Integral to modern life, social media is here to stay. Socially minded prospects may not even take you seriously, if you do not have a presence on Facebook and Twitter. Additionally, some marketers believe that refusing social engagement is akin to throwing in the towel and giving up on your business. Most major corporations have a presence on some, if not all, of the big four social networks-Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.
While the significant influence of social media is generally accepted, many B2B companies struggle with how to increase the ROI of social media marketing. Winning in social media is a complex endeavor-calling for strategy, commitment, genuine engagement and coordinated cross-channel social promotion. Increased website traffic, higher lead generation and ultimately new business through your social media efforts are attainable.
A 5-Part Formula for Social Media Success
1. Social "Share" and "Follow" Buttons
Calls to action (CTAs) are just as important in the social sphere as they are for inbound marketing in general. Embed CTAs in your social content, and work to make your company easier to find on social media. Both share and follow buttons are critical, since they allow prospects to easily share your content and follow you on various social media channels-greatly amplifying your social reach. Place the buttons everywhere that would be relevant-your homepage, your blog, premium offers, landing pages and within your email marketing correspondence. Ensure effective mobile display of your social buttons. Mobile internet use, especially for social media, is rising exponentially.
2. Coordinated Cross-Channel Social Promotion
Cross-channel social promotion entails a planned marketing effort across multiple social media channels, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. For the best results, you should be consistent in message, while tailoring your content for each distinct social media channel. Effective presentation of your social content requires various approaches on different social networks. For example, LinkedIn updates should not look like tweets full of hashtags. While customizing updates for each of your social channels, employ a common theme to unite all your social content. Such coordination creates a synergy so that Facebook posts, LinkedIn updates and tweets have a greater combined impact than they would if created out of synch.
3. Content Customization
Analyze the personas of your social followings, which likely differ from one social network to the next. A better understanding the core interests of your audience according to network and their social sharing habits will enable you to post the types of content that spread the fastest on each social channel. Be observant, responsive and patient, as you will become more skilled at tailoring content for specific social networks over time. Striking the right topic and tone with your content according to the persona of your various social audiences will increase your reach and enhance engagement.
4. Genuine Engagement
Although it is time-consuming, aim to frequently and consistently interact and reply to your social fans and followers. Amplify your following by fostering a conversational and truly social community. The more your social audience communicates publicly about your company and your content, the more your exposure is magnified. High activity in response to your social updates will help them reach a much wider captive audience, such as prime Facebook Newsfeed exposure, LinkedIn trending or top tweets on Twitter.
Engagement is the primary way to foster relationships with your social following. However, you should also engage prospects who do not yet follow or "like" you. Natural introductions happen through genuine engagement, such as tweeting content, sharing Facebook updates or engaging in discussions within LinkedIn groups with the people and brands you wish to connect with.
Newsjacking entails riding the popularity wave of a hot news story and casting some of its bright spotlight on your content. Joining in on the social action, when a story breaks, allows you access to a larger-than-normal captive audience. When an exciting, relevant story pops, act fast and aim to be the first to share original, newsjacked content related to the story on social media. Being a first responder on the social scene could brand you as a "must-follow" informational resource. Oreo winningly newsjacked the Super Bowl blackout. Newsjacking and strategic social engagement can attract more followers, boost brand recognition and greatly increase website traffic and lead generation.
Social media is powerful and influential. However, real social media success is the result of many factors besides social media marketing itself-including excellent content creation, visually appealing website design, effective CTAs and landing pages, and engaging email marketing. A lot goes into a complete inbound marketing strategy, and one is required in order to fully capitalize on winning in social media.