Social media marketing sounds simple enough to many newbie business owners, but they need to recognize the difference between personal social media use and professional use.
Think about it like this: if you make a good pot of coffee to serve your family, then that’s something you can manage on your own. But if you plan on serving 1,000 cups of coffee to peers over the course of a three-day business conference, then that’s an entirely more complex matter!
Everything gets more complicated when you move from personal to professional, and the results matter more, too.
Suddenly, you aren’t just posting on your Facebook when you feel like it. Nor can you just feel good about the occasional reply and like. Instead, you’re actively trying to drive business goals and represent your brand in a likeable way.
The dramatic difference between the two approaches catches many business owners off-guard. To help them out, here are a eight secrets the pros use when it comes to social media marketing — and that many small businesses overlook.
Write Down a Policy and Style Guide
Ask them to tell you what the business’s social media policy is, and you’re just as likely to get dozens of different answers. In fact, most employees may look you back blankly in the face.
A social media policy guides the brand voice as well as the decisions a business makes when posting. So, if you were trying to pick between two image types, the social media policy could help you decide on the one that aligns better with your social goals.
Set policies for employee social media use, too. Make sure they know they represent the company! Let them know what sorts of offenses could get them in hot water, including posting extreme political opinions or offensive takes.
Creating a social media style guide can similarly help make posting easier, especially if more than one employee handles the duties. Align everything in your policy and style guide so that your social media accounts can support both your brand and your marketing goals.
Target Your Content and Conversations Towards Personas
Some small businesses get HUGE social media followings …of people who would rarely buy anything from them.
There is a big gap between mass engagement and targeted engagement.
You want your posts to speak to a highly targeted audience based on the traits of your best customers. For instance, if you pitch your services to existing IT departments, don’t be shy about using jargon. Stay current on any discussion, too, so that your ideas don’t seem dated.
But if you want to offer managed IT services to regular businesses, they may not know a CAT cable from a cat collar. Feel free to post basic how-tos, and try to keep terminology approachable.
Decide upon the segments you want to speak to in order to raise your chances of success. Imagine traits of a single person in this segment, including their typical job role, the things they value most, and broad aspects of their personality. This is your “persona” for an idealized version of a target audience group.
You can even name them! That way, before you decide on a post to share or an image to use, you can ask something like: “Would Sarah the retired optometrist care about this post?”
Strategize, Set Goals, And Ditch Vanity Metrics
Always set goals for your social media usage. It should serve a concrete purpose that ultimately benefits your business.
Common social media marketing goals include:
● Raising website visits
● Generating leads through job quotes
● Helping introduce new products to people
● Getting more participants for events, contests, and things like webinars
● Upselling existing customers
● Reminding prior customers to return again
● Promoting a specific brand value, especially through philanthropy
No matter what your goals are, ensure they actually help your business get more money or improve its brand.
For instance, having a certain number of “likes” or shares from a post promoting your content should not be a goal. These are vanity metrics. Instead, you should monitor the amount of actual visits to the content on your website. Ideally, you will also have targets for the percentage of people converted from social to content to signing up for your related offer.
Carry on Actual Conversations and Engage
Don’t just post into the void or post things you, personally, want to read.
Everything you post should be targeted towards the personas you have created and tied towards business goals.
With this in mind, you want your audiences to feel like your brand is carrying on a conversation rather than just talking at them.
Respond to certain positive comments or interesting ideas. Try to see if you can get the full perspective from people who have something negative to say. Make each response feel personal, not canned.
Give your audience opportunities to take center stage. Post a question for them, like “what are your favorite ways to save money?” Ask them if they would like to see more of certain content types, or less of certain post types.
Also, make your social media use broader than just posting on your own page. Use social listening tools to monitor brand mentions and jump in on messages when you think it’s worthy of a conversation. Find other business pages, and engage with them like you would want others to engage with you.
As Andrew Kucheriavy of web development company Intechnic writes, “make [sure] your interactions are meaningful! Networking is about adding value to a relationship.” https://www.intechnic.com/blog/10-common-social-media-marketing-mistakes-to-avoid/
Make Time for Off-Schedule Posting
Many business owners go ahead and queue up an entire month’s worth of content in advance.
