Key points & best practices if you’re new to social media

By Kathi Kruse
Kruse Control Inc. 

Let’s face it: finding the right path to successful social media marketing is difficult. Lots of companies invest time and money into platforms to get likes and followers without truly knowing what success looks like.

You look at their profiles and they’re not really being social at all. While many still find success in social marketing elusive, it really doesn’t have to be. If you’re new to social media, you’re in the right place.

It’s been 10-plus years since the beginning of the social era. Today, it’s nearly impossible to go a day without hearing some mention of social media and its value. It’s no longer an optional component but an integral part of any online marketing campaign.

As a beginner, it’s important to stay grounded and not get overwhelmed. Trusted information is your best friend.

Start with one platform and choose the place where your customers/prospects most likely spend their time everyday. For most businesses that sell to consumers, that’s Facebook.

Once you’ve mastered the strategies for Facebook (ie: content marketing and advertising), you can leverage your tactics to structure your approach on the other platforms.

Social media is not a big, scary monster and you no longer have the luxury of ignoring it. It takes a considered intentions and the right information from a trusted resource. The following best practices and key points will allow you find your footing.

Facebook: The world’s largest marketplace.

These 7 elements outline your best plan and they’re useful in designing marketing campaigns on other platforms as well:

1. Clear objectives. Ideally, you want to create a marketing plan and set realistic goals. It isn’t enough to say you “see” results. Your results must tie back to your goals and objectives. You’ll never know ROI without goal setting and strategy.

2. Design strategy. Visual content has a lasting effect on the viewer. When creating your Facebook page and other profiles, make your branding consistent. Whether it’s your status updates, your landing pages or your Facebook ads, what the audience sees is what they’ll remember. Make sure it’s compelling and gets the point across.

3. Solid content strategy. One of the most frequently asked questions I get is,“How do I know what to post on our page?” 

In order to know the answer to that question, you must have a solid idea of who you are as a brand and who your target customers are.

What is it about your company that makes it unique, makes people want to buy from you? Answer that question in detail.
Then, describe your target customers. What are their interests, concerns and issues? How can you help them come to a purchase decision with the content you publish?

Don’t forget about those fans who are not in-market. What can you offer them to make their time with you interesting?

4. Promotion strategy. Social media is now pay to play. Facebook ads are how you’ll continually grow your fan base. A small budget with carefully-selected photos and ad copy will drive likes to your page.

5. Engagement strategy. Leverage Facebook ads to promote your content and increase your audience reach.

As your page grows, you’ll begin to engage fans and build those relationships. Designate one person internally to listen, respond, ask questions and engage with your audience.

6. Conversion strategy. Once you’re growing fans and engaging them, your next step is designing a way to convert them into customers. This more advanced form of Facebook marketing utilizes Facebook ads, custom audiences and compelling landing pages. Be sure to include a call to action and a lead form on your landing page to generate leads for your business.

7. Measure and analyze. You’ll need to determine the KPI’s (key performance indicators) that matter most to your success. Here are the top 8 KPI’s that we measure and analyze:

Audience growth
Audience profile
Audience engagement
Content reach
Engagement by content type
Leads
Response rate and quality
Negative feedback

Business Blog: Increase online authority and dominate search results.

1. Start with a solid framework. WordPress (self-hosted) is the best choice for most companies. WordPress provides a great SEO-friendly platform right out of the box. It allows you to easily update your content and there are literally limitless customization options.

2. Optimize your posts for search engines. Blog posts are valuable in two ways:

— Humans (customers and prospects) read them during their shopping research.
— Search engines look for fresh, relevant content when ranking sites and blogs are the best at providing it.

Do keyword research to see what your target audience is searching for when it comes to your products and services.

Once you know how they’re searching, use this handy plug-in I use on my WordPress site. It’s called WordPress SEO by Yoast. Install it and it will guide you through the process of optimizing your post for search engines.

3. Commit to posting at least once a week. Utilize the content strategy you created above to inform your content decisions. Publish consistently. Get traction by asking your front line personnel to give you their 3 top customer FAQs. Answer each one of those with a blog post.

4. Write what you’re passionate about. This is where leveraging your staff’s expertise can really come in handy. You may already have a blogger as an employee! Capitalize on your team members’ passions. Share interesting stories mixed with super-helpful tips.

5. Make sure you’re seen. Publish your posts on social media and use Facebook ads to promote your content to more users.

It’s important to know that clicks to your website from social media channels increase your relevance in search engines, so leverage your content wisely.

Twitter: Conversational, content-driven channel to reach target customers.

1. Create your profile. Take advantage of the real estate Twitter gives you. Make sure you stay consistent with your brand’s message. Optimize your bio and install a branded header to capture attention (part of the design strategy we mentioned above).

2. Follow your thought leaders. When you’re new to Twitter, it helps to follow people who’ve been there a while and take cues from them for publishing. In this knowledge-based, sharing economy, we’re all able to learn from each other and support each others’ success.

3. Follow your customers/prospects. Use Twitter Advanced Search to locate your customers on Twitter. Follow them and if they don’t follow you back within a few days, unfollow them. It’s about attracting those that are most likely to buy from you, not every person on the planet.

4. Connect with others by sharing awesome content and engaging in conversations. The more you talk about yourself, the less people want to follow you. Leverage the strategies you designed for your Facebook marketing. People only share and interact with awesome content. Think about what’s relevant to them and do your best to give it to ’em.

Instagram: Sell your company’s personality not your products.

1. Humanize your brand by using Instagram to introduce your fans to the people who make your company what it is. A great way to show your brand personality is to share images/stories of your team when they’re delivering an outstanding customer experience.

2. Tap into the employees and customers’ personalities. Highlight employees and customers in their “natural habitat.”

3. Generate leads with a solid Instagram content strategy. Show a side of your business that’s consistent with your “personality”:

— Content that unmasks a more intimate or fun-loving side of your business.
— The genesis of your business is a great place to start.
— It’s perfectly ok to showcase your products and services but do it in a way that doesn’t annoy.

Online review sites: Your online reputation influences buying decisions.

Eight-eight percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. But getting online reviews is not a simple task. The No. 1 criticism I hear from business owners and managers new to social media is how difficult it is to obtain online reviews with any sort of consistency.

Here are some Do’s and Don’t’s for getting online reviews:

Do’s:

— Earn the right to invite a review
— Make it easy for customers to submit their feedback
— Respond to every review with a thoughtful reply
— Provide training for employees so they know exactly how to approach asking for a “referral”

Don’t’s:

— Don’t specifically ask for a positive review
— Don’t pressure or coerce your customer
— Don’t offer anything in exchange for a positive review
— Never get into a heated discussion, no matter how wrong you think they are

If you’re new to social media .

Remember, everyone starts somewhere. No matter how far behind you think you are, there’s always a solution to capitalize on social media.

Don’t underestimate yourself or your organization. Social media is a valuable tool to generate leads and sales. You’re only new once and from there, it’s a fantastic and fun journey.

This column originally appeared on www.krusecontrolinc.com.