It’s your first time in Social Media Marketing (SMM) and you feel stiff and not too sure on how to proceed.
Or you are a blogger, a solopreneur or a freelance business owner who needs Social Media like bread and oxygen to build a platform and find readers and clients, but you don’t even know where to get started.
In any case, you’re lucky. :) I wrote this guide just for you!
It covers the basics, so worry not— you’re not going to jump start with a big bag of headaches as an asset. SMM is not as difficult as words make it look.
Social Media Marketing takes time and must be scheduled in advance, month after month
Social Media users don’t appreciate being left hanging for weeks without updates– let them know why you left for a while if you had to and make sure there’s always something for them to do while you’re away. For example, if you went on a summer vacation, you may leave a social post like this: “We at ABC Company are going on vacation! How’s yours so far? Share your story in the comments below. :-)”. I’m sure you see the point.
As Kristoffer adds, “people do not want to be “sold” a product/service. They are seeking recommendations. Regardless of whether that comes from friends, family or a Brand they trust, it is heavily influencing the manner in which consumers are making purchases. By helping the individual make the decision to purchase on their own, you empower them and thus they are more likely to be happy with their purchase and recommend it to their own friends, fans and followers.”
Through Social Media, you build trust by respecting the consumer’s freedom of choice.
“But how can I approach Social Media Marketing?”, you will ask.
The Social Media world in 2014 is dominated by 7 websites:
These social networks are your highest chance to generate traffic to you or your client’s website and carry a great potential for conversions.
As long as you don’t just post updates in a “hit and miss” style, but you take your time to interact with users and bring them tips, resources and advice, you’re going to build and sustain a loyal following, and bring success to your brand.
Be extremely passionate about what you do! — Pauline Cabrera, TwelveSkip.com
In the following paragraphs I will provide spot-on advice to turn each mainstream social into an opportunity, but I will also recommend a few less known socials that may still help you bring in targeted traffic and leads.
I grow my Twitter followers by following active people in my industry, and by keeping my account updated with useful content. I use Tweepi to find people in my niche. Your profile also needs to look authentic before people start following you! Be sure to complete your bio, and use a unique header photo.
I get Twitter traffic by tweeting out my blog posts throughout the day, and by tweeting out other people’s content as well (do this consistently until they notice and share your posts). Tweets with images attached works better than those without.
Another tip: Respond and engage. Say hi, start a conversation, or respond to those tweeters that interact with you.
Avoid sharing irrelevant tweets. Schedule your tweets. DON’T over share. You don’t want to look like a spammer.
My experience with Twitter is that every time you promote a piece of content, be it a blog post or an ebook, you should involve people you mentioned in your work with a “CC:” (carbon copy)— let them know that you mentioned them, so they can acknowledge your post, interact on social and via comments, and re-share.
Also, “CC:” those followers of yours who are most likely to appreciate your update.
Despite the decline of Google+ in 2014 — and now even ‘robbed’ of its role in Google Authorship — it makes sense to market your or your client’s content on this social.
Google+ allows posts that work like forum threads, so you can effectively use this characteristic to your advantage, whether you run a page or a profile on G+.
Another great feature is Hangouts, that you can use for live webinars that will educate your audience about your product or service, or help build knowledge.
All in all, G+ is a no-clutter social network, so you can fully focus on your niche without distractions.
Make sure you use hashtags in posts— they will help people find your posts and interact with you.
Irfan Ahmad of Digital Information World uses Google+ for his commenting system and he has quite a following. How did he get to grow his community on G+? “The one word answer: Transparency,” says Irfan, “I rarely promote myself, I regularly share content on my profile and I actively participate in Communities (the hidden power of G+), and that’s my secret.”
Devesh Sharma, on the contrary, says that he does “get a significant amount of traffic from Google+,” but that he’s “not doing anything other than posting content [on his] G+ page.”
Be aware that Facebook is mostly a leisure-centered platform, with game and hobby apps and pages everywhere, so try to play this to your advantage. For example, by adding humor to your posts and images that make people smile while still conveying your message.
But don’t add random people to your friends and send page invites to everybody!
