Social Media StrategyMediotype Social Media Guide and Explanation
The most important aspect to keep in mind when using Social Media is that it is Social. You have to treat it as a way to engage with your users, to inform them, educate them, entertain them, but most importantly, to entice them. If you do not use Social Media for one of those purposes… you’re not being Social.
Starting, participating in, and leading conversations are the sole purposes of Social Media. Making a sale or conversion from Social Media engagement should be a secondary goal, not a primary one. That said, obviously there are conversions to be had from Social Media use… you just shouldn’t concentrate on it. The reason being that if you make generating conversions your primary goal… than your strategy will revolve around that. Again… Social Media is meant to be social not promotional. So plan on using social media to engage users with content you create. Everything else will fall into place if you first provide something worthwhile beyond a product or service.
There are a great number of Social Media platforms available for use, however not all are created, or valued, equally. Here is a list and brief explanation of some that are critically needed and other supplementary platforms that are worth looking into. The supplementary list is by no means complete as there are hundreds of Social Media Sites you can choose from. If you know of a niche Social Media platform, don’t be shy. Beyond time spent, it never hurts to try. Opportunities will never present themselves unless you expose yourself to them.
Targeted Social Media Platforms
There are a growing number of useful and necessary Social Media platforms that your business should be using. There are a number of necessary platforms every business should be active on which are the most important to start. There are than also a number of supplementary platforms that should be considered as well. These can change with the times and are also often specifically useful dependent on your business model. For instance, Instagram and Pinterest are useful to many organizations, however not all will find them to be worthwhile.
Most Important Social Media Platforms
Google+: You may wonder why Google+ is first on the list, especially since many people still don’t use it. The answer is simply… because it’s Google’s. First, anything you submit to Google+ is automatically indexed which makes promoting new content on it very useful. Second, Google+ posts can show up in search results for people in your groups/circles. Third, Google wants marketers to use it… and if Google asks, you should certainly give. Google awards Google+ users by measuring engagement metrics of +1’s for posts, and attributing value to a sites overall PageRank/Domain Authority and search rankings.
YouTube: There are only 2 Social media platforms Google values engagements from, and surprise… it’s the two platforms Google owns. Google+ being the first, and YouTube being the second. Combined, they comprise both avenues content can be shared. Either in text or image format and video. Just as with Google+, YouTube engagement metrics are tracked and assigned values based on video views, shares, and channel subscriptions. Again, if Google asks, you should certainly make them happy by using YouTube. Sadly, the hiccup is that creating videos can be expensive… however that all depends on exactly what you create. There are low cost means to creating YouTube videos that are worthwhile.
Twitter: Though Google doesn’t directly track Twitter engagements such as favorites, re-tweets, and followers, it is still by far one the best means to promote your content and attract users to your site. In this sense, Twitter can help to increase your rankings as you will have more visitors on your site, site stay duration should be high as they are reading/viewing your content, and hopefully they will travel further into your site and potentially share something else they’ve found, or ultimately, make a conversion of some sort. Twitter is an excellent means of gaining new users that would otherwise not know you exist, which is mostly accomplished through hashtag usage. Twitter does have additional benefits, but these will be touched on later.
Facebook: You may wonder why Facebook is toward the bottom of the most important Social Media platforms to use. The reason is that in order for Facebook to be worthwhile, you typically have to attract users who have already made a purchase from you, or for some reason really appreciate your brand. For this reason, most businesses have a limited number of followers. Though Facebook has other benefits which will be touched on later.
Linkdin: Most people believe Linkdin is only important for professionals, not businesses. But if you run a business that is professional, you certainly want to be in the same circles as those who deal in the same industries. As far as Social Media platforms are concerned, Linkdin is the professional social site, and should be treated as such. Typically everything will revolve around business, making sales/conversions, attracting users, sparking business minded conversations, and the like. It’s not the place for silly memes, jokes, or anything else that doesn’t involve business tactics of some sort.
Supplementary Social Media Platforms
Reddit: Reddit is a tough cookie to crack if you use it for content sharing, however once it is cracked, there may be nothing better. No other Social Media platform has the ability to make something spontaneously go viral like Reddit does. Understanding Reddit and their subsequent subredits is important for posting to the right crowds. That said… never post anything to Reddit that is promotional unless it has some underlying social cause or feel-good aspect. Ads of any kind are quickly shot down and down voted into oblivion. There is also nothing better than Reddit for getting real feed-back on the content you create. I you want to know whether it is valuable or can be appreciated… post it to Reddit. You’ll quickly discover how the Internet as a whole will react to your pieces. Most of the time these are going to be harsh criticisms, but there comes from it constructive feedback. Finally however, if something is valued… you will find that you can achieve, thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions of views. Reddit is quite magical for this reason because it can literally make anything go viral… so long as it is widely appreciated.
