3 Kinds of Social Media Marketing You Shouldn't Ignore Influencers, paid promotions and the most potent ways to build a customer base without leaving your desk.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
The following excerpt is from Ultimate Guide to Social Media Marketing by Eric Butow, Jenn Herman, Stephanie Liu, Amanda Robinson and Mike Allton, available August 25 via Entrepreneur Press. Pre-order now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books.
Social media marketing is about much more than likes and shares. Today's social media landscape extends well beyond posting a thought or meme and hoping it takes off with your audience. These three kinds of social media marketing should be on your radar if you want to stay current and competitive.
Influencer marketing is the use of other experts in your industry who already have a sizable audience that respects and trusts them. Regardless of what industry you're in, there are likely other people in your field who have a more established reputation and audience. Maybe they have larger social followings, are published authors or are a mainstream media celebrity. These are people you can learn from, and it would be particularly valuable to have a relationship with them.
Of course, the obvious benefit to you is that when someone like that shares something you've written to their followers, you reach a vastly wider audience. You can't expect that an influencer will share your latest blog post unless you already have a relationship in place — one where they've come to recognize your expertise and look forward to seeing your new content, just like the rest of your readers do.
Related: 5 Ways Marketing Strategy Has Changed Permanently
Social media can be a great equalizer, particularly on Twitter and Instagram, where you can follow anyone you want. Simply find the influencers in your niche, follow them and begin to engage with them naturally. You know — like a real human being who isn't a stalker.
Reply or comment on posts that interest you, and share posts you think your own audience would be interested in. If the influencer is blogging, become an active reader and engage with them on their blog with insightful comments and questions. That will get you on their radar.
The next step is to begin to include them in your own content by quoting them, linking to their blog posts or including them in roundups, where you ask their opinion on a topic and publish opinions from a group of influencers. Or you could do a live video interview. Instead of being on someone else's video, broadcast your own and invite a key influencer to be your guest. It's more work on your part to organize and promote, but it's also a tremendous opportunity for content creation.
Dark Social Media
One area you can't measure, but that should be on your radar, is dark social media. This refers to all the ways people can share your content with other people without your knowledge. Examples include emails, text messages and direct social messages. In each of these cases, someone decided to share your content with one or more people, but they did so in a way that couldn't be accurately measured or recorded.
While it's unfortunate that you're unable to track the impact of dark social media, that doesn't mean you should ignore it. In fact, you should make it as easy as possible for people to share your work this way if they want to. For instance, consider putting email buttons on all your blog posts. Or, better yet, just make sure that your social sharing buttons include an "Other" button that links to email, texting apps like WhatsApp and whatever other choices someone might want to take advantage of.
Within your email newsletters, include social sharing buttons and an invitation to share the newsletter via email along with a note that says, "Did someone email you this newsletter? Make sure you don't miss another by subscribing yourself." And make sure all your blog posts have a strong call to action to either read another post, head over to a landing page or at least sign up for your email list so that you can further capture some of those dark social readers.
Paid Social Media
Finally, you should strongly consider incorporating paid social media in your marketing strategy. Every social platform now offers the ability to promote posts, allowing them to be seen by far more people than your existing follower base. But be careful. It's easy to run up costs without seeing a real ROI. Make sure that you're using the best platform for your business, targeting the right audience and sending that targeted traffic to the best possible content.
So let's bring this back to your latest piece of content: Think about who you're targeting with it. Is there a particular network where they're more likely to be active? Frankly, one of the least expensive platforms to advertise on is Facebook. It also has the best targeting and sports the largest global user base. So that's probably a good place to start. But do give Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram due consideration.
Related: CGI-Created Virtual Influencers Are the New Trend in Social Media Marketing
We find that the best content to promote on Facebook is content that's particularly strong for driving email sign-ups. Perhaps it has a content upgrade or related ebook that readers can download for free, creating targeted leads for your business. A nice Facebook campaign, for just a few bucks a day, can send hundreds of readers and prospects to your blog post and business. What are you waiting for?