5 Elements of a Successful Social Media Marketing Campaign

This is a guest post written by Gina Smith. If you’d like to write a guest post please contact me.

Everybody wants to succeed at social media marketing. It seems like such a good idea when you think about it.  Social media, on the face of it, appears inexpensive and immediate and imminently scalable. Social media is guerrilla marketing on steroids; a tempting sea of potential customers lurking out there on Facebook and Twitter, just waiting to “Like” your product or become your company’s friend.  Or so it seems.

In some ways social media is almost too useful a tool for marketers.  Far too many of them have succumbed to the temptation to indulge old bad marketing habits in their social media marketing campaigns.  They go for big numbers and neglect to personalize their contacts. They create new organizational silos by forgetting to connect their social marketing to customer call centers, special events and more traditional types of advertising.

They frequently use the wrong metrics, measure the wrong thing or fail to do any measuring at all. Marketers often flood social media because it’s easy and cheap to do. In the process, they wind up diluting their own message and turning off potential customers.

Finally, some of our marketing brethren fall back on the same old boring marketing tricks, using the same incredibly dull content, sanitized by the legal department.  Many of these outbound marketing strategies hardly worked when they were new. They certainly don’t gain any power simply because they’ve been foisted on a new medium.

Successful social media marketing campaigns require five key elements to insure that you accomplish what you set out to do and that’s win friends for your company.

  1. Listen:  Before you ever post the first blog, tweet the first Tweet or put up a company Facebook page, listen to what your customers are saying to you. Find out the five W’s – who they are, what they want, when and how they want it, where they want it and why they want it.  Studying the demographics of your target group is essential. Just because social media is cheaper, doesn’t mean it doesn’t cost anything.  Your time is extremely valuable.  Social media makes up for its low up-front costs by draining your time.
  2. Plan:  Draw up a clear marketing plan.  Decide who does what and which medium each of the elements of your team is going to target. Develop guidelines for what can be said and almost as importantly, what CANNOT be said.  A lot of companies have paid dearly for ill-chosen comments by their young social media “experts” on Twitter and Facebook.  Even informal stories and jokes need to advance your marketing goals in some way. You can’t afford to let those who generate your inbound marketing content indulge their private whims.
  3. Communicate:  The strength of social media is the facility with which it opens doors to potential customers. But having 20,000 “friends” doesn’t mean you’re getting through to any of them. If you are not communicating with them in a meaningful way, your blast posts have likely been reduced to white noise and are being ignored. Spend some real time communicating, not just with groups, but with individuals. Reply to their comments. Offer them help or content that’s of value to them. In-bound social media marketing is all about building the relationship. You cannot do that unless you’re spending a great deal of time producing content that makes your customers sit up and take notice. Whether it’s humor, important information or special things that are of real help to them, customers notice companies that give them things they enjoy, want or need.
  4. Monitor & Measure:  If you aren’t monitoring what’s going on with your marketing efforts on social media, you’re wasting your time.  Facebook, Google and Twitter all have tools that help you monitor the behavior of your fans. Use them. Track how often your posts are shared or your company is mentioned. Social media is, after all, largely electronic word of mouth. If they’re not talking about you, you have to give them something to say.
  5. Adapt:  The other part of monitoring and measuring is putting that knowledge to use.  You have to adapt and change your strategy if your tracking data shows you’re not getting through to your customers. Social media marketing is a dynamic process.  This is living organic communication. It’s about building relationships and delivering more value to your customers than the other guy.  You have to always be striving to be honest and genuine with your customers. If you’re phony or you assume their loyalty without delivering the goods, you’ll make far more enemies than friends.

Social media marketing doesn’t exist in a vacuum.  To work it has to be interconnecting with everything you do from manufacturing to marketing and sales. Done well, social media marketing is the job of every single person that works for the company. Failing to back your social media marketing with alternative communication tools like customer service call centers, chat rooms, excellent tech support, focus groups and surveys soon waters down everything you’re doing on social media.

Social media IS important, but it’s no magic wand. You can’t wave a bunch of tweets over the heads of your online friends and expect to generate the kind of buzz that gets your YouTube video three million hits in a week.  It can be done, but it takes hard work, thorough research, planning and imagination.

