Are you wondering how to grow your business through social media?
Looking for a step-by-step social media marketing guide?
In this day and age, businesses of all sizes need to take advantage of the social web to reach bigger audiences. However, the information many so-called experts provide is confusing.
“Follow more people.”
“Share more content.”
“Network with influencers” – they say.
But all that traditional advice doesn’t work for you – it feels like you’ll never get the results that you want.
And you can’t help wondering…
Do you just need to be patient?
Or it could be that, unfortunately, you have been approaching social media marketing the wrong way?
To answer that, I interviewed over 20 experts and asked one question:
If you could only do 3 things on social media this year, what 3 things would you do?
The point was to get actionable advice from people who know their stuff, so you know what to focus on this year to get better results.
And let me tell you, the answers I received from these experts are awesome.
I’ve listed all of them below.
The first is produce better content. If you want to generate sales from the social web you need to drive traffic back to your site and the easiest way to do so is by writing really high quality blog posts.
The second would be to engage with other people. Social media is supposed to be social, so if you don’t participate you won’t do well. You have to continually connect with others, get to know them, and help them.
Lastly, I would add friends on a regular basis. Not just any friends, but relevant ones. By doing this your social profiles will grow. Without it, you’ll find that you won’t have too many friends or followers.
If I could only do three things with social media this year, it would be content curation, Twitter, and Live streaming.
1) Content curation – I love helping my audience and clients to find the best and most useful resources and content. The exposure and recognition I have received from it is mind-blowing.
2) Twitter – It’s a great platform for customer care and human connections. My best leads come from there.
3) Live streaming – In this visually driven world, I don’t know a more effective way to interact with people, draw attention to your work, and increase your visibility.
1) Create more “live” content like webinars, Periscopes, Blabs, or event in-person Meetups, whatever works for you. Live events build engagement and real community around your brand.
2) Do more with retargeting. There’s so much you can do with retargeting and most businesses aren’t taking advantage of how cool your advertising can be when you integrate it with retargeting.
3) Learn something new! Social Media is changing so quickly, so you need to stay on top of it by taking a short online course or simply finding the latest YouTube videos on Social (email me for recommendations). Keeping yourself up to date and educated can make an immense impact to your ROI.
Dr. Rachna Jain
The 3 things I’m focusing on this year are posting less frequently, but aiming to post more thoughtfully; focusing more on sharing my own content and ideas rather than linking so much to other content, and inviting my social media communities to free trainings and other opportunities, so I can deepen my connection and relationship with them.
We are facing a world of increasing information density. Great content is no longer the finish line, it is the starting line. Content has no economic value unless it is seen and shared so we must develop a marketing competency based on content IGNITION, which is articulated in my book The Content Code.
I see “dwell time” on content being a new priority for marketers. This is being driven by the fact that Facebook and LinkedIn are emerging as publishers, not just places to post links. In 2016 I am going to be studying this more.
I think we need to take social media marketing to the next level. People in general, are still stuck in a world of making better headlines and graphics for blogs. We need to expand our view of what is possible, of how social can touch various parts of the organization and how our customer’s views and expectations are changing.
Janet E Johnson
1) Facebook Ads – A business really must pay to play on Facebook. Their advertising is one of the most targeted forms of marketing and has been documented to work for all different types of businesses.
2) Facebook Ad Retargeting – I realize this could have been put under #1, but I wanted it separate because it is so important. Why? Let me answer that by asking a question. Who is more likely to buy from you? Someone that has seen and knows your brand? Or a total stranger? Of course, someone that knows or is aware of you. In our busy online world, it may take some reminding before a purchase actually happens. With Facebook ad retargeting, you can retarget your email list, your fans and your web traffic. It simply works!
3) Pinterest Marketing – This might seem to be surprising, but I have worked with a number of clients, from orthodontists to jewelry companies, that have seen huge results from their Pinterest marketing. It is amazing for driving traffic to a website. The longevity of a pin can be years too. We have a number of infographics that were put on Pinterest 4 years ago and they still drive traffic to the website today.
1) Get a live streaming strategy – Periscope, Blab, and Meerkat are all great tactics. But tactics without a strategy just makes noise. Remember – this isn’t YouTube so include a conversation strategy, a conversion strategy, and a community-building strategy in your overall plan and make live streaming pay off for real this year.
2) Feature and leverage other people – Afraid your audience will become tired of hearing from you? That’s only half-true: they will become tired of hearing from you ABOUT you! But if you shine the spotlight on others [via interviews, roundup posts, videos, guest experts, and success profiles], your audience will engage even more with you because you become a trusted source where they can discover new people, ideas, and resources of genuine value!
