The formal definition of SMM: A form of Internet marketing utilizing social networking sites as marketing tools, thereby gaining traffic, brand exposure, and interaction with customers through social media.
This blog begins with an overview of the SMM landscape before exploring the goals it can help you achieve and the channels you can use.
The four stages within the iterative process; the first two are described here:
1. Goals. The blog kicks off by explaining social media formats and how you can choose the best ones to achieve your objectives. You will also learn how to form an effective SMM strategy by setting goals—because even though social media is reactive, your strategy still needs to be built slowly so that it can improve gradually over time. A bit of foresight now will work wonders down the line!
2. Channels. This stage will cover the different channels in which social marketing likes to swim—including the usual suspects, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, and blogs. It will help you to identify which of these channels will increase customer reach and show you how to improve your profiles as they grow.
As SMM is such a big topic, stages 3 and 4 will be covered in the next blog to avoid an information overload!
Key Terms and Concepts
Social media marketing is an amazing way for businesses to keep solid relationships with existing customers and to woo new ones. This blog will help you to play Cupid by:
Understanding the concepts and mechanics of social media and how you can use them to your advantage.
Discovering how to set up engaging Facebook and Twitter business profiles. Creating a professional LinkedIn profile and participating in LinkedIn groups to expand your network.
Running effective Google+, YouTube, and blogging accounts.
Social media gives you the power to direct your business’s online life. Whether that life is long and happy depends on what channel you post to and how you manage your profiles—in short, how you maximize your social media marketing.
This blog will help you become a social media butterfly and starts with an overview of the world in which you can fly.
Stage 1: Goals
In order to meet your social media goals, you need to understand the game first. This is the first step of the process and is highlighted. This section will act as a pre-match pep talk, equipping you with everything you need to help you:
• Distinguish between earned, owned, and paid media.
• Recognize the most common forms of social media.
• Grasp what makes social media marketing effective and the implications for businesses.
• Identify different SMM goals and explain how to set your own.
Media Types: Earned, Owned, and Paid
Before getting into how you can promote yourself on social media, let’s look at the options that are available. You can choose to post content through the following media types:
Earned media is free publicity, generated by fans and customers in response to content they like (your kudos for making them happy).
Owned media includes communications that a brand creates and controls via its own platform (you blow your own trumpet).
Paid media is any paid activity that drives traffic to owned media properties (you pay up for the shout out).
Whatever option you choose, remember that there will be hidden costs involved. An engaging profile requires a great copy, multimedia assets like photos and videos (which you may want to take yourself), and a solid strategy. And since there is no point having the world’s greatest profile if no one knows you exist, you will have to fork out for some kind of advertising to reach socially tuned-in audiences.
Finding and training the right staff, compiling digital assets, and advertising your business takes time and money—so bear that in mind when setting out your short- and long-term goals.
Forms of Social Media
Social media comes in all shapes and sizes. Facebook and Twitter are two of the big boys but blogging platforms such as WordPress, review sites such as TripAdvisor, and Podcast platforms such as PodOmatic can also be classified as social media channels. And let us not forget YouTube, Vimeo, Flickr, and Instagram, which have surged in popularity thanks to people’s love of capturing moments and sharing them with friends.
Whatever the format, remember that social media never sleeps. Smartphones have completely revolutionized how people connect with one another—so businesses can now reach consumers on the move, 24 hours a day. Managing this can be a full-time job in itself, but one that can reap unlimited rewards.
Stakeholders of SMM
The three key players within social media are users, advertisers, and social platforms. And they have quite an interdependent relationship—users want to have a place to engage and can do so on social platforms. These, in turn, need to be paid for, since server space and staff do not come for free! The advertiser covers these costs and also uses the platform to reach users.
The way in which users interact with websites has changed considerably. Initially, they visited sites and little else happened. Then so-called transactional experiences appeared and users were able to buy online. The likes of eBay introduced a dialogue between users and advertisers for the first time and marked the beginning of the interactive process.
Today this dialogue has expanded into a full-blown conversation between users and advertisers around the world. The continual communication has allowed users to tell businesses what they want (through user-generated content) and for businesses to stand out from the crowd with original and engaging profiles.
Trying It On for Size
Social media marketing may not be for everyone. Before jumping headfirst into the social media rabbit hole, consider whether SMM will fit your business, and if so, which channel (or channels) you should use.
