Social Media Marketing Guide for Business Owners
Who Needs a Social Media Marketing Guide?
Actually, every business can expand its digital footprint and engage with potential customers on social media. Regardless if you market B2B or B2C you are ultimately marketing H2H, engaging human to human. Social media is an extremely powerful marketing tool that can help push your business to success. Our Social Media Marketing Guide explains some of the things you need to know to make social media marketing work to your advantage.
Before you can get the most out of our social media marketing guide you need to be clear on the basics. We commonly hear these three questions:
What Is Social Media?
The use of mobile and web-based technologies to turn communication into interactive dialogue. Simply put, social media marketing is creating and maintaining customer relationships using the internet.
Why Use Social Media?
Customer relationships have always been built on great customer service, listening and responding to concerns, and making your customers feel important. New customer relationships come from having current customers refer or ‘sell’ your brand to their friends and connections.All of these marketing functions can be accomplished successfully through social media. It is an ideal tool for listening and responding to current customers as well as for reaching out to new customers.
How Will It Benefit My Business?
Strong and engaging social media efforts have been shown to create valuable customer feedback, increase loyalty, and create new customers and referrals.
The currency in social media is to create value for your audience. Determine what your customer wants from you, and that is the value you need to provide. Many brands are able to create a community around their product or service for their niche audience.
A Word of Caution!
Our social media marketing guide would not be complete without this caution! Social media is not the place to push your broadcast media. Posting sales messages, TV spots, and links to your website will quickly alienate your viewers and prevent the growth of your audience and the creation of an active community who feel like they are participating in your brand.
Social Media Marketing Guide – Getting Started!
Listen to the Conversation
A business can’t truly understand how to engage customers if they don’t know what their customers care about. Review sites, blogs, and other social channels, as they are a goldmine of valuable information regarding what your customers really want. So do your research!
Respond to Your Audience
Communicating with customers can be challenging given the the limited time and resources of a small business. In order to effectively manage social media and the dialogue with customers, many small businesses establish times when they will respond to posts or push out new content.
Create Value for Your Audience
Once you are comfortable observing and understanding what customers are saying online, you should begin creating content. It is also important to already have content on your social and business profiles before you start adding fans and followers. Potential followers are going to look at the pages to see if they want to follow you, so you need to give them a reason.
Make Your Best Fans Feel Like Heroes
As you have no doubt experienced, it is many times more profitable to spend marketing dollars to keep your best customers versus acquiring new ones. With very little effort, loyal customers can be mobilized to ignite referrals, generate positive social buzz, shift opinions, and help soften the impact of bad online reviews. This can include things like rewarding them for referrals or sending them bits of interesting information they can broadcast, like new menu items, upcoming sales, or special discounts.
Ask Your Fans to Talk About You
Due to the emergence and adoption of social media, customers now have the ability to instantly broadcast sentiment about the business they visit and services they use to thousands of people. Each existing customer can generate new business, craft a brand image, and inspire loyalty through tweeting, blogging, reviewing, following, and so forth. Given small businesses limited time and resources, this is a highly valuable asset if managed appropriately.
Wash, Rinse + Repeat!
If you think that you can read our social media marketing guide once and be done with it, better think again! Engaging with customers through social media is neither a one-way street nor a one-time event. The process we described above is a continuous one. As your business moves through the social media marketing cycle you will find better opportunities to communicate with customers, new ways to create value for them, and even new product or service ideas that you can offer that your customers are already asking for. If you treat social media as a feedback panel and a customer service tool rather than another one-way advertising medium, you will find that it justifies the time and energy that it requires.
How to Handle Negative Comments
This may well be your most important takeaway from our social media marketing guide! Never delete or remove negative comments (except those that contain profanity or offensive speech). Instead you need to solve that problem or answer that comment in a helpful manner in a this public forum so that it can be seen by other users and where it can serve as a FAQ or a strong endorsement for your brand, product, or customer service.
A good process is to accept responsibility when applicable and apologize, also when applicable. Next, provide a solution or answer or link and then move the conversation offline. A standard response might be: “Thank you for letting us know about this. We are sorry this was difficult and want to take care of it for you. Please reach out to us by phone at (insert your phone number) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) at your earliest convenience.”
Social Media Marketing Guide – Blogging
Why Businesses Should Blog
To establish your credibility as an organization and as a thought leader. Also, blogs are SEO powerhouses, showing up on Google and other search engines as fresh, updated content rich with keywords, which pulls it to the top of search algorithms. And that puts blogging at the very top of our social media marketing guide for business owners.
What Makes a Good Blog Post?
Ideal blog content should include industry and company news, stories about the people and communities you serve, and interactions with experts and other influencers. The key is to approach blogging not as “What do I have to say?” but “What does my community want to hear?” This shift in approach allows a brand to become a reliable source for information around certain topics or a specific industry.
Anyone Can Blog!
You don’t have to be the expert to post expert content. Reposting great content or gathering info from guest bloggers is a great alternative. You can also interview an expert to get their information for your blog. Many experts are happier to answer a few questions and be quoted than they might be to write an actual blog post for your business bog.