Pinterest: Pinterest is the visual counterpart to Twitter. Though it is not as widely used, if you have content that is visually striking or enticing, Pinterest is the place for you. This is especially true for businesses that have products for sale that can be put in a light that will attract your specific demographic of users. It is important to note that since Pinterest is a place for images, the images you use must be quality. Beyond have a high resolution, or crisp images, the images themselves must be something that stops a user in their scanning tracks. There are a countless number of images to view through, so yours have to stand out.
StumbleUpon: StumbleUpon is an easy and simple way to simply get eyes on your content. You post something in the right category to StumbleUpon and over time targeted traffic will randomly be sent to that page. If it is appreciated in the sense that the content is shared or liked, it increases the chance that the content will be randomly shown to even more people. Just like Reddit, if something is appreciated, it can go viral, but in a different sense. It’s far slower moving than Reddit, but once submitted, you set it and forget it. Though StumbleUpon is not close to necessary, it is the perfect supplementary Social Media platform to use as it’s easy and has the potential to do great things.
Instagram: Instagram is like Pinterests younger sister. Where Pinterst can be used to attract a wider audience, Instagram targets those that are solely interested in your business. This is typically used for businesses that have engaging photos taken on the fly that are relatively artsy. Fashion designers, furniture makers, artists, travel agencies, and other businesses where images can be uploaded that are taken by the business during their daily activities. Sort of like a blog for images. It is great for branding purposes as you can post images of company events, works-in-progress, pieces or products sold and so on. Typically you don’t use Instagram to sell anything, but simply to share with potential viewers.
Tumblr: Tumblr is a microblogging Social Media platform. You may wonder why you would use this when you already have an on-site blog you need to be promoting, but that is exactly the reason. If you can create a microblog that gains followers, you can redirect them to your websites blog where perhaps more or more thorough/complete information is available. As this is primarily a place for text content, Tumblr use is very specific in that what you write really has to be engaging and enticing. No one will read your blog on the next best product you’re releasing. They will however read an article about the process that was involved in creating a product or promoting it. Or perhaps an article about why such a product is necessary in certain markets.
*Note that this list is incomplete and new platforms can arise overnight. Their usefulness depends solely on its perceived value to your business.
How Social Media Can Impact A Company
In the end there are 6 primary reasons to use Social Media, which are outlined below. If you think to yourself that it’s not worth your time or that you don’t have the time… know it is certainly worthwhile and find the time to devote towards it. Not only is its importance becoming increasingly prevalent, but in the future it is expected to only become that much more so.
Social Media use, though not it’s primary reason for use, can help lead to increasing direct sales on your website.
Time Sensitive Sales: Promoting on Facebook about a sale that is ending soon, or only available for certain time periods, leads users to action based on their perception of “missed opportunity”. Promoting time sensitive sales should be done, but moderately. Don’t flood your social media accounts with “Buy Now” or “Sale Ending” posts as it diminishes the overall perceived value of sales when they occur so frequently.
Discounts/Coupons: People love discounts and coupons. “Buy Two Get One Free”, “Bring a Friend”, or “Refer a Customer” posts again lead users to action, however should be done moderately. The more scarce the deal, the greater its inherent value.
Direct Advertising: You can advertise directly as the business or enterprise, but as mentioned numerous times before, make sure the ratio of useful content compared to promotional is not skewed. If all users ever see are ads, sales, and deals they are likely to unsubscribe, un-follow, or simply not read your posts any longer.
Indirect Advertising: You can also advertise indirectly, and though this may seem like there is subterfuge involved (which there is), you can promote a product or service acting like a user rather than a creator. Creating “Ghost” accounts, accounts that don’t appear as though they belong to any specific business, take a great deal of time and effort. Though if these accounts garner a good number of followers, they are extremely worthwhile. That said, naturally Indirect Advertisiing will be occurring anyways if the content you create is enjoyed by users as they will be posting and reviewing on your behalf.
Purchases made by inquisitively visiting site based on social media engagement, which was not an advertisement or sale offering. The visitor simply stumbled upon, was led to, or was curious enough to visit the site and found something worth purchasing. This is the absolute main reason for using Social Media. Through using Social Media for every other benefit besides being promotional, a sale in the end is actually made.
