How do I do social network marketing?
It’s a question that those looking to start or have already started an online business frequently ask… and rightfully so.
Social network marketing has become such an integral part of internet marketing that a lot of booming businesses and popular startups have literally started themselves from just one social network profile. But this isn’t to say that social network marketing is a simple activity that results in huge gains.
Though social network marketing can greatly improve the market awareness for your product, it takes a lot of time and effort to produce significant results. When we consider the number of businesses that have become popular with the help of this type of marketing, there are more that have failed trying. For businesses under a tight budget, the efficiency of their marketing process becomes all the more important.
There are a lot of resources all over the internet that teach people how to do social media marketing. But most of these are just theories and/or vague generalizations. The reality is that different types of businesses have different requirements and practice is very different from theory, all the more so in social network marketing where the people dynamic is the most important. In this article, we will reveal to you our own social network process in order to help people who just don’t know where and how to start.
All social network marketing is done with social network profiles and if you don’t have your social network accounts yet create them right away. Create your accounts on all the major social networks such as Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Pinterest and Instagram.
For our own websites, we’ve only chosen the top 4 (http://www.ebizmba.com/articles/social-networking-websites) social networks which are Facebook, Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn. If you are promoting products that are important for their visual appeal, be sure to also make use of visual-centric platforms such as Tumblr and Instagram.
It is important that your social media profiles provide as much information on your business as briefly as possible – and don’t forget to include a link to your website.
Here comes the tricky part. Your social network profiles are just as important as the number of people who like/follow you or are able to see and read your posts. What’s the use of your posts if only a few people will see them?
Social networks work on the basic premise of maintaining your real-world networks as well as create new ones. And since every social network starts with zero likes and follows, you need to subtly persuade tell your own contacts to like your page. You can start with your immediate relatives and most eager customers.
If you already have a handful of likes/follows, then you can start publishing your posts. Remember though that social media marketing is all about likes and the never-ending goal is always to get more and more likes/follows from potential customers.
Your primary tool for getting more likes/follows should be your published posts but it’s still important to complement this with strategies suited to each social network. Our system for getting new likes/follows is set up like this:
Like other fan pages that are in the same niche but are not direct competitors. This gives us a chance for them to like us back and create good social relations with them.
Follow a number of profiles that have the potential to follow back once a week. It may be tempting to follow 1000 profiles all at once expecting at least 100 to follow back but the people on Twitter have become especially wary of automated accounts run by bots. And a ratio of 1000 followed to 10 current followers is a definite red flag. Give them a chance to follow back before following another batch of profiles. You can also unfollow the profiles that didn’t like back before you follow another batch.
This is where you can theoretically follow 1000 profiles and expect 100 to follow back. But we suggest to refrain from doing that. Unless you have a really large business operating to satisfy a number of consumer interests, it’s better to target who you follow depending on their connections and communities joined.
LinkedIn offers a pretty good platform for looking up potential customers and business partners by searching for them by field e.g. landscaping. LinkedIn is best for finding B2B opportunities.
Disclaimer: If you’re in a niche market, gaining likes can be a slow and tedious process. The important thing to remember is to just keep on increasing your followers and likers even if you get to the point that you only get 1 new like/follow per week.
Disclaimer 2: Do not avail of any underhanded services like buying likes or follows. The goal is to get likes from potential customers, not from automated accounts.
For the sake of simplicity, let’s just call it “posts”. And likers/followers as “followers”.
Now that’s a load off of my mind. Moving on.
There is that part where you get to market your brand to get more customers paying or to get new ones. But don’t just go ahead and spam your followers with mind-numbing ads. Never do this. First and foremost, remember that social networks are places where people interact with both old and new friends and acquaintances. Unless your followers are really dedicated fanboys or groupies, no one will appreciate you constantly promoting your own ass.
We have a system in place to publish one post per day, seven days of the week. The thing to remember about the posts is that they shouldn’t all be about promoting your products or service. Some posts should be created to create engagement, to provide information and some to provide entertainment. Talking about your products all the time is monotonous and will definitely come off as too corporate.
Social network marketing also gives businesses the opportunity to humanize their product to come closer to their customers. Publishing posts shouldn’t be all about you talking about your products, rather, it should be about you talking to your customers and creating a healthy conversation which isn’t always about your products.
But do we just log on to our social networks every day and check for updates every hour? Won’t it take too much time away from what really matters like closing deals?
If we have an efficient systemised process in place, then the answers are no and no.
This efficient systemised process entails us to create our social media posts ahead of time and schedule them accordingly in the social network profiles. We are using a 10-post template to create posts that are not solely for the purpose of self-promotion.
POST 1 (Promoting the company’s own products)
POST 2 (Inspirational quote related to niche)
POST 3 (Promoting the company’s own products)
POST 4 (Promoting another company in the same niche but not a direct competitor)
POST 5 (Informative post)
POST 6 (Promoting another company in the same niche but not a direct competitor)
POST 7 (Informative post)
POST 8 (Promoting the company’s own products)
POST 9 (Informative post)
POST 10 (Promoting another company in the same niche but not a direct competitor)
After the 10th post, we rinse and repeat.
The next thing to consider is how we schedule these posts to our social networks automatically. We are using Hootsuite for our social networks but there are a lot of other tools to choose from like Tweetdeck and Seesmic. http://webtrends.about.com/od/pr6/tp/The-Top-10-Social-Media-Management-Applications.htm
After creating the social media posts in advance, we just need to feed these to our social media management app of choice. This process of creating and scheduling posts can be done weekly or bi-weekly so it will not take too much time.
For example, if you have a niche business with a pretty straight-forward website and only a few customers, then it’s sufficient to check your social network profiles once in every 2 days. But if you have time to spend, then it’s still better to check them every day. You don’t need to take too long to check them every day. An hour is usually more than enough to check for comments or messages that need immediate replies on all your social networks.
Then there is the other case, the type of business that attends to a lot of customers or frequently starts and closes their deals through social networks. The social network profiles can become a portal for inquiries and replying to these promptly is only good business sense. It promotes good relations with your customers which will ultimately mean more sales for your business. In this case, it is important to check the social networks daily or even to place someone in-charge with checking for and answering comments and messages.
The worth of social network marketing is at an all-time high and there are no signs of it slowing down. It is especially valuable to small businesses that can’t compete with the large companies in terms of advertising. All it takes for a small business to rise up the ranks is an effective social network marketing strategy coupled with an efficient social network marketing process.
We hope this article has helped you to refine your own social network marketing process. If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to comment them below.