Q: Please name the top five things that make your social media advertising strategy successful.
A: Social-media success is often a long list of little things done right. While there is no shortcut to success, the below tips will help get your social-media campaign on the right track.
1. Be a good communicator.
Social media is really a crowd of people talking -- usually to each other. So, you'll need to figure out how to cut through the noise and really engage with people. Here are a few pointers:
- Write well. I'm not just talking about punctuation and grammar. Write in a comfortable voice, not a formal one. Don't use four words when one will do. Unless your social-media post (Facebook update or tweet) is time sensitive, set it aside for 10 minutes. Come back to it, take a second look and edit if needed, before hitting publish.
- Use images when it makes sense. At my internet-marketing agency Portent, we've found that posts with images get about two to three times more interaction. That being said, don't put images into your posts for the sake of having an image. Use them only when relevant.
- Utilize video. Use platforms like YouTube or Vimeo to attract an audience. Just like images, make sure you're sharing videos that make sense.
- Take advantage of all social networks. While most people spend their time communicating on Twitter and Facebook, there are other networks that deserve attention. One being Google+. Yes, it's still a small network, but it is gaining steam, and it integrates with every other Google service. Also, there is SlideShare, a community focused on slide presentations. This site can show your content to thousands. If you have a great video or article, convert it to a SlideShare presentation.
- Respond immediately. If someone asks a question or proposes an alternate viewpoint, answer them quickly. This gives people the impression you care about their needs and are responsive.
- Don't get emotional. Don't feed the trolls. As your social-media strategy grows, you may see some angry or insensitive replies. Don't react angrily. Reply politely or not at all.
2. Buy advertising.
Don't be shy about paying to promote posts on networks like LinkedIn and Facebook. On Facebook, your posts won't even appear in all of your followers' newsfeeds without paid promotion, so promote if you can afford it.
Always use the targeting tools these platforms provide to avoid aimlessly issuing a single ad at the maximum audience size. After all, the practice won't hit the right audience and it could end up costing you. Instead, create multiple ads targeted toward specific demographics that are a great fit for your product or service. Test and see who provides the highest-quality followers.
3. Avoid me, me, me.
Don't have every post be about yourself or your company. Instead, I recommend posting 80 percent non-promotional, 20 percent promotional. So what else can you share? Here are some ideas:
- Answer questions. Search Twitter for questions by typing in a topic, a space and then a question mark. For example, "bicycle tires?" Sift through the result for great questions. Answer them directly or on other networks.
- Also, try Google. Start typing in a question, and Google will show you a list of related ones. For example, if you sell rhubarb, type in Google search, "is rhubarb." You'll immediately see the question "is rhubarb poisonous?" Answer them via social media.
- Curate content. Point out great information from other sources. This will help readers view you as a reliable resource.
- Comment. Voice your opinion on relevant breaking news and explain why it's important.
4. Expand beyond your customers.
In social media, you want to attract an audience beyond potential customers. Focus on people who are compelled to respond -- the "weird," as Seth Godin calls them. Even if they never buy from you, they'll tell others about you.
5. Flattery will get you everywhere.
Using tools like Followerwonk or Topsy will help you find the top people in your industry and major influencers. Then find the people who follow them and follow those folks, rather than the industry celebrities. They're far more likely to respond.
If people post something you enjoy, make sure they know it with a retweet, like, favorite or share. If it's really fantastic, consider posting a response on your own blog and link back to it. Over time, they'll get to know you and will be more likely to spread your content.
Even with the above suggestions, there is no magic solution. For every story of a meteoric rise to the top, you'll find 1,000 stories of slow, steady growth. Plan for that, manage expectations and capitalize.
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