This is great! Having a schedule makes the social experience more consistent and professional for your audience.
But you shouldn’t be shackled to this schedule.
New articles and ideas will pop up on your radar all the time. Maybe something interesting happened in your industry this week. Maybe you just snapped a great photo of your team at the office.
Promote Content Posts to Put Them in Front of Targeted Audiences
Promoting content on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter can be highly affordable. More importantly, it can grow your audience beyond people who already follow and interact with your pages.
Start experimenting with promoting certain posts and using custom audience building features. Platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook even offer the ability to target specific companies or hyper-local areas.
If you put just a small budget behind a few key posts a month, then you can quickly multiply the number of people who see your messages. You also generate valuable data based on who does and doesn’t interact when they see certain posts.
Give yourself the chance to actually share content during opportunities like these rather than hoarding it all until next month. If you set aside, say, an hour each week to make time for unscheduled postings, then you can flesh out your existing content and make your page feel more organic.
Just remember to stick to your policy, goals, and persona guides. Also, proofread twice!
Don’t Assume Social Media Marketing Is Easy to Do Yourself
There’s a reason “social media manager” is a full-time job at most big companies. Even for small businesses, managing it all and doing it right can be tough.
On top of that, you may not have the time to dig into your data or revisit your strategies and guiding documents.
So seek out help. Share the burden with others who are qualified and whose judgement you trust.
As Social Media Week observes: “Long gone are the days when you could rely on an intern to manage your business’s social media accounts. Either hire an in-house expert, or outsource to a social media management firm.”
Crawl Before You Walk, Walk Before You Run
As with anything in business, don’t bite off more than you can chew. Stick to one or two social networks at first. Otherwise your pages could feel like soulless cookie-cutter copies or, worse, ghost towns with nary an update in months.
But if you stay focused on your goals and your principles, then you can start out small to find gradual success. Only once you get the hang of it should you start to scale out and do more.
You really can improve your affiliate marketing business by using social media. Some people say you don’t even need your own website to become an affiliate marketer and in many ways, with the advent of social media this is true. Try using social media marketing in these ways to improve and boost your affiliate marketing business.
Promote Quality Products and Services
It’s imperative that you keep the trust of the people you promote to. The only way to ensure that a product is amazing is to try it. At the very least try at least one product from each creator before you promote all their stuff. You want them to have top-notch customer care and a great product. After all, you’re telling your audience and your people to go buy it from that person.
Create a Redirect
When you have an affiliate link it’s usually very ugly, and if the owner of the product changes their mind about the network they want to use you’ll have a hard time finding all the times you used the link. But, if you create a redirect you only have to change that link in one place if it should change. Find instructions on how to create a redirect on this site: https://yoast.com/cloak-affiliate-links/
Provide Quality Content
Don’t just post content for the sake of publishing. Instead, focus on quality content that has the interest of your audience. You don’t have to make everything be about the product you’re promoting, but it should all be related. It’s tempting to post videos of cats but unless you’re selling pet-oriented stuff, don’t do it. Keep it the most relevant that you can.
Grow Your Email List
On every social media page there should be a way to get people to sign up for your email lists. If you get people on your email list from social media, then you can market your affiliate products directly to them, knowing they’ve already been interested.
Set Up Your Own Facebook Page
With more than a billion people using Facebook worldwide, it offers a lot of potential for affiliate marketing. The best place is to start your own Facebook page for the offer you’re trying to promote. You can then post pictures of the product, testimonials, and more right through the page.
Be Relevant on Twitter
Twitter is a great place to promote affiliate products but the stream moves so fast, and everything is so quick that you have to be extra creative to make it work. Personalize your messages, and recommend only products you know for sure are amazing and that are relevant for your audience. Use a link shortening service but ensure that they allow affiliate links.
Pinterest Encourages Commerce
Unlike a lot of social media sites, Pinterest likes it when people conduct business on their site, so they make it relatively simple to do it with Pinterest gift pages. Just include your affiliate link within any image you share. Create a separate board for your affiliate products using your website URL, and then use the item URL for each of the pins you add to the board.