Social Media Marketing Guide – Facebook
Not Friends – Brand Advocates!
Consumers consider Facebook the place they go to catch up with friends. Brands need to recognize that, for them, this is not the place to be a friend, but instead to try to help their fans to talk to friends about their products or service. Facebook is where you identify your own strongest fans. Gather their input, ask for feedback, and then activate them to be brand advocates to their own lists of online and real world contacts.
What Makes a Good Facebook Post?
Good posts include pictures and blurbs about your business or industry, customers enjoying your products, info about your products and brand, events, funny comments or videos, and any interactions from fans and customers. Encourage your customers and fans to make and share their own posts and videos.
It’s Not About You!
We keep telling our clients, and our social media marketing guide would not be complete without it. Facebook isn’t about you! It is about your fans and what they came to Facebook to get. As a brand it becomes your job to help them find things they want to say, do, or share with their own friends and reward them for interacting with you. The most common method is to run contests, but don’t overlook the power of liking, reposting, commenting, and otherwise recognizing fans for their participation, which is cheaper than doling out prizes.
Social Media Marketing Guide – Twitter
Twitter is like blogging, but much more succinct (140 characters or less!) It should be used to provide short, action-packed posts that drive users to longer format content, other social media sites, or specific pages on your website or partner sites. Thev number of clicks that many brands are seeing proves Twitter to be a traffic generating powerhouse.
What Makes a Good Tweet?
Similar to your blog, Twitter should be helpful and informative as well as powerfully user-oriented. Additionally, be sure to search for mentions of your brand, competitors, industry terms and personnel. Then, respond to these people directly. Twitter is regarded as having the most real-time activity of the major social platforms, so embrace that by starting a dialogue with real people.
The Tweets you create will be visible to anyone who visits your profile. This means it is critical to keep context in each post, usually by retweeting the post you are responding to or linking to broader conversations. Because visitors won’t see both sides of your conversation, you can position your brand as helpful and responsive, which will encourage your followers to treat you that way going forward.
Social Media Marketing Guide – LinkedIn
The Professional Network
LinkedIn is a social media site targeted to business people and professionals. It is directed at helping professionals maintain and make connections, stay up-to-date on industry events, and find a job or fill a position. LinkedIn is a great tool for making new business connections and staying in touch with other professionals. Many users utilize LinkedIn to stay in touch with connections made through other networking events, such as trade shows, seminars, etc.
Your LinkedIn Profile
Your personal profile should be professional and up-to-date. Many users consider their LinkedIn profile an extension of their resume and have similar information on their profile. Posts you make should be relevant to your industry or profession and typically pertain to more business related information.
Your company profile should contain information about your business, products, services and other general information. Business posts should be related to your industry and contain valuable information for readers. Many companies use LinkedIn to help leverage their expertise in their industry or market.
LinkedIn in Four Steps
- Ensure your personal profile is up-to-date and complete, giving a true representation of your career.
- Your business profile should also be complete, up-to-date, and truly represent what your company does.
- Make new connections to build your network and attract new customers and followers. When someone follows your company or adds you as a connection, their network sees it. If you choose to join groups make sure to actively participate in them.
- Obtain recommendations for yourself and for your company and provide recommendations for others with whom you have worked.
Social Media Marketing Guide – Other Social Media
Our social media marketing guide focuses on the primary social and professional networks that most business owners are familiar with. But there are many other viable options out there. Here are just a few other social media networks you can consider for your social media marketing. If there is enough interest we can create an updated version of our social media marketing guide.
- Pinterest is a popular content-sharing sire that allows you to ‘pin’ content you create or from around the web to ‘boards’ you set up.
- Instagram is an increasingly popular social media site built around image and photo sharing.
- SnapChat is another popular social media platform that lets you easily talk with friends, view Live Stories from around the world
, and explore news.
- Google+ is a social media site similar to Facebook. However, it integrates with other Google services and is a ranking factor for Google’s search engine
- YouTube is a video-sharing site that allows users to upload and share videos with a wide audience, or only with invited viewers.It interfaces with all other social media sites, and videos can easily be shared on Facebook, Google+, etc.
Using Our Social Media Marketing Guide
Now that you understand the benefits of social media marketing you should include it in your overall digital marketing strategy for your business. We outlined all the steps you need to take in our social media marketing guide. Most small business owners already use some form of social media presence. Our social media marketing guide will help you identify and remove any obstacles in your current strategy and campaign.
As you get started with your social media marketing you may want to find out more about the best social media management tools of 2017, learn how to deliver an effective online marketing message, and try some of these simple social media tips.
If you are just starting out, or if you don’t have the time or inclination to follow our social media marketing guide, we can help get your business started with social media marketing. We have a number of digital marketers, content strategists, and search engine specialists who can help you create and implement an effective social marketing strategy. Why not get started by requesting your social media marketing estimate?
And if you are still not sure about how our social media marketing guide can help your social media marketing, don’t worry! Simply reach out and contact us. Our expert team will listen to you, answer your questions, and determine the best way for your business to maximize your social media marketing. That is one of our specialties, after all!
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