In most cases, the answer is yes. However, it’s not for everyone.
Maybe you’re a brick-and-mortar business that generates most of its sales as a result of local foot traffic. Maybe, even, people are more likely to find you through Google searches or direct marketing. Whatever the circumstances are, marketing your business is important, and WebMarketers can help in a variety of ways, including:
Social media requires a long-term outlook—executed with consistent messaging, tailored content and focused patience that will lead to sustainable growth over time.
In other words, social media marketing requires you to stop thinking like a personal user, and start thinking like a business user.
Well, have you ever had a friend ask you to like their new venture’s Facebook page? What happens? You go to the page, ‘like’ it, and end up seeing posts that promote products or events that are of little if any interest to you.
What’s in this for you, the consumer?
Not a whole lot. And that is why you’ll likely stop seeing this content in your news feed.
The key with social media is relevancy. As a brand, you’ll want to build a following that is interested in your content, such that in exchange for a customer’s time and attention, you get something in return a little later on. That’s what successful social media marketing is all about. This is human nature, known as the principle of reciprocity.
The first thing you do (and the next thing, and the thing after that) isn’t promote or sell; it’s give.
Do this on a consistent basis and, in turn, people will come to view you over time as a trusted expert, or influencer in your field. That’s when you can ask for their business.
Gary Vaynerchuk, the entrepreneurial savant who has revolutionized social media marketing, calls this approach, “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook.”
A boxer, as Vaynerchuk makes the analogy, leads with small jabs, again and again, patiently waiting until just the right moment to deliver a hard punch. Marketers lead with similar jabs, delivered in the form of content (“give”). When you’ve got enough give, it’s time for the “ask.”
What’s Cooking is a retailer of cookware and dinnerware that sells via its website as well as in bricks-and-mortar stores. Their biggest customer base is 30-45 year-old women, many of whom are married with children, and nearly all are on Facebook, Instagram and/or Pinterest.
Thus, a series of posts on food recipes and summer BBQ tips could be used to help establish / reinforce What’s Cooking’s position as a trusted partner in the cooking and dining experience (the “give”). If the audience comes to love the content that What’s Cooking is providing, the store would then be well positioned to make “the ask,” by posting about its new line of wine glasses or a sale on pots and pans.
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An important step is to identify the social media platform(s) where you can best engage. But first, decide what your goals are, then work back from those goals to develop strategies. These goals aren’t immediate targets, like “Sell 2500 units in the next three weeks.” Think longer-term:
Once you’ve got your goals in place, it’s time to look outward at the marketplace. Start by asking:
Having asked that, let’s look at some of the big social media platforms…
Still the dominant player in social media, Facebook captures a wide range of audience. For B2C in particular, Facebook is highly effective as it offers the best chances of virality through shares, post visibility, as well as paid content (Facebook advertising). Facebook is very much a ‘friends’ network. A user who sees his or her peers share your content or vouch for your brand or product, is more likely to become your customer.
Twitter is another platform that has held up well over time, even with its 140-character limit. Twitter has B2C and B2B uses, and offers a very public conversation. It works especially well for feedback from (and engagement with) customers. Virality occurs through retweets, promoted (paid) tweets, and ongoing discussions.
Instagram is the most visually-oriented of the big platforms. Sponsored posts are now a regular part of the Instagram feed, and compelling images (photographs as well as infographics) do very well in grabbing attention for a brand or product. While posts can’t be shared via reposting (though changes are happening quickly), many businesses have built large followings with consistent messaging through organic content.
By addressing the above questions and options, you’ve now got the beginnings of an effective social media strategy.
The power of social media, where it truly stands out over other marketing avenues, is in virality. Having posts seen by your followers is important, but there’s potential for so much more. By liking, commenting on and/or sharing your post, a social media user is increasing the likelihood that other people will also see and engage with your posts. When this happens enough, your content can see exponential increases in its reach. So great. We’ll just ask people to ‘like,’ ‘comment’ or ‘share,’ and that will make it go viral, right?
If only it were that easy.
For starters, we now know that there’s only so much asking we can do before breaking the balance between “ask” and “give.” Instead, we must create posts that inherently make people want to like, comment and/or share.
“Like” is the first level in this pyramid. Good content will garner likes. More likes = more likely for others to see it as well.
“Comment” involves a twist or two. Controversy will draw comments, but you might not want the flack that comes with it. Asking a question, however, is a great way to engage. On a post about travel in South America, for example, you could ask, “Have you ever hiked the Inca Trail?” This often leads to comments and discussion (translation: insight from your customers!).
“Share” is the most challenging. The content has to be compelling that people not only find it useful, they value it enough to share with friends & family. You’ll get fewer shares than likes or comments, but you’ll get the most value from these shares, as that’s what most propels virality and makes the greatest contribution to your bottom line.
Okay, we’ve talked about balance between asking and giving. Another balance to strive for is Creation vs. Promotion.
You’ve spent the resources (time and budget) to create a post.
Did your use of resources pay off? Sometimes it will, sometimes it won’t.
Organic posts are the base level of your social media marketing strategy. Some can even reach virality, if you do really well in the like-comment-share pyramid, and maybe have a little algorithmic luck on your side to boot.
Still, why limit yourself?
Balancing out your creative efforts with an effective social media promotion strategy will help you reach your true social potential.
Paid content, when run concurrently with organic, is proving to be the most advantageous social media strategy. Why?
This is the top-line in a 2016 report from market research giant Gartner Group, finding that 80% of social media marketers surveyed said they would run paid content within the next 12 months (over half doing so for the first time).
If your competition is running paid content, shouldn’t you be?
A few more thoughts on posting strategically, and how to get the most bang for your buck in social media.
The old adage still rings true. Give people useful content, but don’t oversell. Keep it simple. Short posts on a regular basis (e.g. posting at the same time daily) will do more to grab and keep attention and build a following.
Now more than ever, as social media becomes a sea of content, we need to do more to stand out from the noise. Use visuals. Make your headlines catchy (numbers help). Be clever, be different. Not every attempt will be a resounding success, but keep finding new and different ways that work, and run with those.
Social media is producing some great side effects (the good kind, not the ones from pharmaceutical ads). While these won’t necessarily be your main goals, the benefits of social media marketing include reviews of your business or products, as well as search capability (Twitter searches in particular, as they are now indexed in Google).
Good news! You now have the knowledge it takes to put together an effective social media marketing strategy. Do you have the skills needed to implement and execute it? You probably do! But is this the best use of your resources? If it is, that’s awesome. Let’s keep in touch.
If your time is better spent in other areas, and you want an experienced social media specialist who can do the heavy lifting, then WebMarketers is here to help. We offer a full range of services in social media marketing, including:
We’re passionate about social media marketing, and confident in our experience and success in social media as a vital component of a winning marketing strategy. So much so, in fact, that we call our approach the Unfair Advantage.