Here are the main considerations you should take into account:
Target market. Does your ideal audience use social media? If the answer is hell, no! then there is no point in wasting time and money.
Public reach. Social media blurs the lines between personal and public content. Users can rate and slate your business very quickly and visibly, so just make sure you have nothing to be ashamed of. Your reputation and credibility are in their hands. Also, since you have greater access to a user’s interests and behaviors, you need to be careful about how you use this data.
Instant communication. When social media strategies are put in place, communicating in a traditional way becomes a thing of the past. Your interactions with consumers are no longer monitored, controlled, or carefully managed, as the process is much faster. This does give your brand a more human, approachable feel but it also means slip-ups can happen easily. So be careful if your content manager is in a bad mood!
Ongoing nature. Social media is not a six-week campaign—it has a calendar with no endpoint. That can be quite a scary thought, but by continually adjusting goals and tweaking objectives, the process becomes far less intimidating. Deep breaths.
Going for Gold
Once upon a time…you decided whom you wanted to reach and thought of a great way to tell those people you exist—social media. Next, you created a profile so amazing that users started to consider your brand and some even became customers. You made the transaction process so seamless, customers kept coming back and told all their friends. And you all lived happily ever after!
For a fairytale ending like this, you will need to get some specific goals in place.
These may include:
Business goals like lead generation, sales, and cost reduction. For example Office com setup
Customer service goals like consumer satisfaction and the chance of referrals/repeat business.
Product goals, such as research, design, and enhancement.
Communication goals to build your brand personality and reputation (with an effective crisis management strategy in place).
Marketing goals, such as branding, awareness, and engagement.
Once you have set out your goals, you can explore the best channels to help you achieve them. The next section will cover these different channels in detail and how you can use them to enhance your business online.
Stage 2: Channels
Having touched on the various forms of SMM, whether it is right for your business, and the goals it can help you achieve, let’s move on to stage 2 of the iterative process—channels. Starting with a close look at Facebook, you will learn how to:
• Understand the differences between personal profiles and business Facebook pages.
• Effectively create and promote a well-maintained Facebook page.
• Generate engagement with compelling posts and use insights to see what works best.
The Facebook platform has exploded over the past 10 years as a social and marketing tool for millions of people around the world. With 1.4 billion active users—of whom 1.25 billion log on via mobile—the opportunity for digital marketers is huge. Users can be reached 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Facebook is one of the best platforms with which to engage people.
You are probably already familiar with personal profiles, where friend requests are made and accepted or declined. This is a pretty time consuming (and often heartbreaking) way of trying to connect with your audience. Users can ignore your requests, so you do not have the instant connectivity you crave. Also, personal profiles are not optimized for search engines (i.e., they do not show up in Google searches). This is great for individual users who want their privacy protected, but not so great for brands trying to grow their online presence.
Instead, most brands create a business page from a personal account. These pages:
Can have unlimited likes or connections, and take just one click of the Like button for a Facebook user to connect.
Are optimized for search engines (because the open settings place the page in the public realm).
Include a large amount of analytics, such as the ages, genders, and locations of an audience and how often it interacts with certain posts. You can also track your page’s performance and the posts on it—that is, how many people the page reaches and whether it is engaging users.
With business pages, it is easier to tweak content to better suit your audience— which is why smart brands go for them over personal profiles.
Facebook uses an algorithm called EdgeRank to organize a business page’s content. It looks at friends (or “liked” organizations) on the page to feed the most relevant content for each user into one continuous stream. This stream is called News Feed—and it is the most important piece of real estate you can get your eager mitts on.
You may be under the assumption that page “likes” mean nothing. If so, you have been sadly misinformed! Since EdgeRank promotes posts that have been published and liked by friends over other types of content, each “like” means your posts have a greater chance of connecting with the people you want.
However, not everyone who has connected with you will see each post you publish on her News Feed. So how can you become more visible to your followers? Good question. Read on to find out…
• Creating Your Business Page
• Start by considering your identity. Ask yourself:
• Am I a local business or a place?
• Am I a brand or a product?
• Am I an artist, a band, or a public figure?
Your answers will help you pick the most relevant option available. Next, you need to make your page scream, “Look at me!”—in the most professional way possible, of course.
Some key points to bear in mind when creating your page:
Include your business details. There is no point in having a million friends if none of them know how to contact you.
Upload an eye-catching cover photo in addition to a suitable profile picture. Remember, your profile picture will appear beside your business name, so choose one that represents you well—poorly lit selfies will not cut it.