3) Become a master listener and master responder. We’ve been giving lip service for years to social media as a “listening platform” but are you really listening? Not to the crowd or to big data but to individual voices. Have you perhaps become a little jaded and forgotten the fact that someone trusted you enough to opt in – liked you enough to comment – respected you enough to share or retweet?
It’s time to recommit to really listening, genuinely responding, and generously connecting with the folks who interact with your social profiles and your content. Never take love for granted – that’s good advice both online and off!
1) Listen and reply to customers and prospects across social media.
2) Publish and promote blog content on LinkedIn
3) Advertise on Facebook using custom and lookalike audiences.
The three Social Media things I’d focus on are Ads, Ads, and Ads. Seriously guys, it’s a paid social media world. We’re just living in it.
Dorien Morin-van Dam
1) I would create a strategic social media plan for my business! The plan would include my social media goals for 2016, a social media audit, a competitors analysis and then 3 month, 6 month and 12-month measurable goals. With this plan, I would create a content calendar for 2016!
2) Concentrate on video marketing for myself and my social media clients. Telling stories, brand stories, to connect with our audience on a more intimate level. This would include, but is not limited to, live streaming on Blab.im, Google Hangouts or Periscope!
3) Create and moderate an online community of people within your industry. This could be a Google+ community, a Facebook Group, or a weekly Blab show. These communities are a very powerful tool to connect, show leadership, become the authority within your industry and to (ultimately) create relationships with people to collaborate and/or sell to.
If you’re on social media simply for the sake of being on social media, stop. Take a step back and think about why you’re doing it. What’s the goal you’re trying to achieve? Be specific.
And once you’ve determined that, work backward to figure out how social media can help you achieve that goal; you’ll probably come up with something very different than just “share our blog posts on Twitter.”
1) Listen! The biggest pitfall brands face is that they aren’t listening to the conversation about them. I’ve shifted away from “social media marketing” and into customer experience pretty extensively, because I’m finding there’s a serious marketing opportunity when listening and nurturing public perceptions. Ignoring that just makes you have to do more work on your marketing. This is a better way to serve your brand and your customers.
2) Build relationships. This really goes hand in hand with listening. Pay attention to what people say and have their backs. Don’t end it there. Follow up. Be proactive in making sure your customers are being cared for.
3) Build strong pieces of content. I’m not sure if you’d call this “social media” but content marketing is all the rage, and for good reason. People trust great well-researched pieces of content. Authorities link to it. Search engines embrace it. This is nothing new, but it’s taking more of a precedence now.
1) Focus – I know there are are lots of shiny new things; Snapchat, streaming, but you are better off mastering a couple of channels, rather than spreading yourself too thinly and being a master of none.
2) Leave the vanity metric for your competitors – Realize that measuring likes, followers, shares, retweets is fun but don’t forget revenue pays the rent. If you are not using Social to drive BQLs (Business Qualified Leads) and SQLs (Sales Qualified Leads) then you are doing it wrong. Sales Leaders say to me, “Social is kinda interesting, but where are the leads?”
3) Influence – Understand that Employee Advocacy programs are all the rage, but are you just talking to yourself? Without Social Media training underpinning your program, you will throw a lot of mud at the wall and none of it will stick. You must implement training to bring the organization with you.
I’d continue doing the activities that contribute to my growth, which happen to be a trio of things I enjoy.
One, blog: Blogging is the most important thing you can do to develop your personal brand.
Two, share: Social media is 100% reciprocal. If you aim to build relationships and open doors, you need to focus some of your efforts on recognizing the talents and contributions of your peers.
Three, listen: Are you really tuning into the wants and needs of your audience? I try to remember to ask myself this daily. Everyone hoping to build a community through social media should do the same.
If only I were brave enough, I would shut down my Twitter handle @JimSterne and fire up a new one. I did this about ten years ago with my email newsletter; I deleted my entire email database. Crazy? Somewhat.
Assuming that very few people were still reading my newsletter, I sent out three warnings over a month, telling people that they had to actively re-subscribe. Of the 5,000 people signed up, I got 500 back; 10%. The list grew from there, but I was actually very pleased with those 500 people!
So, if I were brave, I would do that with Twitter and see how many people were actually following me and would do so again.
My second item – which has been on my list for two years now, would be to do more video. I love doing video and have had some fun with it: https://www.youtube.com/user/eMetrics1 but I need to step up my game and create videos as well as blog posts.
