Market on Social Media the Right Way
Social media has hit a point where every major age group is plugged in, which produces a nice marketing opportunity for practically every type of business on platforms like Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, Facebook, and LinkedIN. However, there is a way to market on social media. Social media marketing done the wrong way can produce animosity toward your business rather than the love you’re looking for.
One thing to keep in mind is that most people on social media are there for personal reasons rather than business. They want to talk to their friends and family, post pictures of their kitchen victories, update their friends list on their kids or the health of a loved one, and play games. They don’t want to be interacting with a non-business page and then suddenly a business is posting in that comment thread to shop their business. Yes, all of us who have a business want people to spend their money with us. That’s how we feed, clothe, and shelter our families, but marketing your business on social media in an intrusive way can push people away rather than pull them in. We’ll touch on this more later in the article.
How Not to Market On Social Media
I’m going to start with the “what not to do” rather than “what to do” because you actually have a lot of latitude with the “to do” list. Of course, there are thousands of ways social media marketing can go wrong, but there are some intense offenses such as what I described about about mixing business comments into non-business comment threads. Here are some other things you want to avoid:
1. If you Build It, They Will Come
Nope. This applies to social media about as much as it does the misconception that putting an “open” sign on a door will make people walk through it. You have to build it, invite people to it, and give them reason to engage with it. The invitation comes in the way of a marketing strategy that reaches out to the target audience.
2. Any Type of Content Will Do
This is a big NO as well. You can post pictures of your products all day long, but that isn’t going to engage your audience the same way it engages you. Your target audience isn’t always as passionate about your products as you are, so you have to engage them in a way that shows that you can be trusted and that what you have has value. Post infographics (Pinterest is a great source as long as you credit the creator), have giveaways, poll your followers, and post blog posts from your website. Vary the content since no two people are engaged by the same things.
You reach more of your audience this way. By posting something they like, they share it and that attracts more people to your page.
How do you know people like your content? Many social media websites have built-in analytics or “insights that tell you how much engagement you are getting. Compare the types of posts to see what people react to the best. That will help you determine what you should post more of. Sometimes, it really can be photos of products, which is largely dependent on the type of products you offer and how rare they are in your locality.
You can also do things like ask conversation-starter questions, post fun facts, and let your personality shine through your posts. You don’t have to be stuffy and business-like. You have to remind people that there is a human being on the other side of the post. People don’t connect well with mechanical approaches because they might as well be connecting with a robot.
3. Mistaking Promotion and Engagement as One in the Same
Engagement is what you get when you provide value every time you are connecting with your customers. This is how you get the credibility you need. You have to inspire your followers to tell their friends about you.
Promotion, on the other hand, is an extension of engagement by presenting offers that meet the needs and interests of your consumers. You get the information you need through engagement. Remember what was said earlier about analytics/insights enabling you to see what people react to the most and best? That’s where you’re going to gauge engagement so you can fuel promotion.
4. Syndicating Messages
If you post the exact same message on all social media outlets, you risk losing sincerity. You can use similar language, but don’t post on each platform verbatim. It’s common for customers to be scattered across multiple networks, but you must focus your efforts where your customers are most active, otherwise, you waste a lot of time on the surface of multiple networks rather than reaching consumers on a deep down level.
It’s ok to share the same content, but spread out your timing. Don’t post across them all at the same time.
5. Ask Permission Before Posting On Someone Else’s Page or Group
One thing you can do before posting on another page or group is to get the owner’s permission and/or read the rules. If the page description or posting rules state that the page is for a specific purpose that isn’t relevant to yours, then posting to that page or group is considered spam. It’s spam because the owner of the page or group created it for a specific reason. Creating a post that markets your own business might be outside of their reason, which then compromises the relevancy of the content on their page. That can cause them to lose their audience if they don’t control the subject matter (which means deleting irrelevant posts). If page followers or group members feel that there is too much “irrelevancy” that isn’t controlled, they lose interest in the group.
While business owners have livings to make, there is a way to do it and a way not to do it. Social media sites like Facebook have ads for multiple reasons. One is to make money to fund themselves and everyone working for them. Another reason is to give businesses a place to advertise, even on a budget. There are designated places within social networks for ads and users have control over what they see and what they don’t see. When a business advertisement shows up on something like a parenting group conversation thread, that is taking the control away from the users. Some people care and others don’t, but those that do care are less likely to forget the intrusion anytime soon. That can actually hurt business rather than help it. People are in the group to consume and share content about parenting without pressure.
Why have I mentioned this one more than once and spent so much time on it? I run many pages and groups on Facebook for clients. Multiple times a week, page followers and group members are reporting business advertisements that aren’t relevant to the group or the page or group rules specifically say “no advertising.” For example, in a local history group, a business in a neighboring town posted that they were having a sale. This post was reported. In a neighborhood watch page I don’t run, the administrator had to change the group from public to “closed” so new members could be vetted due to people joining the group just to post irrelevant content that was pushing the relevant neighborhood watch issues down the page.
This is a major issue that can hurt business more than it helps it.
Utilize What You Have
All in all, it’s important to utilize your page and the tools that social media platforms give you. You can also look for local business exchange groups or pages. These groups or pages give businesses places to post about products or services. If your community doesn’t have one, start it yourself and tell your friends about it.
Just keep in mind that social media is supposed to be an extension of your website, as most social media posts have their biggest impact within the first five hours of posting. They get buried in feeds very quickly. This isn’t saying that you should post tons of posts per day because too much can cause followers to stop following. Social media platforms are tricky but can be useful. To get the most out of them, give yourself time. You aren’t going to get hundreds of followers overnight unless they come from your friends list. With valuable content, a posting schedule, and utilization of the available tools, you can really make your social media following grow. As it grows, it gets easier to reach larger and larger audiences.