Gina Smith writes freelance articles for magazines, online outlets and publications on behalf of a number of companies, including Spanning.com. She covers the latest topics in the business, golf, tourism, technology and entertainment industries.

What is Twitter actually for?

These days, Twitter is as much a part of our everyday lives as drinking coffee or taking the car out. Whenever we sit in the movies, go to a concert, or see something interesting on the street, it’s inevitable that at least half the people around us are tapping on their smartphones, and updating their status through a nifty tweet as they watch. Because of this, many small businesses may feel a little jaded with Twitter, thinking it has been taken over by self-promotional activities, political grandstanding, or youngsters updating their site with a stream of mundane drivel.

Despite the Twitter phenomenon becoming ever more popular and mainstream, however, it is still a great tool for marketing your business effectively, and building strong relationships online with your customers and peers.

Twitter is essentially a public text messaging service. Whereas many of us like to let one or two of our closest friends and colleagues know what we are up to, Twitter publicizes your antics to the whole world. The site which started out as a miniature blogging concept has now revolutionized online communications, inviting ever more public and controversial figures to share their thoughts and actions with the online world. Executions, political spats, governmental updates, and celebrity break-ups are all announced through Twitter, leaving no doubt as to the power and magnitude of this social phenomenon.

If you are the sort of person who would rather text message someone on your mobile than give them a call, then Twitter is probably ideal for you. Short, sweet, and to the point, the site’s restrictions on word count and content mean that no-one can spend a long time updating their status, and you can get what you want people to know out there with minimal effort. The very brevity of Twitter is the attribute that has made it so successful, leaving people who are nervous of Facebook and its in-depth plumbing of people’s lives, flocking to this more succinct and economically-worded site.

Essentially, Twitter features two basic functions. It enables people to follow updates that you post, and allows you to follow those people whose updates you want to read for yourself. The concept is simple – it’s taking the status bar from Facebook, and focusing upon that as the primary means of contacting others. Because of the simplicity of Twitter, it has become widely used as a business and marketing tool, enabling online entrepreneurs to share information and updates about their products and services, for free. People who regularly use Twitter can glance across their page and catch up with updates from those who they are following, for simple, quick, and easy access to the latest goings-on.

There are a number of easy ways that Twitter can help you with your online marketing and customer generation. Consider doing one or more of the following:

  • Follow people across your industry so you can stay right up-to-date with issues, changes across the business, or new innovations.
  • Connect with people to share best practice and advice, and ask for help when you need it.
  • Set up search terms to get a list of tailored tweets (even for people who you may not be following) to stay abreast of issues that are of interest for you and your business.
  • Ask people for services, and offer your services to others. Remember that you need to sell carefully, as Twitter is not primarily designed for cold approaches – build up relationships first, and offer your support when asked.
  • Conduct market research on certain products and services in your market, to ascertain what people want, and how best to provide it for them.
  • Send out requests for feedback, shares, and comments on blog posts or new webpages you’ve developed.
  • Market your products and services in a friendly and approachable way to those people who follow you on Twitter.
  • Offer an instant customer service to people who mention you or your products, keeping an eye on potential complaints and addressing them promptly.
  • Network with a group of people with whom you can quickly and easily connect, and with whom you can develop ongoing and strong relationships.

Twitter is fast, simple, and easy to use, and doesn’t have the invasive quality of a direct email.  It’s ideal for short, pithy comments and marketing messages, as it is restricted to a 140-character limit, meaning you don’t have to spend hours crafting your messages.

However, using Twitter is the same as any other online platform, and governed by the same rules. Stay clear of spamming, keep your Tweets professional and friendly, and avoid bombarding your potential customers with reams of sales material. You can use Twitter with a number of tools including TweetDeck and HootSuite to manage your list of contacts efficiently, searching through the messages posted by other people quickly and easily.

If you’d like to know more about using Twitter for your business marketing and advertising, there’s a great little guide available at http://www.wikihow.com/Use-Twitter. There are loads of different features available for Twitter, so have a look around at what you can achieve, and develop your knowledge to provide focused posts with techniques such as hashtags. If you fancy sharpening your tweeting teeth on someone, my address on Twitter is @BlogTechGuy!

