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Social media marketing (SMM) is the process of creating and sharing content on social media networks in order to achieve your marketing and branding goals.
SMM includes things like posting images, text, general updates and also using video to get your message out there.
It is one of the best ways for small businesses to reach prospective clients and customers in their market or niche.
There are many different platforms that we call social media such as:
These social media platforms provide you immediate access to existing clients and also potential clients and they allow you an audience to get your message out there.
If you use these platforms strategically you will have remarkable success with your small business by creating brand awareness bringing in fresh leads and then making sales.
These are the sorts of activities that will help you drive your audience engagement coupled with the use of paid social media advertising (when needed).
Search and social media marketing goes hand in hand. Back in the day, this wasn’t that important as the search engines pretty much ignored social media platforms. However, today they’ve meshed together and the search engines use social media cues as part of their search engine results.
The discovery process of your clients often takes them on a journey using both platforms of search and social.
It doesn’t even really matter what device you’re using. For most people the first port of call is using a search engine, from there they look for validation from their peers and see what everyone is talking about with reference to this topic on social media.
Social media algorithms will now show you the most relevant content from the people that you have had the most contact with.
Before you go off and start building a social media marketing campaign. As a small business, you must consider your business goals first.
What is it that you’re looking to achieve?
Are you simply using social media as a branding exercise or are you being a little bit more strategic and using it for lead generation purposes?
Whatever the reason you must have a plan!
Here are a few questions you can ask yourself:
* What is it that you’re hoping to achieve will social media marketing?
* Who is it that you’re talking to and do you have a buyer persona?
* Where is your target audience hanging out at the moment (if you’re a new business first look at where you are competition are using social media the most)?
* What are the types of messages you want to send to your prospects using social media marketing?
The type of business that you’re in, your niche and the market will dictate which platforms you use and how you use them.
For example, if your business was in the travel niche. Using extremely visual social media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest would be far more beneficial than Twitter.
Not because you can’t be visual on Twitter, it’s just that the other two platforms are set up and algorithmically driven to support images and display them in the way that is visually appealing.
* Increasing traffic to your website
* Helping you build trust which in turn leads to higher conversions
* Helping you to develop brand awareness
* Improve your overall communication and engagement with your target audience
If you think about it, the larger your presence on social media the more engaged your audience will be. As long as the content matches their needs and wants.
Doing this correctly is the foundation of any social media marketing strategy and must be taken seriously as part of the plan.
If we use Twitter as an example, the more content you tweet and the more you engage with your followers, the more traffic you will receive via your URL in your bio description.
If it sounds simple, it’s because it really is.
Post great content consistently and increase your website traffic significantly.
We’ll use the word consistent again because that’s what you’ll need to be if you have any hope of building trust with your audience.
If you post content in a haphazard way and have no real structure then you will likely lose quite a large proportion of your social media audience because they are looking for you to be consistent in your posting schedule.
If you post content daily and then you’ll miss out a few days or even weeks, that’s a sure fire way of annoying you’re following and they will most likely follow someone else for their content.
By being consistent and producing great content that your followers want to see, makes it easy to build trust and they will likely look to you as a leader in your market or niche.
There’s no better way of establishing trust coming from a leadership position. In fact, it’s the best possible way of doing this effectively.
Creating and developing a brand isn’t easy, but with the right social media strategy in play, you can get your brand out there in front of the world every minute of every day, month, quarter etc.
This isn’t really something that you can do with search marketing for example. Your target audience only really come across your brand when they do a search looking for the answers to their questions. But, on social media, they will be in constant contact with you as on most platforms you will be seen in their stream everyday.
Nothing builds brand awareness better than being seen on a daily basis by your key audience.
No matter what social media platform you are using, the fact that you are willing to engage and interact with your following automatically means you improve your overall communication with them.
Even larger companies that do this get a lot of traction out of communicating in this way. Instead of feeling like a number, your followers will feel that you are dealing with them on a personal level and taking them seriously.
Never before in the history of marketing has this been possible before.
If you’re looking to use social media marketing for your small business then you should find these social media marketing tips helpful:
As we discussed earlier in this article. Planning your social media strategy is so important. It all starts with using the correct keywords for your niche or market and doing some competitive research to brainstorm some content ideas they will interest you marketplace.
It may be helpful to even look at what others in your industry are doing from a competitive point of view just to see how they drive engagement on social media.
If you’re producing really great content consistently then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to dominate your niche market. Even if the content isn’t great and it’s just satisfactory, posting it with consistency will help, but the key is to make it great!
One of the best ways of doing this is thinking in terms of 10x your content.
What does this mean?
It means making your content 10 times better than what you consider to be the best content out there at the moment. You will also want to be adding real value to your readers within your content.
