Social Media Marketing

With the increase in popularity of social media, especially for business use, the question of how to use social media for business is a popular one. There are a number of ways you can take advantage social media to benefit your business, often resulting in more orders, improved customer service and better loyalty retention.

Good things also tend to happen in terms of your website's rankings and traffic when you use social media properly. It can be an amazing source of readers, traffic, and a great community to be involved with. Some of the popular social media sites include Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, and Pinterest. Lets dive into the important stuff.

Specifics On The "Big Four"

Facebook

Facebook is still the most popular social media site. If you're going to introduce your website to Facebook make sure to do so in the form of a Facebook Business Page. This will let you share the information about and from your blog separately from your personal account. Personally, the two do sometimes overlap for me, but I like to give each site its own home on Facebook.

Here are a couple decent Facebook resources:

Instagram

Although now owned by Facebook, Instagram is best known for its dedicated-to-images approach. If your business showcases very well via image or video or both, then you should most definitely be using Instagram.

The typical approach to differentiate Instagram from other social media types is to focus on higher quality images and post less often. In an Instagram feed, you'll often find posts from 5 or 7 days ago, but which gained a lot of attention; this proves the point that higher quality wins on Instagram.

Twitter

Probably one of my favourite social media platforms because it's like the cocktail party for bloggers. It lets you connect and interact with people in short bursts. It's great for asking questions and participating in discussions surrounding your industry. If you don't already have a twitter account I would recommend you grab one now.

Here are some great Twitter resources:

Pinterest

Pinterest is a fairly new platform as far as social media goes. However, it has exploded in growth over the last year and continues to grow very quickly. It is a very visual social media platform, on which you can "Pin" images and share your "Boards" with the rest of the community. It's a great way to promote your blog and get traffic if your topic is a visual one. Get creative and create something to Pin to Pinterest - it's also a great platform to connect with others in your industry and share their pins.

Some recent and good resources for Pinterest:

Google+

We don't consider Google+ one of the 'big guys' anymore because Google barely does. That said, Google+ has its biggest benefits in SEO, moreso than as a social network of its own and so linking your Google+ page to your Google Business page can be quite beneficial. This is especially true if you automate your posting with a tool like Buffer, Missingltr, or Hootsuite.

There are a couple things that I really love about Google+ and those are the Hangout and the Google Authorship. The hangout lets you connect with other people via a shared video chat where you can discussion anything, and other people can watch. The video is automatically published to YouTube after the fact. It's a great way to interact with your community and other people within it.

Google authorship is a very important part of both search rankings and personal authority in the eyes of Google. This is what will put your face in the search engines - literally. Instead of going into too much detail, I've linked out to a great guide on getting the authorship setup. If you've installed the plugin for SEO that we discussed in the last section than you shouldn't have any problems with this.

Google+ Resources:

How to integrate Social Media with your Website

Free Methods to Best Utilize Social Media

Social Media for Customer Service

Customer service can often be greatly improved with the use of socialmedia. Participating in the communities that your customers are in will let you have great conversations, and offer support where necessary. Here’s a few ways to make it work for you:

 1. Status Updates

Providing product and service updates via Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and other forms of social media will let your followers know what’s going on with your company.

 2. One-on-One Support

It’s also important to monitor any @ replies, or direct messages, both on Twitter and Facebook, for questions, complaints, or comments. Being quick to answer your customers’ questions online through social media is a great way to increase brand recognition and loyalty.

Social Media for Sales and Promotions

Social media is also a great medium for offering discounts and promotions for your products and services. Allowing your followers, fans, and friends, to enter draws or receiving discounts for helping you promote your business can be an excellent way to increase sales while reaching more people.

Try to avoid posting regular priced items, unless there’s something special about them. For example, if you just got in a special order or just modified something anew, then post all you want! However if you’re just posting the same old product without promotion, your followers will get bored and unfollow you. Instead, if you have nothing new to post about your products, then write articles or post images on your website that are related to your products and industry. Then you have something ‘new’ to Tweet about or send to your Facebook followers that will likely interest them.

