6 ways to fire up your social marketing efforts

Just about every business these days is looking to take advantage of social media marketing, but not all that many are very effective in their efforts. If you want to see results, you need to put into practice the right strategy.

Here are six ways you can jumpstart your company’s social media marketing campaign.

rocket1. Focus on value
One of the biggest mistakes that many companies make when trying to leverage social media for marketing purposes is looking for shortcuts. They want a quick way to instantly gain fans and followers, which they can then convert into leads and, eventually, customers.

With this mindset, a lot of firms turn to gimmicks in order to attract social media attention. While this may work in the short term, it’s not a good plan overall. If you rely on clickbait and other gimmicks, you will lose a lot of potential long-term fans, and that will hurt your marketing campaign’s results.

Instead, you should always aim to deliver value when marketing your business on social networks, as Business 2 Community contributor Arun Sivasankaran recently highlighted. He asserted that if you continue to deliver useful information and other valuable content, social media users will come to trust your company. As a result, they will look to your offerings whenever they want insight about a subject that’s relevant to your industry.

“Create or share information that makes them more efficient or effective, and they’ll be with you forever,” Sivasankaran wrote. “Use your social media channels as a way to disseminate that information to customers and prospective customers, to get additional marketing leverage from these efforts.”

While social media may seem like it’s designed for immediate gratification, your marketing strategy really should focus on the long game, and that means developing deeper customer loyalty. Providing value is the best way to achieve this outcome.

2. Customer care
Customer service has always been critical for business success. In the social media age, it’s more important than ever. Now, if a customer is dissatisfied with your company’s service, he or she can go on to Facebook, Twitter, Yelp or any other network and immediately share that opinion with everyone they know. People love to complain, after all, and social sites offer a great opportunity. And if this happens to your business, the consequences can be severe.

This means that customer service will play a key role in your social marketing efforts, in several different ways. First and foremost, you should always strive to deliver high-quality support, so that your customers have no horror stories to share with friends and family.

Beyond this, you need to develop a strategy for dealing with negative customer feedback through these channels. Most notably, you should never become combative or defensive when dealing with clients on social media. Even if you are entirely in the right, this posturing will make you appear like a bully in the eyes of other social media users. Instead, try to be accommodating and respectful. However, you must also avoid going too far by apologizing for mistakes your company didn’t make, as this will reflect poorly on your product and service offerings.

Negative comments are unavoidable, even for the best businesses. Your company should take this into account and develop a response plan.

3. Reward loyalty
As mentioned before, loyalty is critical for your company’s social media marketing efforts. That’s why you should reward loyalty when you see it.

There are many ways to go about doing this. The least your company can do is respond to your fans and followers when they post positive comments about your business. This takes very little effort but can have a very significant impact – consumers truly appreciate being acknowledged and interacted with in this capacity, and it will encourage others to share their own positive experiences.

You can also offer discounts or prizes to further incentivize people to share their opinions and experiences relating to your organization. Even without a formal contest, your company may want to spontaneously reward a loyal follower or contributor with something of value.

All of these strategies will help to deepen your overall social media marketing efforts, and encourage customers to engage with your firm in a positive, friendly way.

social_jumpstart4. Crowdsource
One of the most challenging aspects of social media marketing is creating a sufficient amount of content. After all, for social media campaigns to prove effective, you need to deliver new posts, tweets and other material on a very frequent basis. If you are too lax in this regard, your fans and followers will effectively forget about your company and drift away. But it’s very difficult to both maintain a regular delivery schedule and offer worthwhile content.

Crowdsourcing can help solve this dilemma. Once you’ve developed a sizable following, you can ask your fans to propose their own suggestions for content to provide, topics to cover and even their own posts.

For example, you can simply ask followers to share their favorite way of using one of your company’s products. Then, you can highlight the most compelling examples provided. With enough feedback, this alone could produce several days’ worth of social content.

By crowdsourcing, you can not only lessen your company’s workload, but can also generate some truly interesting, engaging content that will appeal to your audience.

5. Understand your audience
This ties in to the next point: the importance of understanding your audience. The better you know your intended demographic, the better you’ll be able to provide useful, interesting content through all of your social media channels. On the flip side, if you don’t really know what your audience is looking for, you’ll struggle to find followers and fans for your various networks.

So how do you learn about your audience? Two ways: analytics and engagement.

Analytics is critical for determining how often your various pieces of social media content are read, shared, referenced and more. The more advanced your company’s analytics solution, the more refined your insight will be. While any analytics is better than none, it is definitely worthwhile to embrace a more sophisticated offering.

As you examine your analytics results, you should look for patterns that can help you get into the mindset of your audience. What kind of stories did they find most interesting? What did they essentially ignore?

Beyond analytics, audience questionnaires and polls can provide direct, invaluable information to help you craft your future social media campaigns. Just by asking for honest feedback, you can learn a tremendous amount about what your existing fans appreciate, and that will help you to attract more followers in your future efforts.

social_lightbulb6. Mix it up 
Finally, you should always make an effort to vary your social media offerings. Even if you experience a huge level of success with one type of content – blog posts, customer testimonials, etc. – you’ll need to vary your offerings in order to retain your audience’s interest. When it comes to social media marketing campaigns, there can definitely be too much of a good thing.

So take the time to brainstorm new possible offerings. Look at your models and see what diverse content they provide. Always aim to improve and expand your outreach.

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