Perhaps a viewer visits your site to read a post on the “Top Ten Dog Walking Training Tips” and subsequently finds that your site offers Dog Training services. The user is obviously interested in Dog Training, and lo and behold, you offer such services. Furthermore, you offered something useful for free to start and left a good impression with the user. This keeps you in their favor and in fact, psychologically, the user is now feeling in your debt. You offered something and asked nothing in return. This example is simple, but if other tools are available or free services offered, people truly appreciate this. When they finally do decide to purchase something, if possible, they will likely purchase it from you.
Indirect Sales also typically occur through Social Media use when users see their friends or colleagues engage with certain pieces of content. Social Media provides Social Proof. people are more likely to be led to action when others, especially those they know, are led to action before them. Social Proof builds trust, and a users trust is critical for increasing conversion for any business.
No one knows who you are unless they’ve heard of you and the use of Social Media is a great tactic for gaining brand exposure. You can make yourself known to countless people with a great deal of ease. The more you promote your social media, engage with users, and attempt to use as many platforms as possible, the more people will be aware of your business. Beyond exposing yourself to first-time viewers, you will also be keeping your brand “top of mind” for those that have been previously exposed.
The perfect example of Brand Awareness and its importance comes from Coca-Cola. Now obviously, most people in the world are aware that Coca-Cola exists and have for the majority of their lives. That said, most people will always know of Coca-Cola even if they don’t or haven’t consumed their product in a while. But yet, Coca-Cola advertisements can be seen literally everywhere. Do you think they are trying to inform people that there is this great and delicious soda out there? No… they’re not. Everyone already knows of Coca-Cola and its deliciousness. They are simply reminding you of how delicious it is and why you should continue to drink it. It’s one thing to be aware that a brand exists, and entirely a different thing to be aware that a brand is still around and worth consuming.
How many wonderful products or services have you forgotten about because after using it a few times, you were no longer reminded to continue using it? It’s not that it was bad, and may have been rather good and well worth trying again. But chances are, the answer is going to be the majority of the products or services you’ve consumed or used throughout your life are no longer around or you’ve forgotten about them. Different clothing designers, restaurants, furniture makers, chiropractors, flower services, bookstores, and so on. To put this into perspective, of the top 500 performing companies in the U.S 40 years ago, only 70 remain in business today. Chances are you can name a few of those that are still around, but of the remaining 430… can you guess who those were? If you can name a few, that itself is a testament to brand awareness. Even when a brand no longer exists you can still recall them.
Conversely, here is another more obscure example. Do you know the company YKK? You should, chances are you own dozens of products that have the YKK symbol on it. YKK stands for Yoshida Kogyo Kabushiki Kaisha and is a Japanese manufacturer of zippers. They make roughly half of all the zippers used on earth. That’s more than 7 billion zippers produced each year. They aren’t necessarily concerned with brand awareness as they dominate and control the market. If you’re looking for zippers to add to your upcoming clothing line, most likely you will be making purchases from YKK.
We’re mentioned YKK because though this company has a monopoly on the market, most likely you’ve never noticed the YKK brand on any of your clothing pieces. Maybe you did at one point but never cared to look further into it. The important part to understand here is that their brand awareness is so low among the general public that they are nearly unrecognizable. Outside of fashion designers of course who will understand intimately who they are, many do not know of YKK. This is said while being on at least one piece of clothing for every person on earth. This example was given to give the scope, compared to Coca-Cola, of brand awareness. It’s important to understand where you fall in that spectrum, and more importantly, where you care to be. Coca-Coal sells to the masses, where YKK is used by the masses but sold only to a select few.
Social Media usage both helps directly and indirectly for increasing search rankings and PageRank. Directly, they increase these rankings based on search engines continual and expanding use of engagement metrics in their algorithms that affects ranking results. For Google, these are Google+ and YouTube. Every follower, subscriber, circle member, comment, share, like, or +1 is measured and adds to your overall ranking score. Obviously, the higher the engagements on both of these platforms, the greater the value given will be.
Indirectly, for content posted on your site and shared through Social Media, these attract visitors as well as inbound links. The number of visitors to your site, the length of stay on your site, and the number of subsequent pages visited after the landing page all help increase search rankings and PageRank. These are statistics that can be viewed in Google Analytics, and should be studied. When users share your content on their own social media, this not only further increases the chance of another user to visit your site, but the quality of users as well. There is a great deal of social proof when you visit a site your friends or colleagues have shared. This directly equates to greater trust as well.
