What is social media marketing?
Social media marketing is the process of building awareness about you, your products or services through the various social media channels.
The ultimate goal of any social media marketing campaign is to drive traffic to a website, increase the visibility of a product, gain more social media followers or find more customers.
The most popular social media networks today are: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram and Linkedin.
Why is social media marketing important?
Social Media marketing is important because:
- It’s the fastest way to spread the word about a new product, service or news item – A tweet can go rival in minutes and spread a message around the Word faster than TV or other traditional media
- It’s a trend – Millions of people spend a good amount of their time on social media networks so if you ‘need them’ you know where to find them
- It’s the new marketing – Back in the old days, marketers found out that many people spend time in their cars driving so they thought of the billboards on the roads. Today people are spending time on social media so as a marketer you have to start thinking this way too.
- It’s the new influencer – Recent studies show that social media is becoming a great sales channel and more and more companies are stating that they get customers from Facebook or Twitter.
Social Media Marketing tips for beginners
How can you take advantage of social media? How can beginners build a proper social media presence fast?
1. Decide which social media platform(s) to use
As a beginner to social media you have to choose one or two social media platforms and concentrate on those rather than trying to work on all platforms at the same time. This is a mistake that many beginners do and at the end they quit without having any benefit.
A nice way to find out which platform is best suited to your niche is to find the influencers and analyse where they have success.
For example, find out the leaders in your niche and check out the number of Facebook fans, twitter followers, Google+ followers, Pinterest followers etc.
If they have 100,000 Facebook fans but only 1000 twitter followers then this is a good indication that FB is more suitable for your niche than twitter.
It is also a sign that you are more likely to have success with FB than twitter, so you can use your time more efficiently and engage more on FB rather than any other platform.
2. Optimize your social media profiles
Once you decide which social media tools you will use (at least for the beginning), the next step is to optimise your profiles on those sites. By optimizing your profiles you increase your chances of getting more followers and it is also a good way to boost your SEO efforts.
Some general rules that apply to all sites are:
- Use a real photo, showing your face – avoid using animals, places or anything that is not real. Social media is about connecting people and if you want to have a trusted profile you need to get out of your cage and put your face on the web!
- Write a good description about yourself or your company – What is your background or expertise? What are you proud off? Mention this is your profile.
- Give an indication to users what type of info you will share – Although this is not necessary, I like to read in profiles what kind of info to expect from the particular person. For example in my twitter profile I wrote: “..tweeting SEO, social media, internet marketing tips and advice”.
- Include a link to your website (where applicable) – On Facebook include a link in the ‘About section’, on Twitter and Pinterest in the ‘Web site Section’, on Google+ in the ‘Contributor to’ section. In other words, do use your social media profiles for SEO purposes as well.
I suggest you read SEO boost your social media profiles article which includes more examples and instructions on what you have to do to each social media site for more exposure.
3. Connect your website or blog with your social media pages
After you have your social media profiles ready the next step is to connect your website with your social media pages. There is a certain procedure to follow for each platform and it is very important that you do it correctly.
A correct binding between the two means that search engines and social media websites know which website corresponds to which social media page.
For example, when I created the Google+ page for reliablesoft.net, Google+ did not know that this was the official page of the site until I have added the publisher verification code on my site.
- For Facebook you can follow these instructions
- For Google+ you can read this
- For Pinterest you can verify your website using this procedure
- For twitter you follow this
4. Add social media buttons on your website
Besides connecting your website with the respective business pages on social media, you also need to add social media buttons on your website so that readers can easily share your content.
Depending on the platform there are many ways and plugins to do that, I suggest you search Google using “how to add social media buttons to xxxxxx” – replace xxxxx with the platform your website is based.
For example, if you are using wordpress search google for “how to add social media buttons to wordpress”.
As a general rule of thumb, keep the buttons above the fold to increase exposure and have in mind that larger buttons get more clicks than smaller buttons.
5. Find and follow the influencers in your niche
So far we have selected the most appropriate social media tools for our niche, optimized our social media profiles, connected our website with the social media pages and added the buttons on our pages for more interaction.
