Social Media Marketing

Everyone and their grandmother likes to give tips on how to use social media – it’s become such an integrated part of our lives that people believe themselves to be experts simply because they use it daily on a personal level. (Sorry, but tagging your Instagram post with dozens of barely-relevant hashtags doesn’t make you an overnight social media expert).

When it comes to social media marketing and branding, very few out there actually have a concrete idea of what’s going on – even those who work in and study the medium. Because of this, social media marketing can be a bit of a trial-and-error type of game. Figuring out to what your audience reacts, at which times of day they are most likely to engage with your content, and in what other areas of interest they tend to congregate takes time and patience. It’s not an exact science, and it rarely ever happens overnight.

Brands must either accept that these channels are a serious part of your media mix (building incremental reach over other media) and put mainstream investment behind them, or quit wasting their time.

An important constant, however, is that many businesses fail to recognize that social media is a legitimate marketing medium and see it merely as a supplement to their other channels. This isn’t necessarily the best approach – social media, like SEO or PPC or any other digital marketing channel, requires time, money, and expertise in order for its best possible results to really show. If you treat it as a supplementary tool, it will only ever bring you supplementary success. (Nothing noteworthy, in other words).

More brands are using social media, and they're investing more money in it than ever before. Social media platforms are catering to marketers more than ever. In-app and in-network buy buttons are helping marketers convert their consumers in one simple step. Social media is allowing digital interactions to happen in real time. Unlike SEO, which takes months to produce much ROI, apps like Periscope and Snapchat offer immediate engagement with a brand's audience.

While things like Facebook’s organic post reach are seemingly making things difficult for marketers, many social networks are actually beginning to cater more to marketers with features like in-app buy buttons, post boosting, etc. (These networks do care about the average user’s experience, but only insofar that they can retain and grow their active user bases. Marketers are the ones that actually pay social networks, so they’re never going to shut them out completely.)

SEO and social media are becoming more intertwined. Content marketing is key for both avenues. Meanwhile, tweets and Google+ posts are showing in search results. Meanwhile, Facebook has its own integrated search feature.

It’s hard to consider SEO and social media as completely separate marketing entities anymore, and in fact that line of thinking is quickly becoming obsolete. These two channels work in tandem quite well, and they can enhance each other. Any content marketing campaign you might be running on either platform could very well benefit from the other platform’s assistance.

Quality is better than quantity. Make creating things that people will interact with and remember your priority over posting every single day. Think about real people - not just numbers and pixels. You can be broad, but you can also be very specific and personal. Target your individual customers and their nuanced interests. Don't just use social media as free advertising and post endlessly about your brand - engage.

Many people find that social media doesn’t work for them because they aren’t using it correctly. You could have 2 million followers, but if all you do is stand on your soap box and shout about your brand and your products, you will never build the engagement that you really need in order to be successful.

In my personal experience, sharing exclusively informative articles that relate to your topic doesn’t engage very well. On the other hand, sharing only funny images causes people to take you a bit less seriously. A mixture of both raises your engagement while still bolstering your position as an expert in your field.

In the spirit of the success of the funny and educational posts, I decided to mash them together. (the link is an educational article, but I paired it with a meme.)

Create interesting posts that you’d want to share if you saw them on your feed, and listen to your audience. I can sit here and tell you something will work all I want, but if you’re trying it and it’s not showing much feedback, then you should try something else or change up your strategy. No two people are alike and no two real-life social interactions are alike – digitized social media is the same way.

 

videos and interactive content are the cream of the crop. Visuals and graphics are a solid second. There are numerous tools online where you can turn an ordinary statement about a sale into an interesting visual (quickly and easily).

Certain types of content tend to perform better than others, and most recently, videos and interactive-type content wins out by a landslide. You can integrate videos into your promotion strategies on almost any social network (gifs work great as well). Infographics are also an audience favorite, for the most part – presenting compelling info in a way that is visually interesting will almost always create shares and engagement.

There is no simple formula for viral content (unless you're Adele). But your content is more likely to gain speed if it: surprises people with unexpected knowledge, leverages a trend, inspires people, is a stunning picture list post, or exploits cute animals and babies.

There are certain types of content that are more likely to go viral, but this is by no means a comprehensive list. The bottom line is that if you can utilize the advice from the experts while being creative (and not just sharing interesting content, but owning and understanding it), your social media AND your SEO campaigns will thank you.

The best thing about this type of content-based marketing, in my opinion, is that its benefits won’t disappear. This isn’t the type of SEO that Google will one day stop favoring in its algorithms. Content is the essence of the internet – it’s what the internet consists of, what people use the internet for, and it’s never, ever going anywhere. Which is to say, it’s definitely worth the investment.

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