When it comes to social media marketing, there are dozens of platforms and websites to choose from including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube, Vine, Instagram, Foursquare, Google Plus, Tumblr, and much more. There are 416 unique social media platforms that millions of users visit on a daily basis, according to the most recent estimates. It's no wonder that 57 percent of marketers intend to increase their social marketing budgets within the next year.
Some of the most notable benefits of social media include, but are not limited to:
Reduced marketing expenses. In today's challenging economy, small businesses and major corporations alike must look for ways to reduce marketing costs. Social media provides greater marketing ROI for 62 percent of businesses. Most marketers experience a significant traffic increase with as little as 6 hours spent on social media.
Harnessing the mobile market. As consumers increasingly rely on their mobile devices to browse the internet, businesses that invest in social media are able to more effectively target them. Why? Because social media is the number one activity for mobile users whenever they go online.
Cumulative growth. Businesses that are strategic in increasing their social media followings experience cumulative growth, which results in free advertising dollars. In other words, the more followers a business gains, the more people it can promote its content to for free.
Even as the web marinates in social media, the market shows no signs of slowing down. Chances are you're among the 57 percent of marketers with plans to ramp up social media.
Unfortunately, when it comes to social media, many marketers use an "aim-and-see-what-sticks" approach. Not only is this inefficient, but it can also harm your public image as your social media accounts publish ineffective posts. Instead, consider focusing on the "Big Four" of social media, which includes Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest. While it's never a bad idea to market on other social sites, focusing largely on the Big Four ensures the greatest possible marketing ROI.
Planning Your Social Media Campaign
Similar to a blueprint for building a home, it's vital to create a strategy for social media. Regardless of your industry and business size, Facebook and Google+ are two of the Big Four social platforms that you can't afford to ignore. In general, Twitter and Pinterest enhance these platforms.
When planning your social media campaign, it's important to remember that quality truly trumps quantity. Many brands make the mistake of creating excessively active social media accounts, which can be perceived as spam.
To harness the power of the Big Four for big results, consider the best practices for each:
Your business page is a unique platform that allows you to leverage user interaction, long form content, and promotional material. Instead of going for the "hard sell," focus on what Facebook users value most: fun content. For instance, consider posting a daily photo of a satisfied customer, encouraging followers to post their stories, publishing a funny joke, or publishing a link to interesting industry news.
Whatever you do on Facebook, your ultimate goal should be to create a human voice for your business. Social media users reject impersonal posts, which is why businesses that focus on self-promotion fail. Keep your posts consistent, as 50 percent of Facebook users check their accounts multiple times a day. Without regular content, your posts will be buried in an ever-updating newsfeed and won't be seen by your followers.
To increase your total reach, it's imperative to encourage your followers to interact with your post. Simply asking people to like, comment, or share your post vastly increases the likelihood of them doing so. Since every interaction with your brand is showcased to their friends list, your business page benefits from increased exposure.
Google+ is a double-edged sword. Though it doesn't have a rabid user base comparative to Facebook or Twitter, it's undeniably the favorite social platform of the largest search engine in the world, which happens to be its parent company. Since Google+ isn't as "popular" as Facebook, businesses make the mistake of failing to optimize their company page, which means they lose out on its benefits.
To succeed on Google+, it's vital to fill out your business' basic information. From location to hours of operation and contact information to mission statement, make sure your Google+ page touches on the most important elements of your company. Next, be sure to actively share information through your Google+ account. Pages that actively share content are more likely to rank and benefit from Google's search engine algorithm. However, be sure to limit self-promotional posts to less than 20 percent of your total activity. Ten percent is considered ideal.
A few decades ago, consumers heard about great deals and new businesses "through the grapevine." Today, consumers hear about businesses through a little birdy named Twitter. The best way to use Twitter is to build excitement. The rapid-fire culture of Twitter means that your brand can post more frequently compared to other platforms. Forget the excessively scripted tweets and focus on interacting with your most loyal followers.
Twitter is an excellent platform to partner with major influencers, use hashtags to gain attention, and show personality. Twitter is actually moving very fast and you should make efforts to reinforce your brand on it. If Facebook and Google+ are the "bread and butter" of social media marketing, Twitter is the condiment that adds unique flavor. Is your brand authentic and personal when using Twitter?
The easiest way to succeed on Pinterest is to integrate it with your existing online presence. For instance, add a "Pin It" button to your website, product pages, and web store. By making your imagery easy to share, you increase the likelihood of consumers talking about your products with their friends. The most successful Pinterest boards focus on quality over quantity, as users want to discover unique, intriguing, and original posts.
Incorporating the Big Four social media platforms into your online marketing plan is a must-do for success. Depending on your business and its industry, you might also consider sites such as YouTube and LinkedIn to grow your authority and brand awareness.