Social media marketing has turned into a big thing in recent years. But, it’s also something of a minefield. Many organisations appreciate that they need to have a social media presence, however, working out how to use these influential channels to best effect can be the tricky part.
Compounding this problem is the fact that social media is still very much in its infancy. As users, we’re still figuring it out. There are many pitfalls, plenty of examples of misuse.
This can be more than a little off-putting for businesses.
Then there’s the confusion around whether social media can be a good, not to mention cost effective way of replacing a company website. After all, platforms like Facebook have great reach, right? Well yes, they certainly do.
But there are some things a website can do that can’t be replaced by social media channels.
Put it this way, Google has over 3.5 billion searches a day. So, websites are still a hugely important part of your marketing collateral.
On the other hand, developing a marketing plan without a social media strand could limit your reach and influence. Facebook currently attracts an impressive 936 million active users per day while Twitter has around 302 million active users a month.
Admittedly, delve into the figures further, and you’ll find that a big proportion of users don’t click through to content, and are ruthless in their browsing habits.
That doesn’t mean that social media is a waste of time.
Instead, the ideal scenario is to use burgeoning platforms like these to best effect. The big question is, where do you start?
Create a social media plan
First and foremost, get a plan in place. And don’t be afraid to modify it as you go along and learn. As I’ve pointed out, social media is still new, we’re all getting into the swing of things.
Your strategy will always need to have some essential pieces of information to work by, however.
Think about who you’re trying to communicate with. How you’re going to attract their interest. What tone of voice they’d best respond to.
And most importantly, what you want them to do.
Grow your audience
One of the most daunting things about social media is starting off without any followers. How do you gain them? What’s the best route to growing those numbers?
There are plenty of tools online to increase your following, but regardless of how you do that, the big thing to get right is the content you’re putting out.
Even if you rapidly grow your audience, people won’t stick around if you’re not creating value. So only publish great, relevant content. Make it easy for people to interact with you.
Give them a reason to want to.
And always engage with your audience, responding to comments, and starting conversations.
Strategically follow influencers in your niche, and follow their followers if they match your target audience profile.
Don’t let it get stale
It’s all too easy to start off with good intentions, then get lazy.
Social media marketing requires dedicated time and attention. When you create your plan, make sure to schedule time for your content creation on a regular basis.
Even better, come up with a batch of ideas to span a few months, or even the year, and write a handful at a time.
This can be published in your company news or blog, and shared online. In fact, it’s always worth cross-pollinating this way. It amplifies your message and gives you much more return for your efforts.
It means that you won’t experience that sinking feeling when you notice that you haven’t updated your Facebook page for two months. And from a user’s perspective, it’ll look like you’ve always got something interesting and relevant to say.
Get to grips with hashtags
Last, but by no means least, swot up on the dos and don'ts of hashtags.
The thing about hashtags is they can either propel your post into the stratosphere or make no difference, other than to make you look rather silly.
So, do your homework when it comes to appropriately hashtagging your posts (check out tools such as hashtigifyme and ritetag). And always look back on your post analytics to see what impact it had.
The key to writing those hashtags is to keep it relevant.
Modify for the platform you’re using. And don’t fall into the trap of going crazy with them. The whole point is to attract the right attention, from your target audience. Not to appeal to every person, or fit every trend going.