One of the challenges that businesses face when it comes to social media marketing is how to gain more followers. How can you find people to follow your business page and most importantly how do you find people that interact with your pages and share your content?
To make this article more interesting I will not just discuss the theory of social media marketing but I will show you the results of a social media campaign we have been running for the last 10 months for an online business. I will try to explain the challenges that we had to overcome and the solutions that lead to a dramatic increase of followers on Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.
The company is knownhost.com, a web hosting provider offering managed VPS hosting packages to consumers since 2005.
When we started social media marketing for knownhost in November 2013 the company had:
400 followers on Facebook
480 followers on Twitter
200 followers on Google+
After 10 months (September 2014) the numbers are:
7300 followers on Facebook (1825% increase)
4018 followers on Twitter (837% increase)
900 followers on Google+ (450% increase)
- It was difficult to reach out to people who were not currently interested in our products (web hosting packages).
- There is huge competition in the hosting industry
- We needed a strategy to differentiate our company from the rest
- We wanted more people to find out about our brand, products and services
3 Steps for a Successful social media marketing for businesses
The solution to the above challenges that lead to a dramatic increase in followers was to combine content marketing with a carefully planned social media campaign. Let’s see below the 3 steps that can almost guarantee you success.
Step 1: You need content
That may be obvious to many people: you need content to run social media campaigns, but for most businesses this is the most difficult part to achieve. The reason is that they have a lot of content about their products and services but not enough content that can be used for social media awareness.
People that use Facebook, Twitter or Google+ are less likely to follow a business page that only advertises their products and services, unless of course they are a big brand (think Apple) that sells popular products.
The solution here is to publish content on your business page that is interesting for people to read, share, comment and follow. In general, you can use content that is part of these 3 categories:
- How-to articles
- Industry news
- Tips and advice
Take a look at the Google+ page to see how the above content rich categories can blend together with the products and services a company is offering. See how we share content about technology news, blogging, social media and everything that may interest our current and potential customers (bloggers, graphic designers, small business owners, webmasters etc).
Step 2: Content is not enough, you also need to promote your accounts
I know that I said above that you need content but content alone is not enough for social media success. You also need to promote your social media accounts and content.
What do we mean by promote? Don’t expect that by just creating and publishing good content on your business page people will start following you. You need to get out, spread the word and tell people about your interesting content. To be more specific:
On Facebook the best way to reach more audience is to use targeted ads. For those that are not aware, Facebook has an advertising platform which you can use to promote your business page or posts and get more likes, more website visits or more sales. What is nice about this system is that you can create targeted campaigns and get your page in front of the ‘right people’. In terms of cost, once you run a pilot campaign for a couple of weeks you will be able to predict how much budget you need to reach more audience on Facebook.
On Twitter the most efficient way to find targeted followers is to use the twitter search function and find out users tweeting about your industry, related products or competitors. Searching for hashtags instead of plain keywords can get you better results (i.e. search for ‘#socialmedia’ instead of ‘social media’). Once you find these people follow them and statistically some of them will follow you back.
You can follow the same approach for Google+ but have in mind that a business page can only follow 50 people per day so you need to follow a less aggressive approach to stay away from unwanted troubles.
Step 3: Monitor your brand and clean up your accounts
So, you have good content, you promote your accounts by advertising or reaching out to potential followers, what’s next?
The next step is to monitor what people say about your brand in the different networks and reply to any comments (either positive or negative). There are various ‘brand monitoring’ tools you can use but another easy way is to use the search function of the different networks and search for your brand name. Make sure that you do this on a daily basis and that you publish and share your replies so that other people can see that you have an active presence.
As a final step you also need to clean up your accounts on a regular basis. ‘By clean up’ I mean remove people that are not active or not related to your niche or business. On networks like Twitter it’s very difficult to find users that only tweet about your industry and niche so you need to regularly review who you follow and try to stick to people that are a better match to your customer profile.
Businesses can successfully use social media provided that they are willing to invest both time and money to establish their social media presence. Depending on the type of business, you can choose which networks to utilize but the recipe for success is always the same: Share useful content that goes beyond your products or services, promote your accounts, protect your brand and keep your accounts in good shape.
To go from theory to practice, take a closer look at what we have done with the knownhost case study and apply the same strategies to make your company a social business.