So you’re a hit in your social media circles. You’ve mastered the art of using hashtags, retweets, shares and likes to your best advantage. You get innumerable likes, retweets and comments on your posts. That’s great. Congratulations! You’re a social media “expert.” But have you been able to capitalize on your social media prowess? If you are a business owner, all this influence means nothing if you aren’t able to capitalize on it. Here I bring you a short course on how to progress to the “guru” level of social media marketing.
The enormity of social media - see where you stand
Let’s run you through a few social media basics if you’re still a newbie to promotions on social media. For one, no social media is bad and not all social networking sites are equal. Here are a few social media statistics that will tell you why.
- Pinterest is the fastest growing social platform in the world currently with over 10 million new visitors each month
- 80% of Internet users on Pinterest are female
- Facebook currently has over 1.4 billion users while Twitter is at about 304 million users
- The professional social media giant, LinkedIn is at 347 million
- 47% of all Internet users are on Facebook
What part of this population have you captured so far? Even a 0.1% of this traffic can do wonders for your business. Of course, it has to be the right fan following - people who are interested in what you do, and are also interested in engaging with businesses.
Persuasion is the key for your social success
You want your voice to be heard and registered. You goal is not to make a point that quickly fizzles out of your followers’ mind. Robert Cialdini has written a book on persuasion and marketing which is used by social media gurus in different ways.
A customer has brought profits to your business by choosing you. Reciprocating this gesture by thanking the customer will help to create loyalty, and show others who look at your feeds that you’re responsive and engaged with your own pages. Social media is a great channel to build loyalty over time.
Reinforcement through recognition
When people subscribe to your blogs, they commit to reading what you send across, but realistically speaking, that rarely happens as a lot of people subscribe to huge number of websites, reading all of which is impossible. You can encourage these readers by giving them a feeling of familiarity and that you recognize them by allowing interaction more freely on subsequent visits. A perfect example for this is Amazon’s one-click ordering.
Create trends pertaining to your niche
It’s very common for people to join in on trending topics just to feel as if they’re part of a clan, even if they don’t feel particularly strongly about the subject. To create a conducive atmosphere for discussion on what you offer, bring in experts or social influencers who are popular within your circles.
Go beyond talking about your own business
There are going to be certain topics in your niche that will be generally liked by your followers or potential customers. Be generous when sharing, retweeting, liking or commenting on these accounts and pages, even though you do not own them. By doing this, you create an impression of like-mindedness.
Play on the perception of authority
This is important because people tend to follow advice given by perceived authorities on social media. We say “perceived” authority because people rarely actually go to the length of checking someone’s actual authority on social media. Someone who gives insights and opines intellectually is naturally “perceived” to be an authority. Endorsements from such perceived authorities can be your most effective calls to action.
Create a sense of scarcity
The psychology of scarcity can be quite compelling where people feel the urgency to take action. Creating a perception that your offer is only for a limited number of days, or a limited number of people, can push the potential buyers to make the purchase.
Social Media Promotion
Let’s imagine, for instance, that you run a restaurant. Your first step would be to create visually appealing posts. Get some great pictures of your interiors, dishes, and customers enjoying their time with you, before even creating a post. Hiring a digital artist to create a few unique banners is not a bad idea. Now, all you need is something that will compel your followers to interact with you. Here are a few categories of posts that accomplish this goal.
- Posts that ask your customers what they want
- Posts that allow your customers to win freebies
- Posts that recognize your customers for their achievements and milestones
- Posts that familiarize your customers about your business
- Posts that involve your business in community events
Here, you should understand the power of bringing freebies to your followers (reciprocating someone's social engagement can be very persuasive). Taking the above example of restaurants, encourage your followers to share, comment, like, rate review, or interact with your social pages in any other way. In turn, choose a random lucky winner every week. So, what have you achieved out of this? The customers who interact with you for a freebie will always show your restaurant in a positive light. This will attract new customers to your restaurant when they see people have so many good things to say about your business. Using persuasion principles help a lot to business growth socially.
Your Social Media Strategy
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to social media strategies. The goal should be to garner followers and to engage them in a meaningful manner to increase your business and build excellent customer relationship or project yourself as an industry leader. To achieve that you simply need to be 'social'.
- Choose the right social media networks: The ROI must be the biggest determinant while choosing a particular social media network for your business. Here, you must know what factors are to be considered while calculating the social media ROI.
