Social media marketing is a fine art – offering a host of tools by which businesses can engineer their way to online greatness. Once considered a fad, it’s now pretty clear social media is a mainstay of the online marketing sphere and one that will endure while more niche promotional channels plateau into obsoletion.
Whether you’re working with B2B or B2C, there’s no doubt social media should be a core pillar of your marketing strategy – offering immeasurable strength to a holistic online approach. But for newbies to social networking, finding your feet can feel like learning a foreign language.
To excel at social media marketing, you need a silver tongue – or rather, a set of silver digits. Online greatness doesn’t come without the gift of the gab – and with the help of our social media cheat sheet, you can take your business bilingual.
Facebook is the biggest social network on Earth. The world’s leading communication channel, this platform is the epicentre of social interaction, media consumption and brand engagement. 30 million businesses across the globe have their own Facebook page – and if you fancy joining the advantaged masses, here’s everything you’ll need to know.
Facebook is a champion of both B2B and B2C marketing, with companies across all industries capitalising on its sheer volume of users in the name of customer engagement.
Facebook is the undisputed leader of social competitions – allowing companies to offer a tasty prize in exchange for interaction. At the most basic level, businesses can grab entries by asking entrants to like their business page and share the competition post for a chance to win – growing their social audience and boosting brand engagement in the process.
There’s no denying the audience growth that comes from Facebook competitions can be less than valuable – with fanatical competition entrants climbing over each other for a chance to literally anything of any monetary value. But when you get it right, offering a relevant prize and incentivising new followers to stay loyal past the competition’s end, you can become a bigger online business in a matter of weeks – and all without straining your social muscles.
Major international brands have mastered the art of Facebook marketing – with campaigns driving massive engagement and achieving an unthinkable level of reach. Earlier this year, National Geographic invited their Facebook fans to bring their photographic a-game, submitting their extraordinary travel shots in their thousands (18,000, to be exact) on the hunt for editorial glory. By combining their product seamlessly with their user base’s interests, National Geographic demonstrated the immense potential of the humble Facebook competition.
As of now, Facebook offers a fairly impressive level of specification for targeted ads. If you’ve got some content you want to promote or a competition that needs a boost, Paid Facebook ads offer the chance to put your stuff in front of the audience it’s made for – with the ability to set criteria down to gender, age range and even marital status.
Paid ads should by no means comprise your social media marketing strategy – but rather offer a welcome supplement to an all-boxes-checked approach to promotion. 92% of social media marketers are using Facebook ads to complement a wider social strategy – so it’s no surprise Facebook continues to crush the competition in paid advertising.
Twitter may never be able to usurp Facebook on the monthly active users front – but what it still lacks in comparative size, it more than makes up for in functionality. Facebook tried to hijack the hashtag, but it couldn’t be done. It tried to follow the feed and missed the mark. Twitter is a one of a kind social network which is the only answer to many of social media marketing’s greatest conundrums.
The noble hashtag has not only cemented its status as a staple of 21st century society, but also offers an innovative means of joining and even leading conversations across the globe. A cleverly placed hashtag allows your tweet to be indexed by Twitter’s 271m active users – and be found even if they weren’t looking for you. And not only that – it helps you track down untapped customer bases in a matter of seconds.
What separates Twitter from rival social platforms is the ability to network directly with other businesses in a way that’s community-based rather than competitive. The array of networking hours on Twitter means you’ll always be able to find a conversation that’s either geographically or industrially relevant – and seize the opportunity to brew up some banter without the pressure of refined promotional messages. Need the calendar? You got it.
Twitter’s seemingly restrictive character count is actually one of its greatest assets. Having your tweets limited to only 140 character forces marketers to condense their brand messages to the bare essentials – filtering out absolutely everything that dilutes the bottom line. With Twitter as saturated as it is with industry influencers across all industries, this network gives businesses the chance to reach out to major players in their niche in a way that’s succinct, direct and, best of all, immediate. The holy grail of open communication, Twitter allows you to build relationships with who you want when you want.
This network is also a prime platform for one-to-one customer relationship management. Brands like Sainsbury’s and Tesco Mobile have killed it on the customer service front, using Twitter as a channel for a personal B2C engagement. This Twitter-based interaction has been the making of many brands’ reputable online presences – with hilarious and inspiring results.
