How would you like a tool that could boost your company’s visibility? How about creating an ad campaign targeted to the demographics of your customers? What about if you could do both with a tool that was free? If this sounds compelling, welcome to the world of social media marketing, and look below for steps to jump right in!
What is Social Media Marketing?
If you’ve ever been on Twitter or Facebook, you’ve likely already seen an example of social media marketing: an ad on your Twitter timeline, for instance, or a tweet from a company’s twitter hyping a new product. Social media marketing allows a company to engage with its customers in a completely new way, using social media— something that billions of users participate in on a frequent basis— as the medium.
The Benefits for Businesses
While there are many benefits to using social media marketing, the majority can be summed up into three categories: customer engagement, analytic data, and brand establishment. Through social media, your company can directly connect with customers through tweets, follows, likes, and even conversations. This is great for customer support, but that’s not all—it’s helpful for receiving direct feedback about a service or product, and even seeing what your customers are interested in.
Social media platforms also provide great analytic data, including click rates, potential demographics, and other interests—allowing for the ads you do produce to be far more organic.
Finally, many customers expect a company to have a form of social media—especially a Twitter or Facebook—and seek out information about the company through these platforms. This is a chance for free advertisement of your company, and the customer is searching for it themselves!
How to Use Social Media Effectively
Just as each company is different, their approach to Social Media Marketing needs to be similarly tailored to their community. There are a few common best practices that you want to follow, that said. The first is to outline which social media platform best represents your customers. While Twitter and Facebook are considered near universal, some companies may find more engagement if they post to a social media site like Reddit (or a combination of the above!).
Once a social media platform (or multiple platforms) have been decided on, make sure to post regularly, including both information about your product and fostering your customer-base.
If you have a product that could require support, you can also set up your social media accounts to allow customers to contact your company directly.
Popular Social Media Sites
Both Twitter and Facebook are huge social media platforms and great choices for a company to have a social media presence on. However, there are many other social media platforms out there, and depending on your customer-base, these other platforms may be just as if not more beneficial.
Some other sites include LinkedIn—which is more business and workplace oriented; Reddit—more tech-oriented; Instagram or Pinterest—for companies who have products they can show off via photos—and Tumblr for younger demographics.
Although we’ve been over the basics, here are some strategies for utilizing a social media marketing account. While advertising your product or service is important, don’t underestimate the power of networking with others, which can not only strengthen bonds with existing customers, but impress customers you’d have never had in the first place.
Social media also provides an opportunity for you to research what your competitors are doing, and evaluate both their strengths and weaknesses. Finally, by linking in a post, you can direct customers to other sites—such as your homepage, your YouTube channel, or even just an interesting article about your company, product or service.
One of the core features of Twitter that has begun spreading into other social media platforms, hashtags (or tags on other platforms such as Tumblr) are ways to organize and combine posts of a similar topic. Using simple, effective #hashtags and tags can help your customers find and talk about your company, product, or service, and ideally, it’ll all link back to your social media page. Just check to verify that nothing else—especially nothing recent—is also using those same tags and you’re set!
Social Media No-No’s
While social media marketing provides an excellent opportunity to reach out and engage with customers, there are also certain pitfalls to avoid. Respond to customers—especially support or complaint-based interactions—as soon as possible.
Another pitfall to avoid is marketing your product as a part of a recent tragedy. This can be very off-putting to customers and potentially damage your brand to them.
Finally, make sure to research any trending hashtags before using them—otherwise, you might be jumping into a conversation you don’t want your company in!
When Social Media Marketing Isn’t Free
While social media—and self-marketing—is free on all the platforms mentioned in this article, there are times where you can pay to receive benefits. These can vary from more in-depth analytics so that you’re able to target ads more effectively to even paying for ad spots. Compared to Google Adwords or other similar ad-targeting services, however, social media platforms tend to be significantly cheaper.
There’s a lot to gain from participating in social media marketing, and very little to lose if you follow a few rules and do some research. Just make sure to research the appropriate social platforms, follow their rules, and tag appropriately. If you’re able to invest money into social media, there are options there as well, and they’re on average significantly cheaper. Now is the time to jump into social media marketing and get posting!