26 Tips to Strengthen Your Social Media Marketing
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- November 25th, 2014
Is it time to look at your social media from a fresh perspective?
Are you ready to make some changes?
There are a variety of ways to improve how your business is seen on social media.
In this article I’ll share 26 tips, an A-Z guide, to help breathe new life into your social media marketing.
#1: Add Your Value Proposition to Profiles
Whenever people are on social media sites, they make snap decisions about whom to follow, what content to read and which content to share.
Make it easier for them to decide.
To catch your readers’ attention, add value propositions to your network profiles.
For example, Spredfast’s value proposition is about marketing speed: they help customers spread information about their businesses at the speed of “life”—not only a great promise, but also a catchy play on words.
Value propositions describe and differentiate your business, giving consumers a better sense of what your business is all about. When you share it on your profiles, people know who you are and what you do at a glance.
#2: Boost Visibility With WordPress Plugins
To give your blog posts the most exposure possible, optimize them for search. Install an SEO WordPress plugin, such as All in One or SEO Plugin by Yoast.
These plugins have fields to include excerpts and descriptions, which will give your blog posts more opportunities to be found in search results.
Take the time to fill in the fields, so you have control over the snippets and keywords that appear in search results. A small step can make a huge difference in blog visibility.
#3: Create Targeted Calls to Action
Calls to action (CTAs) are the backbone of social media. When readers engage with these action-filled words, it boosts your social media presence.
It’s essential for each call to action to have a specific purpose, whether it’s to like, share, comment, retweet or click.
Here’s how Sony uses calls to action on their social profiles.
On Facebook, Sony uses phrases such as “Check it out,” “Don’t forget,” “Find out more,” “Go behind the scenes” and “Read about it here” to get people to click through. The URL destinations include blog posts, Vine, embedded videos, Vevo, a Sony video gallery and their website.
Sony uses calls to action on their social accounts and website that work in tandem to encourage visitors to take the next steps through the buying process.
#4: Don’t Take Shortcuts
Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is social media activity.
While it may be tempting to buy Facebook fans or Twitter followers, the long-term challenges outweigh the short-term benefits.
Victor Pan identifies three reasons why buying Facebook fans is bad for business:
- You are watering down the data you have on your real fans doing awesome stuff for you. By buying fake Facebook fans, you decrease the value of your true Facebook fans because there’s no way to separate the two with Facebook’s current built-in analytics tool.
- You will immediately lose trust from web-savvy visitors if they use a fake fan checker tool or visit your historic like data and notice a low brand activity vs. total like ratio.
- Your Facebook fan page could be marked as a spam source and removed for violating Facebook’s terms of service.
Stay clear of fast-fixes and shortcuts. No-one wants to play with someone who doesn’t follow the rules, no matter how tempting or convincing the seller.
#5: Encourage Blog Comments
Blogs create an opportunity for readers to comment, ask questions or simply say thank-you to the writer. It’s important to cultivate relationships with readers through blogs and invite reader response.
But the question still remains: why do certain blogs consistently receive a higher number of comments than others?
Blogs that receive more comments generally have the following attributes:
- Good attendance: Loyal followers read the content on a regular basis.
- Quality content: Posts are well-written and add value to a user’s experience.
- Good etiquette: Writers and moderators are polite and welcoming to their readers and respond to questions and comments.
- Environmentally sound: Run by trusted advisors who provide a respite from an otherwise overwhelming online world.
Stay dedicated and committed to your blog. Talk to your readers. They will eventually talk back to you and each other.
#6: Fuel Profiles With Shared Content
Shared content can drive activity to your social profiles. However, before you share, consider these three W’s: When, Who and Will:
When was it written? If the post is more than 6-12 months old, it may be dated already. Even so, if you still want to share it because it contains valuable information, introduce the article by identifying that it’s not current.
Who wrote the piece? Content written by a known author is likely to get traction, no matter what the topic. However, sharing content from a lesser-known individual also has its benefits. You get to introduce a new expert to your audience. Just make sure they have excellent content and an easy-to-read style.
Will the topic/article/post resonate with your audience? Is the artwork pleasing, is the content original, will sharing the article with your audience be advantageous to them?
Don’t share content passively. Make sure it adds value to your social presence. That will in turn add to your stature as an expert in your field.
#7: Generate Interest With Variety
Social media is a great way to package content in many different formats. Create a variety of content to post on your blog and throughout your social media presence.
Here are some items you can throw in the mix:
Start with a few types of content, and as your site grows, add more formats.
For example, when Social Media Examiner launched five years ago, we had six categories of content: Case Studies, How To, Reviews, Expert Interviews, Research and Tools.
We now have 10 categories: Podcasts, Videos, Weekly News and View Points have been added.
If you haven’t added something new to your blog lately, figure out what addition would be of the most benefit.
#8: Humanize Your Company Voice
Customers want to feel a real connection with the businesses that serve them and not just when they call the customer help line. Whether it’s messages and posts on social media or audio and video on a website, humanize your tone.