Twitter Tools

Hootsuite

HootSuite is asimple to use online application that lets you combine all of your social media accounts into one, incorporating Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. It enables you to schedule, send, and receive messages across multiple platforms, all from one place. By bringing all of your social networking into one application, you can save hours of time. There’s a simple HootSuite plugin for Firefox through which you can schedule messages and follow RSS feeds.

If you find maintaining social media accounts too time-consuming, try using HootSuite once a week, scanning the feeds to see if there are any interesting conversations that you can join, “like,” or share.

HootSuite also allows you to upload multiple messages in advance and then pick the date and time that you want them to appear. In around half an hour a week, you can do all of your marketing and social networking in one go, saving a great deal of time compared with going into each site individually. It is, however, worth keeping the HootSuite application open while you’re working, so you can respond to any direct messages in a timely manner.

TweetDeck

TweetDeck is considered to be the most useful and practical application available for managing your Twitter account. You can customize the interface to control the users, tweets and columns on your account, saving valuable time and making Twitter easy to manage and use each day. TweetDeck allows you to write status updates, create short URLs for webpages, shorten messages, and apply hashtags to your messages, all from one simple interface. Easy to use, fairly intuitive, and convenient, it’s a great way to access your Twitter account and use it without any undue pressure.

TweetDeck provides options to start new groups, manage them, and choose members for each, enabling you to send out direct messages to specific groups of people. You could, for example, divide your updates into personal, business, family, or advertising messages. There is an advanced search option that lets you see all recent tweets that may be relevant to you, and you can use this to start new conversations with people.

Five Simple Ways to Increase Social Engagement with your Customers

This is a guest post written by Khushboo Aulakh. If you’d like to write a guest post please contact me.

Customer engagement is a dominating factor for brands to use social media channels like Facebook and Twitter. By interacting with their customers through social media, not only can brands increase customer satisfaction rates, but also attract new customers.

For the most part, social media is a free channel that takes advertising to a whole different level by bringing brands closer to their target audience, and by personalizing their experience online.

Frequent user centric updates and user interaction are the key to increasing customer engagement, but here are five other ways brands can increase social engagement on Facebook and other platforms.

Make interaction easy


With Facebook rolling out Timeline for business pages, some users may find it difficult to interact with your page. Include simple call to action phrases to increase participation and allow users to share information. Remember that your customers are visiting your Facebook page for a reason – they want to know more about your brand, are interested in your products or services, or want to share feedback.

Include links to important tabs below the cover image. Tabs like reviews/recommendations, contact us, e-store, and blog are ideal for an e-commerce website.

When making a status update about a new product, ask for feedback rather than mentioning the product USP. When sharing a new blog post, ask what your users feel about the subject.

This opens the door for conversation, increasing social and online engagement. Posting updates with specific call to action phrases allows users to feel involved with your brand.

Understand what your users want

This is the fundamental premise for building engagement on any platform, social or otherwise. Any business must invest resources in finding their audience – the demographic, geographical location, income level, and so on. By doing this, you can understand what products and services will appeal to them.

Once you have this information, social media planning will be a breeze. Status updates that resonate with your audience build engagement and drive traffic to your website, thus increasing conversions and generating a positive return on investment.

Share what is relevant

Your Facebook fan page is not your personal Facebook page. While it may be interesting to share what you had for breakfast or how the weekend went, refrain from doing so. Your updates should always promote your brand, directly or indirectly.

If your company had a BBQ on the weekend, share it because it personalizes your brand. Refrain from sharing anything that may have a negative impact on your brand.

By sharing content that is relevant and highly targeted to your users, you increase customer participation.

Use productivity tools

Productivity dashboards like HootSuite, TweetDeck, and Buffer are a must have for all social media strategists. They help you plan your strategy weeks in advance and save time by reducing the manual effort involved in updating multiple channels.

These tools also make it easier for users to participate on multiple social channels.

Measure customer engagement

A strategic step in increasing social engagement is to analyze your current customer engagement rates. This can be done through Facebook page insights, Google Analytics, and other web analytic tools.

Use these simple tips to build a strong relationship with your customers. Remember, these tips are not set in stone – feel free to adapt them according to your business goals.