If you do this there’s no reason why your readers won’t be falling over themselves to share your content and return back for more. Don’t forget, try to mix up your content between text, images, videos, infographics etc.
If you’ve chosen to use several social media platforms it’s really important that you use the same logo, colours that are consistent with your brand. That way when your followers look for you on other platforms you are easily identifiable. That’s not the only reason. Having a consistent brand image increases trustworthiness, helps portray your core values and makes it easier to sell your products and services in the long run.
Social media marketing is the best way to get your content out there and seen by your marketplace for relatively little money. In fact, if done correctly, it won’t actually cost you any money but just time.
Once you’ve built up a loyal following on social media people will start looking out for your content and be willing to share it as soon as it is posted. That’s why I mentioned the word consistency earlier on.
You’ll be surprised how loyal your followers can be when they know that content is being produced at a specific time. That means as soon as you have written and produced a blog post, try and post it immediately on social media and let your followers do the rest.
You’re not always going to be in the position to share 100% of your own content and if this is the case you’re going to have to create other people’s content and post that.
You should always be looking to add value to your followers and that means posting the very best content that you can. That’s where content curation comes in.
By searching for and curating the very best content in your niche you’re providing a great deal of value and enjoyment for your followers. Again, this will also enhance your trust and reliability.
I’m not the biggest fan of looking over my shoulder when it comes to competitors. I believe in trying to be the best that you can be and to live up to your own standards with regards to content and social media marketing. However, I think you would be a fool to completely dismiss your competition.
Your competition can always provide you with valuable data such as keyword research and social insights. They can also identify new marketing channels and new techniques that may be working for them that you may not even have considered. I don’t recommend doing this on a daily basis, probably once a week is enough. The key here is to track, study and perform much better than your competitor.
If you’re like most small businesses, finding the time to write, curate content, post that on social media and then analyse results is an impossible task due to time constraints.
Each social media platform will provide you with basic analytics that you can view from time to time. If you don’t have the time I’d recommend hiring a professional to do this for you. It’s important to have a look at your analytics because it lets you know how well your social media marketing campaigns are doing and it will also determine which ones to focus on for better return on investment (ROI).
In this part of the article, we’re going to show you how to use the many different social media marketing platforms, their unique user bases and environment. Not all platforms are created equal which means that you must attack them with different approaches. Since you have to have a different approach you need to tailor your content for each platform differently.
Facebook is the largest social media platform because it is based on a casual friendly environment for both family and friends to interact with each other on.
The platform is social first and everything else second (that includes marketing and advertising). Just like a lot of the platforms you can’t simply blast your advertising out in a haphazard way. It needs to be strategic.
Thankfully, Facebook has the best targeting of any social media platform out there which means you can drill down quite deep into your niche so only the relevant people see your ads at a time of your choosing.
Before placing any adds, each business needs to set up a Facebook business fan page. This will be the home of all of your Facebook business activities going forward. Again, make sure the branding is consistent with your other social media platforms.
I would suggest keeping the tone of your feed (where you post your content) quite light and friendly, whilst at the same time try to educate your followers via the content you post.
Over the years, organic reach (content posted without advertising) has seen a dramatic fall in the number of people that actually see it. This is because Facebook is now encouraging businesses to use ads rather than getting their content seen organically. For this reason, each business that is looking to use Facebook as a social media platform must concentrate their efforts on advertising.
Facebook makes it really easy to advertise on their platform by way of boosting a particular post. However, this is probably the worst way to use the advertising platform as the targeting options and the price you pay varies dramatically without a proper Facebook advertising strategy.
For this reason, we recommend using a social marketing agency to do this for you.
I don’t say this to try and look for new business. To be honest, it really doesn’t matter who you use. I just recommend using a professional. If not, you’re most likely going to lose a lot of money, reach very fewer people, and your ads will be ineffective.
Google+ is Google’s answer to Facebook and was one of their major competitors. Unfortunately for Google, Google+ never really got any traction as a major social media platform. For that reason, we recommend using it as only a small part of your social media strategy.
There are some niche communities on Google+ that still use it and who are very active. But, that number is few and far between.
The platform is similar to any other social media platform where you have the ability to upload and share images, photos upload video and use Google+ circles. This is a way of segmenting our followers into different groups of people. That way you only share content with relevant people.
Even though Google+ is considered a dying platform, one of the main advantages of using it is I posting things like video, holding video conferences and the infamous Google Hangouts feature (live chat). The Hangouts feature allows you to broadcast to a small group of people in a conference type setting online completely for free and is probably one of their most popular features.
This is great if you want to get intimate with your followers and it’s a way for them to get to know you better with the ability to ask questions, engage and interact with you.
