Believe it or not, there are indeed rules that any company or small business should adhere to when it comes to their social media marketing campaigns…especially if they choose to do their own social media marketing as opposed to hiring an outside entity. If you’re reading this and you’re in charge of social media management for your company, it’s time to up your game in 2015 – this requires more than the random postings concerning your “awesome sale,” the latest product released, or a shameless plug in the local paper. Social media marketing has become a full-time job in many industries and circles- and for good reason: Nearly everyone is involved in some kind of platform, whether it’s Facebook, Google + or LinkedIn.
Know your Platforms And Find Your Perfect Fit
Optimizing your social media strategy in 2015 and beyond is doable, and it all begins with choosing the right platform. In case you don’t know, there are hundreds of social media platforms, which means there are a myriad of options beyond the popular Facebook, Google +, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. Carve out some time to determine which platforms are ideal for your particular business and limit them to five at maximum – no full-time single employee has time to manage anything more with efficiency, and you may find you’re a better fit for an “underdog” platform than Pinterest. There are also hundreds of tools to analyze your social media campaign’s success and possible failures, and you should use them. Many are free and part of the site itself, while others provide a third-party analysis solution…but the bottom line here is that you shouldn’t just be collecting reports, you should be reading them, translating them and turning them into actionable approaches.
Know Your Demographic
Knowing the best days and times to post based on your industry and targeted demographics is another element to consider, as for many businesses this equates to Monday through Friday from around 10 am to 4 pm. However, keep in mind that this will vary according to who you’re targeting, so it’s imperative that you do your research. It’s also important that you don’t just preach to your audience – rather, you should engage them by getting them involved while always replying promptly to outreach. Social media, regardless of its reputation in some circles, isn’t a soapbox, but a tool for engagement…this is a two-way street.
Let’s now get into the core of the subject at hand here, which are the social media marketing rules your company should never break…
1. Allow Followers the Opportunity to Engage and Connect
What we mean here is you should position yourself as having an “open door policy” when it comes to your followers – create an open line of near-immediate communication. You see, social media is not just about posting your favorite quotes, photos or links, as many teenagers and twenty-somethings would have you believe. To succeed in business and marketing, you need to be more heavily involved – and this boils down to engaging with others. Not only does interacting allow your voice to be heard, you can sometimes get a “window’s view” into an individual’s heart, soul and personality depending on what they choose to share with you.
But what are the best ways to really engage with your followers while coming off as genuine? Here are some quick tips that will not only help people get to know you, but also allow you to know your audience in return:
- Truly read content and extend a conversation from that point, and always check back and follow up if someone has responded.
- Cross-promote articles, so when you find an article or post that resonates with you and makes you feel as if it will resonate with others you can share it.
- Take a closer look at the “favorite” button on platforms such as Twitter, because this is a quick way to acknowledge you saw re-Tweets or a “Hello” message.
- Organize a chat on a topic that will be interesting to your audience, and post content that will draw folks into a conversation.
2. Keep Up with Trends and Hot Topics
Look, we understand: Digital marketing tends to be an impulsive, erratic and volatile industry…and what we mean by that is, the moment you catch the tiger by the proverbial tail, there’s a new tiger whose fugacious tail requires catching. Indeed, keeping up with a constantly-evolving industry at times seems like a fool’s errand – but thankfully, there is an in-between, or a balance. If you can identify current trends, settle on an actionable strategy and take measurable movement forward, you’re on the right track to success. What are some hot trends to look at in the next few years of digital marketing?
- Don’t place all your marketing eggs in the Google basket; while Google is indeed one large basket to consider, after more than a decade of domination the search engine leader may be on the decline in the shadows of up-and-comers like Duck Duck Go. Search Engine Optimization, as we know all too well, is important, but a searcher can accomplish his or her goal through engines other than just Google.
