If you want to market to an audience in 2016, you’ll find them on social media. Facebook’s user base is now larger than the population of China, Instagram grew 50% in 9 months, LinkedIn has nearly 400 million members, and it seems that a new site or app pops up every day that demands our audience’s attention. With so many options and networks to choose from, the sheer scale of social media marketing can overwhelm marketers. But a coherent social media marketing strategy is essential to an effective digital marketing campaign, and social networks are growing ever more savvy about helping marketers reach their audiences. So, with hope on the horizon, let’s start by looking at what some of the most popular social media sites are, and what they aren’t.
The first thing to keep in mind when marketing on social media is that each social medial platform began with unique functionality that evolved to drive different forms of discussion. Twitter, for example, is a way for customers to have direct, public conversations with a brand (or anyone). But if you want more involved professional discussions, you may need to head to Google+ or LinkedIn. According to the Pew Research Center, LinkedIn’s users are more likely to be aged 30-64 than 18-29. On the other hand, Facebook and Instagram are more popular among younger generations and are much more visual modes of communicating.
So, as we review the best practices for social media marketing below, keep in mind that the best social strategies adapt to their channel. If you have any questions or would like to a review of your social media strategy, please don’t hesitate to contact Young Marketing Consulting.
Facebook Best Practices
Facebook is taking more and more steps to keep users on the Facebook platform by autoplaying videos and housing news articles within its site, rather than having visitors click away to other sites. These efforts make things tricky for marketers looking to drive traffic from Facebook, but you do have some good options:
- Ramp up your organic Facebook activity: there’s still no substitute for a post that goes viral, so make sure that you’re regularly posting engaging content and responding to users who interact with your posts to build your community. Be friendly and personable, and remember that Facebook is primarily a visual medium. The platform currently has more video views than YouTube, so the more images and videos you’re posting the better. If you’re struggling for topics, try how-tos, “listicles,” comparisons/quizzes, or just plain humor. Many Facebook users also wear their hearts on their sleeves, so cause advocacy can work well in this space also.
- Use Facebook’s advertising and post-boosting tools: Facebook is doing more than ever to integrate advertising within its platform, and if you haven’t yet experimented with its targeting capabilities now would be a good time. Facebook allows strong targeting based on user interests, and its advertising cost-per-click rates are some of the more affordable of the various PPC advertising channels. While conversion rates from social media ads tend to be lower, you’ll at the very least know that you’re getting your advertising in front of the right audience.
Twitter Best Practices
Twitter is still an evolving social media platform. At its best, Twitter allows for lively conversations among diverse groups, while giving a unique form of direct access to brands and individuals that would not otherwise be possible. Here are two best practice tips for Twitter from the team:
- Engage with influencers on an individual level: One thing that’s easy to forget in the Twitterverse is that there’s a human being behind the computer screen who’s reading and reacting to what you’re saying. The best analogy for Twitter is that it’s like a cocktail party – you don’t want to stand in the corner shouting to yourself, you want to reach out to people, ask them questions, help them out when you can. And by doing so, you’ll begin to build your own influence. Directly tag people and respond to them in a timely manner – etiquette matters in the online world.
- Keep up with hashtags: Hashtags let everyone chime in to a single conversation, and are great tools to use when you don’t have large numbers of followers. They’ll also show you trending topics that you’d like to be involved in that you can take advantage of in the real world as well. Hashtags.org is a good resource to identify popular and trending hashtags. A few other words of wisdom on Twitter – try posting in afternoons and later in the week, and include pictures when you can. Keep your conversations natural, and don’t force a sales message into a discussion. It’s the quickest way to see yourself blocked.
LinkedIn Best Practices
LinkedIn is the most popular “professional” social network in the U.S., and the conversations you’ll find here are very much geared toward testing ideas and asking for advice on business topics. For this reason, it’s a much better B2B marketing tool than any other social network. Here are a few tips for maximizing your reach on LinkedIn:
- Engage in discussion groups: Discussion groups are some of the lesser-known features of LinkedIn but are a great way to demonstrate your expertise. Adding quality responses to industry-specific discussion groups will add to your credibility and build your audience among those who don’t know you. The topics will also show up in searches as well, which never hurts. One thing you don’t want to do is hit LinkedIn with heavy sales messages. LinkedIn users are savvy business people; the hard social media sell will turn them off. By the same token, company posts are not the best places to engage in discussions.
- Remember that your company is a collection of individuals: People follow other people, not companies. Your company officers should be posting on LinkedIn and tagging your company or promoting those posts. In addition, your CEO or spokesperson should be regularly commenting on news, engaging in discussions, etc. The more conversations you can get your teams involved in, the greater your reach will extend throughout the platform.
We hope that these social media best practices help set you up for success in 2016 and beyond. Next week, we’ll cover some of the “newer” social media platforms out there: YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, and more!