Social media accounts for 27 percent of all time spent online and has become a popular way for customers to discover and research brands, and for marketers to reach out to potential customers. 93 percent of marketers currently say they use social media for business, and in 2013 there was a surge in popularity of new networks like Pinterest, Vine, and Instagram. This year, expect more sites, specifically Google+, to gain additional traction and become a people’s daily lives. Before businesses jump into social media, here are the five essential steps to success in social media marketing.
1. Start with a Plan
1 in 4 small businesses have no strategy in place for social media marketing. If a business wants to be successful in driving sales and leads from social, they need to have a clear digital strategy that incorporates social media.
Each social network has different audience demographics, so businesses should strategically choose which outlets to utilize based on their target customers. Examples of demographic differences include:
- 67 percent of people online use Facebook, making it the top social network
- Facebook users are 60 percent female
- The average Twitter user is a 28-year-old woman
- Instagram users are most likely to be between 18 to 29
- Pinterest skews heavily female, with 80 percent of users being women
- Pinterest attracts women with more education and higher income
Think about your customer by outlining the personality types that are likely to purchase your product or service, including overall lifestyle, and add value for them online.
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Once the appropriate social channels selected, take a look at what is working for competitors, and start to create a content calendar. This helps businesses organize, plan ahead and stick to a regular social content schedule.
2. Create Quality Content
Quality content engages audiences, is shared across multiple platforms, and garners more interest in a brand. It also makes a difference when it comes to SEO.
So what it quality content? It is:
- Relevant to the target audience
Here is an example of quality social media content from Tic Tac.
Here is another example from Oreo. These brands have embraced social media marketing as a way to both increase brand awareness and drive sales.
With content continuing its reign, it is important to remember that writing like a king not only takes a sense of humor, but also an authoritative knowledge of the subject, the audience, the medium and practice (and in the examples, a sense of humor). Marketers should not be afraid to experiment to see what works best for them, whether they are successes or failures.
3. Think Visually
“A picture is worth a thousand words,” but in social media, it may be worth more.
- According to Harvard, about 70 percent of all Facebook activities revolve around images
- On Facebook, 44 percent of users are more likely to interact with brands if they post pictures
- Professional-quality photos garnered 121 percent more Facebook shares and an average of 90.64 shares per post
- Vine, Pinterest, Tumblr and Instagram are more examples of how social media is trending toward images and videos
Marketers need to think ahead, with a creative strategy behind posts that incorporate the use of images.
Images also secure most space in the digital medium. Feed space is limited, but images take up the most space available, increasing visibility and decreasing the chances it is missed. This increases the visibility of a post, especially on mobile devices. Furthermore, studies show that people are more likely to remember the content of a post when it is accompanied with a striking image.
4. Be Active and Responsive
As customers and fans flock to a business’ social sites and post comments, they are going to expect the company to be social as well. Microsoft and Xbox support are two of many examples of businesses using Twitter for customer relations.
The Xbox Support feed is one of the most active and responsive brand feeds found online. It boasts an impressive 1.3 million tweets calls itself the most responsive brand on Twitter.
The Microsoft Support twitter feed responds to mentions in an average of just 42 minutes, which is lightning fast compared to traditional customer service outlets.
It is important to remember however that just responding is not enough. Automation has the ability to get brands in trouble because it can lead to inappropriate responses. For example, companies that respond to every mention with a boilerplate response could inadvertently promote negative attention or come off as uncaring. When it comes to public perception, this is a big issue because consumers demand to feel like they’re interacting with a human on social media, not an automated response.
5. Measure Metrics
There are hundreds of millions of interactions across social media sites every day. Even though the majority of businesses believe social media is important, 25 percent of them have no strategy in place for measurement. Businesses that spend time and money on social media want a return on their investment, and measuring metrics is one of the best ways to see if this is happening and what can be improved.
A few metrics that every business should keep track of are:
- Shares across all social sites
- Conversion rates
- Traffic from social channels to their website (some businesses will even find activity from social sites they are not active on)
One goal of social media marketing is the same as any traditional marketing strategy, to increase sales. However, it is important to keep in mind that brand awareness is just as important. By keeping track of these metrics, businesses can use them to adjust tactics to increase efficiency and ROI, which is the bottom line for determining if any digital marketing strategy is effective.