If a user posts an inbound links to your site from their website, this provides a value based on the linking websites overall PageRank and relevance to your website. Inbound links are important as they are each individually valued by search engines and added to algorithms for ranking purposes. The more inbound links you have and the higher quality they are, the greater value they provide.
Social Media drives traffic. That much is indisputable. But where and why you drive that traffic are two important questions to answer. Are you going to drive Social Media traffic to your websites homepage, product/service page, blog, resource center, or other associated Social Media platform? Are you sending traffic to these places to be informed, entertained, educated, or to be sold something?
Often times when deciding where to direct your traffic you will find that you don’t have a proper place to send them. Specific landing pages are created with the idea that Social Media traffic is going to be sent there. Surveys, contests, user engagements such as uploading photos or videos, and many more ideas often do not have these pages created already. In the end, knowing the traffic your capturing, and planning where and why your sending users to certain pages is important.
Finally, and as a quick end note, gaining traffic from Social Media can also lead to both direct and indirect sales, as well as help increase your websites overall ranking based on traffic usage. Plainly put, those are the two greatest benefits to be had from Social Media traffic.
Brand image is different from brand awareness. Your image is how you are viewed were your awareness is knowing whether something exists or not. Social Media inherently allows you to shape the image of your brand. This can greatly determine how people view your brand, whether for good or bad. It also largely dictates whether or not they will consider making a purchase from you.
For example, let’s say a customer just finished eating at your restaurant and immediately went on Twitter to say, “Wish the service at #ExampleRestaurent was better, because the food was great. Not sure if I’ll go back…” Being the diligent Social Media user you are, you would have spotted this upset customers post in a quick enough manner to reply that, “We’re sorry to hear about that. Hopefully we can make it up to you, not only would we like to give you 50% off your next dinner, but would like to know the server that served you as well as any complaints you had so we could correct them.”
Imagine how the displeased customer would take this? Not only would they be happy that you cared enough to respond, but every subsequent person that read that post would see your due diligence in being a restaurant that appreciates every customer and strives to make a positive experience for everyone. This is very profound tactic. It changes your brand’s image from being a place of poor service, to being a place that cares about its customers. Furthermore, let’s say the displeased customer did pay you a visit again, and this time they walked away more than happy. Rest assured if they do make a post online, it will only be putting you in the best light possible. If however, your service was poor again…. Well you’re only shooting yourself in the foot at this point. Social Media wouldn’t be your issue as it would be your servers.
Here’s another example. Rather than having to apologize for your own poor service, how about appealing to a displeased customer of your competitor. Let’s use the same example from above, but you notice the same tweet about your competitor’s service. You can reply to your competitors customer and say something like, “@DispleasedCustomer we’re sorry your service was so poor, maybe next time you’re in the area you should try #ExampleRestaurant2 out! We’ll be sure you walk away satisfied. Bring in a friend and we’ll give you half off our top-rated cheese and wine flight!” Now imagine this for a moment. Your brand wasn’t tarnished to begin with, but now… you’re viewed in the best possible light. In other words you’re golden! To appeal to someone you haven’t met and tell them you are sorry they were treated poorly, or they weren’t pleased with a certain product, shows compassion. Marketing wise… it shows savvy.
Businesses online, and especially their Social Media accounts, often feel untouchable in the sense you can poke and shout at them, but they don’t respond. The brand image evoked from this is very cold and impersonal. It doesn’t exactly provide a good feeling for users. Let people know their voices are not only being heard, but appreciated, and you will quickly notice a pleasant response. Be affable, amiable, and most importantly approachable online. Remember, the idea of Social Media is to be social. Don’t underestimate the power of conversation.
What Not To Expect From Social Media
For all the benefits using Social Media provides, there are a certain few things that should not be expected from it.
Social Media will not be free. There is an associated cost with the creation, upkeep, and management of social media.
There are no immediate or guaranteed results. This of course is dependent upon many factors, a few including:
- The worth of the content created
- How users of each Social Media perceive content worth
- The various ways content is shared
- How well Social Media accounts are maintained
- How well Social Media accounts are managed
It will not make up for poor products or services. In the end, no matter how well a social media campaign goes, it won’t make a difference if the product or service offered is not wanted, trusted, or needed.
Social Media Overall Strategy
When you decide to commit to using Social Media, just as anything else, a proper plan and strategy should be implemented. Don’t start posting with a haphazard approach, and rather be systematic. Remember that any results are not the result of luck as luck is the residue of design. Design it well, and results are certain to be positive. Here are a few important points to keep in mind when developing a Social Media strategy.
Determine What Social Media Options Are Viable
Do enough people use a certain social media platform for it to be worthwhile? More importantly, does your target audience use it?