Even if you don’t directly ask for a sale in your social media posts themselves, you can indirectly do so by having your call to action in the content or at the bottom of the article your posted on your site. This way your followers click through to an article about something they’re interested in, then become enticed to purchase your product or service once they visit your site. Pretty neat, right?

Social Media for Improving Organic SEO Rankings

Leveraging web content

Another great reason to use social media is to leverage the content on your website. By promoting your new content via social media it will give access to your content to potentially thousands of people that wouldn’t otherwise know about it. This may also increase the amount of back-links to your site as well as the length of time visitors stay on your website. If you are able to track these visitors you may also get a better idea of what percentage of clicks or sales to expect if you were to run a promotion or sales campaign.

Google+, Twitter and Facebook Search Tie-Ins

Google uses your Google+ profile to often improve the ranking of your website, as long as the two are linked clearly. With Google+ you need to ensure that you specify your author rel info in the meta tags of the site (the WordPress Yoast SEO plugin has this option) as well as specify that you’re an author for your website in your Google+ settings. A few days after doing this, you should see google searches for your website showing your G+ image beside them along with how many people have you circled. This can improve rankings.

Bing supposedly does the same thing with Facebook, however we have yet to see a direct relationship between the two in actual search results. It still doesn’t hurt to fully complete your social media profile info to ensure any potential tie-ins like this are fully realized.

Paid Advertising on Social Media

Social media platforms began offering paid advertising methods through their platforms around the year 2011 soon after introducing algorithmic news feeds. Currently you can advertise on Facebook and Instagram using the combined Facebook ads platform, and Twitter through their own dedicated advertising platform.

We like to make use of third party tools that provide you with advanced marketing tactics, like A-B testing and enhanced reporting, such as AdEspresso.

Paid advertising works exactly as you'd expect: you place an ad and choose to either pay per click or per impression and your ad then appears in the newsfeed or sidebar of whomever you target using the targeting filters provided by the advertising platform.

We're not going to go into a ton of detail on this because, other than providing a more targetable audience, it's basically the same as traditional advertising, like placing one in the newspaper.

The one catch you should make note of is that in a world of Internet advertising, your audience's attention is extremely divided. Where a few decades ago you could place a single ad in the newspaper to reach a large quantity of the population of that paper's city, now you may find you need to place ads in the newspaper, Facebook, Twitter, Google search and more. While each is cheaper than traditional advertising on their own, combined the cost is much higher and the audience's lack of focus on what they're looking at means your ad may mean less to them than in the case of traditional ads.

For those advertising to a local-only audience, you may have trouble with this. For those advertising to a nation-wide or global audience, you should find great benefits in this new world of advertising. Regardless, we typically recommend focusing on SEO and cheaper audience building techniques before devoting your marketing budget to straight-up advertising.

General Tips

Avoid Stagnant Accounts

If you plan on opening a business Twitter, Facebook, or other social media account it is important to use them. If you do not plan on using your accounts, you are better off without them. If potential customers find you through an outdated social media profile, it may cause more harm than good if they try to contact you and don’t get a response.

If you aren’t getting notifications from your social media accounts, then be sure to check them at least once a day to stay on top of any activity. Alternatively, consider not opening certain accounts if you don’t have the time to maintain them. You can also have a professional take care of your social media for you.

Use great software to stay on top of things

Software like HootSuite, Missingltr, and Buffer can help you save time and enjoy using social media by combining multiple actions, such as posting on each profile individually, into one by having you post only once then sharing your post to all forms of social media you’ve connected to the service.

HootSuite can also help by providing real-time search over your Twitter and Facebook feeds. This can help you keep ‘in the game’ if your potential customers are talking about products or services related to yours.

Don’t link your accounts, use the right software

You might think you can simply save time by linking a Facebook and Twitter account, or Instagram to Twitter. While this is true, you’re also likely to annoy your followers. How? By posting inaccessible and vague content. For example, posting images to Facebook results in an automatic tweet saying “I posted an image to Facebook” with a link to your Facebook profile (the same is true for posts from Instagram to Twitter).

Many on Twitter purposefully avoid tapping Facebook and Instagram links, because the link requires they sign in with Facebook credentials (rather then redirecting to the app on a mobile device).

Instead, avoid the majority of these issues by using HootSuite or Buffer. (See above for more info)