Your current customers come first
“Start with your current customers and your website visitors (use existing email lists)”, says Lisa Buyer in a Twitter chat at Viral Content Buzz, “Make sure your content is optimized to drive traffic back to your website or blog. Fill out ALL profile information! Look for ways to do social promotions like sweepstakes and giveaways via apps like @heyo“.
Devesh Sharma has more than 2,000 likes his Facebook page. He shares his experience:
I started by sharing a mix of WordPress news, relevant links, and engaging content. It didn’t increase any shares or likes to the blog posts, but it did increase the likes to the page. I think the best way to get more likes is by sharing more visual content (such as videos, photos, info-graphics) as it creates a lot of interaction.
Apart from that, I also joined a couple of Facebook groups where I participated in #FollowFridays to promote my fb page.
Needless to say, be human on Facebook: comment on your followers’s posts and keep in touch. Be friendly.
It’s image-based marketing– you’ve got to attract those peoples’ eyes!
“Images are key,” says Kristoffer Holves, “Take as much time focusing on the message your image will convey, as you do on your textual content. Both must work together to communicate a message that the audience can closely relate to.”
A perfect social match for infographics
Pinterest is naturally equipped to promote visuals, and infographics are visuals, no matter the content element. Irfan Ahmad says that “Pinterest is the best network for this type of content. Join group boards and start pinning.”
Marketing on Pinterest can be easier if you don’t just pin your content, but you also take time to message your followers (with an attached pin) with a personalized communication about the new piece— they will be more likely to come and take a look.
If you work for a business, a corporate client or even for yourself as a freelancer or solopreneur, LinkedIn can offer more than a chance to grow professionally and get new leads and clients.
Marketing on LinkedIn starts with a good, friendly yet professional, SEO-optimized profile, and continues with message outreach, content creation and knowledge building in niche-specific groups.
“A well maintained Linkedin account can attract leads, employers, employees, vendors and partners,” says Brian Hughes in a Twitter Chat for ViralContentBuzz.com back in May, “What I like about Linkedin is it’s geared for business and not socializing. It’s main objective is to show off your attributes, achievements, skills, experience and accolades in the business world.”
When you join niche groups, do it for knowledge building and networking, but also do join groups in your prospective client’s niche/industry if you want to get in touch with your audience or find new clients. Your prospects will most likely talk there.
Leverage the publishing platform
LinkedIn allows you to post articles to their publishing platform (Pulse), without restrictions: you are free to republish an already published post from your blog or an excerpt from your ebook. This is great news for you as a Social Media Marketing manager, because it gives you a free pass to content marketing on LinkedIn that was previously restricted to only a small group fo influencers.
Knowledge-based marketing is key here. People come to Slideshare to study material in presentation form that will help them walk away with additional knowledge to use in school, work and life.
“People want to be educated,” says Holves, “so they can make confident decisions about their purchases.”
Make presentations easily skimmable
Dave Paradi at Copyblogger explains that your Slideshare presentation should be mostly visual, have easily skimmable sections (preferably in bullet-point style), “be consistent with your brand” and contain a call to action.
And calls to action are the focus of your marketing effort— after you helped your reader build knowledge and skills, it’s time to invite the reader to learn more at your or your client’s website, to buy a product or a service or just to give something a try (demos, trials, freebies).
Good video scripting is your essential skill here. If you don’t have it, hire someone who can do it.
As for video quality, the higher resolution, the better. But even if your videos are the best do-it-yourself you can make, what’s important is that you produce new, well-scripted videos regularly. “The most successful brands have 50 percent more videos per channel compared to the least successful ones,” says Greg Jarboe at Search Engine Watch, and he adds that “videos do not need to be prime-time quality because those with lower production value can be just as effective.”
Not just a good script, but a good call to action, too!
Did you think that the world of Social Media was confined to mainstream?
Wrong. There are many other social platforms out there, but like Irfan Ahmad rightly says, “focus on one platform, master it and then move to next platform.”
Don’t try them all together. Pick the platforms that you know will mostly reach your target audience.
If you manage Social Media profiles for an open source developer/house, Diaspora is a good choice. In fact, this non-profit social embraces the Open Source movement fully and it’s decentralized, thus allowing you to register and use an account on any of its available “pods“.
