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Every week, the average person spends an entire day looking at his or her phone. To be honest, I’m somewhat surprised it’s not even more (but I suspect this number will increase). As I glanced around my family room on Christmas evening I noticed every one of my family members scrolling through their social feeds, excluding my nephew; he’s 6 months old, but oddly always gravitates towards the iPhone (although it’s typically just an attempt to eat it).
This is all somewhat depressing, but as my mom recently explained Facebook has given her the power to reconnect with friends and even family members that she hasn’t spoken to in over twenty years. We’ve all heard stories of long-lost siblings, lovers, and guardians finding each other via social platforms. Not to mention the powerful charitable movements like the Ice Bucket Challenge, which helped raise over $100 million for ALS, a 3,500% increase from the $2.8 million raised during the same time period the year prior, according to Forbes.
2019 is shaping up to be another thrilling year in the world of social media, from Instagram surpassing 1 billion users, Facebook hinting towards an integration of its messaging platforms, LinkedIn rolling out interest-based targeting, and Snapchat approaching 200 million daily active users. These updates are just dusting the surface of social media changes over the past year, but what does this all mean for your marketing plan in 2019?
We all know that social media is critical to every business’s marketing initiatives (especially those in creative industries like craft marketing). Not having active social channels for your business is equivalent to showing up to work without pants; it’s embarrassing and not socially accepted. No one wants to be the idiot who shows up to work in their underwear, but what’s the point of maintaining social channels if they’re not adding value to your business? Well, there is none. You should be using social to do one or several of the following: establishing and growing brand recognition, gaining qualified leads, or improving customer relationships (ideally all three).
In my post about social media strategy from a couple years back, I stressed tactics such as creating a social media marketing plan and sticking to it, going above and beyond in social media customer service, embracing mishaps, and so on. Let me assure you, these strategies are all still critical, but with the New Year upon us I have some new and improved tips up my sleeve to add to your social media marketing plan for 2019.
Okay—so you’re eager to learn some new social media marketing strategies. That’s awesome. Enthusiasm is an asset, and you should certainly leverage it.
But you can’t add strategies to a social media marketing plan that doesn’t exist.
So, how do you make one?
Here are three essential steps.
A social media follower persona is practically the same as a customer persona. The only difference is that you’re envisioning the person who follows your social accounts rather than the person who buys your product or service.
(Ideally, those categories overlap.)
You need a follower persona because it gives you the focus you need to share relevant, useful content. Consider the alternative. If you’re trying to appeal to every type of person with your social content, you won’t create anything of substance. Plus, you’ll fail to develop a unique, recognizable social media brand.
How old is your follower persona? What does he or she do for a living? What does he or she like to do for fun or for leisure? What are his or her greatest pain points?
Answering these questions (and others you can think of!) in detail will provide an immense amount of guidance in terms of how you present your business on social media.
You need a follower persona to guide your social media strategy, and the same can be said about goals. If you don’t know what you’re trying to accomplish, how can you expect to know how to go about it?
You need clearly defined objectives to work towards.
Here are a few examples of social media marketing goals:
The purpose of setting goals is a little clearer after reading that list, right? A social media marketer who’s trying to increase her site traffic and a social media marketer who’s trying to sell her products are going to take vastly different approaches.
Aiming to drive site traffic…
…vs. aiming to sell products.
Whereas the former may focus on sharing enticing snippets of blog content, the latter may focus on demonstrating product value.
Goals mean nothing if you don’t have methods for measuring whether or not you’re achieving them. That’s where key performance indicators (KPIs) come into play. Unsurprisingly, whichever ones you choose will necessarily fall in line with your goals:
Competitive analysis is an essential part of marketing—no matter which types of media you’re working with. Whether you’re principally leveraging social media, Google Ads, or podcast ads, the core of your job is differentiating yourself from your competitors.
In other words, you need to show your prospective customers why they’ll benefit more by purchasing your product or service rather than by purchasing that of your rival.
A tried-and-true tactic: understand how your competitors use social media to reach prospects … and then undermine them.
