Social media marketing is as big of an influence on the way businesses communicate with customers as email and the smartphone. The ease and accessibility of social media has turned us all into marketers. While organic social media has become a very important part of the marketing mix, using social media for your business without understanding some basics can be as bad or worse than not using social media, at all.
Here are three things to understand about social media marketing before you get started.
Understand who your social media audience is so you can offer content that could be interesting to them.
Social media is personal. It is an extension of a person who is willing to spend the time and effort to establish a profile and then monitor that profile, and those who are connected to it. If you want to know who is following you, just look. Profiles are right there, online. Most people are more than generous about sharing information on a social media profile that they would be reluctant to share, elsewhere. Take advantage of the information available on your audience to better understand who you are talking to.
Understand the different social media channels, and their primary use, so you can target your message, just like any other media.
Facebook is the social home, with over a billion and a half users each month, where people go to browse through messages and photos, leave a message, or chat with you online.
Instagram, with about 400 million users each month, is the photo sharing alternative to Facebook (although owned by Facebook), designed for easy uploads and awareness building in your authentic voice.
Twitter is turning into a news and opinion channel for its 320 million active monthly users, and is good for promoting 140 character “teaser” content linked to articles and stories, as well as photos and videos.
LinkedIn is the business focused social app, with about 100 million active monthly users, great for connections and sharing thought leadership, including publishing articles.
Pinterest, with about 100 million active monthly users, is a visually driven business and lifestyle channel, good for promoting links to more in depth content posted elsewhere.
Other social channels include YouTube (the leading global video property and second largest search engine in the world), What’s App and Snapchat personal messaging apps, and the elephant in the room, Google+.
Blogs and articles are the social glue that holds it all together.
Knowing the differences between social media channels, and how and when to use them is as important as understanding the difference between the traditional media channels of print, radio and television. Use your social media channels to reach targeted audiences with appropriate messages to achieve your specific strategies toward your goals, rather than as a one-size-fits-all option.
Understand how to make your social media content worth their time.
Content marketing is one of the biggest buzzwords in business over the last few years. I’m a big believer in content marketing as a way to help establish yourself as a thought leader, including original content and the curation of great content from others. But, there are a few key things to remember before jumping in.
Your content should be relevant and interesting to your audience, with value in exchange for the investment of time by your audience. Use visuals, graphics and video when you can to make your text more interesting or easier to absorb.
Your content should have your authentic voice because social media is very personal. People see right through a sales pitch, corporate speak and “fakeness” on social media. Don’t be afraid to show your personality, or the personality of your brand.
You don’t control the social media message, but rather, take part in it. Ask questions of your audience. Ask for feedback. Provide the opportunity to continue the conversation, online or offline. Don’t try to prevent less than favorable comments, but instead acknowledge them and let your audience know you hear them. Use social media as an opportunity to engage in a two-way conversation.
If your social media audience finds you relevant, authentic and open, they will be more likely to advocate on your behalf, willing to share your message with others in their networks. That’s a big part of the power of social media.
It’s easy to sign up for the latest social media app and just start using it. It’s easy to fool yourself into thinking that social media marketing is free. It’s much more prudent to make sure you have a strategy for social media first, before you do something you that you might regret later. And, it’s better to recognize the true cost of social media marketing in time, resources and opportunities before spending too much on activities that turn you irrelevant or unauthentic to your audience. Understanding some of the basics about social media before you invest can save you headaches and heartaches later.