To a lot of the business owners we meet with, access with social media marketing is a bit like an ancient treasure lost to the bottom of a deep lake. That is, it’s something they would definitely like to discover, but it feels so far away that they can barely convince themselves to even dream about it.
In reality, there isn’t anything mystical about the art and science of bringing customers into your company through Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks. It just requires an understanding of a few basic concepts. Today, we’re going to share them with you, starting with a big reality that drives all the others…
To Make Social Media Marketing Work You Need an Audience
You have probably heard that advertisers will pay up to $5 million for just a few moments of advertising during the Super Bowl. They aren’t doing so just for the prestige of having their ads run during the big event – they know the reach they get from a quick television spot during the big game is virtually unmatched.
The same kinds of dynamics come into play when you have a popular social media feed. When there are thousands of fans and followers willing to tune in to what you have to say, your reach gets bigger and bigger with every message you send. In fact, some of your customers might like your message so much that they spread your posts to their networks, giving you access to even more potential buyers.
For any of this to be valuable and profitable for your business, of course, your posts need to be directed at the right audience. It doesn’t matter how many people see your content if they don’t fall within your target market. That’s why you have to balance the need for numbers with an understanding that demographics and known interests matter a great deal.
You can build an audience on Facebook or the other social media sites by running tightly-focused advertising campaigns or simply posting lots of relevant content and waiting for buyers to notice you organically. Until you have that following in place, though, none of the other marketing activities you follow through with are going to make much of an impact. It’s no use posting continuously if your messages don’t have any reach at all.
Social Engagement Formulas Dictate Viewership
As you are probably already aware, the average social media user couldn’t possibly keep up with all the posts and ideas coming their way even if they wanted to. They are simply being bombarded with too many messages from too many sources.
In order to keep social feeds from becoming overwhelming – and to ensure social users stay online for longer – companies like Facebook employ special engagement formulas to decide which pieces of content will be displayed for any specific person at a given time. These are largely based on past history and user behavior, but also weigh the levels of engagement a poster or marketer can typically attract.
What this means in the real world is that a marketer who posts material that is constantly being liked or shared is going to have his or her content seen far more often than someone whose updates tend to be ignored. Facebook and the other social sites measure interest through clicks and comments, separating what’s hot and popular from the other material out there.
That means that as a marketer you can’t simply recycle your sales points and add them to your social profiles again and again. That won’t generate any kind of response. Instead, you need to focus on topics and ideas that elicit emotional reactions, start discussions, and convince followers to share with their friends and family.
A big following means nothing if you don’t have social engagement because that’s the only way to earn space on a crowded news feed.
Visual Content is Preferred on Social Media
If the goal of your social content is to get big reactions, then anyone who regularly uses Facebook or Twitter will know that images and video are the best tools for the job. Numerous studies have shown that a picture is dozens of times more likely to get a like or share then a simple text update is. And, with a video being easier to produce than ever, a 15 or 30-second clip could be a valuable social media marketing tool.
It goes without saying that not all images are created the same. High-resolution pictures are best, and vivid colors tend to stand out when users are scrolling through one idea to the next. Human faces and animals are naturally more interesting and engaging, being that these images are hardwired into our brains as being important.
Remember, though, that interest is only half of the equation. You also need to stay on a topic that’s relevant to your business if you’re going to convince customers to associate your social feed with a need that corresponds to the products or services you have to offer. In other words, you might get a lot of views posting a picture of your dog wearing a raincoat, but it’s worth asking whether such a visual is going to help you advance your credibility as a marketer.
That’s not to say there isn’t room for a little bit of silliness on your social media feeds. Instead, it’s just a reminder that your business pages are there to help you generate sales, brand awareness, and customer loyalty. If you can keep that in mind while posting lots of images and videos for your followers to see, you’ll be on the right track.
Social Engagement Feeds Your Sales Funnel
In the same way that search engine traffic is valuable only if it leads to sales opportunities, you can actually lose money while having fun and watching likes and shares for your content pile up on Facebook. That’s because finding customers over social media takes a consistent effort from day to day. It’s only worth it if the contacts you make are entering your sales funnel and eventually turning into buyers or qualified leads.
You shouldn’t rely on chance to make this happen. A better idea is to keep leaving breadcrumbs (like your domain name, or links to a specific landing page) beneath the images you post. In some cases, you may even want to embed them into the pictures themselves. That way they’ll still be there if a fan or follower shares your content.
Remember that a lot of the people who engage with your posts on social media might simply be scrolling through a lot of ideas, or only have warm interest. Knowing that you can try to entice them into small steps forward like subscribing to your email newsletter. That’s a low-stress commitment for them, and one they can follow through within seconds. Ask them for more, though, and they may just decide to go back to whatever they were thinking about before.
Converting social fans into customers – or at least solid leads – gets much easier when they are hearing from you more often. So, keep following the tips and principles laid out here and you’ll find your results will just keep improving as time goes on.
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About Glenn Brooks
Glenn Brooks is the founder of WebWize, Inc. WebWize has provided web design, development, hosting, SEO and email services since 1994. Glenn graduated from SWTSU with a degree in Commercial Art and worked in the advertising, marketing, and printing industries for 18 years before starting WebWize.