Strategic social media marketing includes planning and sophisticated understanding of the nature of the medium as well as the tools and systems that introduce efficiencies and generate return on investment (ROI).
The degree to which businesses believe social media marketing is equivalent to posting comments and pictures on Facebook is equivalent to the degree to which their social media marketing efforts will fail.
Here are ten (of many) elements that frame the way professional social media marketers conduct themselves. These are the things social media marketers do that set them apart from the intern or employee who was hired to be a graphic artist and finds Facebook on their task list.
Working within Cultures
Each social network has its own unique culture. Culture is a major influence in the content, nature, frequency and length of posts; the degree of interaction with other entities and other factors. Understanding the expectations and preferences of social networks and how to translate that into social media marketing success separates businesses who achieve ROI from those who do not.
For example, LinkedIn has an overtly business culture. People come to Facebook for leisure and fun. Identical content and expectations for engagement between these two Internet social networks will be about as successful as constantly talking about one’s home life in the office or vice versa. Businesses must embrace the differences and employ them to develop a competitive advantage.
Leveraging the Medium
To date, no person has ever logged onto any Internet social network hoping for the hard sell. The vast majority of people who connect with companies online are already customers. The opportunity, therefore, is for businesses to create an online destination for people. This helps keep the company in the consideration set for renewals or future purchases, educate the current customer about additional offerings from a company they already know and trust, enhance and deepen the relationship with current customers and generate referrals on the channel from those loyal customers.
“Buy my stuff,” ostracizes brands on Internet social networks. Frequent plying of wares relegates the business to broadcasting to an empty channel, as does misuse of connections acquired online. Success in social media marketing comes from developing and enhancing relationships.
Utilizing a Content Marketing Strategy
Ad hoc ideas for Facebook posts are fine but they will never render the ROI of an integrated content marketing plan which may include, for example:
Integrating with Other Marketing Channels
Social media cannot succeed in a silo. It requires support from other channels with broader reach. This is one reason calls to action for TV commercials and print advertisements drive people to a Facebook Page. Businesses should set goals for each marketing channel and examine where each can synergize as well as the trade-offs.
For example, will your TV and print ads drive people to a conversion page on your website or a custom tab on your Facebook page? If the goal is near-term new lead generation, the former is most effective; the latter if the goal is a lifelong connection to a potential source of multiple warm leads in the longer term.
Listening & Engaging
Beyond Google Alerts, social media marketing professionals use sophisticated tools and techniques to monitor sentiment and mentions of the brand, people, the industry, products, services and other subject matter on mainstream traditional and Internet news sources, online forums, blogs and social media platforms. Analyzing these interactions and incorporating them into the plan and implementation improves results.
Monitoring the outbound news feeds of social media assets owned by your clients, prospects, partners and community influencers and engaging in those online conversations is an essential component of developing a brand’s social media presence. This also gets your brand name and the link to your Facebook page in front of additional people, which creates opportunities to expand your social media reach.
Social media monitoring is a central component of Online Reputation Management (ORM), which social media marketing professionals integrate with social media marketing and a brand’s overall Internet marketing effort.
Advertising on Internet social networks takes on many forms and can be an effective means of content marketing and expanding reach. Due to the nature of the medium, setting goals and budgets and optimizing campaigns is very different than traditional advertising. Strategic A/B testing and behavioral targeting with multiple versions of ads and conversion plans that address every step in the sales funnel are essential to achieve ROI.
Social Network Optimization (SNO)
Also called Social Media Optimization (SMO), this practice includes integration of social media marketing with search engine marketing, blog marketing, social bookmarking, local search marketing, place-based hyper-local marketing, ORM, photo and video sharing and placing Internet social network assets in their best position to be found on a keyword search within the network.
The use of keywords is fundamental to virtually every aspect of Internet marketing. In social media marketing, this means strategic use and placement of keywords in profiles, tweets, page titles and other aspects of a company’s social media presence.
Employing Social Media Marketing Tools
Engagement platforms, listening tools and social media dashboards enable businesses to be much more efficient in monitoring, scheduling, listening and channeling social media activity. HootSuite (http://hootsuite.com/p_1676/8hyzno?d=upgrade ), for example, provides all of these features and some tracking tools. Price points vary with features and algorithms.
Collecting, Analyzing and Using Analytics
Social media networks, Facebook in particular, provide web analytics that can help to improve the ROI of social media marketing. Identifying which information is most relevant to goals for the business and the channel, interpreting them and making changes to utilize the information is intricate work.
Incorporating Legal, Privacy & Copyright Considerations
Just because an image is on Google doesn’t mean it’s okay to use on your Facebook feed. Knowing where the lines are drawn for the brand experience and good taste is one thing; privacy and copyright laws for social media are another. Operating under vetted policies and procedures expedites social media marketing ROI by preventing your company from getting sued.
What This Means for Your Business
Social media professionals incorporate all of the above elements and others into a social media marketing action plan to help companies achieve ROI by improvements in customer retention and Share of Wallet (SOW) and generating referral business.
The degree to which your business is being represented online by non-professionals is the degree to which it presents itself as amateur in everything it does.
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