Are you interested in learning how to win social media marketing wars? Looking for the latest social media marketing tactics? Perhaps you want to know the benefits of social media marketing for small businesses.
It is not terribly hard to accomplish these objectives. We’ll share with you how the most successful small businesses use social media to grow brand loyalty.
Check out our thoughts on creative marketing.
More we can learn: Best Social Media Campaigns … How to Improve with These Tips
Social media has come a long way since then as have the strategies, tactics, methods, and power associated with social media.
A successful social media marketing campaign is multi-dimensional. It’s kind of complicated. Ask any social media marketer “How do you do social media marketing?” and you’re likely to get the “Um, where do I start?” look.
There are a lot of elements to address and minute details to cover. Often, the most difficult stage is the initial one, when you’re trying to gain traction and pick up momentum.
How many times have you seen companies requesting people to friend them on Facebook? Like farming, followers was the name of the game. Sad but true. The truth is that social media marketing campaigns are really about cultivating relationships with potential customers. Fan ‘skins’, by themselves, are of very little value.
Related: Social Media Marketing Lessons From the New Pros in Town
What is the importance of social media to your small business? Dialog with customers for sure. What about reading your content and remembering? Appreciating your help? Marketing? Building relationships? We believe it is all of these things, but the bottom line goal is relationship building.
Marketing for small to mid-sized businesses is a different animal than it is for big brands. For the former, cost is always a factor, they insist on measurable results (even if their metric is as vague as “Do we think it worked?”), and creativity usually takes a second place to cost-effective, day-to-day manageability.
And yet, whether you are Millifiore Skin Care, Black Tulip Restaurant, or Coca-Cola, the challenges are much the same: To grab prospects’ attention; re-explain quickly and memorably how you make life better and give them good reasons to buy now.
No matter how many zeroes appear on your marketing invoices, there is never enough money to reach the market the way you’d like to, so small businesses need to experiment with new ways to reach their target markets.
Why social media campaigns are so important
Social media enables consumers to generate and tap into the opinions of an exponentially larger universe.
While word-of-mouth has always been important, its scope was previously limited to the people you knew and interacted with on a daily basis. Social media has removed that limitation and given new power to engage a much wider set of consumers.
Social media is transforming the way that consumers across the globe make purchase decisions.
Customers around the world are using social media to learn about other users’ experiences, find more information about brands, products, and services, and to find deals and purchase incentives.
Here’s how small businesses win social media marketing wars
Here are 19 action considerations for winning social media marketing. These are the ones we use most often with our clients. We believe they are the ones most critical to the success of your social media marketing:
Define target customers
It all starts with knowing who your customers are and knowing as much about what makes them tick as you can. Without this step, most of the other measures become just a shot in the dark.
So spent a lot of your time on this action. Keep in mind that you can’t be everything to everybody. Remember that not all customers are alike.
Choose best channels
Once you understand who your target customers are, you’ll need to study which social media sites they use most frequently and to what end. Social media takes a lot of time and energy, so you need to know where your time will be best spent.
Benefits of social media marketing … share unique content
Your content goal is simple … be as helpful as you can and be entertaining, or else be ignored. If you are going to put in the time and energy, you don’t want to be ignored.
Capture customer hearts in the first 30 seconds
What are you doing to make their first 30 seconds on your platform extraordinary? If you can’t answer this question, you need to start here. First impressions are everything.
Strike an emotional chord
Make consumers feel something. If you want to grab my attention on social media, make me laugh. Make me cry. Make me feel something, anything.
When I have a super busy day, and I am replying to tweets on Twitter I have no choice due to the amount of them and time constraints but to choose where and when I am going to respond. It is a natural choice for me. I respond to the people who grab my attention.
These are the people who are nice, who make me feel good. The people who are genuine. The people who make me laugh. Pull an emotional chord.
Don’t send snarky tweets trying to get attention. Most people can see right thru the snark and won’t respond. I ignore the trolls and the folks looking only for attention. Be genuine and offer something of emotional value.
Listen and engage
Listening comes first and foremost to understand what customers are saying about their needs and perhaps about you. Once you have heard, then join in as near real time as you can.
Be YOU and be consistent. Remember customers deal with people and not businesses.
As we said previously, social media marketing takes a lot of time and energy. There many useful tools in existence that will help in the workload. But keep this in mind … customers take note when it seems they are dealing with a robot. Don’t be that robot.
One of your key business objectives is to build relationships with customers. That end game results in customer advocates and trust. This process takes constant attention to being social on a very consistent basis.
Benefits of social media marketing … tell short stories and educate
Not sure what content your fans want? Prototype and test your ideas. Try posting different types of status updates, related and not related to your product and company. Also use your social media insights to see what your readers are engaging with the most, and then deliver more of it.
Many brands build ads and then share them with fans on their social media sites. A great example is with the Guinness ad we discussed in our article on Guinness marketing using storytelling. This technique used subtle messaging with a great story to appeal to fans. The story’s light touch made sharing the story seem less like an advertisement
Doing a great job of creating campaigns that tell short stories and have subtle messaging is an effective campaign tactic.
If you’re inexperienced in video marketing, that’s okay. There is a vast variety of articles on the topic, and a good place to learn. But remember the best way to learn is by doing and practicing. Start your video creations with free tools like Vine and Instagram.
Consumers always enjoy good stories and helpful information that educates.
Partner with complementary small businesses
Contests and giveaways are standard tactics on social media campaigns. You can overcome this challenge through some creative thinking. Find additional small businesses that fit with your objectives … say for contests. You can also retweet content on Twitter and likes Instagram photos of complementary brands that promote something related to your products and services.
