Peer pressure, success stories and all the hype tell you how easy and essential it is for your business to have a presence on social media. There is so much information out there that I thought it would help to have a step by step social media recipe - a how-to get started guide to social media success.
Why Social Media
Recent research in the USA, 2015 Edelman Trust Barometer, reported that Google has overtaken traditional media to become the most trusted news source on the planet. According to BIA/Kelsey and ConStat, 97% of consumers now use online media to shop locally.
I used to say that social media may not be for everyone, however, with the growth of online searches and the demise of offline directories, like Yellow Pages, your potential customers are on social media. There are now over 2 billion monthly users on Facebook and it grows 20% month on month but it’s not all about Facebook and other social media channels may work better for your business.
Success in social media marketing isn’t a quick fix! It comes from building strong and lasting relationships with your customers and professional contacts and sharing the type of content and expertise that they will want to share with their friends, families and colleagues. This approach will help encourage and keep loyal customers and connections so that they become your business ambassadors - your online word of mouth!
This open, two-way communication is what is so unique about social media marketing and a world away from traditional marketing. Direct selling does have a place but it should never be the central focus of your social media campaign.
Your Social Media Recipe for Success!
If you just dive in without any idea of what you’re trying to achieve, you might get lucky and it will work. However, it’s more likely to end up wasting your time and so you become frustrated and very discouraged. You need to start with a plan…
While social media is important, don’t forget that it works best when combined with your other marketing channels. Email, networking, your website and public relations are still important aspects of a good marketing plan. It’s not about only doing social media or only having a website but having a mix of marketing approaches to reach your target audience.
As with all good recipes, your social media recipe needs you to have gathered your key ingredients together before you start. I’m sure we’ve all started cooking and then had to rush off to the shops to buy that vital missing ingredient - all that does is waste a lot of your time. Don’t make that same mistake with your social media.
1. Decide which social networks will work best for you
Unless you’re a big company with resources to invest in every possible social media platform, you are better to focus on one or two ‘core’ social networks first. In fact, you may never need to do more than that.The key is to work out where your target audience, the people who want to buy from you, hang out.
Joining Facebook and Twitter is often the de facto choice, simply due to their size and influence but may not be right for you. For example, if you are in the B2B arena and sell services to other businesses, I would recommend a combination of Facebook and LinkedIn would be best for you. If you are in crafts or a very visual business, then Facebook and Instagram and/or Pinterest might be your best combination. If you need to reach journalists then Twitter should be part of your strategy.
Experiment with a couple to begin with and then, as with cooking, you can get bolder with your flavours and add other platforms to your mix.Don't try to do it all. Select one or two social media platforms where you know your customers will be. Click To Tweet
2. Define and assess your goals
It’s hard to know if your recipe has been a success without having an idea of what it will look like when it’s finished! This is where it’s important to define the goals you want to achieve. I’m a great advocate of SMART goals: Specific; Measurable; Attainable; Realistic, and Timely.
First, create a general list of goals, and then get more specific. A potential list of goals is below; yours will be different and based on your products, services and possibilities.
- Generate More Sales - While this may seem like an obvious goal, it’s important to state exactly how many sales you want to achieve, in what period of time, and for what product(s)
- Increase Website Traffic - This is where social media can help you drive targeted traffic to your website
- Get More Social Media Followers - More social media followers engaging with your posts can lead to your posts being seen by more people. You should set a goal of how many new followers/fans you would like a week or a month?
- Generate Leads - You want to nurture leads that can turn into sales. This means driving visitors to your website and then adding them to your email list so you can continue to build your relationship with them.
- Grow Your Authority - Posting the right content on social media will allow you to demonstrate your expertise so you can become the go-to person in your niche.
3. Plan ahead with a social media content calendar
You don’t need to spend all day on social media and a content calendar will help keep you focused. Check your brand. Is it consistent with the things you offer your audience? Always carry your brand image and core message across all social media platforms. It is so important to be consistent. Make sure your physical marketing material; business cards, brochures, flyers, include your social media links.
An editorial calendar will allow you to plan your social media activity weeks or months in advance. Brainstorm content ideas that will interest your audience. Your plan will include everyday posts as well as take advantage of seasonal themes, like Christmas, Valentine’s and Easter.
One simple way to plan your content is to create a daily theme, e.g.,
|Ask a question||Tip or strategy on your topic||Share news article||Blog, Customer spotlight or case study||Free report or other lead magnet||Inspirational Quote||Take a break!|
Before you create content, consider how the information will display best: as images, one-liners, long text, or videos. Share your suggestions or good information from a “little seen” source. Readers like finding new resources.
Then just follow this successful recipe weekly! As you get more experience you can add other formats to this but the key is to KISS = Keep It Stylishly Simple!Plan ahead with a social media content calendar. It will help keep you focused. Click To Tweet
4. Repurpose your content across social media
This is a fantastic strategy for making most of your social media time. If you write a blog, make it into a slideshow and then record it as a video, share it on Facebook, take the key points and Tweet about them, make images from it, turn it into an infographic for Pinterest. Basically, you don’t have to re-invent the wheel all the time.Make the most of your time by repurposing your content across social media. Click To Tweet
5. Humanise your brand and tell stories
People use social media to connect with other people, so lower your barriers and show fans the real you and the team behind your brand’s logo! Be transparent, open and authentic in all your messages.