The big daddy of B2B, LinkedIn offers ultimate access to the world’s business professionals and exclusive industry groups across all sectors. With an emphasis on professional networking, LinkedIn provides a platform where businesses can keep the finger on the industry pulse and contribute to the sector consciousness.
LinkedIn groups offer an ideal forum for businesses looking to connect with like-minded professionals and, more importantly, gain the right kind of exposure in their space. By joining a group relevant to your niche, you can find industry influencers and make some noise in the company of prospective clients. Here you can create and share content tailor-made for your audience and spark discussion – increasing brand exposure and making valuable connections along the way. As with all social media marketing, the self-promotional vibe should be at a minimum – so keep the useful to self-serving ratio around 7:1 for best results.
The strictly-business focus that sets LinkedIn apart from other major social channels makes it an exceptional tool for B2B engagement. Encouraging your employees to join LinkedIn and engage with other influential LinkedIn users offers your business many more promotion outlets, massively expanding your business presence and exponentially building your social network.
When brands get LinkedIn right, the benefits are endless. Four Seasons’ company page is a hub of rich, useful content designed to draw in their socially inclined customer base – and with 1/3 of all online professionals using LinkedIn, that’s one pretty sizeable customer base. Promoting their services, adding value and even posting job listings, Four Seasons is one brand dominating this professional platform.
Google’s social media baby Google+ is a new and thriving network with a mass of potential yet to be tapped. With 70% of leading online brands using Google+ as a social marketing tool – and engagement rates to rival Facebook – this is a progressive channel on its way to competing with the holy trinity of social networks.
Rotten Tomatoes have mastered the potential of Google+, packing their page with red hot Tomatometers, brand new reviews and all manner of quality content. And by polishing and perpetuating your Google+ account, you’ll even reap the benefits of improved performance in search results – making this the most influential social network on your site’s rank.
Still a way away from infiltrating the big three, Pinterest is an invaluable social platform for retailers of all kinds – and has seen positively gastronomical growth since its launch in 2010. With a user base that is 80% female, this unique social platform is an essential marketing channel in the retail space – capitalising on one of (wo)mankind’s most powerful incentives: aspiration.
Littered with handcrafted homeware and offbeat recipes, Pinterest taps into its users’ sense of longing – be that a wishlist purchase, a bucket list destination or a to-do list DIY project. Its inherently visual nature makes it a dream for online retailers, allowing stores to showcase their products and offer quality content in the form of irresistible eye candy – making it a marketing miracle for the food, fashion, craft and travel sectors to name a few.
Pinterest boards give B2C companies a chance to advertise their products and spark the imagination of their audience in a glorious visual format. This remarkably user-friendly platform makes finding, creating and sharing a piece of proverbial cake.
The ability to group your posts, products and content neatly and beautifully renders Pinterest an ideal way to bring your business to life in a million shades – with the satisfying functionality of being able to meticulously organise your boards and pins to reflect the tried and tested online store layout.
That classic adage of pictures saying a thousand words is proven truer than ever on Pinterest. Rather than condensing your brand messages into 140 character mouthfuls, Pinterest gives retailers the chance to have the images speak for themselves. Describing a product is all fine and well, but showing it to your customer base is the ultimate way to infiltrate their subconscious and, consequently, drive sales.
The lord of all Pinterest accounts, Offbeat Bride capitalises – with great success – on the predominantly female Pinterest user base. Appealing to the soon-to-be-married masses, Offbeat Bride provides inspiration, advice and tutorials to hyper-engaged online brides the world over, with no fewer than 46 breathtaking boards.
Still a fledgling platform, Instagram has already amassed a colossal 200m monthly active users – and counting. So far, over 20 billion photos have been shared on Instagram – and every day, the B2C arena is becoming more saturated with innovative Insta-marketing. Being able to show the online public your customers using your products is a powerful thing – so it’s no surprise that socially aware brands like M&S and Audi are nailing social media marketing with the help of this nifty visual platform.
The most important thing we can teach any social media marketer is to choose your weapon carefully – with the right armoury at your disposal, social media could be the making of your brand.
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