What is expected from a certain Social Media platforms use?
- Support for products
- Real time/life representative to answer general questions
- PR management
- Increase sales
- Increase brand awareness
- Increase product/service awareness
- Increase customer loyalty
- Increase new customer base
How will you track the success or failure of your Social Media strategy? Creating success metrics and goals is important in order to see how your strategy performs. Studying performance will determine what changes should be made.
Overall Cost To Manage Each Social Media Option
How much time is required to effectively manage a social media account?
- Know the worth of that time spent to your business and whether that time spent is better suited elsewhere.
Based on expectations from Social Media use, what is the ROI?
- Measurable and meaningful value provided. This can come in the form of site traffic, brand awareness, increased social media followers, sales, email/newsletter sign ups, customer retention, generating new customers, and so on.
Observe What Social Media Customers and Competitors Are Engaged On
Based on what Social Media existing and potential customers are using should determine, in part, what Social Media platforms are to be used. What competitors are using as well should be considered to determine whether there is a missed opportunity or ability to steel market share or individual customers.
Determine Your Target Audience
The demographic and psychographic nature of the target audience both determines exactly how Social Media should be used and which ones should be considered. Whether that is for disseminating information, humor, news, sales opportunities, or anything else.
Tap Into Your Targeted Customer’s Passion
With so much competition in nearly everything being sold, product attributes, special features, and any associated benefit is not enough to entice Social Media engagement on a large level, nor convince customers into making a purchase or visiting your site. People are increasingly aware that options are available, and with so many options, there are many products/services out there that are nearly identical. The price of which is also nearly identical many times as well. At which point, the only thing left you can tap into is the emotion of a customer in order to persuade them to buy with you rather than your competitor. What is their passion?
Social media is called that because it is social, not a sales tactic. Otherwise it would be called sales media, and as such, we have to treat it as a social medium. Any overtone of a “business sales pitch” is mostly ignored or worst abhorred (as with reddit). Engagement on a very real and personal level (in regards to the targeted social media, user, and demographics therein) is highly effective, as Social Media use is supposed to be real and personal. It’s far more appreciated than something that obviously appears as a marketing scheme, except that even those have their time and purpose as well. Know your customers passions, and provide value surrounding that.
Listen To What Customers Are Saying
We are able to know, sometimes in real time as with Twitter, that customers are unhappy with a product or service they’ve been provided. This is when empathy can be used to perhaps not gain their business right away, but will certainly keep you in mind for next time. Simply saying you were sorry to hear of their misfortune, even without making a direct sales pitch, can sometimes be the best pitch of all.
Respond To as Many People as Possible
Responding directly to users provides a real and often times measurable value. The same even goes to responding to your competitors customers. Engagement isn’t just how users engage with your business, but how your business engages with users.
Segmenting Social Media Participation
Every Social Media platform is different. Google+ is not the same as Facebook. Pinterest is not the same as Instagram. They each have unique and different inherent characteristics, different means of engagement, and different users. As such, you cannot treat each one as the same. You should not be promoting content in the same way on every social media platform, and rather promote it in a way that is inherent to the social medias community and target customers.
Abide By The Marketers Method When Testing Social Media Tactics
Science has offered us many wonderful things, and everything science has ever had to offer was based on the use of the Scientific Method. Marketers would be wise to incorporate this method into the creation of their Social Media Strategy. The Marketers Method for Social Media would then be defined as:
1.) Observe how your Social Media accounts perform and study user engagement metrics. Then ask yourself questions about your findings (the foundation for scientific observation).
2.) Hypothesize how you can make Social Media performance better. In other words, what tactic will be implemented?
3.) Predict the outcome and consequences of your hypothesis.
4.) Test your prediction by experimenting with your tactics.
5.) Conclusions will be made on the basis of data or information you’ve gathered from your experiment. Use these conclusions to create another hypothesis on how to better the performance of your Social Media tactics even further. Rinse and Repeat.
Now certainly this is going to sound like child’s play to most, but you would not imagine how many people skip certain steps. Considering there are so few, and each is so critical, it is important to be diligent. How many times have you posted on Social Media and not tested or found the results compared to other similar posts? Have you been watching how users engage with what you post, or do you simply blindly post away? Have you ever considered posting different things or in a different voice? Have you ever assumed how a certain post would perform? Was your assumption correct and did you do anything about it?
Diligently use the Marketers Method for Social Media and over time you are guaranteed to find positive results. When making continual improvements to your Social Media use, its likely your performance will continually improve as well.