Like I said before, I would personally recommend you use Google+ as a small part of your strategy. It’s significance in the market place is decreasing by the day. So, whenever you write a piece of content always include Google+ as a place to add your content to. This won’t necessarily help you in the search engine rankings pages (SERPS) but it will give you some added exposure.
Pinterest is often overlooked as a social media platform to use. But, did you know that it’s one of the fastest growing social media networks out there?
Probably one of the first platforms to really focus on image-based content. Pinterest is very popular for brands that lend their content well to images.
Like the other platforms, you have the ability to post content organically and you can also use their ad platform for even more exposure.
Apparently, Pinterest pins are 100 times more spreadable than a tweet and the lifespan of a pin is 1,6000x longer than a Facebook post.
So, if you’re looking to get your message out there and your business uses lots of images to convey a message, then Pinterest might just be the platform for you.
A lot of people have fallen out of love with Twitter because they have been lots of shiny new objects such as Pinterest, Instagram and Snapchat who have specifically targeted millennials.
What people are forgetting is the sheer amount of eyeballs that log onto Twitter every single day and they’re looking to consume content whilst on the move, sitting and relaxing for 10 minutes or taking a break from work.
The great thing about Twitter is the fact that you can use several different content formats to publicise your business, from text, image, GIF and also video.
You also have the ability to publicise your business to a wider audience via retweets. This is the process of tweeting really great content and having your followers share that content with their followers. When done properly can be extremely effective.
Because so many brands and businesses have left Twitter for the shiny new platforms, it has left a lot of room the smart marketers to fill their place.
One common theme you will read on this website is the need to be consistent when you’re posting content. This is probably more important on Twitter than on any other platform.
If you’ve been to college or university you may have stumbled across LinkedIn on your travels and not really looked at it that seriously.
If your business is in the business to business (B2B) space than there’s no better marketing platform then LinkedIn to publicise your business.
LinkedIn is the largest professional social media marketing platform in the world and there’s no other website that provides a vast array of professional business groups, and where business content is shared by like-minded individuals.
It’s also a great place to post any job vacancies you may have and is great for employees to network.
If you looking to hire a manager or recruit people for other jobs in the organisation, then LinkedIn is the best place to look for your next employee. Roughly 94% of recruiters say they use LinkedIn to find candidates.
The good old days of buying your local newspaper and leafing through the job section are a thing of the past. You have a much larger talent pool available to you on LinkedIn and the best thing is, as long as you’re posting content regularly they’re probably already aware of you.
Where possible, small businesses must seek recommendations on their LinkedIn profiles. Not only does this look good but it’s great for your profile the LinkedIn algorithm.
Each recommendation you received makes your business appear more credible and reliable to potential clients.
YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world and is owned by Google. If you’re looking to watch or share video content then YouTube is the place for you. Probably one of the most underutilized marketing channels around. There’s more opportunity to really dominate your niche if you focus on video marketing on YouTube.
Several businesses produce videos, but very few businesses share them on YouTube and other social media sites, which is crazy.
“The total number of people who use YouTube – 1,300,000,000. 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute! Almost 5 billion videos are watched on Youtube every single day. In an average month, 8 out of 10 18-49 year-olds watch YouTube”.
A lot of businesses lose faith with YouTube when they find out that they’re tutorial video hasn’t gone viral with thousands of views. To be honest with you, this is unlikely to happen for a business tutorial video.
Instead, what small businesses should be focusing on is producing lots of “how to” videos about their products and services and then embed those videos onto their websites. This is free hosting for your video, there’s also the possibility for your video to be found in Google’s search results if you have filled in the title and description properly on YouTube.
Where possible always try to use keywords in both the title and description so you increase the possibility of your video being found by a potential client.
If you’re producing more videos than your competitors it’s not hard to become and authority in your niche or marketplace (especially if they are how to tutorial videos). That’s why at XenMedia, we insist that video is part of every business’s marketing strategy.
When businesses think of social media they automatically think of organic posts (posts that don’t cost you anything). What they don’t realise is, if done properly, paid social advertising can be highly cost-effective and is a great way to spread your message and publicise your brand.
Never before in history has it been so easy to get in front of so many people for such a low cost. Try doing this back in the day in the Yellow Pages and it would have cost you a fortune (and that’s just national level). With paid social advertising you have the ability of reaching the whole world within seconds.
That’s pretty powerful stuff!
The other added advantage of using paid social advertising is the amount of targeting options you have available. This will allow you to really focus your budget on specific types of people that would be interested in your product or service. Couple this with remarketing and retargeting (where you place a cookie on a prospective clients browser and show them ads once they have left your website) and it makes for a very powerful social media marketing strategy.
Getting started is easier than you think and as always we recommend using a professional digital marketing company to help you with this.