A genuinely human approach with a focus on storytelling has consistently proven to be a successful tactic on social media. Establish your unique voice, show a sense of humour and use everyday language.A human approach focusing on storytelling has consistently proven successful on social media. Click To Tweet
6. Put the emphasis on your customer
Everyone who has seen me present knows this is one of my bugbears! It is so important not to ‘we’ all over your customers. So, rather than
“We’ve just launched our latest set of images. We hope you like them”
“Learn how you can be your own graphic designer with step-by-step instructions. Post your design with #BYOGD!”
Social media is a two-way dialogue. First, listen to what your audience has to say. Then listen to industry leaders. Finally, listen to your competitors. Encourage followers to share their experiences related to your topic. They can do this through text, photos or even video.
Spend time engaging with people. People respond more often to someone who takes the time for “in person” replies and responses.Spend time engaging with people. People respond to someone who takes the time to reply. Click To Tweet
Share company news with your followers. New office hours, product announcements, pricing changes, holiday or other sales, and events are all newsworthy. Watch your competitors and see what they are doing, which of their posts are generating the most activity and where they’re getting industry-related links.
7. Don’t overpromote: build relationships and provide value
The majority of social media users don’t visit Facebook et al to be sold to - they go there to socialise and catch up with friends, family and to be entertained. It is your job to convince people that you can add value to their day and that they enjoy your posts. You do this by building the know, like and trust factors through sharing great content and helping people. Then you can throw in the odd promotional post!Please remember not to self-promote too much. The point of social media is to be social. Click To Tweet
Socialise more than you promote. Few people prefer to see more “buy me, buy me” type of messages than the “friendly find” type. It’s important to get to know your readers and their habits, especially when it comes to when they reply and what topics they respond to.
You need to change your mindset from “what can we sell you” to “what can we do to help you”. With organic reach at an all-time low, your posts need to touch people on an emotional level. The most powerful emotional triggers are humour, awe and anger though I don’t advise ranting too much!
8. Invest time to see results
As I said at the start, social media marketing isn’t a quick fix and you need to invest time before you’ll see results. Remember, that time also has a cost to your business so you need to ensure that you don’t spend too much time on social media.Social media marketing isn't a quick fix and you need to invest time before you'll see results Click To Tweet
Please don’t treat social media like a gym membership. You know, the one that you take out full of enthusiasm in the first week of every January, go three times a week for the first few weeks and then by the end of January are never seen there again.
You can schedule content ahead of time in batches. Facebook has a great built-in scheduling tool for your business Page and you can also schedule on Twitter, either directly or use a social media management program like HootSuite or Buffer to cut your scheduling time to a minimum. These programs are used by a variety of the top social media sites. Pick the one that is best for your overall needs.
While automation tools are handy, don’t over-automate. Plan to post additional real-time information throughout your week and monitor and respond to comments.
9. Be consistent
Consistency is the key to social media marketing, something I freely admit I struggle with as I get easily distracted by bright, shiny new things! You can quickly be forgotten unless you stay in front of your audience due to their high activity levels.
For most social networks, one or two updates a day is a good target. At a minimum, you should post at least a couple of times a week so that your content continues to appear in your fans newsfeeds. Not every update has to be amazing, it’s fine to make small talk, like asking a simple question, or to share someone’s content or an interesting article you’ve found.
Encourage follower to follower engagement. Get your followers talking to one another by sharing their relevant posts, also commenting on them as well as encouraging others to join in.
If you’ve posted a valuable piece of information on your website, link to it on your social media. Please remember not to self-promote too much. Loosen up and have fun. The point of social media is to be social. Drop the “suit talk” and talk casually as you would outside of work.
The key is not to agonise about it but just do it!Consistency is the key to social media marketing otherwise you can quickly be forgotten. Click To Tweet
10. Social Media Marketing isn’t free: experiment with paid ads
Originally social media was seen as this great free marketing opportunity. Now, with competition greater than ever, algorithms that prioritise paid content over organic posts and a more astute audience, it makes sense to invest in paid ads.
You can still achieve results without spending a penny but you can also invest relatively small amounts of money, as little as £5, and significantly increase your chances of success.
Social media advertising gives business owners an unprecedented ability to create super-focused, extremely targeted promotions. Today, not only can you create a message that is targeted to a specific audience, you can also choose the demographics, location, even the competitor’s following you want to target.Social Media Marketing isn't free: experiment with paid ads. They will increase your reach Click To Tweet
11. Visual Content Works
Mix up the medium you use to keep readers interested. Use pictures, audio, video, text and more to cover your usual business-related topics. Share some of your messages through pictures, video or infographics.
Create videos or presentations on how-to topics, tips, pre-launch teasers. Upload them to YouTube or directly on Facebook and promote them on your website and/or your social media sites.Create videos or presentations on how-to topics, tips, pre-launch teasers. Upload them to YouTube or directly on Facebook Click To Tweet
12. Remember your goals
Keep in mind that your social media marketing goal should be to drive traffic to your website and mailing list. Point followers to and from your site. Each social media site has its strengths so use those to your advantage by adding different types of content on each, according to the site’s strong points and audience.
Today’s takeaway tip is:
Remember, your social media marketing goal is to drive traffic to your website and mailing list.Remember, your social media marketing goal is to drive traffic to your website and mailing list. Click To Tweet
Now it’s up to you to mix all your ingredients together to create a great social media showpiece but take it step by step and don’t try to do everything at once! Remember it takes time and practice to become a Master Chef or Baker.