Social media marketing is one type of Internet marketing that aims to build and spread a company’s brand and communicate marketing message via participation in the sphere of social media networks.
Social media, by the way, is the broad term used to encompass both the specific activities involving social interaction, such as exposure to images, audio, video and textual web content, as well as the general, overall arena for these activities.
Enabling online interaction between people, social media creates a dynamic space in which you can share web content that you create, thereby building inbound links to your site that can attract attention on a viral level. Hence, with the proper social media marketing strategy, you can connect with the key influencers in your purview.
Social media marketing is no panacea for all your marketing ills; it alone will not help you achieve all your marketing objectives. But those marketing goals that SMM can help you achieve, it can help you achieve wondrously — and they are the following:
Hard objectives –
- Garnering page views
- Creating exposure for your ads
- External tracking – tracking traffic to your website
- Internal tracking – tracking user behavior on your website
- Tracking conversions and/or sales
Soft objectives –
- Building brand awareness
- Managing reputation – establishing positive associations with your brand
- Developing your business
- Expanding and extending customer reach
SMM helps you build the foundation for a more extensive mindshare quicker than otherwise attainable and supports your other search engine marketing activities and goals. To do this effectively requires accurate targeting, which in turn requires careful research. It also requires that you avoid spamming at all costs.
SMM Do’s & Don’ts
Here are some other critical do’s and don’ts for effective SMM:
Do opt for frequent, briefer interactions over less frequent, lengthier ones. That’s not to say you should choose quantity over quality, but short, relevant interactions can pack just as much (or more) of a punch as in-depth diatribes.
Don’t talk excessively about your own business, especially at first. Let people come to know you initially as a source of important, relevant information. In other words, use your social media participation to help showcase the most valuable resources you can find for your audience, wherever and from whomever those resources originate.
Do offer more than just validation and repetition of everyone else’s great ideas. Retweeting, for example, is fine; but even better is adding value or new insight to that other party’s Tweet you’re sharing.
Don’t by shy. Take the initiative to build connections with the major influencers in your area. Turn these influencers into advocates for you by, first and foremost, presenting yourself genuinely and courteously.
Do create your own content. So much of the content shared in social media is the same content reshared over and over. Give people new worthwhile content to share, and that includes text, image, video and audio — in every combination and permutation.
Don’t fly without a net. That is to say, eschew the guesswork; track every action you take in social media as you would track a traditional advertisement, and likewise utilize all the best analytics tools at your disposal to see what works, what works really well, and what doesn’t work at all.
Do keep ahead of the curve. Know your audience. Discover what they’re passionate about and identify their newest desires before they do. One way to do this is by subscribing to feeds and watching for changes in trends; then comment on them in your social networks.
Don’t skimp on web hosting. Imagine you’ve created a killer piece of content that goes viral and suddenly you’ve got more traffic to your site than you know what to do with. If you don’t have sufficient hosting (which includes sufficient disk space, bandwidth and uptime reliability, among other crucial factors) then those first-time visitors could find your site down. And once that happens, most people are unlikely to try a second time.
Do link to other websites and blogs relevant to your niche and useful to your audience. Don’t just work on building inbound links to your site on other valuable sites; work on providing outbound links to other valuable sites from your site.
Tips for Submitting Content
Content is still King, even if social media does appear to be the kingdom. But the best content in the world can still fall flat (or worse) if not properly submitted.
Therefore, once you’ve created your killer content, follow these submission tips to ensure you reap the maximum value out of each kilobyte:
- Ask others to vote for your content (such as by Liking, Sharing or Retweeting it)
- Make sure employees don’t post all your content (or worse, vote for it) from the same IP address
- Focus on submitting your content to the one or few networks where you and/or your audience has the greatest presence or influence
- If you submit the same content to more than one network, consider changing it up a little for each submission; that way it will be perceived as unique content by each network (not to mention the search engines)
The Essential Social Media Networks
There are lots of social media networks out there, but only a select few of them have the kind of traffic and reputation that can really help deliver you traffic and build your reputation. They are:
- Facebook (social networking)
- Twitter (microblogging)
- LinkedIn (social network for professionals)
- YouTube (video sharing)
- Pinterest (image sharing)
- StumbleUpon (social bookmarking)
- Del.icio.us (social bookmarking)
- Digg (social news)
- Reddit (social news)
- Technorati (social blogging)
Just as importantly, however, while these are certainly the biggies (and there are many more for sure) give equal weight to any microcommunities that may exist within your niche, specific to your niche.
Use Technology To Your Advantage
“There’s an app for that” has become one of Internet culture’s newest memes and it reflects an important development in online interactions: that if there is a way to do something online, there is a piece of software that will help you do it easier.
In terms of social media marketing that means:
- Scheduling status updates
- Automating content submission
- Tracking and analyzing results
Be conscious when using these tools, however, that you don’t rely so heavily upon them that you overlook simple, common sense
Just like using a spellcheck shouldn’t preclude proofreading your work, so too should scheduling status updates not preclude making sure your updates are relevant and appropriate for all the networks to which you’ll be posting it. For example, only Twitter uses hashtags (e.g. #SMM) so don’t mass-submit a post containing a hashtag to multiple social networks.
Better to change your message to tailor it to the different social media (or types of social media) to which you’ll be posting than to try to come up with a one-post-fits-all message to send anywhere and everywhere for convenience.
Remember, social media marketing is not advertising. You are not promoting yourself directly through enticing claims of benefits and features; you are promoting yourself indirectly through participating in a value-adding manner in relevant online social communities.