Like any marketing, social media works best when it is focused and clear. This means targeting a specific audience with something that appeals to them. If you take this approach you’ll attract the right followers.
A word you may have heard in regards to marketing is ‘campaign’, this is a term marketeers use to describe a focused and coordinated series of marketing activities over a period of time that promote a business/service/product. Generally each campaign has a target audience and message, with a very specific purpose. This technique is used as you can’t market all your products/services to everyone at the same time, the message will either be so generic that it won’t interest anyone, or so extensive that people will have a difficult time understanding it.
A good social media campaign will look at: Who, What, Why, How and When
- Who – Who your audience are
- What – What you want them to buy/do/see
- Why – Why that audience would want to know
- How – What are you going to do to get the message over (advert, press release, social media, blog etc.) and what is the content of it going to be
- When – Is there an event that is happening that you need to work around, or do you just need to allocate some specific time for your campaign. You should always plan every aspect of a social media marketing campaign
Every update on you do on social media should consider these things, even if you are just retweeting an interesting article you must think “is this relevant to my target audience right now?”A targeted social media campaign will attract the right audience and increase followers Click To Tweet
First things first: decide who your audience is
One of the most difficult things to figure out is your audience, often you have more than one audience type and you need to separate them all in order to target them individually. Individual audiences will have different things that will entice them.
To start with I always go through this step-by-step process, I use a big sheet of paper and just write down everything I can think of, I then slowly narrow it down. Follow these four steps to determine the audience you are going to target:
Audience brainstorm – who buys your product/service? It could be that you have lots of audiences, so brainstorm anyone you think has potential to be a customer. Consider the following traits of each audience type: age group, location, gender, financial background, career, lifestyle, places they go, how much time they have.
Also, look at whether your audience is the direct decision maker, in the case of children they may have an influence but it will most likely be the parent that buys, so in that case you might have to appeal to both
- Pick one audience at a time to focus on – the best social media campaigns target one audience and subject matter at a time. From your brainstorm pick a single audience you’d like to focus on first
- Decide what will entice them – once you’ve picked an audience you need to answer these important questions: What are the benefits to them and what appeals to them? Why and when does that person buy from you? For example, if you produce cat food then it’s no good trying to sell it to dog owners, you want to attract people who like cats – so you make sure all your content has a cat focus. Even if you find a funny dog picture or a tortoise doing a head-stand don’t post it, it may appeal to you but it might not appeal to a cat owner. Go with the one thing you know about most cat owners – they like cats!
- Where are they? – The final thing you have to work out is what social media channels your chosen audience is using
You can have more than one social media campaign running at the same time, but keep them separate – you don’t want your audience to receive mixed messages
Which social media channels are right for your business
There are so many social media channels out there, I’ve rounded up the most popular ones and given a brief description of them but you will need to experiment to find the best one for you. It is good to have at least a basic presence in most of the popular social media channels as, firstly, they will help your search engine rankings and secondly, by having your own official page it helps secure your username so no one else can use it. For example, on Facebook you can secure a proper URL once you have 30 likes or more so that your Facebook page link looks something like: www.facebook.com/mycompanyname – most social media channels will have some sort of option like this.
- LinkedIn – Very professional and business focused, it tends to be targeted towards the individual person rather than a company, although you can have company pages. It is a great place to attract business clients but not so good for attracting consumers. It’s not quite as time consuming as some of the other social media channels as there tends to be a lot of smaller groups and communities that are easier to reach, which enables you to focus your message to the right people
- Twitter – Good for businesses and consumers, but can be quite content heavy and difficult to find your audience, it needs a consistent effort not just in content but also in following and engaging with others
- Facebook – Is very people focused and works well for consumer brands, but also community based businesses. If you can get a loyal, Facebook community established it can work incredibly well for your business
- Google+ – Opinion on Google+ is mixed, some people rate it highly but there are many that think it’s not used widely enough to be of use. Taking that into account it is still definitely worth having a basic presence on there, and if you’re a local business then make sure you have a Google business page as this makes you easier to find in Google results and maps when people do a search on their local area
- YouTube – Video is becoming incredibly popular for every size of business, have a read of my blog post on video marketing to learn more about how it can benefit your business. Video helps emotionally connect a customer with your business. Plus, search engines value video content highly and it will help to increase your search ranking
- Pinterest and Instagram – If your business has a lot of visual elements then a picture based social media might work very well for you. Examples of businesses that should consider using it are: the craft sector, if you have a lot of events, high celebrity involvement, lots of art/photography, visually appealing products, venues and attractions – something that will work best in pictorial form
- Slideshare – Tends to be business focused, a great place to share presentations which you can also embed into your own website/blog or link to them via social media sites
I would recommend you look at other businesses like yours and see what social media channels they are on, see if some are working better for them than others. Experiment yourself and see which gets you the best return on your time and investment.