If you know that the products you’ve chosen to promote are valuable for your audience, there is no shame in promoting them the same way people promote their own products. Just follow the rules for each social media network as well as the product affiliate rules as you move forward.
One of the most important things you can achieve as a business owner is sustained growth. That means you’ll be secure in your business for the long haul. Luckily there are strategic ways to achieve what you want.
Know Your Why
Even though you may have been in business a while, you still need to go back to your why. Your reason for being is very important. You have to have a reason that takes into consideration the problems you’re solving for your audience, because that’s where your profit lies.
Create a Powerful Brand
How your audience perceives your business is a very important component in long-term sustainable business growth. This is because the emotions that anyone feels when they think of your business is almost as important as the product at times. When you’ve built that type of brand, you’re more protected during an economic downturn.
Form Strategic Partnerships
If you don’t want to buy new businesses to spur growth, you can do the next best thing, which is to form joint venture partnerships that help you expand your audience while maintaining your current business model.
Focus on Customer Retention
A lot of times when we think of growth we think of new customers. But, your best bet for growth is to retain the customers you already have and then encourage repeat buying. You may need to develop new and complementary products to do this, depending on your business type.
Build an Active Community
When you can relate to your audience in a personal manner, it can help with business growth in a seamless way. When you have a community around your business, the members will become raving fans that help you make more sales.
Develop Repeatable Processes
If you do nothing else, make sure that you work on creating processes in your business. From how you onboard a new client to how you actually do the work is important, because if you can create repeatable processes, you’ll eliminate the problems with uncertainty and chance.
Get a Competitive Advantage
Get to know and understand your competitive advantage. This starts with understanding exactly who your customer is, what their problems are, and how you are especially qualified to help them solve them.
Learn to Lead Mindfully
As a business owner, you’re the leader of every aspect of your business, from creation to sales. It’s important that you’re able to be mindful of all aspects of your business so you can see through to the end results of all actions taken. That takes time and an understanding of metrics.
Achieving sustained business growth is an important part of building a business that lasts for the long term. When you know exactly what to look at in your business and how to improve each aspect, you’re on the right road to achieve and sustain business growth.
When you are seeking to grow your business, make sure you first understand the various ways that you can grow. You can get more of the market share, you can expand your offerings, and you can form alliances with or acquire other businesses.
This strategy involves increasing your product’s market share. This can be done in a number of ways, from improving sales pages and conversions to offering more products to existing customers.
When you studied your target audience, you may have identified complementary audiences who may want what you have to offer. You can choose one of these audiences to start marketing your offerings to in order to expand your market. This can be risky but it can also pay off big.
Creating new products is a good way to grow. But, first realize who your target audience is, create audience personas, know their demographics and then create the new product. This is going to be a way to expand your market by giving your customers more of what they want.
Another great business growth strategy is through diversification. What this means is that you’ll look at your offerings and see if there is something you can add on, to add value to what you already offer. For example, if you have a weight loss site, you could add an app to your menu offerings.
Know Your Value Proposition
Whenever you want to grow your business, it’s important to go back to the beginning and reassess what your value proposition is. This is a combination of what makes your product better than someone else’s, what the product features mean to your audience, the points of difference between your product and the competition's, and why it’s useful to your audience.
Identify Your Ideal Customer
Anytime you want to grow it’s important to do a study about your ideal customer. In fact, studying your ideal customer periodically is imperative to your success. Why? Because while your audience may stay the same, such as “women between 23 and 33,” the group as a whole changes their ideas about what is right and wrong.
Know Key Performance Indicators
For each business the key indicators are different, but knowing them will help you measure success and judge how to be even more successful. A few that you might track are conversion rates, site traffic, bounce rates, and so forth. Each activity you do to improve your business has a different KPI to track.
Acquisitions and Alliances
One really great way to grow your business is to acquire other businesses or form an alliance or joint venture with a complementary business owner. The joint venture option is a great way to grow your business fast.
If you want to grow your business, put in the work necessary to get to know your audience, and do an income stream inventory to find out where your money is coming from. Then look at where you can either add products, create more value, or develop a new audience.