What is Social Media Marketing?
When it comes to creating buzz, fewer tools have proven more effective in the digital age, perhaps ever, than social media. With millions of people from around the world connected instantaneously, constantly sharing, transmitting valuable and novel information on a whim, trends rise and fall as often and reliably as the tides.
Social media marketing as a tactic for increasing brand awareness has its pros and cons. For small and local businesses who care more about cultivating prospects and driving new business, generating buzz probably isn’t the best social media marketing plan. In this post we’ll look at some ways you can develop a tightly focused social media strategy that targets only the people who are potential customers for your business.
How to Choose the Right Social Media Platform
71% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase based on social media referrals, but what social media platform you’ll find prospects on will differ depending on your business. For example, Instagram is a great platform to reach consumers and show off your products with great photos, whereas LinkedIn is a better space for business-to-business marketing. Researching which social media platform will be the best fit for your campaign is the most important step in this process, so take the time to figure out where your target audience hangs out.
If you’re having trouble getting started, here’s a general breakdown of the top social media sites, and how they can be used to drive new business. Think about which platform will work best for your social media advertising.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that consumers use Facebook to search for restaurants. And, while out, many people will visit a company’s Facebook page before making a purchase in search of discounts and incentives.
Since so many people use Facebook to help organize their social plans, restaurants and entertainment businesses can capitalize on this by using their pages to offer weekly and weekend specials, especially if it’s something new. Entertainment packages, like offering a flat rate for dinner and a show, can be effective too.
You’ve only got 140 characters on twitter, so keep it short and sweet. A promotional deal with a link to your company’s website will do the trick. Or use it to find people who are talking about your product or identifying a need that you can help them with. Twitter allows for an easy way to find topics based on keywords or hashtags, so use this to your advantage to engage in real-time conversations.
LinkedIn is best suited for companies looking to use social media for business to business (B2B) marketing. Use LinkedIn to reach out to prospects and connect one-on-one. Connecting with partners, customers, and prospects on LinkedIn should be a part of other client-facing or sales positions within your B2B organization.
Instagram is a great place for retail businesses to show off new products and lines. But don’t think of it as just an online catalog; rather use this photo sharing platform to build a narrative around your business by sharing details from the day to day operations of your store – employees having fun or a new display you’re proud of. And make sure to follow relevant hashtags so you can engage directly with users who share your interests.
Youtube is great for when you want to give prospects a full tour or demonstration. It’s a favorite of DJs, event planners, catering businesses, and other companies that want to show off past work to potential customers. It’s also a great place to create content that is funny, interesting and entertaining, but still in line with your brand.
Tips for Prospecting with Social Media
Once you have a sense for which platform will be best for your business, try using some of these tips to increase engagement, gain followers, and ultimately drive new business.
Focus On Engagement
Perhaps the strongest aspect of social media is the ability to engage one-on-one with your audience. Your business gets to have a personality that endears you to your audience, and makes them want to do business with you. Make sure to:
- Ask questions / take polls / ask for feedback
- Share content that is interesting to them
- Don’t just publish content — interact and engage with others users and their content (i.e. retweet, like, follow others, share posts, photos, contests, etc.)
Utilize Social Media Advertising – Think About Sponsored Posts
If you don’t have a big fan base or a lot of followers, consider this as an option to reach people on this medium and expand your overall reach. Partnering with a popular account can be a great way to get seen, and build up your reputation through an already well liked and trusted source.
You may also consider a contest or a sweepstakes that would be interesting and help grow your business presence in the social community.
Use tools to monitor and analyze social media
There are a wide variety of social media tools to help businesses manage their accounts. They offer features that can save you time, such as the ability to plan and schedule posts, as well as metric and tracking tools to help you better understand your audience and measure engagement levels.
Drive People Back to Your Website “Home Base”
This is about getting your customer based to engage with your content and your site. How can you get people to come back there? To read more? Download something? Sign up for a mailing list or event? Experiment with what works best in driving traffic to your site.
Use Social Media to Connect with Your Current Customers
Most of your followers are likely already customers and any feedback they give you is invaluable in helping to better understand and connect with your audience. What can you do to get their input? Can you poll them? Ask their opinion? Roll out special offers? Test offers? Is there anything that they’d like to see?
Consider what you’ve done in the past. Were there any posts that have been well liked or shared? Look at seasonal trends too, if there was any noteworthy spikes in traffic or engagement around the holidays, or changes in the seasons, this could be worth looking at closer to help you market seasonally in the future.
Ultimately, social media marketing is all about trial and error. By constantly rolling out new content, engaging with your audience, and paying attention to what works and what doesn’t, you’ll come to a better understanding of what your customers want and how to bring in new business.