As an on line marketing consultant, I have to constantly search out inventive ways to generate traffic to my clients' offers. It is not always easy, because every business is different. The approach I take will vary according to what industry and marketplace I am targeting.
But, having said that, I find that there is a basic set of rules you can follow to make sure you reach your target audience and convert at a higher rate. In my opinion there are 5 important parts to making sure your marketing via social media is effective.
Understand your marketplace - I know... this goes without saying - right? Well, not really; you'd be astonished at the small amount of time companies often put into figuring out who their target audience is. Remember these questions: Who are you speaking to? What are the problems and needs of this group of people? What is their age range and how much money do they make? Determining who these people are will help you present the right message.
I create Personas that outline the basic information about who my potential customers are. Creating 4-5 Personas helps me get my creative juices going because it starts to feel like I am marketing to a real person. Think of this imaginary person as a real person and use your marketing to reach them in a way that gets them to respond. Orange Bus offers a great (and free) Personas template you can use here: http://www.orangebus.co.uk/sites/default/files/Orange%20Bus%20Workshop%20Persona%20Template_v2.0_0.pdf
Listen to the people - Each industry has a completely different audience, but it is important to listen closely to what people are saying, regardless of what you are selling. Listen to the conversations - the comments, the complaints, the praises, the opinions, the questions, the criticisms, and formulate your content accordingly.
Use the right content for the offer - We all know that "Content is King!" when it comes to SEO, but the same holds true for Social Media marketing. If you truly understand who your audience is and what your end goals are you will create the kind of content that translates perfectly to that particular audience.
Providing relevant content creates a so-called "stickiness" that will help you generate more visits because people will want to share it. They will link to it from their blogs, social media accounts and other places, if they think it's useful. In my example (below) I explain how I have used good content to generate thousands of visitors to my client's offer.
What is your end goal? - What is it that you are hoping to accomplish by reaching out to this person or group? Are you trying to get them to buy something? Are you hoping they will sign up for your newsletter? Whatever your goal is, you should make sure that the page you are sending them to effectively converts them. Make sure you have the proper call-to-action and you are using the right mental triggers to create that sale or lead.
Don't overwhelm them with too much information. I find that clean pages with plenty of open spaces make it easier for people to get to the content (or action) you want them to see. Your landing page will determine if this person becomes a customer, so take your time and split test different versions to make sure you are getting the most effective page in front of your visitors.
Use the right social media channels - Every social media network has a different kind of audience; which one you decide to focus on is important. For instance, I find that for my personal line of work, LinkedIn provides a great B2B type of audience where, if I am marketing a 'consumer' product for a client, I might focus on Facebook or Twitter a bit more. If you are a real estate agent who wants to show off a new property you might use Pinterest or other image-hosting social media sites, but if you have just completed an online teaching program, you might find it useful to market via video on Youtube, DailyMotion and other video distribution sites.
This all falls back to point #1 - Understand your audience. Where (on what sites) do they hang out? What do they actually do on the social media site you are trying to use for marketing purposes?
To give you one example, I manage the online marketing for a company within the "Telecom" space and I use social media to drive potential agents to their offer. I understand that the audience they are targeting is a professional group of people, made up of cellular and land-line service providers--technicians and other people--who provide a variety of telecom services to their customers.
On LinkedIn I created a profile with information about my client's business. I use this account to join Telecom groups and connect with people within the industry. Within a month or two I had almost 2,000 connections and I am constantly engaging with people from all corners of the world to help drive traffic to my client's Website and their agent programs. This is how it's done.
I hire professional writers to write articles about this specific industry, and I use those articles to market their offer via social media sites. The client needs to attract people who own businesses and / or provide services to businesses, so I focus more on LinkedIn than other social media sites.
I find questions in the Q & A section of LinkedIn that might be answered by one of my articles. This allows me to add a link as reference, which drives (targeted) traffic to my client's Web page in large numbers. I also post these articles to the groups I've joined and drive even more traffic to their page outlining their agent programs. I posted an article recently that ended up creating such a buzz that it had almost 1,000 comments (and still growing) and generated THOUSANDS of visitors to their site.
As another example, I once used Facebook and Twitter to reach housewives and interior decorators who were interested in luxury stainless steel appliances. I hired professional writers to give decor tips and advice, and I used these articles to get 'likes' and 'follows' from people who may want to remodel a kitchen. I paid close attention to conversations that were taking place on interior decorating groups and on Twitter. I used hashtags that were being followed by similar groups of people to post links to these articles.
In the end, having the right content and targeting the right audience can make a dramatic change in your marketing. If you are a specialist in your niche, and you have decent writing skills, you should start writing content NOW. If you don't have good writing skills, you can always outsource your writing using places like Odesk.com, writeraccess.com, elance.com or any of the major freelance networks on the Web. If you have good videos, make sure you upload them to Youtube.com, DailyMotion.com, vimeo.com and other video sites to expand your reach.
There are also companies that provide all of these services if you don't have the time or experience in generating content. I have personally put together an "all-inclusive" online marketing program that handles it all for you, so if you need help please give me a ring!