A few years back, when L.L. Bean first rolled out their social media team, they were determined to offer the same dedicated attention online as they did on the phone. As a result, the tone on L.L. Bean’s Facebook page reveals the same type of professionalism and helpfulness that reps extend via telephone.
Stay consistent with your company voice on all platforms, especially in terms of customer service. Be timely, helpful and sincere.
#9: Include Social Profiles in Company Communications
Many people find out about a company’s social media sites the good, old-fashioned way: on store signs, in email signatures and on event flyers. So make sure all of your social media sites are listed there.
This one may sound like a no-brainer, but believe me, sometimes things get overlooked.
Recently, I attended a large event where the organization printed cards encouraging people to complete a survey. The cards also asked attendees to engage with them on Facebook. On the card, all social URLs were provided with the exception of Facebook. Oops.
Review each piece of company communication to ensure nothing is forgotten.
#10: Jumpstart Reach With LinkedIn Publishing
LinkedIn’s new publishing platform provides an opportunity to share long-form content with a greater potential for reach.
Stephanie Sammons says that after she published her first post on LinkedIn, she attracted over 200 new followers and her profile views were up 38% week over week.
LinkedIn Publisher offers an important new venue for sharing content. Publish a few articles on LinkedIn to test whether you receive higher visibility than on your own blog.
#11: Kickstart Updates With Custom Images
Finding the perfect image for your blog or profile updates can sometimes be a challenge. So create your own. That way, you’ll have the ability to brand the image with your color palette, web URL and aesthetics.
There are a number of great photo tools that even non-designers can use to create compelling graphics.
#12: Leverage Trending Topics
Watch trending topics to see what people are talking about on any given day.
Twitter and Facebook will show you trending topics, but you can go beyond these sources. Elisabeth Michaud of Hootsuite suggests five additional resources: BuzzFeed, Google Trends (visualizer and top charts), Google+, Reddit and UberVU.
If they fit with your field and brand, you have material to share. If not, you’re still keeping on top of what’s going on in the world. Never a bad thing.
#13: Manage Workflow
Social media managers have a ton of responsibilities. Keeping on track and on task will help strengthen your social media marketing plan.
Time spent on social media varies by person and company. Regardless of the exact hours, this chart is a good barometer for gauging everything that needs to be managed on a weekly basis.
#14: Nip Negative Comments in the Bud
If you don’t have a plan for how to handle negative comments, put one together.
In this article Patricia Redsicker offers four valuable tips on how to do this:
- Create a policy.
- Moderate wisely.
- Respond judiciously.
- Respect feedback.
As Patricia writes, “It’s important to create an open and respectful space where customer feedback is valued and sincere conversations can take place (even when they’re unpleasant.)”
Being prepared is half the battle.
#15: Optimize Websites for Mobile
Mobile optimization has become more important with each passing year, month and day. More people are on mobile devices than ever before. Plus, users move between devices throughout the day. You want your website to display properly on all platforms, so you can keep your audience engaged and happy.
Ian Mills recommends businesses do a “mobile health check.” Just pick up your smartphone and go to your website.
To determine if it’s mobile-friendly, ask yourself:
- Does it load in less than three seconds?
- Does it draw your eye to the key selling points or messages?
- Is the content easy to read and navigate? Are calls to action easy to complete?
- Does it provide a good user experience?
Most importantly, determine if it’s a website you would spend time on if it wasn’t your own. The answers to these questions will tell you if it’s time to make a change.
#16: Pay Attention to All Analytics
Do regular checkups on your social and web analytics to determine if your social media plan is serving your business goals.
Subhro Sen provides great advice about how to use social and web analytics in tandem. Some of the best resources in the article are Subhro’s charts with tools for measuring social and web performance.
Social analytics help you predict current and future market demand for your product, make it possible to get to know your customers and make the most of your marketing and advertising spend.
Web analytics provide information about your current traffic and what’s not performing as well as it could.
This may be one of the most important steps you take to strengthen your online presence.
#17: Question Company-Wide Social Media
Social media has grown so far beyond the network platforms. It’s starting to journey past marketing and become integrated into the fabric of business itself.
Not sure if your entire business can benefit from company-wide socialization? Check out these insights from Rodney Heisterberg, advocate for company-wide social media use. They include: human resources might benefit from LinkedIn; sales might benefit from more social leads; customer service might improve if staff can leverage Twitter, rather than only using call centers or email; and research departments or analytics teams should be utilizing social data to enhance their inputs.
This may be an opportunity for outshining your competitors. It’s worth considering.
#18: Raise the Bar on Strategy
It’s easy to become complacent and let your social networks remain on cruise control. But where’s the build or even the fun in that?
Marketing with social media and quality content requires a strategy: an approach that you arrived at via research, industry experience and trusted advisors.
