Social media is an integral piece of any business' marketing plan and a successful Inbound Marketer realizes the importance of a genuine online following. Social media platforms are the best tool in an Inbound Marketers tool box for building relationships and developing brand loyalty.
The reach is vast and virtually limitless targeting capabilities are a dream come true.
Buy the key word here is genuine.
Your social strategy requires a bone fide, authentic following to be effective. Follow these best practices to build a killer social media strategy.
Building a Social Media Marketing Plan
Remember those newbies on Facebook that post in all caps?
Don't be that guy.
Understand online etiquette of each platform. Make sure whoever is in charge of the social tools has a great understanding and respect for each platform. Too many hash tags, troll like behavior, and poor image quality can be turn offs for potential fans.
Remember Your Inbound Priorities
Social Media is fun and one of the benefits is the ability to chime in on what is happening in the world. But keep your Inbound Priorities should be driving the content of each post. Every post should be tied to a campaign, to a persona and to a goal. If you can’t connect the dots from your post to these items, re-consider it.
Don't lose sight of best practices
Social Media is not a tool for the hard sell. You should view your role as a publisher not a marketer and definitely not a sales person. As with other tools of Inbound direct sales calls should usually be avoided. Offer? Go ahead. But social is a tool for building a relationship and you do that with a great mix of interesting content and compelling offers.
Ding, Ding, Ding. It’s measurable. And measurable goals are another best practice. Most social tools provide great analytics so don’t post, post, post without goals. Create a post with amazing content, A/B test, review the results and adjust.
Use Targeting Capabilities to your Advantage
Leverage the power of some pretty amazing targeting capabilities. Almost limitless targeting possibilities allow you to align sponsored views with customer personas. Demographics, purchase behavior, life events and other indicators can be A/B tested until you are hitting, and engaging with, a loyal social media following. In the case of social media, the wider the net, the greater the catch is not true. Narrow your focus in order to catch the big fish.
Be human. Be real. Let your brand shine. Be involved.
Automation is great. But stay involved and present.
Acting like a real human being in your posts in probably the most important requirement for an engaged, growing following. Go ahead and schedule posts but don’t forget about them. Watch for response and be prepared to amend them quickly upon breaking news and current affairs.
An unintended rift can occur when a post is posted at the inappropriate time. Here’s a few additional tips for personal engagement.
- Be nice. Guess what? Just because they buy your stuff doesn’t mean they’re a great person or your best friend. You own the brand, so be polite.
- Be genuine. You’re building a community and that means your followers want to know you. Your online persona is a reflection of your brand, true, but keep it real. Followers can recognize a phony.
- Show interest in your followers. Responding to comments and post questions and articles that speak to them. Let them know, “Hey, I saw this and thought of you.”
- Use their first name. First of all, by tagging them in responses, you are inviting re-engagements but it is also just basic manners.
- Reduce buzzwords and canned responses. Adding meaningless buzzwords and fluff to a post is unnecessary and a waste of words.
The Technical Component
- It’s critical that the social platforms you work on function correctly. Make sure you’ve set up Contact Us buttons and are responsive to messages.
- Spend time setting up landing pages that render correctly in posts and easily convert prospects.
- Facebook offers specific business objectives. Set up campaigns with goals that align to these structures. Is the goal website traffic, conversions or page promotion? Choose the right structure for your campaign.
- Watch your budget on promoted posts. Set your budget appropriately for the amount of time you need your post to be viewed.
The Importance of Visuals
Aesthetics are everything in social. From your post to the landing page, each visual should be well considered and designed. If you’ve got the targeting right and the hashtags right, you’ve still only got the length of a scroll to grab someone’s attention. Make the most of it with crazy good images that shout your brand and the lifestyle you’re selling.
You've got the basics, now it's time to grow. Employ the tips below for fast growth.
Top Tips for Building a Following
- Use the right hashtags. Social media marketers should employ websites like Webstagram to research popular hashtags. However, a good manager knows this is just a jumping off point. You need to go beyond popular tags and look for relevant tags. Similar to SEO research, search out hashtags to target that have relevant AND popular.
- Use actionable hashtags. Go viral with a hashtag your following uses every time they engage with your brand.
- Post at the right day and time. There are plenty of online tools that can track when your users are engaged. Employ some common sense. Missing your market due to bad timing is a waste of a great post. REI's holiday #OptOutside is a great example.
- Run a contest. Offer an amazing incentive for users that post images of themselves using your product.
- Engage the competition. Yep, it’s ok to follow your competitor. Like their photos and comment on posts. Politely. This is a simple way to steal users over to your own page.
- Great content! As with all Inbound activities, giving away great content is the best way to engage new followers.
- Join groups. Becoming an active participant in a Facebook group will attract people to your page. Position yourself as an expert and watch the likes rise.
- Reciprocate. Social media is a friendly place. Cross over promotion happens all time and is a common and accepted tool for increasing your community.
- Connect your accounts. Cross promote the platforms by encouraging followers to check out your brand on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and whichever platforms you’re most active in
Using social media to build an audience and engage with prospects requires a whole world of knowledge unto itself. Authenticity, accessibility, and transparency are key. Foster a sense of community around shared values and issues, but make sure to keep it light and compelling, using great visuals and timely commentary. Increasing your digital footprint through social media is critical.
The more adept you can become at all of the techniques and know-how available, the more effective your efforts will be.