For example, let’s say you own a bakery cafe. Your chief competitor is a similar place that sits a few blocks over. Through some competitive analysis, you conclude that they mainly try to entice followers by posting pictures of pastries and lattes.
Now it’s time to one-up them. Rather than simply posting pictures of finished products, why not post videos of them being made? On top of that, maybe you can share some quick bios of the employees who make it all happen?
The key is that you forge deeper connections with locals than does your competitor.
And don’t worry—Facebook and Instagram users don’t care too much about flashy, sleek content. They simply want to see businesses post fun, creative stuff.
Now that you’ve created a follower persona, established your social media marketing goals, determined how you’re going to measure your progress toward those goals, and checked in on your competitors’ social profiles, it’s time to build out your social media marketing plan with some exciting new strategies.
Here’s six to test out this year.
Have you ever looked through the people you follow on Twitter or Pinterest? You probably see about .05% of things they tweet or pin. I’m grabbing this metric out of thin air, but since everyone who’s anyone is on social media, even if you are posting regularly your followers are probably not very engaged with your brand. The number of people following you can only take you so far. “Twitter is sort of like the ‘live TV’ of social media,” according to Marketing Land’s Danny Sullivan. “If you’re not tuned in to catch a particular tweet live, then you’ve missed it.” This doesn’t apply just for Twitter, the reach of Facebook’s organic posts has drastically dropped making it much more difficult for brands to stand out, even if you’re following their page (we’ll get into this more in tip #3)…
Yes, having 10,000+ followers is noteworthy, but at the end of the day it doesn’t matter how many followers you have if they’re not interacting and paying attention to your content. What can be done to build a community and increase engagement with your current and potential followers?
To conclude, when posting to your social channels think outside of the box and devise clever ways to get your audience to interact with your brand.
If you want your audience to stay engaged, you need to be engaging. One great way to do this is to create social campaigns that run across all your social platforms. The important thing to note here is that anyone can run a contest or create a social campaign, so you need to make yours stand out by adding a charitable, inspirational, or emotional component. Any element that pulls at the heart strings works well. If your company already is involved with volunteer work, which many are, then this is one great way to inspire and engage your followers. I know what you’re thinking, it seems somewhat morally corrupt to use a charity relationship for marketing purposes, but on the other hand you’re promoting that organization and encouraging more people to get involved. So how do you apply this across several channels? Start by…
After following the link the viewer is then directed to the full story on the charity:water blog, where several powerful stories are featured.
I encourage you to think of ways you can use your social channels to tell motivational stories to your viewers. They don’t need to be rooted in charity. For example if you sell B2B software you could share stories from your happiest clients on your blog and then create a social campaign with a unique slogan and hashtag to promote and create a movement around their stories.
Please note: You don’t have to one of the most recognized fashion brands in the world (like Marc Jacobs is) to make this work for your brand. For example let’s say you run an athletic clothing store and offer free yoga classes at several of your store fronts – this would be a great actionable movement to brand and spread across their channels. Use the inspirational aspect of getting fit, New Year’s resolutions, healthy living, or whichever angle you believe your customers would gravitate towards. Test out a few hashtags, find the one that resonates best, and brand your movement by announcing it on your blog and social channels.
I recently spoke with some local Boston-based paid search experts who all raved about the power of Facebook advertising with the main conclusion that Facebooks ads are cheap and actually work. If you want to compete on Facebook today it’s pretty clear that you need to put some green bills on the table. Gone are the days when you could just post updates to your company’s wall and pray for likes. With that said costs can be easily controlled as there are several unique targeting methods giving you options to find your niche audience and not waste money on the click-happy internet addicts irrelevant to your business.