Users also retain their data and are allowed to use made-up identities instead of using their real name.
Marketing on Diaspora works like it would work on Facebook and Twitter: make connections, engage in conversations, use #Tags and @Mentions to join discussions and “cc:” involve other users into your discussions. Also, you can reshare others’ posts on Diaspora as you would on Tumblr.
If you or your client run a B2B service or sell B2B products, this content-based social may be your best bet. Founded in March 2010 by Jonathan and Susanna Gebauer, exploreB2B aims to fostering B2B relationships through content-based communications.
Marketing on exploreB2B means leveraging your content to find new connections and prospects. Better if you write articles specific to your exploreB2B audience. Don’t forget a call to action in your posts and make sure your content doesn’t sound like a sales pitch. Jonathan Gebauer features the best articles in their weekly newsletter, so the higher your content quality, the better chances you have to have your article picked for the newsletter.
Biznik isn ad-free, paid professional social network based in Seattle with a strong community. The platform was not built to help businesses and prospects to communicate, but for experts and professionals in a same field to interact and network.
Marketing on Biznik means being helpful, professional and friendly, so much that you or your brand will earn a reputation and possibly referrals, too. Biznik is not the network to use to promote a client, but you can still get them some exposure through your bio when you publish Articles on the platform. Steer away from spam, though! Promoting yourself — as long as it’s helpful — should always be fine.
Like LinkedIn and Biznik, Xing is a professional network dedicated to business, solopreneurs and companies. It has been around since 2006 (it used to be called openBC) and it helps local businesses organize events through its special Ambassador program.
Xing is not as big and populated as LinkedIn, but you can leverage the social for local prospects and you can organize and join Events.
If you are an entrepreneur or work with entrepreneurs, EFactor is a great choice. The platform was built in 2010 to connect entrepreneurs together to support each other and find investor support.
Marketing on EFactor means connecting with other entrepreneurs in your field, posting relevant content in the form of blog posts and comments, join groups and, if you have the resources, holding monthly webinars and seminars to help educate entrepreneurs on best business practices, funding resources and start-up ideas.
MosaicHub is a social platform for service providers, trade experts and business owners in general. Scope of the site is to bring people with different talents and expertise together to support each other, even via professional relationships and contracts.
Marketing on MosaicHub is similar to marketing on Quora or LinkedIn— the more you answer business questions on the platform, the more exposure you get (and expertise points, too!) and you up your chances to build a loyal following.
A social network that Paul Budnitz first created in March 2014 and publicly launched in April, together with a manifesto that claims Ello will never make money through ads and will never sell its users’ data. Ello.co is still invitation-only at this stage, so you have to request an invitation code if you want to signup.
And then there are other social tools you may want to try out, like Pauline Cabrera suggests:
Social sharing sites helps a lot. I use Triberr, ViralContentBuzz, my own Awesome Bloggers group on Facebook, and sometimes JustRetweet. I also use bookmarking sites like StumbleUpon, Sulia, and Scoop.it.
The focus should be on your message. It should be inviting and speak directly to the problem you are offering a solution for. You are there to help, not sell. — Kristoffer Holves, WealMedia
Ancient form of ‘social network’, forums are still widely used today, but they have become stricter since promotion turned into spam in recent years, and make it harder for anyone — even established members — to promote their websites and services.
However, if you have something to say, contribute or teach in your niche, forums make it very easy to engage in a fruitful discussion and help build an authority around your (or your client’s) personal and what you (or they) do.
How to promote your services on forums?
You can use the old, ever-lasting 3 ways:
Build a profile that helps visitors get a picture of who you are and what you do (without spamming), then contribute valuable content to the forums
Be helpful, be lovely and help the community grow— the community will give back
Buy ads on the forum or sponsor it (both administrators and members will be grateful for the support!)
Remember to make your forum presence worthwhile!
Tools of Trade
There are hundreds of tools on the Web to to help Social Media Marketing managers to do their job! But I only selected 3 of them to help you stay focused on the essentials.
Hootsuite is a Social Media dashboard that allows you to manage multiple Social accounts at the same time. The free version allows you to manage up to 5 accounts.