Lee Odden shares three ways to raise the bar on your social media strategy:
- Understand buyers’ information journey and ultimately how to convert them from one stage to the next. This should result in a lead and sale.
- Build social media amplification into your content plan. Involve members of your community in the content-creation process, develop sequential content assets and coordinate amplification in advance with employees, customers, industry thought leaders, bloggers and members of the media.
- Help buyers understand and feel by understanding their questions and emotional motivations. Do this through the use of stories, visual media and engaging experiences to connect with buyers on both intellectual and emotional levels.
You don’t need to do of all these at once. Prioritize and choose one to start with, then move on to the others as your social media and content marketing plan takes form.
#19: Strive to Learn New Skills
There are always ways to up your game in social media. Decide what skill you’d like to learn or improve, then educate yourself online.
For example, if you’d like to tell better stories, explore alternate storytelling formats like audio, videos, photographs and infographics.
- What would help make my stories more compelling?
- What format will work best for my product/service and customers?
- Where can I find the things I need to learn?
To begin, you can find ideas for great tools and resources by searching past articles on Social Media Examiner.
Another way to determine what to learn is to take a good look at the sites you visit each week, as well as competitors’ sites. Note what they are doing well that you’d like to do better.
Improving your skills gives you a competitive edge. Try to explore something new at least a couple of times a year.
#20: Try Out a Content Curation Tool
There’s a host of content curation tools to help you to identify articles that would be of interest to your target audience. These tools make it easy to deliver a customized story to your audience’s social media feed. This keeps your business front and center in their minds while providing value.
Try out a few content curation tools and determine which ones work best for your needs and preferences.
#21: Unleash User-generated Content (UGC)
Research from CrowdTap and Ipsos indicates that user-generated content is an excellent way to reach Millennials.
If you want to try user-generated campaigns, look at the article’s recommendations:
- Create conversations over content.
- Source influence from people who love the brand.
- Think long-term, not short-term.
- Invest in your influencer relationships and reward them thoughtfully.
When you receive an awesome piece of UGC shared by a fan of your product and company, go ahead and reshare it.
#22: Venture Into Twitter Audio
Twitter’s latest addition to their offering of cards is an audio card, which allows users to share recordings with their followers.
If you have a SoundCloud Pro account, you’re able to create and share your own audio. Otherwise, do a search for content on SoundCloud.
Once you find something you like, share it on Twitter.
This feature has a lot of promise for strengthening your Twitter presence.
#23: Write Hashtags
Hashtag is defined as “a word or phrase preceded by a hash mark (#), used within a message to identify a keyword or topic of interest and facilitate a search for it.”
While many social networks use hashtags (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.), sometimes a hashtag is better on one platform than another. Before you write out hashtags for a campaign, research the platforms to see what works best for each site.
Once you hit on winners, keep a list of the hashtags your business most frequently uses by platform. That way, anyone who posts on behalf of your business won’t have to reinvent the wheel.
#24: e(X)amine Google Analytics Benchmarking Data
Benchmarking data returned to Google Analytics in September and offers a great way for businesses to see how they compare to others in their vertical market.
See how your site compares to others in terms of channels (social, email and display) location (country, state) and devices (desktop, mobile and tablet).
Benchmarking data will help give you a frame of reference on how well your social efforts are performing compared to others in your industry. It also provides an incentive to enhance the way you use social to drive traffic to your website or blog.
#25: YouTube Like the Big Brands
YouTube videos make for excellent traffic and terrific engagement, so make them a focal point of your marketing mix. And be sure to share them on all of your social media platforms.
The Top 100 Global Brands YouTube report from Pixability sheds light on the importance of YouTube and social media updates as key contributors to strengthening a brand’s social presence.
According to the report, brands that use social media to promote their YouTube videos have greater success with video marketing. The top 25% of brands had 330 times greater Facebook and 89 times greater Twitter video sharing than the bottom 25%.
Here are some successful brand practices to remember regarding your YouTube marketing:
- Be a well-oiled, consistent, video content machine.
- Take video optimization and YouTube channel architecture seriously.
- Don’t get caught in the overproduction trap; lower-quality video works well, too.
- Apply an “Always On” strategy to video marketing.
- Apply branding consistently, intelligently and methodically.
- Adding more content is more important than adding more channels.
- Engage your community with social media.
#26: Zoom in on Your Content Workflow
When it comes to blogging and social media, there are too many moving parts. However, you need to post good content consistently to maintain a strong presence.
Set up a comprehensive content management system to make sure all articles get done on time and in the proper order. Arrange articles by topic, assign them to writers, factor in reviews, rewrites, etc. Then, as you get further into the process, see where the articles get caught in a bottleneck and deadlines get missed. Then fix it!
This may not be the most fun part of having a content marketing plan, but it is one of the most critical to immediately strengthen and improve your social media efforts.
What do you think? Which of these ideas have you tried? Which are you planning to try? What do you do to give your social media the kick it needs? Let us know your suggestions and experience in the comments below.