Social media basics for newbie online marketers

You don’t peddle scuba gear in Kansas. This guidance will help you identify and locate your target consumers, and then guide them through engagement toward a purchase.

Finding the path to successful social media marketing is difficult.

Lots of companies invest time and money into platforms to get “likes” and followers without knowing what success looks like. You look at their profiles, and they’re not being social at all.

Although many still find success in social media marketing elusive, it doesn’t have to be. If you’re new to social media, you’re in the right place.

It’s been 10-plus years since the beginning of the social media era. Today, it’s nearly impossible to go a day without hearing some mention of social media and its value. It’s no longer an optional component but rather is an integral part of any online marketing campaign.

As a beginner, you must stay grounded and not get overwhelmed. Trusted information is your best friend. Start with one platform, determining where your customers/prospects spend their time. For most businesses that sell to consumers, that’s Facebook.

Once you’ve mastered the strategies for Facebook (i.e., content marketing and advertising), you can modify your tactics to structure your approach on other platforms.

Social media is not a big, scary monster, and you can no longer ignore it. It takes considered intentions and the right information from a trusted resource. The following “best practices” and key points will help you find your footing:

Facebook: The world’s largest marketplace

These seven elements outline your best plan, and they’re useful in designing marketing campaigns on other platforms as well:

1. Clear objectives. Ideally, you want to create a marketing plan and set realistic goals. It isn’t enough to say you “see” results; those results must tie back to your goals and objectives. You’ll never know ROI without setting goals and strategy.

2. Design strategy. Visual content has a lasting effect. When creating your Facebook page and other profiles, make your branding consistent. Whether it’s your status updates, landing pages or Facebook ads, what the audience sees is what they’ll remember. Make sure it’s compelling and gets the point across.

3. Solid content strategy. One question I often get is, “How do I know what to post on our page?” To answer that, you must have a solid idea of your brand identity and who your target customers are.

  • What is it about your company that makes it unique, that makes people buy from you? Answer that question in detail.
  • Then, describe your target customers. What are their interests, concerns and issues? How can you help them make a purchase decision with the content you publish?
  • Don’t forget about those fans who are not in market. What can you offer them to make their time with you interesting?

4. Promotion strategy. Social media is now pay to play. Facebook ads are how you’ll continually expand your fan base. A small budget with carefully selected photos and ad copy will drive “likes” on your page.

5. Engagement strategy. Use Facebook ads to promote your content and increase your audience reach. As your page grows, you’ll engage fans and build relationships. Designate one person internally to monitor, respond to, ask questions of and engage with your audience.

6. Conversion strategy. Once you’re attracting and engaging fans, develop a way to convert them into customers. This more advanced form of Facebook marketing uses Facebook ads, custom audiences and compelling landing pages. Include a call to action and a lead form on your landing page to identify prospects.

7. Measurement and analysis. Identify the key performance indicators that matter most to your success. Here are the top eight KPIs that we measure and analyze:

  • Audience growth
  • Audience profile
  • Audience engagement
  • Content reach
  • Engagement by content type
  • Leads
  • Response rate and quality
  • Negative feedback

Business blog: Increasing online authority and dominating search results

1. Start with a solid framework. WordPress (self-hosted) is the best choice for most companies. WordPress provides a great, SEO-friendly platform right out of the box. It allows you to easily update your content, and there are limitless customization options.

2. Optimize your posts for search engines. Blog posts are valuable in two ways:

  • Humans (customers and prospects) read them during their shopping research.
  • Search engines look for fresh, relevant content when ranking sites, and blogs are the best at providing it.

Do keyword research to see what your target audience is searching for when it comes to your products and services. Once you know how they’re searching, use a handy plug-in called WordPress SEO by Yoast. It will guide you through optimizing your post for search engines.

3. Post at least once a week. Apply the strategy you created when making content decisions. Publish consistently. Ask your front-line personnel to give you their top three customer FAQs, and answer each one with a blog post.

4. Write what you’re passionate about. This is where tapping your staff’s expertise comes in handy. You might already have a blogger as an employee. Capitalize on your team members’ passions. Share interesting stories mixed with super-helpful tips.

5. Make sure you’re seen. Publish your posts on social media, and use Facebook ads to promote your content to more users. Clicks to your website from social media channels increase your relevance in search engines, so craft your content wisely.

Twitter: Conversational, content-driven channel to reach target customers

1. Create your profile. Take advantage of the real estate that Twitter gives you. Keep your brand message consistent. Optimize your bio, and install a branded header to capture attention (part of the design strategy mentioned above).

2. Follow influential voices. When you’re new to Twitter, it helps to follow people who’ve been there a while and take cues from them for publishing. In this knowledge-based, sharing economy, we can learn from one another and support each other’s success.

3. Follow your customers/prospects. Use Twitter Advanced Search to locate your customers on Twitter. Follow them, and if they don’t follow you back within a few days, unfollow them. It’s about attracting those who are most likely to buy from you, not every person on the planet.

4. Connect with others by sharing terrific content and engaging in conversations. The more you talk about yourself, the less people want to follow you. Apply the strategies you designed for your Facebook marketing. People interact with and share only superior content. Think about what’s relevant to them, and do your best to give it to them.

Instagram: Selling your company’s personality, not your products

1. Humanize your brand by using Instagram to introduce your fans to the people who make your company what it is. A great way to show your brand personality is to share images/stories of your team when they’re delivering an outstanding customer experience.

2. Tap into the employees and customers’ personalities. Highlight employees and customers in their “natural habitat.”

3. Generate leads with a solid Instagram content strategy.Show a side of your business that’s consistent with your culture and personality:

  • Deliver content that unmasks a more intimate or fun-loving side of your business.
  • The genesis of your business is a great place to start.
  • Showcase your products and services in a way that doesn’t annoy your followers.

Online review sites: How your online reputation influences buying decisions

Eighty-eight percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, but getting them is not easy. The No. 1 criticism I hear from business owners and managers new to social media is how difficult it is to obtain online reviews consistently.

Here are some do’s and don’ts for getting online reviews:

Do’s:

  • Earn the right to invite a review.
  • Make it easy for customers to submit feedback.
  • Respond to every review with a thoughtful reply.
  • Provide training for employees so they know exactly how to request a “referral.”

Don’ts:

  • Don’t specifically ask for a positive review.
  • Don’t pressure or coerce your customer.
  • Don’t offer anything in exchange for a positive review.
  • Never get into a heated discussion, no matter how wrong you think someone is.

If you’re new to social media….

Remember, everyone starts somewhere. No matter how far behind you think you are, there’s always a solution to capitalize on social media.

Don’t underestimate yourself or your organization. Social media is a valuable tool to generate leads and sales. You’re only new once; from then on, it’s a fantastic and fun journey.

A version of this post first appeared on KruseControl.

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