Social media can be an amazing source of readers, traffic, and a great community to be involved with. Good things also tend to happen in terms of your website's rankings when you use social media properly. Some of the popular social media sites include Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. Lets dive into the important stuff.
Specifics On The "Big Four"
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:
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 frequently -- quality over quantity. 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.
Much like with Twitter, and less-so with Facebook, pay close attention to the hashtags your competitors are using. Compile lists of tags to use when posting about your products/services or categories of your business and be sure to use them consistently alongside a few unique ones for each post when possible.
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 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:
How to integrate Social Media on your Website
This guide is about marketing through social media. If you're here to learn how to add things like social share buttons or social media feeds on your website, that's all found within our 'how to create a website' guide here.
There's no doubt that increasing followers will help get your social posts seen by more people. But beware: this isn't as big of a deal as it once was.
Since most social media timelines use completely automated algorithms to decide when a user will and won't see a post, there's no guarantee that your followers willl actually see what you post. In fact most data suggests that unless your post gets a lot of interest only 10-20% of your followers wlll see any given post.
Having said that, gaining followers will still mean more people seeing your posts, even if it's not quite as many as you might have thought.
Ignoring the usual "post engaging content" (like everyone can do exactly that all the time, right?) here's a few practical ways to gain followers:
This is particularly relevant on Twitter and Instagram. If users aren't just searching general terms, they're probably searching or clicking on hashtags to see other posts related to a specific topic. Using your city and at least a couple words related to your post will likely help gain you new followers.
Note on QTY: Instagram users often use dozens of hashtags per post. Twitter is typically more limited to just a handful.
Large businesses frequently post contests with a link to the contest entry on their website, but in doing so a chunk of social media users (particularly on Facebook) will just ignore it because it's not as easy as "like and share". These businesses have the advantage of being able to limit entries because they already have tens of thousands or millions of followers. They don't directly benefit from new followers, moreso than they do from the data about those entrants that is captured by their web form for the contest (particularly email addresses).
The alternative is to indicate in your post that to enter the contest, users must simply like and share the post. This provides greater reach for both your contest and your brand as users' actions make it more likely that the post will be seen by more people.
But this comes with the caveat that there's no direct action that can be tracked into a database as the person is acting purely on social media and nowhere else. Therefore in order to determine who wins, you must manually check the list of likes and shares on that post to then select a winner.
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 My Business, 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 My Business, Twitter and Facebook Search Tie-Ins
Google uses your "My Business" profile to often improve the ranking of your website, as long as the two are linked clearly. With your Google Business page you need to ensure that you specify your business page link in the meta tags of the site (the WordPress Yoast SEO plugin has this option).
Bing supposedly does the same thing with Facebook and Twitter, and plugins like SEOPress and Yoast for WordPress enable you to set up your social cards for both services. That said, we have yet to see a direct relationship between Bing and FB/Twitter 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.
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)
Social Media Myths & Misunderstandings
The following are things we hear from people regularly that could be entirely wrong, outdated practices, or simply not viable.
I'm going to go viral and won't need any other marketing
This may be true, but I wouldn't bet on it. It's incredibly difficult to make this happen, and in many cases it's entirely accidental. However there are some ways to try to coax it. Forbes has a good article on qualities that commonly result in a viral video, but they also clearly indicate that one of the best brands at creating viral content are successful with only 0.3% of their posts. Are you as good or better than these experts that work every day to create viral videos? Unlikely. We wouldn't bet on that.
Once I have thousands of followers I won't need to pay for ads or SEO
Sorry but that's just not how it works anymore. Years ago, before the introduction of algorithmic news feeds (where the social companies automatically choose what posts you see) every post of yours was seen by a good chunk of your followers and so thousands of followers likely meant thousands of eyes on every post. These days you're lucky if you reach 5% without boosting the post (making it a paid ad) -- and 1% is very common. That means if you've got 2000 followers, you might reach 20-100 people with each post on average.
I need to be coy and never post direct products for sale
You might well be in the target industry where this is true. We can't speak for all industries, but most household commodities like pizza joints or corner stores, will not benefit from being coy with most of their posts. Make your posts salesy and fun at the same time, but don't avoid ensuring your products and sales are front and centre. We tend to like a 70% sales / 30% fun mix, but that's going to vary by industry. You'll need to experiment to find what works best for you. And yes, years ago any amount of sales on social media was bad, but that's no longer the case.