“Social media experts” are great at tweeting and joining the conversation. But they’re terrible at marketing.
You know, the kind of marketing that actually matters. Like generating leads, increasing sales, improving customer retention, and growing your business.
Social media isn’t an isolated “thing”. It should help you accomplish all of these goals. But if you follow their advice, then you’ll have an “active” Twitter account and little else to show for it.
Here are 22 social marketing tips you can use to help grow your business.
- Start with a Goal: Why are you blogging? What are you doing on Twitter? There are only three acceptable answers: (a) increase brand awareness by growing your reach, (b) build customer loyalty by providing more support, or (c) increase sales by getting more people to purchase, more frequently. Don’t even start unless you can answer this question.
- Ignore Your Competition: Trying to benchmark other people’s Fans and Followers is a fools game. You’ll start making bad decisions because you’re trying to “keep up”. And when you make bad short-term choices, your long-term success will suffer. The best tactical ideas and campaigns haven’t happened in your industry yet. So use arbitrage marketing to figure out what new, untapped opportunities you can seize and gain an early lead. Look at what people are doing in other industries and try to experiment with similar tactics.
- Don’t Be on Every Social Network: Community management will deplete all of your resources. Each social network you manage will cost you exponentially more time, money and energy. And contrary to popular belief, social media isn’t free. It takes tremendous resources to do it properly, and has an enormous opportunity cost. So prioritize one or two networks to see the biggest growth.
Don’t Make Excuses
- You Do Have Enough Time and Money: People always claim that they don’t have time or money to invest in social media. But the truth of the matter is that you can’t afford not to. If you’re short on time, then hire a virtual assistance and outsource your lowest level tasks. Or invest in resources that will speed up your learning curve. If you’re short on money, then you should have more time to spend on content creation or networking. Set an easy, actionable goal like 2 extra posts each week, or reach out to one blogger a day. And do an informal audit of how you currently spend your time. You’ll be amazed at the time wasted and the opportunity cost your time could be worth.
- Being Efficient Doesn’t Mean You’re Being Effective: Social media is wonderful, but people confuse busyness with effectiveness. Start with a goal, reverse engineer how you’re going to reach that goal, identify your highest ROI activities, prioritize and set boundaries, be disciplined and accountable to others.
- Have Relentless Focus: When you’ve identified one main business goal, every online strategy and tactic will need to support it to get the highest ROI. And sooner or later, you’ll have to make a tough decision. You’ll need to divide your limited resources and choose what you’re going to do (and what you’re going to ignore). But you’ll see that this decision is easy when you have a goal. Your social media use will now have a purpose. And you’ll find that you do have enough time for it’s strategic use.
Set Yourself Up for Success
- Be a Publisher First: Online marketing can’t exist without content. No SEO. No email marketing. No social media. That means you’re in the media business. So you better start learning how to create valuable content. Check out Red Bull, American Express and Lowe’s for good examples.
- Understand What Motivates Your Audience: “Industries” or “businesses” aren’t boring – the people who say that are. Nobody cares about your business (or mine!). People only care about themselves (including you and me!). The way you come up with blog content ideas is to understand your audience, and the benefit your products or services give them.
- Don’t Overemphasize Tactics: Oprah isn’t good at social media because she’s a Twitter guru or Pinterest expert. She understands (a) what her audience wants, and (b) uses these new tools to create a repoire to get them to trust her more and stick around longer. Once you’ve identified the goal you’re trying to reach, then you need to create marketing objectives and a strategy that will deliver on these promises. Tactics help you accomplish a strategy. But they can’t increase revenue or decrease costs on their own.
- Crown a Dictator in your Organization: Bureaucracies and politics kill action. Even getting someone to make a decision can take weeks. But be careful of HIPPOs – where the highest paid person’s opinion reigns supreme. Instead, companies need to find champions with a history of success, and who prefer data-driven decisions over political ones.
- Be Lazy: Connecting one-to-one is great. But it doesn’t scale. Instead, you should be lazy and make people come to you. Create content, provide expertise, or use money to put yourself in front of communities of people – and give them the chance to find you.
