by John Eberhard
The only constant on the Internet is constant change. As you find out if you have an account with some web site, and haven’t logged in for a while. You are likely to find that they have completely changed the interface, and you have learn how to use it all over again.
So it is with social media marketing. Those engaged in marketing via social media have seen significant changes over the last year.
So here is what I think is the right formula for social media marketing today:
First of all, although there has been a lot of change in the social media universe over the last two years, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are still the top three sites you need to worry about. That hasn’t changed. Google+ is an upcoming challenger, though not many people use it yet. It has some die-hard fans though.
Facebook is still arguably the top social media site. About a year and a half ago they made some major changes.
Companies had built up large numbers of fans for their Facebook fan pages, and were sending out regular posts to them. Then Facebook changed it so posts to fan page fans only went out to 15-20% of their fans. Companies then had to pay a fee to “boost” the post to go to the rest of the fans.
They instituted a policy that you had to know someone personally outside of Facebook to propose being their friend on a personal Facebook profile. This policy wasn’t totally enforceable, but for new personal profile accounts that did not already have thousands of friends, this pretty much killed using a personal profile for marketing purposes. Plus, Facebook changed it so only 15-20% of your friends would see your posts, the ones who most regularly interact with you on Facebook.
So here is the formula for marketing on Facebook today.
- Create a fan page for your business
- Work to get lots of fans for the fan page. 100-200 are not enough to make it worth it to send out lots of messages. You need a minimum of say 500, and more likely, thousands.
- Set up a Facebook pay per click campaign to promote for people to “like” your page. Bear in mind when setting this up that you want to target people who are potential paying clients, not just anyone.
- One company whom I know, has a very successful Facebook fan page. They have run various promotions to get more likes. For instance, they have offered a giveaway, where in order to be in the running for the giveaway, you have a) like their fan page, and b) share the post about the giveaway on your news feed.
- Using the “boost” feature, you can offer some sort of giveaway like this, geared to getting more likes, and boost it even beyond all your fans.
- Set up “like us on Facebook” buttons throughout your web site.
- Study the Facebook fan pages of other successful businesses in your industry and make a list of the types of posts they are doing that make sense for your industry. Also note which ones are getting lots of engagement, i.e. likes and comments and shares. Figuring out what types of things to post is one of the hardest things, but if you find a couple other really good fan pages to study, it can make the process a lot easier.
- Start sending out messages at least 2-5 times per week. Work to get engagement from your fans.
- Review your fan page several times a week and interact with people who are engaging with your posts. Respond to their comments, answer questions and so on.
So as you can see, it is necessary today to plan a monthly budget for marketing on Facebook, for getting new fans and for boosting posts so they go out to all fans.
Twitter has worked very hard over the last year to stop people from marketing on the site. They have been suspending accounts for “aggressive following,” and have tightened that net more and more over the last year.
My attitude is and has been to find ways around the stops that Twitter has been putting up, and to continue to add followers on client Twitter accounts. This has been difficult but we have made a breakthrough on this recently.
Formula for Twitter:
- Find ways to get your Twitter followers into the thousands, the higher the better.
- As much as possible, target followers that are the right public for your business. If yours is a local business, for instance, target only people in your area. If your business services people with certain interests, target them.
- I recommend using software to send out “auto tweets” several times a day. The way you do this is to write a list of 30-50 auto tweets, and then set the software so it sends out 10-20 per day, picking from the list at random. We use Tweet Adder for this.
- Your tweets should promote things on your website or blog, and include a link to an article, a video, a press release, to service pages on your site, etc. Use a link shortener for the URL, because you are only allowed 140 characters. The point is you want to include a link, so that your tweets will potentially generate traffic to your web site.
- Use hashtags in your tweets. These consist of the pound sign with some topic that people are tweeting about, like #onlinemarketing, #socialmediamarketing, and so on. People on Twitter can search in the search bar at the top for a hashtag, and then will see all the tweets that include that hashtag. This expands the potential reach of your tweets, from just the people following you, to those who are searching for various topics. If they like your tweet they may follow you or retweet it.
- Follow your web statistics using Google Analytics, and check each month to see how many people came to your site from Twitter. It will appear in the report of referring websites as “t.co / referral.”
- Engage with your Twitter followers by reviewing their tweets, retweeting stuff you like, answering direct emails from people (live emails, not all those auto emails that say thanks for following) and thank people for retweeting your stuff.
LinkedIn tends to be a lot more friendly to marketing via their site, because the whole premise of the site is that it is for business networking.
Still, they will often try to block you from adding connections once you reach 2,000 or more. At that point they require you to enter in the person’s email address, which then tends to limit it to people you know personally.
LinkedIn recently changed their news feed so that it is more like Facebook, meaning you can “like” posts, share them, and post a comment on them.
- Add a minimum of 25 new connections to your LinkedIn account per month.
- Post something at least three times per week.
- We engage with your connections once per week, liking other people’s posts, answering questions from connections, etc.
- Send out a LinkedIn direct email to all your connections once per month, promoting whatever you want. This has to be done manually due to the way LinkedIn is set up. We have had excellent results with this with our clients, driving traffic to client websites and getting good engagement from connections.
- LinkedIn has a lot of groups and you can join them and take part in conversations.
Though Google+ is not that widely used yet, it does have its adherents. So I recommend starting an account, adding friends, and posting regularly.
I believe it is better to post things that include graphics, rather than just text. It has a much better impact with graphics and will be much more likely to get read.
We create accounts on www.bufferapp.com for clients, and use those to send out posts to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. You can select which of those sites you want to send to. I typically post something directly to Facebook, as I have more control that way, then use www.bufferapp.com to send to Twitter and LinkedIn.
Good luck with your social media marketing!