Capitalize on local events
During the Sochi Olympics, Coca-Cola hosted a contest/series called #CokeGames. The gist of it was that they created simple Olympics-inspired games like Bottle Cap Hockey, Coke Curling, Ice Cube Ski Jump. Then, they asked their followers to play along by filming and uploading short videos of the Coke fan playing the game. The incentive was an opportunity to win a $100 gift card.
Your small business could adopt this idea, using any local event as inspiration. It might be a local seafood festival or perhaps a local hockey team championship game. These local events happen all the time and offer great opportunities for the attention of your brand and therefore your relationship building.
How do you create fan conversation? One great way we have found is through asking fans a thought-provoking question. Use questions that relate to your brand. For example, Internet Explorer wondered how people imagine the web in 5 years. Remember that you need to be part of the community and give your answer.
When asked to share their vision of the future, fans had fun sharing their thoughts and others used the Q&A as a way to voice their opinions on IE’s products.
Show your fans the fun
It’s always appropriate for any business, large or small, to show its personality. If it’s a character that wants to be a little weird occasionally, go ahead and get a little strange.
Skittles is an excellent example of this tactic. Yes, most of their posts are silly, but it’s working for Skittles.
A typical day’s posts can include observations such as “Really annoying pirates carry pigeons on their shoulders” and shots from the page’s ongoing BFF series, in which it displays photos from users posing with their beloved Skittles.
If you’re a product-based company, ask your users to send pictures of themselves using your product or service in exchange for a shot at a prize, or for the honor of being featured on the page.
Post fun facts
Not all of your company’s posts should be brand-centric, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be branded. Kit Kat posts fun facts and takes advantage of modern topics, but also includes their tagline, “Break Time. Anytime.” on the images they share.
You should always look to tap into a trending political topic, particularly if it relates to your products and services. Find useful creative visual designs to reinforce the message.
Small businesses win social media … crowdsource ideas
Always use any and all ways to gain customer insights that you can employ. One way to accomplish this is to crowdsource ideas from customers. We have written about two companies that have used this technique very successfully. (See our two crowdsourcing articles … one on Starbucks and one on Legos.)
My Starbucks Idea website is at once a crowdsourcing tool, a market research method that brings customer priorities to light, an on-line community, and an effective internet marketing tool.
Encourage customers to give their opinions and reward the best ideas. It’s a great example of how a business can use social media as a mini–focus group and learn what customers want.
Social media as a customer service/ experience gateway
There are many ways a business can use social media to help manage customer service and experience. Start small, just collecting all inputs, good and bad. And then grow from there.
For example, the Olive Garden showcases their food with “Yum!”-inducing photos to draw attention to their social media as a way to solicit customer service insights. That’s to be expected of a restaurant.
What’s more impressive, though, is that Olive Garden uses their platforms as a gateway to customer service. They encourage customers to chat with their guest relations team about experiences at their restaurant.
Don’t you think you can follow this model? You certainly don’t have to be a restaurant. How serious are you about customer service and customer insight engagement?
You don’t have to make the social network your primary source for support, but you should respond and interact with your fans to answer their questions. You’ll not only boost engagement but also show that you’re human and you care about their opinions and issues.
Create new customer experiences
At the core of Ford’s social media marketing strategy is an effort to give the company’s potential customers a chance to experience the brand and the product in ways they never expected. Before the unveiling of the 2011 Explorer, Ford created a Facebook page that gave its fans sneak peeks at features and video interviews with the design team and chief engineer. And in both campaigns, it’s the customers themselves that are selecting and talking about the new experiences.
Scott Monty’s advice on whether Social Media Marketing is right for your company,
If your clients are there, you need to be there too … he also went on to say ‘You need to listen.’ Observe how they behave and act similarly.
Respond to everyone
No matter what you do, if you want to build engagement you have to be engaging with all customers and potential customers. What does this mean? Do a great job of responding to most comments.
Tag people in a comment stream to let them know that you’ve responded to their inquiry and appreciate their comment.
Analyze, correct, iterate, and learn
Analyze your measurement results, and continuously make corrections, iterate, and most importantly, learn.
More to learn: What the Heath Brothers Persuasive Techniques Teach Us
Follow the 70/20/10 Rule
Here is an important guideline to keep in mind for all of your social media sites. Follow the 70/20/10 guideline … not a rule, but a guideline. Let us break that down for you. The majority (70%) of content that a social media site page puts up should be brand- and business-building, meaning it’s information that is valuable to your followers. Content shared from other sources makes up 20% and the remaining 10% or less (NEVER more) is self-promotional.
Apply the 70/20/10 rule to your content mix and generate more interest for your social media and increase your customer engagement.
The bottom line
There are a lot of misconceptions about social media marketing. Just because you read something in a blog post or hear something from a credible source doesn’t mean it is right or true for you and your business.
Always do your research, and continually try to improve. Social media marketing is here to stay, and it can drive a lot of business for you, assuming you are leveraging it correctly.
There is more opportunity to fail in social media than to succeed if we treat it like any other marketing vehicle. Social media requires us to get away from being promotional and sensational and instead treat our customers with particular attention. The individual attention that means being social, building relationships, and creating trust.
Bottom line, listen more than you talk. You’ll be amazed how much you can learn about your audience when you shut up and listen. Try it!
Do you have a lesson about making your customer experience better you can share with this community? Have any questions or comments to add in the section below?
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Mike Schoultz is the founder of Digital Spark Marketing, a digital marketing and customer service agency. With 40 years of business experience, he blogs on topics that relate to improving the performance of your business. Find them on G+, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Digital Spark Marketing will stretch your thinking and your ability to adapt to change. We also provide some fun and inspiration along the way. Call us for a free quote today. You will be amazed how reasonable we will be.
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