Digital Marketing for Beginners - Part Three: Social Media Marketing
By Ashley John - Digital Marketing Consultant
With great fanfare comes part three of Orantec's Digital Marketing Guide for Beginners. In part one we took a closer look at SEO, part two saw us delve into the world of Content Marketing, and today we arrive with a like and a favourite for Social Media Marketing.
Almost everyone knows how to use social media, with most people having a platform they use most, and while Facebook is great for catching up with friends, Twitter is brilliant to see just how concise comedy can be, and YouTube is fantastic if you want to see adorable animals doing things cute animals do, all of these platforms (along with several others) can be effectively used to market your business. A lot of that comes down to the immediacy of audience interaction that social media allows.
Benefits of social media marketing
In previous guides, we have discussed how to use some of the most popular social media platforms, but one of the biggest steps to take with Social Media Marketing is to actually learn about different platforms and decide which ones will best suit your business goals.
Running social media accounts can be exhausting work, but the benefits outweigh the amount of effort needed to make your social media accounts stand out.
One of the biggest draws of social media marketing is being able to directly engage with your audience, this is especially true of platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. With this level of immediacy, you are able to learn what customers like and dislike about your business, what products they enjoy etc., which means you can rework other campaigns and strategies to reflect what customers enjoy. It also means that you are able to deal with customer complaints in a way that is productive, proactive and powerful, showing other potential customers how they will be treated by you and your company if they too run into problems.
Social media also encourages sharing, which means that you can organically create word-of-mouth, this is particularly useful if you specialise in something niche.
You may have also noticed online that there are constantly news stories about how brands responded to customers, or companies which have particularly interesting feeds. This is evidence of how important and beneficial it can be to find that perfect brand personality. By having fun with your audience you could one day find your brand’s social media profile mentioned on Buzzfeed or Metro, driving traffic to your website.
To manage the above though it is crucial that you know what tone you are creating for your brand, a lot of the time this will depend on your target audience, but knowing your brand voice will make it easier to know how you’ll interact with your audience (if you’re a nightclub for example, you’ll want a more informal writing style, and you can be liberal using emojis and gifs in your updates), while also knowing what social media platforms to engage with (if you create trendy pillows and blankets, Instagram and Pinterest will be of more interest to you compared to Vine).
The relationship between website and social media is mutual, with your social media linking to your website, and your website linking to your social media you can create a two-way street with both lanes driving audience engagement.
Finding the right social media platform for you and making the most of it
Here is a quick run-down of the most popular social media platforms, and what sort of businesses and brands they are most suited for:
- Facebook – A go-to social media platform, benefits from having an active user-base of all ages;
- Twitter – Perfect for concise updates, or to share blogs and product information. It is also a great platform for customer interaction and engaging with the biggest trends; hashtags can place your business in front of millions of users, but make sure the hashtag is relevant to your business;
- Google+ - No longer very useful as a social platform, but by making an account you can benefit from your business featuring on Google Maps, and Google Reviews;
- YouTube – The most popular video sharing platform, ideal if you plan on creating video content to promote your business. However, poor quality content can live on in infamy;
- LinkedIn – Best suited for B2B business, or companies where networking is key to success;
- Pinterest – If you create cute products, or anything that is aesthetically pleasing, this is the platform for you;
- Instagram – If you sell beautiful products, you can benefit from promoting these products here, an almost entirely image-based platform;
- Snapchat – If you want to create a brand that is friendly with its consumers, you can use snapchat to give a short behind-the-scenes look at your business;
- Vine – Same basic principal as Snapchat but more focused on creating 6 second stories.
All of the platforms above have their own specific language which you will need to learn in order to make the most of your time using that platform, but doing so will come naturally with time. It’s always worth doing some research, see who the most popular users are on those sites and see if you can learn what they do well, and emulate those techniques until you become proficient.
Once you feel comfortable using a platform it is always worth finding influencers and engaging with them. These could be anyone from celebrities to local communities that engage with whatever your brand promotes and sells. By building a relationship with influencers you can get your website in front of their already defined audience, helping you achieve a higher rate of audience engagement.
Once you have chosen the perfect social media platforms to promote your brand (unless you have a dedicated team to work on social media, it’ll be counter-productive to make profiles on every platform), you have to make sure to frequently update your profiles to continue to engage your audience. This could be by promoting your brand, sharing news about the industry/happenings in the local community, or even just wishing your audience a good morning. By staying in the forefront of people’s minds, you’re sure to have a constant audience.
Things to bear in mind
No matter how fantastic your social media accounts are, you will not cultivate a captive audience immediately. Much like SEO, Social Media Marketing is a long-term endeavour, and it’s through perseverance that you’ll begin to see results. It is also worth remembering that unless you are creating high-quality content, you are very unlikely to draw in an audience. It’s not enough to update your social media accounts, the updates have to be interesting, funny or just generally useful to your intended audience.
While creating a brand identity is a fantastic idea, and can really draw in an audience, you should be careful not to include too much of your own individual personality. This is especially true when dealing with complaints. If you’re a small business, it can often feel like complaints are personal attacks, but they aren’t. It’s best to take a breath of air before responding to complaints otherwise you might be known for all the wrong reasons.
You should also be sure not to ignore people who engage with you on social media, whether it’s good or bad; Facebook, for example, judges business pages based on their response time to queries.
If you’re new to social media you may be tempted to cross post, that is, you may use one update and share it on every social platform that you have, and while this could save time, because of how vastly different each platform is, a successful update on one platform could fall flat on another.
You should also make sure your updates are as visual as possible. While this is a given for Instagram, Pinterest YouTube etc, it’s worth adding images to Facebook, Twitter and other non-image based platforms to add a dash of colour and individuality to your updates, and to make them more eye catching.
Tools to help
There are online tools that will help you get started with social media, and we’ve listed them below (aren’t we nice!):
- Hootsuite/Buffer – these tools are designed to automatically publish updates for you once you have scheduled them, meaning you don’t have to stay on social media throughout the day;
- Facebook and Twitter Insight – These are useful to find out which updates really grabbed your target audience’s attention, while also letting you know the best times to post future updates;
- Canva – social media benefits from being a very visual medium, this programme allows you to make beautiful designs to share online easily;
- Buzzsumo – this tool is fantastic to find shareable content, and to find suitable influencers;
- StumbleUpon – if you’re looking for content to share on social media, this is the tool for you;
- Google Trends – this allows you to see what people are searching for so you can curate your social media updates accordingly.
The world of social media is ever changing, it is a continuous supply of information which can be used to further your own brand with a bit of creativity, but it also means you have to work hard to stand out. By taking advantage of each platform’s strengths and weaknesses, and by giving your social media presence the love it deserves, there’s no reason Social Media Marketing can’t work for you.
At Orantec, we know that juggling several social media accounts can be a time consuming process. That’s why we’re happy to handle our clients’ social media presence for them. If you want to benefit from all that social media can bring, but don’t have the time to invest in it, contact us today.