“Over the last two years, the social network has repeatedly tweaked the system to show the top 300 or so items that it predicts each person will want to read,” according to a recent article by the New York Times. “Facebook argues that people prefer to see videos, photos, news articles and updates from their friends and family more than other brands. So over time, posts by businesses have shown up less frequently.” Facebook continues to push for more advertising so if your business wants traction it needs to be advertising. With all of that said you still need to use caution and tread lightly if you’re a budget conscious advertiser because with more and more competition prices are likely to rise. I’d also highly recommend retargeting with platforms like AdRoll because with retargeting you show your ads to people that have already expressed interest in your brand by visiting your site. I often see retargeting ads on the side of my Facebook News scan (i.e. the image below showing ads for two sites which I recently visited).
Why would I want to go online to chat to a bunch of strangers? What respected business person would actually take time out of their day to participate in one of these cult-like chats? These were the initial thoughts which ran through by head when introduced to the concept of Twitter chats. My view drastically changed when WordStream founder, Larry Kim, raved about #PPCChat, encouraging me and my colleagues to participate as frequently as possible. So I took his advice and started participating in our industry related chats. I was surprised to find the experience to be very enjoyable; I even added #PPCChat as a recurring event in my calendar on Tuesday so that I wouldn’t forget to join in the live conversation. The chat gave me the ability to connect with others in the industry and also learn from those who have varying experiences from my own. I noticed an uptick in my personal followers and one week I was even featured as the top quote in the PPCChat write-up that’s published after every chat.
So why should your business get involved? Aside from personal branding, these chats can greatly benefit your business by giving you the ability to discover new leads, build brand authority, develop strong relationships with influencers in your industry, and further expose your brand. Host your own chat or partner with a big brand to co-host a chat; you’ll grow your follower base substantially if it’s promoted well. Explore the resources in this post to get an idea of which re-occurring chats take place in your industry.
This ties in nicely with the tip above because there are likely several industry influencers participating in your industry related chats. Not having any luck with chats? Luckily there are tons of other strategies you can use on social to get connected with big shots in your industry. The goal is to get these people to like you and like your brand, and I’m not talking about a Facebook like. I’m talking about a genuine emotional feeling of liking everything your business is about. Why? Once you get the in with the people that matter, your business will only continue to grow because their audience and authority with mesh with yours to cast an even wider net. Take the following four steps to socially connect with your influencers:
You should never use your social channels as a bragging platform. These channels aren’t to be solely self-promotional, this is boring and obnoxious. There needs to be a balance between marketing your brand and sharing stories and news from other valuable resources. If you kept seeing Instagram upon Instagram from your favorite clothing apparel store promoting solely their own clothing items you’d probably un-follow and avoid the store out of sheer frustration. Instead focus on a balance between sharing promotional content, interacting with your followers and influencers, and sharing other useful and entertaining content. The key word here is “other,” what is that? Follow these tips to easily determine what content is share-worthy:
Chose a trending topic that is somewhat relevant and join the conversation like the social commerce website, Polyvore did with the People’s Choice Awards in the tweet below.
As a quick recap stop pushing out the same old snooze-worthy content on social from 2018. Instead use 2019 as your chance to…
1: Build a community and inspire action. Your followers should be people that you interact with and maintain a witty, relatable, and fun relationship with on social media. Stop selling your soul to gain followers, instead look to grow engagement. Brainstorm creative ways to keep your followers intrigued by creating truly powerful social media campaigns that will spur your audience to participate.
2. Experiment with Facebook Ads to target the audience that’s relevant and retarget those who have already visited your site. This will gain you brand recognition and grow your business if done well. Don’t be afraid to allocate a portion of your budget to test it out – the results could be well worth it!
3. Join the conversation whether that be through Twitter chats or trending hashtags. Stay on top of your industry and contribute insightful thoughts and information to build your partnerships, connect with new leads, and expand your reach. Make your influencers like you by constantly flattering them; Like their content, retweet their updates, and comment on their posts.
4. Post quality content. Use Buzzsumo to find the trending and most popular stories in your industry and add these to the mix of your own posts to intrigue your audience and validate that your channels are follow-worthy.
Margot is a content marketing specialist at WordStream and nutrition graduate student at Framingham State. She loves all things digital, learning about nutrition, running, traveling, and cooking.
See other posts by Margot Whitney
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