Keep the tone and style of your brand consistent throughout the page.
Update your page with entertaining and informative content regularly to keep users engaged. Even though people may “like” your page, getting them to come back and interact with it is a whole different story. The updates that fans see in their News Feed should make them want to take a closer look.
Add your page to your Facebook favorites—it will be easier to find once you log in and you will also be notified whenever users interact with your page, meaning you will have more opportunities to connect with them.
Make sure you have at least two administrators to manage your page effectively. This minimizes the risk of the page going down or being hacked —forgotten passwords will be less of a worry, too.
Making Your Page Engaging
As marketers, it is massively important to only post engaging content on Facebook, always bearing in mind that impact is key. Your customers do not want to hear what you had for breakfast (unless of course, it is related to your business!).
In order for your post to gain traction, it must be relevant, interesting, and easily understood. Convoluted and complicated posts will not encourage people to“like” or share what you have to say. And those buttons are what can help you grow your fan base from hundreds to thousands and beyond.
You can optimize each post by asking whether the user will:
• Find it interesting or funny.
• Click on the post to find out more.
• Share it with their friends.
• If you think your post will not have any of the above effects, it probably needs work.
In theory, Facebook offers unlimited space for posts; however, according to research carried out by Jeff Bullas, Facebook posts with no more than 40 characters receive 86 percent more engagement than posts with a higher character count. While writing a long paragraph is easier, and whittling down descriptions to 40 characters or fewer means having to get more inventive, the statistics don’t lie. As with all online content, the golden rule is to keep it short and simple. Use a conversational tone and try to evoke a response with your posts—in this way you can encourage two-way interactions with users.
Some tips to bear in mind:
Paint a picture. Emotive imagery is a great way of catching people’s attention.
Try, try again. Okay, so you may not get it right the first time…or the second… or even the third! But keep going. Change one or two things at a time until you find a style that works.
Quality, not quantity. Avoid publishing hundreds of dull and dreary posts every week. Instead, scale back on the number and only post content when it serves a purpose.
Stay positive. No one likes a Negative Nancy! Use an upbeat tone and make your page a place where people will feel good about themselves.
Make them laugh. Throw in a little humor where possible—a witty status or a funny picture can go a very long way.
Get the camera rolling. Video has emerged as the new power tool in the world of Facebook. Clips play automatically in News Feeds, which immediately hooks people in. Engaging videos get shared by personal and business pages alike, with the potential to reach a massive global audience.
Stay balanced. Even though the aim of your content will most likely be to drive revenue, you will risk losing users’ interest if you constantly go for the hard sell. Instead, sweeten them up and earn their trust by sharing content that interests them, even if it does not directly relate to your business. An effective page means striking a balance between viral content and business-led posts. So by all means, include your deals and offers to drive revenue, but mix it up with entertaining, educational, and engaging content to encourage interaction.
You could be posting the cleverest content in the world, but without knowing how to analyze it, it becomes as useful as a waterproof teabag.
Studying a post’s reach can reveal lots of interesting data about its activity, such as:
Did it go to 15,000 people or just 1,000?
How many of your fans did it reach? When are these fans online?
Is the post’s success due to paid reach or organic reach?
By the way, organic reach is how well your posts perform by themselves, without paying for any advertising, while paid reach is boosted advertising for your posts. Sponsored posts will reach audiences that currently aren’t fans as well as your own followers, so when a post is performing well, you might want to pay for boosting its reach. This will increase the likelihood of your post being seen on Facebook while generating more likes for your page.
Analytics can help you when you’re writing your content and when you’re deciding on the best time of day to post it for maximum traction. You can learn which topics are hot to adjust future content accordingly. Also, since there is no such thing as bad press, you can even use negative feedback (if fans hide your posts, report them as spam, or are prompted to unlike your page) to learn from your mistakes. We all make them, after all.
About Social Plug-Ins
Not only can you connect with your audience on the Facebook platform, but you can also use social plug-ins to encourage these connections to share their experiences across the web. The plug-ins appear on different websites but the information in them comes directly from Facebook.
The Like button allows users to share pages and content from your website back to their Facebook profile in one click.
• The Send button allows users to send content privately from your site to their friends.
• Embedded Posts allow you to easily insert public posts on your site.
• The embedded video player lets you add Facebook videos to your site.
• The page plug-in lets you embed components from your Facebook page right into your website.