Focus on no more than two or three channels (unless you have a very large social media team), as too many will become overwhelming. For example, my two main channels are LinkedIn and Twitter. I do have a presence on Facebook, Google+ and YouTube, and I use Slideshare for embedding my seminar slides into blog posts. You can reduce workload by, for example, getting your Twitter account to connect to your Facebook so that when you post something to one account it duplicates on the other – a good way of keeping your secondary social media channels active without extra effort.
Create interesting and focused content
Once you’ve decided which audience you are going to target, and have decided what they are interested in, you have to create the content. This might just be a 140 word tweet, or it might be a full eBook that you then share via social media. Your social media shouldn’t be all about your business, it’s not a place to have continuous sales content – you must be useful, consistent and engaging which will lead to more followers, recognition and hopefully more customers. Some ideas on content for social media:
- A blog piece or news article – you can then share the link to it, or pick out interesting quotes from it
- An ebook – once again share a link or interesting quotes, share photos of the cover or any interesting pictures or diagrams inside the book, perhaps create a blog piece about the author
- An event – either one of your own or someone else’s event, see my blog post on getting your social media ready for an event for some good tips. You can get a lot of mileage out of any event: before the day, during and after. Don’t forget to take lots of photos and do a blog write-up afterwards as that can all be shared via social media too
- Some company news – award, new website, new accreditation, new staff member
- An infographic – this is a large graphic that displays useful information, usually interesting statistics. Information is often much easier to read in graphical form which has led to infographic becoming incredibly popular. You can also submit your infographic to other blog and news sites like mashable.com who will often share them on their site where they will reach a huge audience. For some examples of good infographics have a look at dailyinfographic.com
- Whitepapers and research pieces – show how knowledgeable your company is on a subject, a great way to showcase how good you are to potential customers
- Products and services – showcase a product or service
- Case studies and testimonials – a great way to show your business is trustworthy
- Interesting quotes and statistics – anything you think might be interesting to your followers, you can often fit them into a 140 character tweet, if it’s too long then you could always create a nice, simple graphic with the quote or statistic on and share that via social media
- Other people’s news articles and blogs – if it’s something that will interest your audience and you just want to share it then go ahead, I normally put a one sentence comment to go with the link that expresses my opinion or reason why I’ve shared it. A good way to find articles that you can share is to subscribe to newsletters. I often tweet business articles so I get regular email newsletters from The Telegraph Business Club, Startups.co.uk etc. – they give me a round-up of interesting business news and stories. It’s good to follow newspapers and magazines on your social media too so that you can retweet/share any interesting items they put up
- Sales and special offers – these will, of course, entice your followers
- Competitions – a great way get users interacting with you, be careful that you read up on competition rules on Facebook as they are particularly strict on what you can and can’t do
- Videos – there are so many options for creating video content from a simple product overview, up to an extensive promotional video
- Photos – of anything you think will interest your audience: events, products, designs, art, funny viral images – there are endless possibilities
Those are just a few ideas and every audience will want different content. When you decide on your target audience and what they want to see it should become much easier to decide what content to produce. Also, look at what content your competitors are creating, see what works and what doesn’t – a good indicator is to look at which content is getting lots of likes/retweets/shares.
Follow, share and engage
Social media is a two-way street – it’s not just a case of “if you build it, they will come”. You need to go and find your followers too. If you’re using Twitter and you post up a link to someone else’s blog, article or page, then it’s a good idea to pop their Twitter handle (the name that starts with an ‘@’ symbol, eg. @yourcompany) into the tweet too, this way the author will notice you’ve tweeted one of their pieces and they often retweet it which gives you extra exposure. So, if we take the example of an article from The Telegraph, your tweet might look something like this:
“Fancy starting a business? Quirky cafes and Peruvian food top list of 2015 start-up trends | via @Telegraph http://fw.to/ShS05Uh”
This tweet is aimed at people wanting to start a business and it gives readers an idea of what types of businesses will be popular this year, you’ll see the The Telegraph’s Twitter handle ‘@Telegraph’ and the link to the article (the link looks quite short as it’s been shortened to make sure it doesn’t use up too space in your tweet as you only have 140 characters. The Telegraph site did this shortening for me but you can use places like Bitly to help shorten a link, it’s free and easy to do). Often if you mention someone in a tweet it will entice that person to check your profile out, sometimes they will start following you too.
If someone has posted a message on a social media site then feel free to reply or comment on it, make sure it is a genuine point and not a sales message. If what you write is interesting then you will naturally attract people who will check your profile out and will hopefully become a follower or a customer. If you decide LinkedIn is a place for you then you must also join some relevant groups where you should post topics and comment on others threads, there are loads of groups for different interests and by joining and participating you get a lot more exposure.
The other technique is to follow and like other people’s accounts, on Twitter in particular if you follow someone then they often follow back. People often do a ‘follow campaign’ where they just spend time following people on Twitter to try and get them to follow back, if you target your core audience when doing a ‘follow campaign’ then you can then start acquiring the right people.
Work through this article to start your own social media campaign. Please feel free to leave a comment below to let me know how you got on, or if you have any questions.