The development of the Internet, along with the birth of the social network and other new media, has forever changed society. Everything, including the way we communicate, the way we entertain ourselves and the way we think has evolved. As a result of this, marketing and PR tactics that may have once worked before have become completely irrelevant. Yes, the world of marketing and PR has moved right alongside new media, and what has resulted are new "best practices" that would be completely unrecognizable and likely absurd to any marketing professional just a few short decades ago. What this means is that organizations that refuse to adjust and let go of traditional approaches to marketing and customer relations are likely to find themselves trailing behind their competition. We as both producers and consumers have stepped into a new way of existing, and with that, the sharing of a thought, the communication of news and even the availability of a good or service have completely changed
For marketers, there's a constant pressure lingering over the return on investments, new sales and customer retention. Organizations of all sizes are continuously looking to get a leg up on their opposition. This has always been and always will be the case. Thanks to social media, now, more than ever, are more opportunities to do so. How? Both marketers and consumers have gained direct access to communication and information like never before. Millions of professionals across the globe have recognized this and are adopting a social approach to marketing to use alongside a digital PR strategy in order to most effectively expand their reach and grow their business online. What does this mean? This means that the competition is fierce, and no company can risk not utilizing social media or waste their time or money doing it wrong. Social media marketing has evolved past being a "nice to have" for marketers, and rather become a necessity to stay on top of the market. Adapt or die.
Advertising was once traditional and non-targeted, making it difficult to target specific buyers with individualized content. News was only available to buyers if the media wrote about it, so press releases were the sole way for companies to communicate externally. Advertising, marketing and PR were all considered separate entities. Advertising was product-focused and interruptive, and created to reach broad markets with the lowest-common denominator. Advertising, marketing and PR were one-way. Brands spoke, buyers listened.
Marketers can reach niche groups of buyers with targeted information available via the web. The web has made PR public again. Buyers have direct access to news and information, and can bypass the media filter. Advertising, marketing and PR practices have converged with online accessibility. The web allows marketers to deliver the information buyers are seeking out at the exact point when they're most receptive to it. Advertising, marketing and PR involve engaging in conversation with consumers, and the Internet, especially social media, which creates a direct link.
In the old days, marketing and PR professionals tried to present a picture perfect image of their brand. Nowadays, we know that perfection simply isn't possible thanks to the greater transparency that social media applications have brought about. Customers can now communicate their desires and complaints directly and, more importantly, publically. What this means is that no matter what department you work in, your role can and is likely affected by social media somehow.
A changed consumer
As a result of the social network, today's consumer is vastly different from the consumer of fifty years ago. One of the biggest changes brought on by social media is the ability for everyone, from the grocery store clerk to the CEO at a multibillion-dollar business, to be heard. In turn, this has completely changed how we as consumers view marketing. We are no longer passive consumers. We know that we now have the control. We expect immediate gratification and want businesses and advertising campaigns that don't just view as dollar signs. Today's consumer has less patience than ever before and all of the data needed to make informed decisions at their fingertips (everything is just a quick Google search away). What this means is that marketing, specifically social media marketing, is more crucial than ever.
What is social media?
Let's start with the definition of social media. As the term implies:
"Media" is a place where written or visual media takes place.
"Social" implies that there is some form of sharing occurring.
Simply put, social media is any interaction through web-based or mobile devices, which creates a dialogue between two or more people. There are now thousands of social networks that allow for this type of communication via "posts". Posts can be videos, images, links or simply just text, and since social media is user generated, members decide what will be seen and what will not. Each site has its own display and variation on what exactly the definition of a "post" is, making them all valuable in different ways to marketers and consumers. It's probably a no-brainer as to which social media sites are the most popular. You're likely on them yourself already, have heard friends and co-workers talk of them or seen the linking buttons in the footer of your favorite websites. In the case that you haven't, here's a list of the most prominent sites and their associated functionalities. These will be the ones that we will largely focus on throughout this article.
Facebook: Largely picture/video/content based. Posts are put as clients' status or on others' "walls".
Blogging: Largely message based. Blogging plays a huge role in content marketing.
Twitter: Largely message based. Posts are under 140 character "tweets".
Pinterest: Largely picture based, with a "scrapbook"/"mood board" approach. Posts can be kept private or open to the public.
LinkedIn: Largely message based, with a focus on business networking.
YouTube: Video based. Posts are recordings that are open to views, "likes" and comments.
Google+: Largely video/content/picture based. Content can be confined to specific "circles" of companions.
Snapchat: Largely video/picture based. Content is posted for up to ten seconds before disappearing.