Social Media Bookmarking

People of all ages are now accessing the Internet, affording us the opportunity to reach a broader customer demographic than ever before. With social media becoming more and more important when it comes to influencing public opinion and creating trends, it’s evident that all online business owners need to get in on the action and have a strong digital media presence.

The rise of Facebook and Twitter, in particular, demonstrates that the Internet has influence and power when it comes to raising public awareness and generating customers. Like it or not, we live in a time where executions are announced over Twitter, and Facebook campaigns can alter the result of which record reaches number one in the charts. As a blogger, there is no more valuable tool to promote your site than social bookmarking. You can harness the power of social media in a number of ways, all of which are free, easy to do, and highly effective.

Social bookmarking is simply the process of a reader sharing your content with a number of widely-used social networks, which you should encourage in order to increase visibility and enhance customer engagement. The entire World Wide Web operates as a linked series of networked applications, all of which offer distinct advantages and services to the business blogger. WordPress is the ideal platform to connect to these services, making it simple and hassle-free to benefit from social networking online.

While it is possible to craft all of your social bookmarking messages by hand, it makes much more sense to take the efficient route to online marketing: Plugins. WordPress deliver a series of simple tools that streamline your communications processes and make it easy to join the online fray with the minimal effort and zero expense.

Link to Your Twitter Account

Twitter is an extremely powerful and convenient way of communicating a lot in a few words. Set up a Twitter account that outlines your products and services, and provides regular keyword-rich updates to your readers. Pick who you follow according to your specialized industry, and people will tend to follow you in return. Every time you update your blog, post the link to your Twitter account.

It has taken the site just five months to double the number of Tweets it had, from ten billion to twenty billion. As of April 2010, there are reportedly over 100 million user accounts. Everything you write on Twitter is indexed and can be found on the web.

WordPress supplies a great ‘Twitter’ application at: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/new-twitter-button/. This is the ‘daddy’ of Twitter sharing, in that it keeps a track of ReTweets and is very easy to add to your site. It is also a visible and familiar tool which visitors to your site will recognize and readily use, encouraging information sharing.

The Power of Facebook

Facebook is the hub of social networking and bookmarking. It’s simple to set up a page linked to your business, and update it as your blog posts go live. People use Facebook to follow products and businesses they like, so it makes sense that if you engage readers then they will follow you… especially if you make it easy for them. When you set up your profile, again use keyword-rich texts and keep your page up-to-date with useful information.

Facebook hosts over 550,000 third-party applications, and boasts 500 million active users. More than 150 million people engage with the site on external websites every month, and there are more than 150 million active users currently accessing Facebook through their mobile devices. A simple tool to benefit from this popularity is Facebook Like.

The new style of the Facebook Like button has spawned numerous plugins, but I like this one the best. You can choose where to locate it and add custom styling.

Generic Social Bookmarking Plugins

The following plugins for WordPress all link you up to a range of social networking sites and take the hassle out of repeat communications to your customers. I recommend all of them as they will each bring specific benefits to you as a business blogger:

Sharebar: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/sharebar/
This is what I currently use on my site, the vertical bar on the left hand side with sharing options.

Sociable: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/sociable/
This plugin features a wide choice of bookmarking icons and you can select and re-order the ones you want to use.

ShareThis: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/share-this/
The ShareThis application reduces the ‘footprint’ of the buttons to a single option with expandable categories. However, in order to get it up and running you will need to register an account when you set up the plugin, by visiting the ShareThis website.

SocioFluid: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/sociofluid/
SocioFluid creates a great-looking bar of icons that can grow or shrink as you mouse-over each one. While there is a limited choice of icons, the plugin does look good on your site.

SexyBookmarks: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/sexybookmarks/
This is one of the most popular applications for WordPress bloggers, as it looks good and is highly visible.

I'm On Plurk

As a follow up to my “I’m On Twitter” post, I’m now on Plurk. Plurk is like Twitter but has a neat timeline interface, so check it out and let me know if you’re on there so I can follow your updates.

Many people are testing Plurk to see how it compares to Twitter and with all of Twitter’s downtime recently then people are very intrigued. It’s not fair to directly compare then, but they do fulfill a similar need. If you try it, please let me know what you think.

Plurk logo