These days, everyone has at least one social media account. Social media is often the first source people turn to when seeking local products or services, so it’s crucial for your business’ social media marketing strategies to work. Yet how do you know if your social media campaign is successful, and how do you change what might not be working without sacrificing what clients want to see? The answer may lie in analyzing the following four best practices in social media marketing of 2016.
Best Practices in Social Media Marketing
Use Demographics to Drive Quality Traffic
There is a difference between traffic and quality traffic. Your website can have thousands of visitors daily, but if they aren’t interacting with your content in the right ways, they’re actually driving your SEO rankings down. When it comes to social media, quality traffic comes from the sites that engage the most unique visitors. In other words, 6,000 views from 6,000 different people are better than 60,000 from a small core group.
Statistics from YouTube show a high number of highly engaged visitors. This is because YouTube centers on videos, which are visually and audibly engaging. In addition, YouTube is the most popular social media network because it can reach such a wide demographic base. Unlike Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks, YouTube doesn’t restrict access with age requirements and other limitations. Everyone can find something to view there, from the four-year-old watching PBS with a parent to the senior citizen learning how to use the latest technology through video courses.
If you want your website to generate quality traffic, you’ll have to reach a broad demographic as well. This isn’t to say that you can’t have an ideal audience member or group; you can and should. After all, even the most popular YouTube videos were once aimed at specific people. However, your ideal audience member can’t be the only person you reach. Your content must vary enough, and be of good enough quality that almost all clients will be interested in one type or another.
Pay Attention to Social Referrals
Social referrals are exactly what they sound like. They occur when users refer each other to social media sites. No website starts out with hundreds of referrals. Like friendships in real life, they take time to build. That being said, you should take advantage of the social referrals you have, and tailor content so it generates more. Talk to your audience through online polls, newsletters or emails, or in person, to find out what kind of content they want to see or the issues they want it to address. Additionally, find out what types of content your core audience responds to. If you have a great number of visual people in your audience, focus more on pictures, videos, and social media sites like Pinterest or Instagram. If your visitors enjoy reading, you can use blog posts, photos with captions, or sites like Snapchat or Twitter to keep their attention.
Remember that numbers are not always the most important factor when it comes to social referrals. The Share-a-Holic study that found YouTube was so popular also found that Google+ and LinkedIn received few referrals overall. However, they received higher-quality visitors. Researchers discovered that visitors spent over three minutes at a time “diving” into the subjects that interested them. This is because LinkedIn and especially Google+ have mastered the art of organizing their subjects and data so that users from several niches can always find the information they want. For example, Google+ users who love crime shows can find thriving communities, but so can people who prefer one specific type of show, like Monk or NYPD Blue. If you organize your content similarly, you will likely generate more social media traffic.
Be Realistic and Cost-Effective
There is no point in launching a social media strategy that looks great if your resources can’t back it up. Many business owners get in trouble because they do exactly that; they plan a content calendar too big for their writers and editors to handle, or they promise massive amounts of content when realistically, their writers can only handle 5 to 10 posts per writer per week. It’s tempting to want to try every social media strategy available, particularly when you’re a new business owner eager to prove yourself. Instead, sit down and make a social media plan first. Choose one or two new strategies to try, or think up ways to improve on or retool old ones that still work for you. Consult with employees and investors to determine where your resources are, as well as if you can afford more and where to find them. Additionally, make sure your goals are measurable. “We’re going to become the leader in online book marketing” isn’t measurable because you haven’t defined “leader” or given yourself benchmarks that tell you if you are making progress. A better goal might be, “We’re going to generate X number of posts, centered on Y type of content, per week. This will allow us to sell Z amount of books by June 2016.”
Base Your Strategies on Facts – and More than One Fact
Talking to your audience is a wonderful way to start improving your business. That said, much of what you’ll hear about your content from a core audience will be based on opinion. You need to ensure your social media strategies are backed up with facts. Your team should ideally have marketing experts that are constantly researching trends, content strategies, financial planning and other factors. Consistently ask these people for up-to-date reports, and use what you learn to create the content you need. Finally, make sure your marketing team is spending equal time on different facets of business and using best practices in social media marketing. If the team knows all it can about financial planning but not enough about content strategy, you will miss several opportunities to grow.
Social Media Photo via Shutterstock
More in: Online Marketing
And as hard as you work, you’re going to need a little luck (which seems to often find the hardest working).
Amie: Do you have any small business cases for these best practices?
Well said. I would also add that you should be more interactive on social media instead f treating it as a one-way communication. If you keep broadcasting your message in front of everyone without listening to them your audience will be turned off pretty soon.
Above all the content shared on social media must provide value to your market. Give your audience a reason to read your content, keep it, share it, remember it and you!
Great article with great insights. One of the best article I have read so far about becoming a social media marketing. I really learned a lot today and appreciate you for sharing all this great and valuable information with us. Out of all the awesome points, I like to pay attention to social referrals. They are very important in getting traffic. Thanks for sharing the great post with us and keep doing the same in future.
Social media is all about conversation, community and content. Be transparent as possible, give everyone an access to your business by creating videos and sharing posts and photos about your business and try to engage in communities related in businesses and develop a relationship with everyone. You don’t just market in social media, you may also build some connections too.
Great article Amie. I agree that it is important to ensure that you have the resources to back up your social media strategy. To often I see businesses and clients with high expectations of their social media strategy, however they aren’t willing to input the advertising budget to achieve it.
It is also very important to engage with your followers. They are not just there as numbers. They are real people.
Thank you for sharing. I’m a social strategist at Northcutt, an inbound marketing firm.My key takeaway is that I need to always remember that demos are key to producing content.
Great read. These are indeed best practices in Social media marketing. You should release more content for me to read because I can gobble this up and serve my clients better with what you are saying. I love the measurable content
Two points from the article resonate here. First, as with other types of marketing, match the social media marketing to the target audience. Focusing on fewer social media areas that are a better fit will produce better results than trying to cover too many bases. Think rifle vs. shotgun when choosing which social media and take a few shots that count. Second, back it up with delivered content. Too many small businesses start off with an ambitious goal for producing content but without a real plan AND SCHEDULE to do so. Better to start with a modest program that can be sustained and then grow it as you learn and as your capabilities develop.
Great article with great insights. One of the best article I have read so far about becoming a social media marketing. I really learned a lot today and appreciate you for sharing all this great and valuable information with us. Out of all the awesome points, I like to pay attention to social referrals.
Interesting article..I do agree with everything Ami is saying and many of the comments here. It reminds of my professor from my Master classes in Integrated Marketing at NYU telling a bunch of us and of course, I am paraphrasing here, Content is King is old school and totally does not agree with it, one simply needs to get over it and know ‘Customer is King, and Content is for the consumption of the King, hence make it authentic to please your King.’
Great Article Amie,
I like all 4 of your best practices. The one I like the most is “Pay Attention to Social Referrals” where you can narrow the focus on the likes of your customers. 🙂
Social media marketing is a powerful way for businesses of all sizes to reach prospects and customers. Your customers are already interacting with brands through social media, and if you’re not speaking directly to your audience through social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, you’re missing out!