You’re about to embark on a journey that is not something you can do without a plan and a little bit of understanding of the surrounding landscape. Pack a budget, a little elbow grease, and this roadmap:
Research. Learn. Apply. Definitely check out my resources page for this, but you’re going to have to school yourself here. Read an e-book (I say e-book because even the best print books on social media marketing may already be outdated by the time they hit shelves – although if you’re into that, I recommend: Likeable Social Media by David Kerpen). Go to a webinar. Sign up for an e-newsletter. Follow a blog (mine for one – but I also recommend Buffer’s Blog). Subscribe to a podcast. You’ll quickly realize there’s way more to this than you thought, and before long, you too will encounter the overwhelming anxiety social media marketers face every day. It’s fun.
Come up with a plan and stick to it. You’ll learn about drawing up a strategy and a plan when you do your research (and having one will help with the aforementioned anxiety), but the most important part is that you stick with your game plan. Your audience wants to believe that you are a well-established, consistent, trustworthy business. When a potential customer visits your Facebook page and you haven’t posted since 2007, only to announce that the power was out in your store that day, they question whether or not you’re even still open. Are you still in the dark – do you need help??
Only do what you can do really well. That’s bad life advice but good social media marketing advice. In life, and to a degree in business, you want to take chances and try things once and then maybe move on. Not so with social media. Your social media accounts can be an online marketplace of customer engagement or they can be a ghost town – a memorialized history of all the things you swore you had time to do and then never followed through on. If you don’t have time for Instagram, LinkedIn, or Twitter – stick with Facebook. (do whatever you want on Pinterest though – it’s actually just a social media site where mason jars go to die)
Schedule. Schedule. Schedule. It’s funny the things that people who aren’t social media marketers hear once and then they swear by even though it’s hurting business. I’ve had people tell me, “I don’t schedule my Facebook posts in advance because Facebook gives them less reach when you do.” True – but you know what? Facebook gives zero reach to the posts you forgot to do entirely because a meeting ran late, you were on vacation, or you had to take a client call. It’s better to just schedule content in advance to ensure that it actually happens. Schedule your Facebook posts directly from Facebook, and use third-party apps (like Hootsuite or Buffer) for the other social media channels that do not allow you to do it from the site.
Social media marketing is not free. A moment of silence for the brief history in time when it was. But now, Mark Zuckerberg takes a bath in hundred dollar bills every night because Facebook has made it’s billions from advertising. If you want your customers to see you, you’re going to have to set aside a budget for this game. If you have an advertising budget, a portion, if not all of it, should go to social media marketing. Hear me out – social media marketing is one of the most effective kinds of marketing you can do. When you post a photo of a customer using your latest product in an interesting way (something you’ve learned your customers really enjoy seeing) and you don’t “boost” it – you are wasting your time. You’re shouting into the wind. Facebook literally shows 0-1% of your followers posts that are not “boosted” with some actual dollar, dollar bills (ya’ll). Take a look – I bet the posts you don’t boost are usually liked or favorited by your personal friends and family, and very few, if any, actual customers. But thanks, Mom.
Target – it’s more than just a place to spend your paycheck in an under an hour. The reason why social media marketing is one of the most effective forms of marketing is because unlike traditional advertising, you can decide precisely who sees your content. And it’s a little scary how closely you can zero in on your target customer. Own a toy store? Create an audience for parents of children ages 0-10 years old. Own a toy store that sells toys made from all organic, locally harvested materials of which half the proceeds go to starving children in the arctic? Create an audience of parents who also “like” pages such as Whole Foods and Tom’s. Own a toy store where nothing costs less than $100? Target an audience of parents with 3 lines of credit and above average spending habits (yes, the internet knows). Own a toy store without an e-commerce site? Target your geographical area. You get the idea…
Analyze your data regularly. Whether it’s weekly or monthly, set aside some time for analyzing a few key performance indicators you’ve identified. Number of likes or followers on your page should be low on the list of KPIs you care about. What does that number even tell you? Think of how many pages you’ve liked that you’ve never interacted with or even gave another thought to after you clicked the the thumbs-up button. But shares, retweets, post likes (to a degree), and comments – they tell you how much your audience actually enjoys your content. Keep track of what content is working and what isn’t and apply what you’ve learned. If you’re a little tech savvy, set up some Google analytics campaigns to track how often people click links to your website from social (my personal holy grail of social media KPIs)
Respond. It’s called “social” media – not broadcast media. Unless you’re interacting with your audience – listening and responding to them – you’re standing in the corner of the social media cocktail party like an awkward creeper. Get involved. When a customer writes a complaint about your soup being too cold, rather than deleting the comment or worse – going on and on about how your soup is served at precisely 150 degrees fahrenheit – simply reply that you’re sorry they were dissatisfied and give them a way to contact you so you can make it up to them. Now when someone is searching your Facebook page deciding if they should go to your restaurant, they see that you have good customer service. Everyone knows some soup is never hot enough for some people, but what customers really want is a business that listens to them and cares about them. By responding publicly, you’re showing you have what customers want.
Less about you… but a little about you. Another thing people misunderstand is that you shouldn’t be posting about your own business on social media. But you should if that’s what people want! Some brands do this really well – it’s all about integrating your business into the digital lives of your customers. Clothing companies have it made by asking their audience to submit photos of themselves wearing their products (the selfie generation loves this). Now your business is customer-centric, while also advertising its products. Think of a way that your business can infiltrate your customers’ digital lives so you stay top of mind, without being annoying. Remember, nobody wants to be scrolling through their newsfeed like, “Sonogram pic, birthday, engagement announcement, political rant, another sonogram pic … random ad telling me to buy a product!? Get me back to the unborn baby photos!” Don’t interrupt – infiltrate.
Enjoy the ride!