Social media is good at lots of things. It can help you communicate with your customers, drive traffic to your website, even help you draw prospects in to learn more. You could probably list a dozen reason why you have chosen to use social media for your business, but when is the last time you examined the strategy behind what you’re doing online?
In order to get the biggest bang for your buck on social, there needs to be a method to your madness. Yes, it can do lots of things for your business, but how well it does them is determined by the tools you choose and the type of posts you make. Good social media is all about intent.
So, before you write your next tweet or Facebook post, spend a few minutes thinking about what you want social to do for you. Do your actions online support those goals? If you find yourself sharing without a strategy, it’s time to retool.
Here are three worthy goals to choose from, and a plan for each:
To Be Found Online:
Let’s just say it: social media is the new SEO (Search Engine Optimization). If you goal is to attract more search traffic and drive eyeballs to your website, you need to be maximizing social media.
Social media has changed a lot of things about marketing, including putting new emphasis on a ‘pull’ marketing strategy. You put great content out on the web, people find it, and they are pulled back into your business to learn more. Think of your website as your ‘hub’ and all of your social media channels as the satellites around that hub. Those are places you post great content, and when fans click on it, they end up on your website.
Content, if executed properly, can also be optimized for search, so that Google indexes it. Then, when people google things they have questions about, they find your content as the answer. Again, once they click, they’re on your website.
This can be an extremely satisfying goal for social media because website traffic is measurable, and with the help of analytics, you can see where that traffic is coming from. Over a few months, you should be able to track the improvement.
If SEO is your goal, here are the best tools to use:
Blog posts can be optimized for search, and Google will index them based on the keywords you add. Then, when people search for certain topics, your articles will come up in the results.
Like blog posts, videos can also be optimized for search using keywords. However, there’s an added bonus here: YouTube is owned by Google. And Google likes to index their own stuff first. So, if you are using video effectively, chances are your content will show up well in search.
Again, Google owns Google+, and while the average social media user isn’t in love with the channel, Google is. Having a presence here will give you an extra boost with the search engine powers that be.
Active social media:
Overall, an active social media presence will help lift your website in search results. Social media is so popular that Google has started factoring it into your search ranking. Be sure that the icons and links to the channels you use are featured on your website – Google will penalize your site if they’re not.
To Build Relationships with Clients & Prospects:
Social media is all about networking. People use the channels to connect with each other, and usually it’s during leisure time. If your business can make a connection with your clients and prospects there, it can go along way toward establishing an emotional connection with your audience.
Social sales means connecting with social consumers (who are already using these channels) and engaging with them in a way that deepens the relationship and turns them into prospects (or repeat customers). It doesn’t happen overnight, but over time you can build a community around your business or your area of expertise. If you can grow an audience that wants to engage with your brand, the sales will follow.
If building community is your goal, here are the best tools to use:
Facebook is perhaps the most social of all social media channels. This is where people are looking at their friend’s vacation photos, pictures of their grandkids, and yes, occasionally, someone’s lunch. If your fans have ‘opted in’ to hear from your business in the same stream as these very personal updates, that’s a powerful position to be in. Don’t waste it. Instead, let them get to know your business and build an emotional connection.
This channel is a great place to engage in real time conversations with your followers. Tweets move fast, and in order to be part of the community, you have to be following the action and responding in a timely manner. This is also a place where it’s easy to search for the kind of people you want to connect with, and reach out by following them. As opposed to Facebook, where fans have to come to you, Twitter allows you to be proactive.
When someone googles your name, your LinkedIn profile will show up first. Even if you don’t have your profile filled out very well, Google loves the LinkedIn algorithm. When they find you here, clients and prospects can see what connections you share. Maybe you know the same people, went to the same school, or even care about the same nonprofit. Your LinkedIn profile can help lay a foundation for building a relationship with someone you want to get to know.
Once customers have engaged with you, it’s easy to forget that they still need lots of attention. A newsletter is a great way to touch them consistently and continue to stay top of mind. If you build your list the right way, this should be a valuable place to maintain relationships.
To Showcase Your Expertise:
There are lots of people who do what you do. Want people to understand that you’re the best? Social media can help you do that. It’s a great forum for showcasing your expertise and building credibility with your fans.
These days, 60% of the research a consumer does about a product or service takes place before ever interacting with the company. And 37% of the evaluations they make about a company stem from conversations on social media. This is a pretty powerful place to brand yourself as an expert.
Add in the concept of social proof, and social media allows you become a resource and attract prospects just by sharing what you know.
If boosting credibility is your goal, here are the best tools to use:
The key to establishing Thought Leadership is original content. You need to put your ideas out there and become a voice on your industry. A blog is the perfect forum to create content that links right back to your website.
Video is original content on steroids. Not only will your voice be heard, but the people consuming it will also be able to hear and see you. This helps immediately form a connection. Not only will they be exposed to your ideas; they will begin to know, like and trust you. (This happens more quickly through video than through blogging.)
Your LinkedIn profile is more than your online resume. It’s a place where others can weigh in on your expertise – through endorsements and recommendations. This is a place where social proof can really work in your favor. It’s also a great location to share all that original content you’re producing.
In order to harness the power of word of mouth, you need places for people to read what others say about your business. Sites like Yelp can be great places to build a library of authentic, unbiased feedback.
No matter what your goals are for social media, it’s important to have them. If you can lay out a plan and a desired outcome, you will be able to know if it’s working and measure your ROI. The business owners who approach social with a ‘winging it’ attitude are usually the first to be frustrated and disillusioned. It does work, but you have to work it.
For more social media information, find us on Facebook!