• The comments plug-in allows users to comment on your website’s content using their own Facebook accounts.
• The Follow button allows users to subscribe to the public updates of other users or companies on Facebook.
You can encourage likes, shares, and comments on your Facebook page and beyond by offering your fans incentives.
A popular way of doing this is to run a contest in which you ask your fans and their friends to “like” a post and comment on it, before entering them into a contest to win a prize. The prize can be anything, from a weekend away to a novelty hat. Usually, it is something pretty awesome, so the post and your page get a lot of traction. It should also be relevant to your industry, so if you are a dog walker, offering an iPad might be a bit of a stretch.
There are some considerations around running contests on Facebook:
Facebook does not want to be liable for any of your terms and conditions. So make sure that you utilize its tools for the right reasons and that your competitions are fair.
Stick to “like” and “comment” as your calls to action, meaning you ask people to “like” your page and to comment on the competition post. Newly enforced company-page policies now state that you cannot ask fans to share a contest post with their friends. If in breach of this rule, your contest could be canceled and you may even risk having your page be suspended. Best to behave yourself and stay inside the lines.
Manage the contest carefully, making it interesting, shareable, and engaging for your audience. Users are bombarded with a lot of sales messages. How can you make yours stand out? Here are a few tips:
• Offer a prize that users will actually want.
• Include an eye-catching image and snappy copy, with a very clear call to action.
• Promote your contest daily until your deadline.
• Consider boosting your post to increase your reach.
• Another way to attract fans on Facebook is through utilizing its Offers and Events features.
Creating an offer is done through a status update by clicking the Offer/Event+ button. Start by giving it a title, which can only contain 25 characters. Then describe your particular offer in 90 characters or fewer and make sure to include a call to action.
If your offer is an online purchase, use an online redemption link. Facebook will then email the individual user who claims your offer. Users can redeem in-store offers by simply walking into your store with a printout of the e-mail, or a saved version on their phone. Simple!
Events are a great way of increasing brand awareness and they can be easily customized.
Since users share events with friends and connections, all of the imagery gets passed along too—which means great advertising for your company.
You can apply what you have learned from creating an effective Facebook page (how to maximize its reach with engaging content and how to analyze your results) to other social media channels, which will be covered in the upcoming sections. Stay tuned….
Introducing Twitter, another key player in the world of social media, which quickly grabs a hold of users’ attention and encourages them to share and engage with content.
• Soon you will be able to hold your own in the chirping world of Twitter, once you know how to:
• Set up a Twitter business account.
• Recognize the best ways of interacting with other users.
• Effectively promote your Twitter profile, utilizing features like social plugins and lists.
A Bird’s-Eye View
Although Twitter’s logo is a cute little blue bird, the platform is an information-sharing powerhouse and packs a powerful punch in terms of microblogging and connecting with other users.
Like Facebook, Twitter is a mobile platform that is constantly connected. It has over 280 million active users around the world—80 percent of whom are logging on via their smartphones. Not too shabby for a little bird, right?
The average number of followers per user is 208, and with over 500 million tweets sent every day, the platform is buzzing with activity all the time.
Creating Your Account
Private accounts mean that a user’s tweets are protected from Google and other users are unable to retweet them. So as a business seeking promotion and publicity, you definitely want to go for the public option.
A few more things to bear in mind when getting set up:
Your user name is limited to 15 characters, with no spaces, hyphens, or any other characters allowed.
You’re About Me section must be under 160 characters. So feel free to show off, but keep it short ‘n’ sweet.
You must include a profile image and a background picture. As with Facebook, make sure your snaps are of good quality and relevant to your company.
Register your account as quickly as you can. The early Twitter bird catches the worm, after all!
When creating your Twitter handle (the name that appears alongside your account), let there be no confusion. It would be such a waste to go to all the trouble of setting up an amazing account, only to have people forget the name because your handle is too complicated.
Your handle should be:
• Registered early
For example, take Manchester United’s handle—@ManUtd. It does exactly what it says on the tin—it is just a shortened version of the account name itself. Loyal fans and glory supporters alike will easily remember that one.
Ready, Set, Tweet!
Once you have registered an account that looks great and has a memorable handle, you can start tweeting. Tweets are short messages of 140 characters or fewer.
See how a picture really can paint a thousand words? It had over 3 million retweets and is a perfect example of how powerful social media content can be. The tweet shown in, from the popular marketing blog Mashable, includes a lot of content—call-to-action buttons, pictures, and key information— but it is well organized and easy to digest. Watch and learn.