- The importance of mobile search, mobile optimization and mobile ubiquity cannot be overstated; mobile devices (and society’s seemingly collective addiction to them) are absolute staples of the modern marketing era. We just want to remind you that mobile is the “method of the masses” and should therefore be one of your priorities.
- New payment methods are on the rise, thanks to the advent of EVM credit cards that are going to give the public a new experience when it comes to payment options. Make no mistake about it: These changes will have a ripple effect on online payment and e-commerce sites.
To summarize: Know your current events and trending news and topics surrounding your industry. This will not only help keep your social feed fresh and relevant, it allows you to add your own take and commentary, as well as the opportunity to keep your company from committing any accidental “social faux-pauxs.”
3. Create Media-Rich Social Postings
Haven’t you noticed already? A visual is worth more than a thousand words in the world of modern advertising and marketing, so look for ways to integrate images and rich media content into your social media posts. Taking advantage of rich media like YouTube videos, memes, photos and infographics can DOUBLE engagement. The surprising thing, to us, is that many businesses are STILL not using this tactic, even when they read on blogs such as ours that they can visually enhance their LinkedIn profile, for example, by using the Professional Portfolio feature to add photos, videos, linked articles with images, screenshots or even SlideShare presentations.
Social media users are extremely visual in nature and in most cases will gloss-over text-dependent posts, so the moral of the story here is to include images and video to really catch people’s eyes.
4. Be Polite, Respectful and Don’t Feed the Trolls
This is an approach that dates back to the advent of online discussion forums, and the way in which anonymous members can simply join up for the sole purpose of harassing other people or settling “virtual confrontations.” Much like these online forums, hosting a public social channel means ANYONE can choose to interact with you on your company page, which also means you should always remember to mind your manners when interacting with your followers as a representative of your company. Believe us, we know: Not everyone who interacts with your company’s online interface is going to be polite and cordial (or even act HUMAN), but they should be allowed to disagree and speak their mind…
Now, this leads us to the ugly flip side of this coin: There’s a BIG difference between voicing an opinion respectfully and being downright rude just for the sake of one’s own entertainment, or for the purpose of stirring a boiling pot to the point of arguments (in the online world, these individuals have been dubbed “trolls”). No matter the social channel, there exists administrative functions in place that enable you to delete comments and report/ban users; only resort to this action if a particular user is being vulgar, abusive or otherwise threatening in any way. In most cases, just ignoring them is the ideal policy.
5. Concentrate on Quality Over Quantity
For many brands and businesses, social media is a numbers game – they want more followers, more likes, more commenters and…well, you get the point: In short, they simply want MORE. However, we can tell you from experience that the QUALITY of social media followers can – and should – trump sheer size. In fact, it is often agreed upon by marketing experts everywhere that the formula for success often suggests 80-percent quality/20-percent quantity. What accounts for this? Well, gone are the days when simply having “likes” makes a Facebook page relevant or credible; actual ENGAGEMENT is what creates value for any company, brand or individual on a platform like Facebook. And you can only experience real engagement and community by boasting quality followers.
The bottom line here is that every post should have a goal in mind…no matter how small that goal is. Remember: Just because you are active on social media doesn’t mean you are PRODUCTIVE.
6. Know That No One Likes SPAM…Well, Except for Maybe Monty Python
Constant self-promotion is boring. Just like spam-infested emails, ad-like posts get ignored and, in the worst case scenario, will cause you to lose followers…FAST. On Facebook, there are anti-spam algorithms in place that actually display your company’s posts to a select few of your followers first, and if there is no engagement it doesn’t show those posts to the rest of your followers at all.
In the end, people engage in social media to be entertained – whether this means finding out which of their old high school girlfriends is on Facebook, sharing their favorite grumpy cat meme, or watching the latest Jimmy Fallon lip sync battle clip.
If you treat social media posting like a chore, your followers will definitely notice. So have a social media marketing plan (i.e. a social media marketing strategy) and apply some of the social media marketing tools we’ve hinted at here while you follow the rules of success.