social Media Marketing That Everyone Misses
Social media marketing sounds simple enough to many business owners, but they need to recognize the differences between personal social media use and professional social media marketing.
Think about it like this: if you make a good pot of coffee to serve your family, then that’s something you can manage on your own. But if you plan on serving 1,000 cups of coffee to peers over the course of a three-day business conference, that’s an entirely more complex matter!
Everything gets more complicated when you move from personal to professional, and the results matter more, too.
Suddenly, you aren’t just posting on your Facebook page when you feel like it. Nor can you just feel good about the occasional reply and like. Instead, you’re actively trying to drive business goals and represent your brand in an agreeable way.
The dramatic difference between the two approaches catches many business owners off-guard and puts them at a disadvantage with their competitors. Here are ten secrets the pros use when it comes to social media marketing—which many small businesses overlook.
Write Down a Policy and Style Guide
Ask employees to tell you what their business’s social media policy is, and you’re just as likely to get dozens of different answers. In fact, most employees may look back at you with a blank stare. And for good reason: most businesses have not developed a policy and style guide!
A social media policy guides the brand’s voice as well as the decisions a business makes when posting. So, if you were trying to pick between two image types, the social media policy could help you decide on the one that aligns better with your social goals. Having written down, clearly communicated guidelines creates consistency and reliability in your branding, regardless of which employee is doing the posting.
Set policies for employee social media use, too. Make sure employees know they represent the company! Let them know what sorts of offenses could get them in hot water, including posting extreme political opinions or offensive takes. This rule extends beyond your company’s accounts and into your employees’ social media accounts. There needs to be specific guidelines for how employees can and cannot represent the company on their social media pages. Posting pictures from the company holiday bash to their personal Instagram accounts can have ramifications for the company down the line.
Creating a social media style guide can help make posting easier, especially if more than one employee handles the duties. Align everything in your policy and style guide so that your social media accounts can support both your brand and your marketing goals. Ensure that all employees understand what is acceptable and what is not when it comes to social media posting about the company — in both business and personal accounts.
Target Your Content and Conversations Towards Personas
Some small businesses get HUGE social media followings …of people who would rarely buy anything from them.
There is a big gap between mass engagement and targeted engagement.
You want your posts to speak to a highly targeted audience based on the traits of your best customers. For instance, if you pitch your services to existing IT departments, don’t be shy about using industry lingo. Stay current on any discussion, too, so that your ideas don’t seem dated.
But if you want to offer managed IT services to regular businesses, they may not know a CAT cable from a cat collar. Feel free to post basic how-tos, and try to keep terminology approachable.
Decide upon the segments you want to speak to in order to raise your chances of success. Imagine traits of a single person in this segment, including their typical job role, the things they value most, their demographics. In addition, consider what their “pain points” and objections might be. Content creation should be guided by your audience’s needs first and foremost. This is your “persona” for an idealized version of a target audience group.
You can even name them! That way, before you decide on a post to share or an image to use, you can ask something like: “Would Sarah the retired optometrist care about this post?” Don’t be dismayed by the dozens of potential personas who might make up your target audience. Begin by thinking of your 3 most important ideal customers. Each quarter, add 3 more to your growing list.
Strategize, Set Goals, And Ditch Vanity Metrics
Always set goals for your social media usage. It should serve a concrete purpose that ultimately benefits your business.
Common social media marketing goals include:
- Raising website visits
- Generating leads through job quotes
- Helping introduce new products to people
- Getting more participants for events, contests, and webinars
- Upselling existing customers
- Reminding prior customers to return
- Promoting a specific brand value, especially through philanthropy
No matter what your goals are, ensure they actually help your business get more money or improve its brand. For instance, having a certain number of “likes” or shares from a post promoting your content should not be a goal. These are vanity metrics. Instead, you should monitor the amount of actual visits to the content on your website. Ideally, you will also have targets for the percentage of people converted from social to content to signing up for your related offer.
Use the Hub and Spoke Model
While engagement of your audience on your social media accounts is important, it is not your end goal. Vanity metrics place the focus on your social media page. However, real conversions of your visitors from shoppers into buyers occurs on your website.
Therefore, you want to use the Hub and Spoke Model for your social media activity. Picture a wagon wheel with a solid wood hub and radiating spokes attaching to the outer wheel. All the parts work in concert to move the wagon forward, but the motion begins at the hub.
Your hub is your website and your spokes are the various social media and traditional marketing channels. Unfortunately, few businesses employ this model and the result is that each marketing channel — Facebook, Instagram, Radio, Direct Mail — veers off in separate directions rather than working cohesively to support one another.
How does this apply to your social media activity? Post your blogs, announcements, promotions, offers, etc., first to your website — often on your blog page. Then you take the link from that page and post it to your social media accounts with a teaser. The goal is to drive the visitor back to your website where they will further engage your content and move through your Calls-to-Action, ultimately resulting in a lead or sale.
