10 tips for giving your social media marketing a boost of energy in second half of 2014
Social Media Marketing blog posts seem pretty redundant these days. Fortunately we pioneer new tools and techniques every day, and have boiled some of our favorite tools and best practices down to a few tips that should help any business owner cut their social media time down, while greatly increasing their effectiveness.
1. Divide and conquer types of content
Most small businesses end up at a loss for the type of content they should be posting, while some people create calendars of social media marketing content each week. There are some general rules for what you should be posting on a regular basis. We recommend dividing the kinds of posts into three primary categories and working those into a regular rotation.
First, you have a stock pile of great content that should be shared and re-shared on a regular basis. That content could be current and past blog posts, photos, or videos. Remember to distribute your own original content to equal about 1/3 of your posts.
Second, one of the best uses for social media is to update your followers on what is new and current. Be sure to spend about a third of your time posting about what’s going on in your industry that is relevant to followers. For restaurants it could be happy hours, sporting events, holidays, or anything else that is current. It could even be the weather.
Finally, be sure to follow blogs and news sources relevant to your industry and community. You want to build a strong connection with these communities as they are your biggest potential ambassadors. By sharing, commenting and tagging other news outlets that are community- or industry-based, it builds good will– which a small business should always be building.
2. Use a distribution system
Let’s face it, you don’t have all day. Use a distribution system like Buffer, Hootsuite or IFTTT. These systems allow you to quickly collect and share content across multiple networks. Buffer and Hootsuite both have the ability to schedule posts for times in the future. It is true that Facebook also has this ability in its native form, however to schedule multiple posts quickly is more difficult than these third party systems. The biggest difference between the scheduling abilities of Buffer vs. Hootsuite is the customization of timing that you wish future posts to go live. Buffer gives you more control than Hootsuite. Both systems also have great browser add-ons that make finding content across the internet quick and easy to then add to their system. IFTTT (If This Then That) is a solid tool for distributing content from one social network to another. Here’s a video we produced showing how to use it. And for good measure, we also produced one for Buffer. (Sorry Hootsuite, we still love you but we haven’t yet produced one for you. Maybe someday soon.)
3. Measure results and effectiveness
There are many ways to measure the results of any social media marketing campaign. One of the most common ways is through Facebook stats. In the past, there has been a trend to use trackable short links like those produced by bit.ly. These produce analytics on click through. But nothing replaces Google Analytics. We recommend always setting up goals in Google Analytics to track the path of what people are doing on your website once they click through from a given social network. These can also be tracked through third party reporting tools like Raven Tools, which produces dynamically integrated reports. Because the goal of every social media marketing campaign and even every social media post can be different, it’s important to think about what results you want from time to time and make sure you have the right tools to measure them. The truth is: whatever you need reporting on, there’s a tool to measure it– you just have to find it.
4. Reward people for engaging
Social media marketing is all about relationships, not just about broadcasting what you are all about. Because of that, people need to get something out of it– especially if they’re interacting. Sharing or interacting with a post needs to give the participant something back. In most cases, that is simply satisfaction of having their voice be heard. For sharing, the follower wants the recognition amongst his or her network for sharing something, funny, useful, or insightful. Other times a little more incentive is needed for interaction. Here we recommend using tools like Woobox to give your followers a chance to win something real, whether that be cash, gift cards, or even survey results as a reward for participating.
5. Engage people at your location
Let’s face it, the best place to engage your customers is at your location. Real social networking happens there. That’s the moment when the barista asks how the customer’s day is, or when the sales clerk asks what product they can help a customer find. We all want to translate that relationship in to one that can be on-going. For years, businesses have tried to create engagement and loyalty programs. Shoppers clubs at JC Penny back in the ’90s, or the fact that Radio Shack wants you to have your receipt emailed. For social media marketing, forget QR codes. Now there are new devices and mechanisms that allow for social interaction on-location in a seamless and non-invasive way. One innovative new product is GoBig, which requires a Facebook ‘like’ in order to access a Wifi network.
6. Crowd source content
Every person out there who uses Instagram and thinks they’re a photojournalist is a potential relationship and a great source of content. Most of the time your followers, especially at restaurants and boutiques, are Instagram-ming their food or products they’re trying out. Sometimes all it takes is a shout-out to whoever submits the best photo– maybe have their image featured (with credit) on the banner image of your site. People love fame. Crowdsourcing doesn’t always have to be voluntary, though. Several services allow for companies to leverage content created by people and shared in an open source network for their own advantages. Two of our favorites are CO Everywhere and Storify. The rookie on the block of these two is CO Everywhere. It’s a handy tool that allows a user to circle an area as small as a city block and see every piece of public content produced there over the past seven days. That includes Instagrams, tweets, business Facebook posts, daily deals, and events. These in turn can be re-shared on your social media pages while also giving credit to the original producers of the content.
Storify is a system being used by several large publishing corporations that allows writers to pull user-generated content from a variety of social media outlets, tie them together, and comment on the thread as a unified story. One can simply search for topics or hashtags, specify a date range and location, and plug Facebook posts, YouTube videos, tweets or any other kinds of content right into a story flow. When the story is published it automatically notifies the social profiles of everyone who contributed to the story to thank them for the content. This is great for larger events like the Bite of Seattle or Lake Union Fireworks.
7. Thank your brand ambassadors
It’s just good form to say thank you. Everyone should have notifications for any time they are mentioned online, like through Google Alerts. Also, check each of your social media marketing portals to see if anyone has commented on or tagged your business, and verbally thank them. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could directly reach out to your best fans and reward them for being awesome? People are experimenting with just that. We call these “push” rewards, and companies like #Splashtag are making it happen. Splashtag allows a you to create rewards and offers directly from your phone to your loyal followers. Think of it like an instant, self-made and promoted Groupon. Its added super power is that it lets you individually offer discounts and rewards to clients through a push reward. Our buddy Steve Rosen does this all the time. If he sees one of his usual Facebook fans tag his restaurant saying that she’s there, he gets a notification on his phone. He can then return the favor with a free drink or future deal.
8. Find and join existing conversations
Keep Twitter lists. Think of Twitter like the world’s largest cocktail party. Everyone has something interesting to talk about– you just need to find the right conversation to join. Fortunately, you can make lists of people who are prone to talk about things important to your industry. We think this is better than following hashtags because people are more broadly relevant than narrow topics. Check in on your lists once or twice a week. Retweet and engage with what people are saying. In all honesty, on Twitter the circle of relevant people to your industry and region is maybe a few dozen. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be one of them. The only way to be one of them is to join in.
9. Join the networks where your audience is going
So what if you’re having a hard time growing a following on Facebook? For thousands of businesses, that’s not even where their customers are. Don’t join a social network because you hear everyone else is doing it. Ask your customers where they are spending their time when they’re right in front of you. Many times you’ll find they’re spending their time on Instagram, Pinterest, Houzz. If you need a little impartial market study, here’s a list of the fastest growing social networks in 2014. Notice where Facebook is (note that it’s still the largest by a long shot).
10. Always be useful
People follow you for a reason. Don’t post just to post. Keep your audience in mind for every post you create. If you have a hard time trying to figure it out, look at your 5 to 10 most avid followers and create an imaginary profile by combining them into one person. We do the same thing. His name is Mark, he’s 44 years old, owns two businesses, has a summer home in Palm Springs, drives a Prius, and loves new world wines. Creating an ideal person you’re speaking to is a great way to always provide content to that is relevant to your clients.
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