Your whole life is a series of questions being answered. How are babies made? Why is the sky blue? Why does Game of Thrones continue to break my heart? Professional marketers are constantly drowning in questions of their own, struggling to reach the surface to find answers. In this post, we’re going to tackle the top five questions marketing professionals are asking in 2015.
The 2015 Social Media Industry Report
Social Media Examiner released the Social Media Marketing Industry Report for 2015 surveying over 3700 marketing professionals. This survey revealed the following questions of great concern to today’s professional marketers:
1. What social tactics are most effective?
2. What are the best ways to engage my audience with social media?
3. How do I measure the return on my social media marketing?
4. How do I find my target audience with social media?
5. What are the best social management tools?
In order to answer these, I need to disclose to you that there is no “one size fits all” strategy for success in social. Depending on what business you are in, the specifics of these answers will vary, although the principles remain the same. Grab your scuba gear as we dive into each questions of these head first.
What social tactics are most effective?
The answer to this question depends on your social media goals. What is it you hope to gain from using social? To answer this, we’re going to have to dig a little deeper, Inception style – a list within a list. These are the top three social media goals of businesses, along with the best social tactics for each one.
1. Increase brand/product awareness
As Beth Comstock said, “Be where the world is going.” The most popular stat I’ve seen in the past year is that Facebook has 1.44 billion ACTIVE users, and that’s just on Facebook. I think it’s easy to say that the world is certainly going to social media.
A great way to boost your awareness is to find groups or pages that your target market follows and get active. If you own an ice cream shop, join the “Ice Cream Enthusiasts” page and get involved in the conversation. Get your brand in front of customers’ eyes by adding valuable insights while demonstrating your expertise.
If this isn’t enough, you could always use social paid advertising to get impressions (views). The targeting of these platforms is so precise it’s scary (which we will touch on later). As long as you have a good understanding of your customers, you will undoubtedly be able to find your way in front of their eyes.
Video is taking Facebook by force. The reach is astronomical compared to a link or photo. Do something remarkable that’s tied to your product or service, record it, and slap it on your page. Building awareness is a marathon, not a sprint. Test out different types of posts to see what breeds the most reach with your audience, and optimize appropriately.
2. Improve brand/product reputation
It doesn’t matter how good or bad (or non-existent) your reputation is, you will always need good reputation management. Your social profiles are useful tools for your prospective customers to learn more about you and how you interact with the social community. One tactic to improve your reputation is to post philanthropic activities that your company takes part in. Especially with Baby Boomers (who are, surprisingly, the biggest consumers of content online), giving back to the community leaves a huge impression on how people will perceive your brand.
Another way to boost your reputation is to encourage previous customers to leave reviews on your profiles. Social influence plays a big part in your reputation, and seeing that others were pleased with your product/service will leave a positive imprint in their minds. If you are faced with a distraught customer, do not ignore them. Address the situation professionally by briefly replying to their comment and then moving the conversation into a private message. These customers just want to be heard, so let them vent. Here are some helpful tips on how to handle angry customers on social. You can also demonstrate your expertise on social media by posting blog posts and case studies from your company. This will help you gain a reputation as a thought leader in your industry.
3. Increase Website Traffic
There are a handful of tactics you can use to drive people to your home page. One is using paid advertising, which I firmly believe is one of the strongest tools of social media. But say you want to stay organic. One of the best ways to get people to your site is through a blog. Posting your blog onto social media is one of the top ways to distribute your content. Make sure the article is relevant, interesting or valuable to your followers. The headline needs to be catchy and entice users to click on it. Here is a great article from Buffer on how to write a killer headline that gets conversions.
You can also use social to promote a giveaway campaign or contest. People love free stuff! Provide a link to a landing page on your site that has a form they fill out to enter the contest. In the form, don’t ask for too much information. An e-mail and a first/last name is enough. Once they complete the form, the “thank you” page should always have a call to action for them to continue browsing your site.
On the social side of things, stay engaged with the people participating in the contest and put out consistent teasers so they don’t forget about it. Post the winner’s name (and a picture if possible) once the contest is over. When your followers see another regular ol’ person holding up the prize, it gives them a much more positive view of your brand as opposed to not never getting any closure. And it gives them hope when entering a contest next time around.
What are the best ways to engage with my audience with social media?
Engagement is an enormous perk of social. Post stimulating content that entices your followers to comment or share. This opens up the door for you to express your human voice. As a page on Facebook, you are limited to only commenting on and liking your own posts as well as other pages’ posts. But there is one sneaky trick that we recently discovered here at That! Company which will exponentially increase your reach. We’re going to take a quick detour below to show you how…
Reach your follower’s friends
There are several ways to do this. Some of the methods work on certain pages, and some don’t… So I’ll show you the easiest way. Go to your “Manage Your Business” and then click on the page you wish to manage.
From here, there should be a notification on the top right that says “Use Facebook as your Page.” Click here, and you will get a notification asking you to confirm.
Scroll down your timeline and you will see that on some of your posts, there is an indication that it was shared. Click on this and it will take you to the “sharer’s” post of your content.
On this screen, you can like, comment or re-share. I would suggest liking and commenting while mentioning the “sharer’s” name, to keep it personalized and not spammy.