Not all content that you would post on your social media accounts will originate on your website; however, every post should point back to your website for additional information, products, a downloadable, etc. Your goals that we mentioned above are centered around activity to your website.
Information moves from the Hub out to the Spokes with the intent of driving traffic back to the Hub.
When It Comes to Content, Start Big
Let’s face it, content creation is time-consuming and challenging. Having a daily social media content calendar multiples those challenges exponentially.
Most businesses quickly become overwhelmed with finding and creating enough content to post to social media daily. As a result, they often abandon their social media strategy entirely and fall back into occasional postings, treating the business account like a personal account (see above).
Instead, you want to focus your intention on creating long-form content that will be posted first to your website, ‘a la’ the Hub and Spoke model. You then repurpose long-form content by subdividing it into shorter pieces of content that fit the various platforms.
For example, a 3500-word lead magnet, such as a Buyer’s Guide, gets subdivided into 3-4 website blog posts. Each blog post can then be subdivided into 4-6 Facebook posts, which can then be copied over to Instagram with an image. Each Facebook post becomes 3-5 Tweets.
In other words, you spend your time and effort to create one piece of great content that then becomes an entire month’s worth of website and social media posting.
But doesn’t that create too much repetition of content across your platforms?
Yes. And that’s a good thing. A common mistake businesses make is thinking that the content needs to be unique every day. However, sales teams have taught us that the average prospective client needs to be “touched” 12-15 times before they’ll commit to an action. If your content shifts focus on a daily basis, then your messaging becomes too frenetic for the audience to follow and act on.
Just like in school, repetition aids memory and just like in the gym, repetition aids conditioning. You are conditioning your audience to receive your messaging and take action as a result.
Carry on Actual Conversations and Engage
Don’t just post into the void or post things you, personally, want to read.
Everything you post should be targeted towards the personas you have created and linked to business goals.
With this in mind, you want your audiences to feel like your brand is carrying on a conversation rather than just talking at them.
Respond to certain positive comments or interesting ideas. Try to see if you can get the full perspective from people who have something negative to say. Make each response feel personal, not canned.
Give your audience opportunities to take center stage. Post a question for them, like “what are your favorite ways to save money?” Ask them if they would like to see more of certain content types, or less of certain post types.
Also, make your social media use broader than just posting on your own page. Use social listening tools to monitor brand mentions and jump in on messages when you think it’s worthy of a conversation. Find other business pages and engage with them like you would want others to engage with you.
As Andrew Kucheriavy of web development company Intechnic writes, “make your interactions meaningful! Networking is about adding value to a relationship.” https://www.intechnic.com/blog/10-common-social-media-marketing-mistakes-to-avoid/
Make Time for Off-Schedule Posting
Many business owners go ahead and queue up an entire month’s worth of content in advance — certainly easier to do if you’re following the tips up above.
This is great! Having a schedule makes the social experience more consistent and professional for your audience.
But you shouldn’t be shackled to this schedule.
New articles and ideas will pop up on your radar all the time. Maybe something interesting happened in your industry this week. Maybe you just snapped a great photo of your team at the office.
Give yourself the chance to actually share content during opportunities like these rather than hoarding it all until next month. If you set aside, say, an hour each week to make time for unscheduled postings, then you can flesh out your existing content and make your page feel more organic.
Just remember to stick to your policy, goals, and persona guides. Also, proofread twice!
Promote Content Posts to Put Them in Front of Targeted Audiences
Promoting content on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter can be highly affordable. More importantly, it can grow your audience beyond people who already follow and interact with your pages.
Start experimenting with promoting certain posts and using custom audience building features. Platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook even offer the ability to target specific companies or hyper-local areas.
If you put just a small budget behind a few key posts a month you can quickly multiply the number of people who see your messages. You also generate valuable data based on who does and doesn’t interact when they see certain posts.
Don’t Assume Social Media Marketing Is Easy to Do Yourself
There’s a reason “social media manager” is a full-time job at most big companies. Even for small businesses, managing it all and doing it right can be tough.
On top of that, you may not have the time to dig into your data or revisit your strategies and guiding documents.
So seek out help. Share the burden with others who are qualified and whose judgement you trust.
As Social Media Week observes: “Long gone are the days when you could rely on an intern to manage your business’s social media accounts. Either hire an in-house expert, or outsource to a social media management firm.”
Crawl Before You Walk, Walk Before You Run
As with anything in business, don’t bite off more than you can chew. Stick to one or two social networks at first. Otherwise your pages could feel like soulless cookie-cutter copies or, worse, ghost towns with nary an update in months.
But if you stay focused on your goals and your principles, then you can start out small to find gradual success. Only once you get the hang of it should you start to scale out and do more.