Twitter can be a very serious forum but it can also help your brand to let loose a little and have some fun. If in doubt about what to tweet, think back to what works best for Facebook and then do the same on Twitter. Your content should be short, snappy, and very visual. Track Social believe the ideal Twitter character count is between 70 and 100 characters. According to Salesforce’s ‘Strategies for Effective Tweeting’, posts with a smaller number of characters than 100 have a 17 percent higher engagement rate than those that do not. If a post seems weak, do not publish just for the sake of it. Hold back and revisit it at a later time— maybe then inspiration will come and you can tweak it to make it stronger. If in doubt, leave it out!
More often than not, a link to something else will be contained in a tweet and this will count towards the character limit. A handy way to sidestep this is to make use of space-saving tools such as Google URL Shortened or Bitly, better known as URL shorteners.
That’s more like it! Every character is precious in a tweet, so if a link of 20 characters can be included instead of one with 87 characters, you have more room for a catchy line of copy.
Like Facebook posts, tweets are published from users’ accounts and appear chronologically on a News Feed. Ads are also contained within this stream and are called promoted tweets.
• This is where marketers can shine as the tweets they sponsor appear directly into the user’s stream.
• Twitter cards, are large, interactive pieces of media within the News Feed. The message must still be 140 characters or fewer but it can also include:
• An image.
• A headline.
• A CTA button, which in this case is “read more.”
Users can retweet and favorite this piece of content in the same way as ordinary tweets, so it will seem organic and does not immediately stand out as paid content.
Another great innovation from Twitter is adopting a carousel-style method for displaying ads within the feed.
These ads are similar to Twitter cards, but they run alongside one another. They are a really effective way of displaying multiple paid content posts without breaking away from the News Feed.
Remember, there is no point in having a witty and pretty account if no one knows it exists—especially if you have paid for certain tweets! When promoting your profile, seize every opportunity possible. You can publicize it:
• At events
• In newsletters
• On television and radio
• In social ads
• In your email signature
• On webinars/talks/slides
• On business cards and posters
• During any offline conversations
Twitter has a few great tools to help you stay ahead of the social media game:
Twitter lists. This handy feature allows you to segment audiences and organize followers within a pool of Twitter accounts.
For example, you might want to compile a list of speakers for an event. Attendees can then access the public list and follow the speakers, instantly making the event more interactive and connected. Or if you work in the digital space, your list might consist of the top companies that tech-savvy users would be interested in. Happy users = loyal followers!
You can create a Twitter List in four simple steps:
1. Click Lists from your profile page or from the drop-down menu under your profile pic on the top right-hand side.
2. Click the Create New List button.
3. Enter the name of your list and a short description before choosing whether you want it to be private (only accessible to you) or public (anyone can subscribe to it).
4. Click Save List.
Social plug-ins. Like Facebook, Twitter uses lots of these to tempt visitors into sharing content from different websites.
• The plug-ins include:
• The Share a Link button.
• The Follow button.
• The Hashtag button.
• The Mention button.
Once they have found their way onto a company’s website, people can tweet directly and share content through Twitter.
Advanced search. Many businesses use this feature to search for businesses they wish to follow. By doing so they can keep an eye on the competition, stay up-to-date with industry standards, and become involved in relevant conversations. It is pretty simple to use—just type a Twitter advanced search into Google and off you go!
Geolocation services. These allow users to selectively add locations, such as cities and neighborhoods, to their tweets. It is a cool way of informing followers where in the world you are tweeting from and means you can share more than just a link or status update.
Multimedia elements. Images and video can also be added to tweets—and it gets better. Video can now be recorded within Twitter itself! Just grab your phone, hit record, and get ready for your close-up.
To Tweet or Not to Tweet…
Just as with Facebook, posting regularly to a Twitter account may not suit every business. However, it does have some key advantages:
It enables one-to-one conversations to take place like never before.
It is a very public forum that may be quick to tear down individuals and businesses but is even quicker to build them up.
The all-powerful hashtag (which groups tweet into one collective space) has been responsible for bringing attention to the world’s greatest travesties and its biggest accomplishments. It gives you instant access to the global stage— if you like that kind of thing.
Even if you are a total Twitter newbie, we recommend that you at least give it a try. Because soon enough, you are bound to discover just how rewarding a little blue bird can be.