Apart from the ROI, another consideration should be a social network that is popular in your niche. For instance, Twitter is hugely popular among travellers and if you’re in the hospitality industry, you must be on this network. Statistics by Social Sprout say that about 33% of people access Twitter before embarking on a trip, 39% Tweet during the journey and 20% share their feedback/experience upon completion of the journey.
- Give an insight into your business: Are you an expert on selfies. Stop clicking them in your living room and get out there with your customers. Sharing pictures of your business premises along with the customers is a great way to personalize. You can share them on Stumbleupon, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook or any social network of your choice. Personalization is very powerful. A case study that shows you how waiters of a restaurant increased their tips by 23% through a simple strategy. Well, it was not through social media; nevertheless, the effect was fantastic. As a social media Guru, you need to master this art.
- Harness the social media features to communicate one-on-one: When people check-in to your business, they generally mention it be tagging your business’ social profile and you get intimation of that. “Like” such check-ins and ask them about their experience with your business. Use hashtags to join in popular trending topics that relate to your business. Ask your customers to rate/review your business. The options here are several and vary with each social network. Explore your options.
- Aim to build an online community: The members of your community will act as your brand ambassadors. They will defend the reputation of your business against adverse opinions and push your brand to newer customers. You can build such a community only by giving information and voicing opinions on subjects that matter to people in your field. The key here is to build a positive sentiment towards your business by highlighting the hard work you put into bringing something great to your customers.
- Avoid being boring and keep varying your strategy: Social media fans can be quite fickle minded. For continued interest, you need to come up with innovative ways to keep the followers engaged. Every strategy will eventually lead to lesser and lesser interaction. This is an indication to brainstorm and come up with a new strategy.
- Listen to your audience: Understand the aspirations of your followers by joining in the discussions. Mere talking will not achieve that.
- Focus is important: Stick to discussions and suggestions pertaining to your field. Don’t waver into discussing a topic that is immaterial to the rest of the followers.
- Quality of followers: A quality follower will take your word forward to 10 other people by sharing your posts. You don’t want a huge number of followers that do nothing.
- Patience is vital: Results on social media will not come overnight, so be patient.
- Compounding “interest”: The interest in the content you share will compound as your followers share and like your posts. So be aware of this benefit and use it well.
- Add value to conversations: If you simply limit yourself to blabbering about the utility of what you offer, you’ll only sound salesy and people will eventually stop listening. Spend time building relationships and scout for social media influencers.
- Acknowledge your followers: Remember that acknowledgement is the first step at building relationships on social media.
- Remain accessible: Don’t limit yourself to merely publishing something on social media. People are going to have questions, so be there for them.
Recognize and associate with social media influencers
Imagine what would happen if Michael Jordan endorses one product in the array of sports attire that you market? That’d be a jackpot right here! Recognize and engage with social media influencers. Twitter is a great way to achieve this. Familiarize yourself to the bigwigs by constantly interacting with them. You never know when you could hit big through their endorsement. Of course, if you have the budget and the network, you can get a social media influencer to promote your product actively and deliberately.
Let social media bridge the communication between you and customers
When you tackle a disgruntled customer compassionately through social media, you show others who read your post that “you care.” You don’t want negative comments lying there with no one from your company noticing it. Make way for seamless communication with your customers. Remember social media is a two-way channel, which allows you to get in touch with your followers. Encourage your customers to share data with you like their birthdays and anniversaries. Wish them on their big days, offer them discounts and make them feel special. While you do all this, keep your business reputation in mind. Avoid arguments or unpleasant conversations on social media. If you find someone persistently trying to dent your reputation, simply ban such users from your social media page. Sometimes you just have to be ruthless that way and it’s okay.
Automate the social media process
Automation tools like Hoostuite are great. You can schedule postings on multiple platforms simultaneously through such tools. Remember; even your blog postings can be scheduled for sharing on social media at any time of the day. Gauge what time is best for maximum viewership. Such tools also save you a huge amount of time.
The final word
To harness the power of social media, you need to behave socially. You need to open up and display your work, show transparency, try new ideas on social media, and engage your customers.
Here are a few case studies that deal with how using social media can give a positive return on your investment. These studies will give you a real-time insight into how to approach your campaigns.
Following all the steps mentioned above and blending in some of your own ideas and strategies will ensure that you are truly social!
Let us know about your experiences in the comments below.