No matter the platform, it's all about branding. You can absolutely harness the power of social media to generate new leads and turn those into business, however, the direct goal is to add value for your customer and brand. While the rate of social media growth has certainly been a bit bewildering and difficult to keep up with or predict, new practices, behaviors and audiences die and are born each minute. Digital marketers must stay current on the most recent advancements, as things move rapidly in this arena and will continue to do so.
The forecast for further development and change is largely due to the increase in mobile devices and how dependent consumers have become on them. People carry their smartphones and tablets everywhere, meaning that they have easy access to the Internet, email and, you guessed it, their social media accounts pretty much anytime and anywhere. So what does this mean for digital marketers? It's just one more reason that points to why you should be devoting a lot of effort into reaching your customers and prospects on these channels.
The power of one
It just takes one individual to get something (a product, place, idea, etc.) out in the open. With social networking, one individual could have a great many friends and followers at any given time. What does this mean? Having just one individual post something about your organization or brand could open the pipes for many more impressions. Yes, that one individual could encourage another person to interact, and on the off chance that they do, prompt hundreds or even thousands more through a domino effect. Here's the point: If you can connect with even a small number of consumers starting out, your chance of getting in front of new, potential fans can increase exponentially!
Broaden your marketing efforts
There are significantly more opportunities with social media promotional efforts than what could ever be done through traditional marketing methods. While there are certainly "dos" and "don'ts" and social media faux pas, advertisers undoubtedly have much more flexibility and room to breathe than they ever have before. All that opportunity comes at an expense, however. Successful social media marketing requires a tedious undertaking, requesting a great deal of inventiveness and tons of time.
Increase your organic traffic
Ideally, social media marketing is strategic in that it comes off as so natural that customers don't even see the campaigns as outright advertisements. This has been a major challenge in decades past with traditional advertising. Now, however, with social media brands can take a ubiquitous approach to marketing. Through open communication on these channels, brands can integrate themselves to become part of the social experience and develop more personal relationships with their fans and customers. This organic approach is almost always more received and tends to deliver much higher returns.
Develop a strategy
Developing a social media strategy starts with first identifying what channels you'll utilize and the audience you'll target. Once this has been decided, you can start thinking about the type of content you'd like to share. Don't just start posting because you can and feel that you must. You need a plan. Different channels serve different purposes and therefore work best with varied levels of content and posting tactics. Don't fret! Throughout this article we'll dig a bit deeper into specific best practices for the most popular social media channels including: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Snapchat, Google+ and LinkedIn.
Figuring out what type of content you'll share is only half the battle Deciding on what you'd like your content to actually do is the other more complex challenge. Think about your goals and objectives. Do you want to inspire people with your posts? Entertain? Inform? In other words, what is your brand purpose? Apart from your brand purpose, you should think about your brand persona. For example, if your brand were a real person, how would they act? These are all great questions to ponder upon when creating your social media content strategy.
Know that content is key (but engagement rules)
With the goal in mind that your content should grasp the attention of your target demographic, inventiveness and captivating content is key. These are the main guidelines surrounding social media content:
User attention span will continue to shrink
Visuals (pictures + videos) will continue to dominate
Quality will always beat quantity
After deciding upon a content strategy, the next step is to begin planning. For this reason, it's a good idea to set up a content calendar. There are several third party programs available to help you do so, in order to stay organized when taking advantage of several social media platforms.
Measure your success
Knowledge is power. Pay close attention to engagement and open your ears to what your fans are saying. Aside from the immediately apparent numbers like your amount of followers or amount of likes on a specific platform, dig deeper into the analytics of your social pages. Many of the individual platforms offer features that will allow you to do so, in addition to several third-party companies who can assist. What are your KPI's? How are you performing? These are all important questions to access how effective your strategy is. Always keep tracking and optimizing your content to find what approach truly works for you.
Marketing Strategies using Facebook
Facebook: Demographics, Growing Your Audience, -Advertising on Facebook, How to attract attention to your posts
You probably already recognize that Facebook is one of the largest online networking platforms out there. The network already has over 1.71 billion active monthly users, and that number is only continuing to grow each day (1). It continues to stand tall as the social media giant that simply can't be ignored by marketers across all industries. Facebook has the ability to deliver a full-scope content strategy and gain immediate feedback, and aside from the way that it's being utilized to reconnect with long-lost childhood friends and share the things we love, businesses have seized the opportunity to use it as a main source of marketing activity. With its enormous reach, each well-spent second on Facebook has the potential to carry a much greater reach than that of hours or days spent at an offline event.
With regards to utilizing Facebook for business, many wonder what the key to success is. What sorts of posts get the best results? How can you build a community? It's important to note right off the bat that, like all social media platforms, developing your fan base isn't all about the numbers (you can get the numbers pretty well with no effort these days). No, hitting high numbers doesn't necessarily amount to a successful Facebook presence. It's more about the engagement that can be built. You don't need just fans, you need connected fans. Why? It's the connected fans that will stand as true advocates of your brand (at typically little to no cost) and help to further build your online company presence.