One interesting feature of Hootsuite is the possibility to look up your new followers and get in touch with them as soon as they post an update.
Viral Content Buzz
Viral Content Buzz makes it easy to reach wider Social audiences via social sharing. For each share you make of someone else’s content on the platform, you earn points you can use to get your own content shared by other users.
The benefit of this tool is that your content has a virtually infinite reach potential, because each piece of content will get in front of each user’s audience when they share it.
Klout is not just a good-looking social influencer tool— it also allows you to post, schedule and reshare posts. The more you engage, the more you build your social influence score (the Klout score). This is the basic principle behind Klout.
From time to time, the Klout platform will also suggest potentially fruitful connections for your social accounts.
Pearls of Wisdom! Essential SMM Tips from Our Experts
For this guide, I asked 4 Social Media Marketing experts to share their Top 3 (or 4) essential tips to run successful Social Media profiles and build a loyal audience.
Read their pearls of wisdom, and get inspired! :)
Kristoffer Howes of WealMedia.com:
Be honest. Be prepared and be active.
Don’t embellish on your profile and avoid words such as “ninja”, “expert”, etc.
Make certain you have a content schedule in place and build genuine relationships by engaging and participating.
Don’t give up. A failed attempt provides an opportunity to try again, with better odds of success.
Social media is a game of content, and I’ve learned that more content means more exposure. So, just focus on finding, creating and sharing a lot of interesting content and you’ll see everyone is following you.
Don’t just promote your company or yourself all the time. Make a relationship with others by sharing their content and mentioning them.
Engage your audience, reply to their comments, if you want them to come back for more.
Build connections with other bloggers – If you want to really make some useful connections in your niche, start building them with your peers rather than running around big blogs or gurus.
Share content more than once – Start by tweeting old content manually or if you want to save time then use Bufferapp. I use the Buffer Awesome plan which only costs $9 / month and generates new shares to my blog posts.
Join Triberr – Don’t wait, just go sign up for Triberr. It can easily help you generate more social shares.
Use interesting headlines. Make sure your post title is intriguing, benefit-driven, and use plain English!
Use unique and pretty visuals.
Be consistent. You don’t want people to forget you! However, don’t over share. Use automation tools to schedule your posts and keep your accounts updated throughout the day. I use HootSuite, Friends+Me, IFTT and ViralTag (for Pinterest).
What are YOUR Top 3 Social Media Marketing essentials? Tell us about it in the comment section.
Social Media Marketing is really Relationship Marketing. This is the approach Kristoffer Holves uses at WealMedia.com: “[we are] committed to building meaningful, long-term relationships. Not just with our clients and their audience, but also with our own friends, fans and followers.”
“None of the social automated tools come close to human interaction,” adds Devesh Sharma, “If you really want to make it big in social media, you need to focus on building mutually beneficial relationship with others that will take you and your business to the next level.”
SMM is not about numbers— it’s about people. Numbers are a consequence of a warm approach to marketing that puts the user (a person!) first.
If you really want to understand a network and it’s audience, (…) avoid automation tools, start using your network from it’s home stream. Try to do some research about every platform and follow people who are preaching good things. And most of all test, test and test what works and what doesn’t for you, your business and your audience. — Irfan Ahmad of Digital Information World
What is YOUR current approach to Social Media Marketing?
Need A SMM Plan? Download Our Checklist
If you found this guide useful, then you’ll want to download our Social Media Marketer Checklist! :) The Checklist takes the best advice from this article and presents it in a short, colorful, 2-page layout that will make it easy to print and take with you every time you need to check on your Social Media work.
Looking forward to your SMM success stories!
(Got some? Share them in the comments below.)
Article by Luana Spinetti
Luana Spinetti is a freelance writer and artist based in Italy, and a passionate Computer Science student. She has a high-school diploma in Psychology and Education and attended a 3-year course in Comic Book Art, from which she graduated on 2008. As multi-faceted a person as she is, she developed a big interest in SEO/SEM and Web Marketing, with a particular inclination to Social Media, and she’s working on three novels in her mother-tongue (Italian), which she hopes to indie publish soon.