The beginner’s guide to social media marketing
There is a good reason why so many individuals and businesses use social media to market themselves. Because it works. And it doesn’t require a huge amount of your budget, yet still has the ability to help to build your brand and find new business opportunities.
Social media helps your brand to stand out and keep in touch with your potential and existing customers. You can use it to inform them about anything new, remind them about your products and services and encourage to spread the word via their own social networks. You are also able to interact and answer questions in real time, building trust with customers and making them feel valued.
Here are a few practical ways to get started:
1. Set up your social media profiles
Social media is one of the most effective ways to build an online brand community and to communicate with your audience. Research which social media channels are the most effective for your brand, so that you are using the same ones as your potential clients. Social media activities can be extremely time consuming, so it’s important that you focus on those which work and generate results.
2. Establish yourself as a thought leader
Social media is a great way to establish yourself as the go-to source for information and news on topics related to your industry. By promoting your thought leadership articles across your social channels, you can demonstrate your expertise, spark conversations and get your content in front of new people.
And if you know your topic, people are much more likely to comment on, like and even share your posts.
3. Link your social media profiles to your website
Having visible social media icons linked to your profiles on your website will make it easier for visitors to find and follow you on social media and it also helps with search engine optimisation. Also add social media sharing buttons as part of your blogs so visitors can easily share your content, building awareness of your small business.
4. Learn about the algorithms
Social media platforms rely on machine learning based on your past behaviours to create a unique feed for everyone. In general, algorithms are built to show high-engagement posts first and try to predict which updates are the most important to you, using three main factors to determine this: interest, timeliness, and relationship. This means that even if you follow the exact same accounts as someone else, you’ll get a personalized feed based on how you interact with those accounts.
5. Connect with relevant influencers
Consumers are increasingly seeking reviews from people they trust before buying products or signing up to services. Now, the circle of trust has grown to people they follow on social media, too — ranging from celebrities and industry experts to bloggers. By sharing your content with their audience, these influencers can help you achieve a number of marketing goals such as lead generation, brand awareness and credibility. However, many small or medium-sized businesses don’t have the budget to go after the named influencers.
Instead, it’s worth connecting with a network of small, relevant and niche influencers who have built up a loyal and invested audience. These types of influencers get higher engagement rates and cost much less than the big names.
6. Focus on visuals
When people see information, they’re likely to remember only 10% of that information three days later. However, if a relevant image is paired with that same information, people retain 65% of the information three days later. According to Sprout Social, 58% of consumers prefer visual-first content, with their main preferences being graphics and images and produced video. Add a description to go with your visuals, ensure your pictures are tagged with relevant keywords and use a variety of visuals including infographics and videos.
7. Post regular updates
Consistency and regular communication will ensure that you are reminding your followers about your presence. Keep your updates engaging - instead of simply copy and pasting a link to your update, take the time to by write an attention-grabbing headline and intro to go with it. It doesn’t need to be too long, but it should include keywords that are relevant to your social media community. If you can, add a bit of a story with a personal touch and you are likely to see increased engagement.
8. Engage with others
Social media is about engagement, not self-promotion. One-sided conversations will only get you so far. In addition to interesting, visually attractive posts and captions, pay attention to your target audience. The more you interact with others on social media, the more visible your posts and your own profile will become. Follow others, share and like their content and you will see that by helping others, you will help your own brand too.
9. Leverage user-generated content
If influencer marketing is completely out of your budget, then user-generated content provides a free alternative. You can run a social media campaign that encourages and motivates your audience to create and share content, tagging your brand for a chance to win a prize or be featured on your social profile(s).
User-generated content is considered much more authentic than branded content and offers a great opportunity to engage with your audience. So, no matter how you want to leverage it, you should have a place for user-generated content in your marketing mix.
10. Add social media stories
People’s attention spans are short. They want engaging, bite-sized content which they can digest easily on their mobile devices. And they want it now. This is why ephemeral content such as Instagram stories, which are only available for a short duration, has become so popular. As the videos are often created on the spot, they provide viewers with more authentic, real-time insights. Plus, since stories disappear quickly, they’re a great way to capitalise on your customer’s fear of missing out. Stories help to drive and instantly grow your engagement, and there is a huge range of opportunities in the format. For example, you can add polls to your stories or ask questions that can be answered with a simple click.
11. Reach your audience with targeted ads
People are much more likely to engage with your content if they feel it is relevant to them. You can’t exactly personalise your social media content for different audiences. But you can customise your ads for as many target segments as you like. Social media platforms have started providing advanced targeting and customisation options, so you can guarantee you’re showing the right ads to the right people at the right times. Remember, it’s not just about how many people you reach — it’s about who you reach.
12. Use geotags
A geotag is a form of metadata attached to an online update showing your location.
It connects to your GPS on your device and allows automatically sharing your location when posting on social media. Geotagging can help users find a wide variety of location-specific information from a device. It’s an effective way for users to share their whereabouts with other users and can help businesses to share information about their location, so that customers can find their brick-and-mortar shops and offices.
13. Run a competition
Social media competitions can generate a lot of engagement and reach new followers. Set up an interesting competition that requires followers to like your page or tag a friend and offer something in return. Consider using a specific hashtag so people can easily find and share your competition.
14. Create partnerships
Two accounts can always reach more followers than one. Get in touch with other businesses that you could form partnerships with and explore how you could run joint campaigns – either promoting each other or offering an interesting giveaways. Ensure you tag each other and make the most out of the extra exposure.
15. Take advantage of social selling
Social selling is exactly what the name indicates – selling your products and services with the help of social networks. Irrespective of your business’ focus or size, interacting with your potential clients via social media helps you to establish and build your brand, generate and nurture new leads and build relationships.
16. Use relevant hashtags
75% of people on social media use hashtags for their social media posts. Social media marketing is all about engagement and hashtags are very effective to drive engagement. Research shows that tweets with hashtags get twice as much engagement than ones without them and 55% more retweets. Readers will find your content via hashtags so use them on each relevant word if you are posting on social media. Consider using long-tail hashtags - with millions of users filling up common hashtags with their posts, you’ll have less competition with long-tail hashtags and your post will stay on the hashtag feed longer.
17. Get others involved
Ask your friends and colleagues to share your updates – the more your posts get shared, the more often and higher they will appear. Updates that get re-shared and liked do better than those which are individually posted, and building a social media community also means that you are getting your updates in front of your followers connections.
18. Build a brand community
If your followers are posting updates relevant to you, repost them. Showing engagement and interacting online will give your brand extra exposure, especially if combined with hashtags and location. Encourage discussions, run competitions or introduce a hashtag unique to your brand to turn your target audience into a brand community.Originally published at https://www.squirrelsandbears.com/blog/the-beginners-guide-to-social-media-marketing
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