The next obvious step is to find people to follow but most importantly to gradually build our tribe of followers.
I would say that there are 5 basic steps to follow to get more followers and these are described in points 6-10 below.
Before getting into that, you should first find and follow the influencers in your niche.
It is almost certain that they will not follow you back because you have a new account with no followers but doing so is important for 3 reasons:
- Social media platforms will use this information to make suggestions on who to follow so by following popular people in your niche is like telling them that you are also in that niche.
- When you follow popular people who are likely to get followed by others as well. A trick many people use is to follow the followers of a popular person because they know that some will follow them back as well.
- They will most probably share important and useful information about the niche so you have a chance to learn something new and re-share that with your followers.
6. Keep a balance between following and followers
Once you start following people you should always have in mind that it’s better to keep a balance between the number of people you follow and the number of people they follow you back.
This is important especially in Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest and the reasons are a lot:
- Software applications are using this ratio (followers/following) to make suggestions on ‘who to follow’ so if you have a very high ratio you minimize your chances of getting new quality followers.
- It is a matter of trust – Who do you think has a trusted profile: someone with 1000 followers but following 2500 or someone with 550 followers that follows 510?
- A balanced profile is better for SEO – SEO’s have been talking the last couple of months about the importance of social media for SEO and how things are changing and although it is not yet confirmed, it is more likely that people with strong social media profiles are in better position that those with weak profiles.
A strong profile in this case is someone that has more followers than following and someone that is followed by people who are considered influencers in the niche.
7. Share interesting content (text, images, videos)
This is the foundation for having a successful social media marketing campaign. When we talk about publishing content we always say that ‘content is king’ and this true in social media as well.
If you share interesting and useful content you can get more re-shares, more visitors to your website and under some conditions more customers as well.
What is interesting content? From my experience (and certain studies) this is a combination off:
- Articles/Stories/Pages related to your niche but not only from your own website.
- Interesting statistics about your niche
- Motivational Quotes related to your niche or otherwise
- Research studies
- Images and Videos
- Funny stuff- whatever your niche, you can share once in a while a joke, a funny image or video to make your followers smile.
- Don’t forget about hashtags – hashtags (#) can make your content more searchable so don’t forget to use hashtags in the networks that support it (Twitter, Google+).
8. Post many times per day but don’t overdo it
A common question by people who are just beginning on social media is “how many times should I post per day?” The answer depends on the network. There are many studies analysing the effect of posting frequency and some best practices are:
- Facebook personal page – As many times as you want
- Facebook business page – No more than 1-2 times per day and no more than 7 times per week. There are studies that support this guideline.
- Twitter – The more you tweet the more exposure you get.
- Google+ Business page and Google+ profile page – as many times as you want but don’t overdo it because this may create the opposite results.
- Pinterest – a few times per day is enough
9. Don’t forget to follow back
Most people concentrate on how to get new followers but they forget to follow back those who have already followed them.
Every day you should create the habit of viewing the people who are already following you and decide who to follow back.
If you don’t do this on a regular basis then most likely some will un-follow you and this is why you may sometimes notice a decrease in the number of followers.
10. Follow the rules and be patient
Social media networks have rules to keep spammers away. For example, there is a limit on twitter on the number of people you can follow per day; there is also a limit on Google+ on the number of people you can add/delete from your circles, Facebook has its own rules etc.
This means that it may take some time to build thousands of followers so you need to be patient and not try to rush into results either by breaking the rules (your account will be suspended) or by spending your money in ‘buying followers or tweets’ or anything similar.
Try to spend your time in creating a great social media profile that will stand over time and why not become one of the authoritative profiles in your niche.
When it comes to social media there are 2 important pillars. The first one has to do with the setup of your social media profiles and the second one is about usage i.e. how you use your social media account.
For the first pillar, it is important to engage in the networks more suited to your niche and to have a proper connection between your social media pages and website.
For the second pillar, it is important to follow the right people, be followed by the right people and share relevant and interesting content always by adhering to the rules of the different social media networks.