This is an amazing opportunity to reach out and increase awareness of your brand. When people share your content, it puts your post out there in front of their network, which is a completely untapped audience that you are now reaching. On top of that, when you like or comment on that share, friends of the “sharer” will see it and also become part of the conversation while being exposed to your brand. It’s a great way to slip yourself in front of your “sharer’s” network as a voice, and not just a page. Keep in mind, depending on the privacy settings of the “sharer,” you might not be able to perform this.
Best practices for social media engagement include staying positive and adding value to a conversation, regardless of the platform. If you can’t add value, it’s okay to not say anything. Just because you can engage doesn’t mean you should. I like to treat social media like a party. You aren’t going to jump into each conversation just to get your face out there; that’s just annoying. Focus on quality engagement, not quantity.
How do I measure the return on my social media marketing?
In my opinion, this should be the number one question. The problem is that every business defines “return” differently. Some see it as sales, some see it as page likes, some see it as website traffic, and so on. To answer this, first you need to understand what social media is used for. Let’s go back to the ice cream shop example. If customers are going to your shop (where the ice cream is sold), that’s the equivalent of them going to your website. Their intent is to buy ice cream, so they go directly to the source.
With social, users aren’t actively searching for products to buy. While your website is like your storefront, your social media page is a mixer that your brand is simply hosting. This is where people are sharing stories, likes, dislikes and interests. Their intent isn’t to buy, it’s to become familiar with the experience your “mixer” has to offer. If they enjoy that experience, then they will think of you next time that they are craving a cone of vanilla chocolate swirl. They will go directly to your store front (website), hindering you from knowing if it was the social media experience that attributed to that sale.
While social media does contributes to sales, it’s very difficult to know if it played the role as the influencer without being inside your customers’ minds. Basically, social is not necessarily a direct sales tool, so that’s not the number you should be measuring. The best measurement is your engagement numbers. How many re-tweets or replies are you getting? Are followers sharing your content and having a conversation with their friends about it? Clicks are important to measure to learn how interesting your headline/picture is, but they don’t tell you if your audience engaged in that content or if they just bounced right out. Although, if you are running sweepstakes or contests, there are tools to directly measure the success of those campaigns.
A way I like to measure when doing a client analysis is to do the eye test. Just by looking, are you seeing the brand having a conversation, or are they just posting and disappearing? Are they posting content relevant to their audience, or are they just promoting their product? Hiring a social media consultant to review your profiles beyond the numbers couldn’t hurt. Unfortunately, in the digital world today, numbers can lie. Anyone can purchase 500 Twitter followers for $5, so numbers like these can be misleading to the actual reputation of the brand. If you have a professional social audit, you will discover some big opportunities for improvement.
How do I find my target audience with social media?
Beyond using cookies, it’s not an easy task to locate your audience on the internet…unless you are using social. As I mentioned earlier, Facebook advertising is nothing short of amazing with its targeting capabilities. Let me take you through a quick tour…
Are you targeting a specific location? That’s as easy as pie. Pie with a scoop of ice cream on top actually. You can target people not only by if they live there, but even if they’ve just visited there recently or if they plan on going there soon.
Demographics go beyond age, gender and language with Facebook. Below you can see just the tip of the iceberg of the other criterion you can use.
Let’s have a taste of one of these ice-cream-covered-pie demographics, just to show you how in depth we can get. How about Life Events.
Yes, go ahead and rub your eyes and pinch yourself. This targeting is so specific it will drive you crazy. Keep in mind that this is for Facebook paid advertising, which I highly suggest using. Other social platforms have advertising that is also very useful for targeting the right people, but these still don’t come close to Facebook’s capabilities. Keep an eye out for Pinterest and Instagram ads, as these are tremendous opportunities for finding your target audience and engaging with them.
What if you want to target people on Facebook who have visited your site? With Custom Audiences, it’s now a reality. This is the most efficient way to re-target people who have previously visited and/or converted on your website. Facebook does a great job describing Custom Audiences on their site.
If you want to go organic, you will have to take a more guerilla approach. First, you need to figure out what type of interests your target audience has. Look at your competitor’s pages and at common interests your audience has. Using Facebook’s advanced search, this won’t be too difficult. There are special queries you can put into Facebook’s search function that will pull up some goodies, as seen below.
Boom. Do this for one of your competitors and you will get a better idea of your target audience’s interests. Engage in these pages, get involved in the conversation and you’ll be able to find your target market very easily. This does take a lot of legwork, so make sure you give yourself a good amount of time.
What are the best social management tools?
Believe it or not, this is the hardest question to answer. Some tools are better for analytic reports, some are better for engagement, and some are better for saving time. If you are shopping for tools, ask around to other social media managers in your network to get their take on it. Convince and Convert lists and explains 5 very helpful tools you can use.
What do we use at That Company? That’s a good question! We are currently testing several free trials to figure out which one fits our business needs the best. This is an awesome feature that most of these tools offer. Some are 7-day free trials, some are 30-day free trials (no credit cared required). I would suggest going the same route if you can’t make up your mind. So far, Sprout Social has stolen my heart with its wonderful user experience, design, and stellar customer service.
The answers we receive will usually be different depending on who is asking the question. “One size fits all” is no longer considered a good thing. Just as with social media marketing, you want to tailor your message to match the right audience. While we did answer these five major queries, more questions remain. When you reach them, don’t panic, and don’t become frustrated if you don’t know the answer. Replace your angst with curiosity, and seek the answer. Replace “I can’t” with “I can if”. That’s the formula you can use next year, when the marketers of 2016 have a whole new set of questions for us to crush. Cheers.
Written by Tim Mehta, Social Media Manager