Facebook just makes sense for a number of reasons. For starters, it's very simple to set up and start a page. It's also a platform that many of your current and potential customers are likely already on. Here are five ways in which Facebook can benefit your business:
Build a fan following of your target market
Actively and directly engage with your target market
Develop and maintain a brand identity and a trustworthy brand reputation
Grow your sales
Support your SEO efforts
Before we dive into utilizing Facebook's components for doing so, let's discuss what your complete Facebook Business Page should contain.
Facebook Business Page components
Your profile picture is the first thing anyone is going to see. Unless you're a freelancer or an individual, you should be using this space to maximize on brand recognition. The best way to do so is of course with your company logo. At the top of your page is a space reserved for your cover photo. This is another opportunity to build out your brand message. This photo is more versatile than your profile picture. Many companies use this section to showcase new products, promote their newest slogan or advertise an event. Feel free to be a bit more daring with cover photo and change it up semi-regularly. You get a short 155 characters to describe what your page is all about. Be as descriptive and helpful as possible with what you have to work with. Your timeline will list all of your posts chronologically. Your newest posts will therefore be listed at the top of the page, while older posts will be archived by date. You'll also see a visitor section on the side of your page with posts from fans and followers who have mentioned your brand. Utilize this section to regularly communicate back with those that do since this will be highly visible section of your page to new visitors.
Develop a posting strategy
Remember that your followers are likely being bombarded by an enormous amount of posts every single day. This makes it all too easy for them to pass by your content without even batting an eye. While there is no single method for achieving a highly successful Facebook page, there are some best practices you can take after to make your posts more effective. To begin with, you must contemplate what your particular target audience wants and expects from the platform. To then get them in front of your content you must learn to draw their attention, while also giving them incentive to actively take part in your page and posts. There are three general types of posts that you'll be publishing to your feed:
It's worthwhile to note that posts with some type of media seem to garner 2-3x the amount of engagement that simple text posts do. Knowing this, you should definitely make visual content a huge part of your Facebook marketing strategy.
Create clear goal with your posts
Think about the audience that you'd like to meet and introduce yourself to. Next think about how you can bring them some type of value. Successful Facebook posts start with a clear objective, so consider what you want each and every particular post to do, as well as creating an overall content strategy. Do you want your posts to drive traffic back to your website? To your blog? Do you want them to spark controversy? Defining these objectives will allow for your content to be much more effective at encouraging engagement, as with a clear goal in mind you'll be able to reach more people throughout the platform, and, more importantly, reach those who are most likely to become new followers, fans and customers.
Ask for engagement with your posts
Engagement is key on any social network. Users who actively choose to participate through "liking", commenting or sharing your content is what's considered as engagement within the Facebook platform. So, how do you promote engagement? To pull in the right audience to your page, you have to give them what they're looking for. Therefore, engagement can be promoted by offering captivating, relevant and emotion-evoking content to your audience. To identify topics that may be compelling to your audience:
Focus your content on the top interests of your audience.
Focus your content on the questions that your audience may be asking at the moment.
Refer to and focus your content on what's trending.
Sure, you can use Facebook's targeted ads to hone in and more directly get in front of potential buyers, but you'd still need to continue posting relevant content to even keep that audience engaged. Point being, you need to publish posts that are useful to your audience.
Be timely and consistent with your content
Make sure that the content you're putting out is relevant and timely. Stay up to date on what's trending and use that your advantage so that when users go to search for a specific topic they'll find it on your Facebook Page. When it comes to posting frequency, Facebook's constant algorithm changes make it difficult to nail down a solid answer. The best approach will likely only be found by experimenting as much as possible. You should be consistent with your content, however. If you're producing quality content your audience will likely start to expect it on a somewhat regular basis. Consider setting up your content strategy to give your followers something to anticipate day after day or week after week. This is more likely to instill a sense of loyalty and is more likely to build a large audience at a faster rate. As you ramp up and grow your audience, you'll need to adjust your content strategy accordingly.
Supplement all text with engaging visuals
Visuals are pretty much indispensable across all social media platforms. Visuals are what will help to make your content really stand out and stop audience members in their tracks. You don't necessarily need to have a graphic designer in place to do so. Even the simplest of images or videos can gain high levels of engagement given the right context.
Currently, video posts are receiving way more organic reach and engagement than any other type of post on Facebook. Here are three powerful strategies to use when posting videos:
Be as visually appealing as possible so to enthrall your audience within the first few seconds of being played.
