If you’re serious about increasing your visibility online, narrowing your plans down to a single medium such as SEO or PPC is missing out on a massive amount of potential traffic and revenue. It’s no secret that including social media with an online marketing campaign is a necessity and something that any business with content that’s even remotely sharable should be doing.
Social media as part of a wider online marketing strategy certainly isn’t a new thing, but a large variety of different businesses have yet to capitalise on this to its full extent.
You may believe that Social Media just doesn’t generate revenue in the same way as an SEO or PPC campaign, and that it’s not even in the same league. You may have a Facebook page, a Twitter page, a Google+ page, a small handful of likes and followers and feel like that’s the extent to which it’ll go, especially if you’re in an industry that’s not exactly social to begin with.
With Michael’s brilliant post on managing your way to social media success, you’ve already got a great idea on how to manage your social media channels, but the one thing that’s really going to drive your social media is a purpose behind each channel you’re using. Using social media for the sake of using social media simply won’t work.
Why should I start focusing on Social Media?
If SEO and PPC are the equivalent of your signage, your store front and shop window, social media can be the equivalent of stepping inside and getting their first experience of your staff; something that can make or break how your brand and store is seen by your potential customers.
Twitter for example can be used brilliantly not only for reaching out and gaining visibility for certain niches and topics, but for customer service and engaging with the people who already know you. The voice you convey here can be fundamental in how people see you and think of your brand.
Facebook is a great visual format with a phenomenal user base. Couple the Facebook apps and the visual aspect of the platform, and you’ve got a great way to show off creativity and get a visual representation of your brand out to your audience.
Of course the one thing we definitely can’t forget about is how this all ties in to your visibility in search. With Matt Cutts himself confirming that social signals have a part in Google’s ranking algorithm, your use of the proper social media channels can lead to some great potential for higher visibility in search.
This brings us on to Google+. It’s no Facebook killer by any stretch of the imagination and certainly shouldn’t be seen as a replacement for including Facebook in your social media campaign, but with the introduction of Authorship and AuthorRank, including this is close to necessary.
It goes without saying that utilising social media to its full extent can be a challenge for less social industries. Growing your brand awareness when your target audience is known for content sharing, and where content can be easily distributed and shared is great. For a company dealing in plastic pipes and plumbing for example, how are you supposed to integrate all of this into your online marketing plans?
Know your audience and the channels they use.
Not every business is going to be able to make the most out of every channel. Instead of spreading your efforts thinly over multiple platforms, concentrate on the ones you’ll be able to utilise to their fullest.
A small business in the arts and crafts industry could use Pinterest to share their creations. The fact that it’s a purely visual format lends itself very well to design and artistic trades.
Professional photographers could record ‘behind the scenes’ video footage on setting up the perfect shoot, and share it on YouTube – which can then be shared across different platforms.
Use true incentives such as offers and competitions, to entice your audience into following you on your social media channels of choice. Understand the content your audience is interested in.
Choose the right tone. Don’t be afraid to show a little personality!
Businesses can sometimes be afraid of being too personal in their use of social media. While carrying the professionalism of your company through to social channels is a good idea, some of the best examples of good social media use have come from brands showing a personality.
@tunde24_7 Have you tried to reset the router ting fam, so mans can use the wifi and dat?
— O2 in the UK (@O2) October 9, 2012
Humour in the right situation can go a long way in changing how people see your brand, but be careful as while this is a great way to make people smile at you and the brand you represent, it’s entirely possible to take it too far.
British Airways are a recent example of this, having inadvertently retweeted a racist remark to their 210,000 followers, causing a massive PR backlash. Keep it tasteful!
Updates, Updates, Updates!
So you’ve cast out your net and caught a nice handful of followers – which is great! – Now you need to keep them on board.
What was the content that brought these people on in the first place? What are your audience following you for? Are you posting how-to guides, or are you interacting with your customers directly?
Identify that content, maintain that quality and keep it rolling but try to avoid turning your social channels into glorified RSS feeds. Invite interaction with your customers, both current and potential.
Give everything a purpose!
If there’s anything to take away from this post, it’s this; Social media for social media’s sake simply isn’t going to work. If you don’t have a clear aim and a clear objective in mind then you need to go back to the drawing board and start planning.
Understand the ways that social media can benefit your business before you set out on a campaign. Define the audience you’re going for, put yourself in their shoes, and figure out the content you’d want to see if you were them.
Get that content out there, target the right people and make them smile, whether that’s through humour or just great content they want to see. Before you know it you’ve built a brand into something that people associate positively with, and the benefits will roll straight in.
Patience is something that comes with online marketing as a whole, so it won’t come as a surprise that it’s a necessity for social media as well. This is a long term element of your broader content strategy and not a quick win, so results and visibility won’t substantially increase overnight.