The third thing I want on my list is to engage with others more. It’s very time-consuming and more often than not, gets dropping to the bottom of the To Do list.
The 3 things in social media that I recommend you focus on this year are:
1) Own Your Hashtag: Position yourself or business as the thought leader,
2) Celebrate Your Fans: Influencer marketing is the buzz, but advocate marketing is what you should do well before influencer outreach, and
3) Focus on Revenue-Generating Content Marketing: Too many content marketers are asking about where the ROI is in content marketing. You need to create it! So, before you create that next blog post, ask yourself if you should instead be spending time on creating more Big Rock Content.
1) Setting aside a budget and running social ads is a must this year, especially on Facebook. We’ve seen great click-through rates and CPC on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. Our data shows that Pinterest ads, in particular, have the highest conversion rates of all the social ads. This is the time to jump in before the space gets too competitive and CPC goes up.
2) Short video consumption, both videos and animated gifs, has gone up significantly in 2015 and will accelerate in 2016. You should start creating fun short videos to appeal to the social media users’ short attention spans.
3) If you are in the B2B space LinkedIn will continue to be your best friend. Most companies don’t use the full features available to personal accounts. If you want to get the most value out of LinkedIn, don’t focus only on business pages. Start using the personal accounts of key individuals in your organization, to publish and network and get in front of your target decision makers.
1) Live video & SnapChat: FB, Periscope, Meerkat, and Snapchat are all showing the streaming video is hotter than ever.
2) Influencer Marketing: 2016 will be the year of the influencer. I’d have an influencer in any and all activations if I could. It allows one to reach other communities with a trusted voice.
3) I’d focus on doing more with less social channels – it’s tough to be everything to everyone. I want to focus on less channels and be more niche.
1) Work on ensuring all of your social profiles are compelling and beautiful, with a memorable photograph.
2) Participate in industry groups and sites like Slideshare where you can build trust and authority within your network.
3) Customize more social updates based on the social medium where you’re sharing it in order to maximize engagement.
1) I would focus on increasing your engagement rates in social media.
2) Use images or leverage thumbnails in EVERY status update
3) Tie more social media activity to other business metrics like traffic, inquiries, and new business.
Frank J. Kenny
1) Provide useful content to people in my target market. I would create or curate content and distribute it through all the major platforms that my target market frequents. I would listen intently to their feedback for needs, even on posts that weren’t mine.
2) I would actively engage with the people who liked, commented on, shared, retweeted, or otherwise engaged with the content I shared. I would even engage with people in my target market proactively by going to their Facebook page and liking and commenting on their posts. I would do the same on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc.
3) I would give and give and give value. Then quarterly I would make an offer of my products and services through campaigns and launches. These offers would be for products and services that my target market has told me, or told others, that they currently use or want. I would solve their pain points.
1) Increase engagement – this means more authentic, direct interactions with followers and people I want to follow me/us
2) Increase value – constantly improve quality of content shared, relevance to our B2B sales & marketing professional followers
3) Increase followers – we have a goal of exceeding 100,000 followers this year and are on pace
First of all, I would turn Facebook and Google into a public utility. I am inspired by the slogan “the internet is our social network.” It is not enough to train ourselves and limit usage in order to manage the addictive sides of social media. Such neo-liberal suggestions merely see the problem at the level of individual users. Instead, we should look at alternative architectures and talk about ownership.
Search engines should be paid for and maintained by ISPs. And we own our own data. They cannot be stolen behind own backs. The second thing would be to dismantle all data centres and redesign the internet as a distributed, federated network.
Peer-to-peer cooperatives are already working on such solutions, worldwide. It is time to scale down the internet. The essence of social media is not updating or news but networking and organization. These tools are there for collaboration in networks.
We need to take out the ‘media’ aspect on social media and turn them on social networking sites. The third thing would be to liberate social networks from the one-dimensional aspect of the profiles and the related template culture. Facebook is the dullest and unimaginative site aka app ever designed.
From an aesthetic point of view, it is a crime against human creativity. Part of such liberation of conformity and boredom will have to be the destruction of the repressive ID policy. Crypto might be a good short-term solution to protect ourselves against state and corporate intrusions but the best way would be to get rid of identity alltogether.
Here’s What to Do Next
As you can see, these experts have different approaches to social media marketing, but the results talk for themselves: all of them work like magic.
You don’t need to implement all of them, though.
Just choose the one that resonates the most with you and stick to it the whole year.
Remember, one of the best things you can do is to learn from people who have got the results that you want.
The point here is to take action. It’s up to you.
What do you think? Have you started yet? If so, make sure to share the results in the comments.