- Do Less: Spreading yourself too thin will give you average results. If you want to grow, then get good at creating content (or hire someone to do it). Then contribute articles to top media properties in your industry, or speak in front of organizations (for free!). You’ll get real business leads (first), and build a social media following (second). All with one investment of your time and money. Exactly the way it should be.
- Ignore Trends: Trends are like waves in the ocean, they come and they go. Pinterest might work for some businesses. But for others, it’s a waste of time. It has the (a) wrong kind of traffic, (b) not enough users, and a (c) demographic mismatch. Instead, focus and invest in the fundamentals – like your blog and email marketing.
- Have a Voice: People don’t want to connect with faceless corporations. They want to connect with real humans. But a lot of companies still don’t understand this. No one will like, trust or respect your company in the long run if they can’t get straight, honest feedback in a timely manner.
- Take a Stand: In his TED talk, Simon Sinek said, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”. Think about the special companies that you like and admire. They start with “Why”. They tap into a bigger cause than themselves, and that emotionally connects with people. If you only sell “What” you do, then you’re going to be stuck selling commodities and you’ll always compete on price.
- Declare an Enemy: If you’re going to have a voice and take a stand for something, then by default there has to be examples of people, trends, business philosophies or companies you don’t agree with. Again, you’re not marketing to everyone. You want to attract those who share your worldview. And one of the best ways to get people to commit and emotionally engaged is through sharing a common bond, or defending yourselves against the same threat.
Measure the Right Things
- Twitter Followers -> Email Subscribers: Twitter is a great communication channel. It helps you contact and stay in touch with anyone you want. But it doesn’t directly make you real money. Email marketing is still the most profitable online marketing channel.
- Facebook Fans -> People Talking About This: Facebook’s EdgeRank was designed to keep companies from spamming their “fans”. So it only allows you to reach the fans that actively engage with your brand. “People Talking About This” is the closest metric you have to increase your “viral reach”. The higher that number goes, the better chance you have of reaching more people. And the bigger your page will grow because you’ll start reaching more “friends of fans”.
- Forget about Blog Comments: The 1% rule of the internet is a general rule of thumb that says most people (90%) will consume content, while very few will interact (9%) or create it (1%). This is even more lopsided when you look across different industries. People in these warm and fuzzy industries are extremely active in creating content, and will leave more comments than the rest of the world. So the type of person each industry caters to says more than the actual, real engagement.
- Klout -> Net Promoter Score: Klout is like the stereotypical pretty girl in high school, she looks good on the outside but lacks substance on the inside. Do you really want to know how satisfied customers and fans are? Then ask them to take the Net Promoter Score. It’s one simple question that will only take a few seconds, and it’s vastly more accurate than Klout.
“How likely are you to recommend to a colleague or friend?”
Your Net Promoter Score equals the percentage of Promoters (9s and 10s) minus the percentage of Detractors (0 through 6) (7s and 8s are “Passives”, and are left out).
- Have Realistic Expectations: People are too impatient. You can’t throw a Hail Mary pass in the last minute of the game and expect to win every time. Marketing and sales only work if people trust you. And that process takes time. In the simplest terms possible, there are two ways to market online: (a) use advertising to “rent” attention, or (b) use inbound marketing to “earn” attention. But both are going to cost you something. If you don’t have the time or energy, then you need to spend money on advertising. If you don’t have money to invest, then you need to spend time and energy in creating content, building relationships, and learning how to get people to find you.
- Go Beyond Facebook and Twitter: Social media (and internet marketing) at larger companies is easy. Extremely easy. It’s easy to build Twitter Followers and get people to engage with you when your company has been around for decades. But it’s extremely difficult to transcend those networks and get the whole organization aligned with how your consumers shop today. Social media success transcends your Facebook page or latest Twitter promotion. It’s a new way of doing business and it starts with your DNA, your product or service, and your people. So if you want to improve your social media presence, then start on the inside of your organization first.
Social media is much more than “engaging in the conversation”.
It’s a new way of doing things, and a new set of tools to help you do it. But the same marketing fundamentals apply.
You need to gain attention, build trust, and keep people engaged longer.