Include a call-to-action. Facebook allows for CTAs to be included at the end of videos. Take advantage of this and link to your website, a landing page, etc., should it be relevant.
Ensure that your video speaks for itself. When uploaded directly to Facebook, videos begin to automatically play without sound. Does your main message come across in just the video or is audio necessary?
Use brief, compelling language in your posts:
Remember that today's consumer has a shorter attention span than ever. Use convincing yet brief dialect and compelling headlines. Stay away from "click snare", however. Click snare is the act of advertising content in a misleading way, in order to create clicks, without actually satisfying what was promised. Facebook is even attempting to punish this practice, and it's just simply ineffective at driving client engagement or leads. If fans and followers feel misdirected by your posts, they likely won't return for additional.
Respond to fans- even the negative ones
As a brand, make certain that you are pushing out quality substance but also listening and reacting to your fans. Answer questions and respond back to other forms of engagement- even if it's through a "simple" like of their feedback. It's imperative to address even negative remarks. You may feel inclined to, but don't erase them. Erasing such posts won't help to portray your brand in an only positive light. Rather, address negative posts in a sensible way, and utilize them as a chance to showcase your organization's capacity to handle poor circumstances. Every organization has an issue every once in a while; It simply can't be avoided. Clients certainly now expect this, but also expect for unfortunate events to be taken care of in the proper way.
Create a community, not a sales page
Be mindful so as not to let your Facebook Page turn into a constant stream of blatant publicizing. It shouldn't look like an online billboard, as this approach is rarely received well. Sure, occasional advancements and offers are normal and often can be quite successful. However, you have to balance getting with giving by offering valuable content to your crowd without outright asking for anything in return
People like to win stuff- end of story. Running a Facebook contest or challenge can serve as an incredible approach to both nurture existing relationships and build new ones. Three common types of Facebook contests include:
Hosting a sweepstakes contest. This requires fans to input their email address (usually through a third party tool), and is a great way to capture new leads.
Hosting a photo or video contest. This is the best approach to grow your brand presence through user-generated content.
Hosting a vote contest: This asks fans to answer a simple question, and is a great approach to help understand your audience more.
While you can most certainly host a promotion yourself, there are a number of applications available that make Facebook challenges a breeze. They are both very cost efficient and very simple to set up to set up.
Use hashtags wisely
Hashtags are still fairly new on Facebook and a lot of users are still trying to figure out how to effectively use them. Here are a few rules to abide by:
Don't use hashtags in every post you make.
Don't use a trending hashtag if it's not relevant to your post.
Don't hashtag senseless words
Don't stuff your posts with hashtags.
Create guidelines and keep admins to a minimum
Keep a shareable document that outlines your company's Facebook social media policies as well as recommendations and guidelines on how to interact with your fan base. Employees can then refer to the document at any time when they need direction in knowing what to post or what not to post. Additionally, it's wise to keep company admins to a minimum. The fewer people that are managing your company Facebook page the better. This will ensure accuracy and consistency in terms of producing and managing content and responding to customers and followers.
Utilize Facebook Insights
Facebook Insights is a very valuable tool that will allow for you to constantly and strategically improve your Facebook marketing efforts. The Insights tool helps you to better understand where your engagement is coming from and harness that knowledge to accomplish a greater amount. How? Insights supplies an enormous amount of demographic and behavioral information on your group of viewers, as well as that of your competition, empowering you to understand more about your audience and potential audience. For example, find out the most opportune times to post, in order to reach the largest amount of viewers within your market. Utilize the information that you can gather from the Facebook Insights tool to focus on making your publicizing efforts that much more successful.
Utilize Facebook Ads and Facebook Remarketing
Ads are a huge part of Facebook, and they should be a vital part of your Facebook marketing strategy as a business. Sure an organically marketed post has the potential to go "viral" every once and a while, but it doesn't happen too often. Investing in paid ads can help you to reach a broader audience and more qualified potential customers. You don't need a large budget to do so either. With Facebook Ads you have the ability to get in front of specific and individual segments of your audience by targeting users by factors such as location, age, gender and interests.
The Facebook Remarketing tool utilizes advanced technology to track user behavior and play that to your business's advantage. Facebook users that have shown some sort of initial interest in your brand (I.E. by visiting your website) will be targeted and then exposed to your sponsored advertisements during future Internet activities. For example, sponsored ads of yours may show up within their Facebook newsfeed or while browsing on other websites or making general searches. Combine Facebook Remarketing with Facebook Ads for a sure-fire paid promotional strategy.
Facebook marketing is all about connecting with as many potential fans and customers as possible and getting them to interact with you. Everything you do on your Facebook page should have those two goals in mind.