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Marketing 101

By Stephanie Beck

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Three Proven Steps to Developing a Successful Social Media Strategy

How do you know which social media sites you should be using? How do you know if you are using them correctly? What are some of the things you should be doing with your social media? These are all great questions. You need a plan for your social media, so let me share my three proven steps to help you develop a strategy for success.

Step 1

Research which social media sites your ideal customers are spending the majority of their time on and concentrate your efforts there. Spend an hour on the social media site and search for the topics your ideal customers are searching and make notes of what kind of information comes up and who is following it. Consumers are using social media sites daily to search for information, recommendations, reviews and answers to their questions. With an overload of information on the standard search engines, more people are turning to social media sites and trusting the information provided on them (by their friends and family) than ever before.

The most common social media sites are Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Google+ and Pinterest. Remember, your strategy for using each social site will differ.

There is a case study in social media demographics available at: www.pinterest.com/pin/240590805068049763/ that lists gender, age, education and household income (when available) for each of the social media sites listed. For example, if your target audience includes females age 35 to 55, married, with at least some level of college education and a household income between $50,000 to $99,999, you might be interested to know that millions of them are using Pinterest daily. Once you have identified which social media sites your ideal clients are using then you can start to develop a marketing strategy that fits with how best to interact with those users on that particular site.

social media - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Step 2

Professionally brand your social media sites. If Photoshop, graphic design and marketing are not your forte, I recommend having a professional marketer help you create photos, a logo and set up your profiles for you social media sites. You are going to want to make a great first impression so having your logo, message, photos and profile set up to attract your ideal customers are crucial. Here are some items to consider when setting up your sites.

Include all contact information, hours, phone and email. I see pages all the time missing the very basics like website, phone and email. People can't connect with you if you don't have the basic information listed. It doesn't create a high level of trust and can make your potential customers question whether you are a legitimate business.

Create calls to action in your descriptions. This continues to be a frequently overlooked section on most social media profiles.

Include live links to your website, squeeze pages or product/service pages whenever possible, not just in your updates but in your about sections. Some social media sites offer you more opportunity than others to share a variety of information. The LinkedIn company page gives you 10 opportunities to showcase your products and services in great detail. However, Twitter only has two locations for a brief description. The final rule is to complete all boxes available with as much relevant information as possible.

Feature your top products or services and rotate them on a regular basis. As mentioned, LinkedIn offers 10 showcases on their company pages. Facebook pages (depending on the type of page you select) offer a variety of ways to feature products and services. With Facebook, start by picking your top three and add live links to your website or phone numbers for people to book time, ask questions or find out more about them in the descriptions. Then, make plans to modify or change the offers on a regular basis.

Create visually engaging images and photos. Select photos that best represent or visually tell a story or describe that product or service.

If you choose to have someone set these up for you, an average cost is between $100 to $300 per social site. You can find more affordable avenues, but remember, you get what your pay for.

Step 3

Start by planning your content. Get creative; develop subjects and topics that are interesting and valuable to your ideal customers. Your objective should be to offer helpful information or solutions. Your content needs to be engaging, entertaining and compelling. If you're not sure who your ideal customer is or you're just starting out, create a list of your favorite customers or friends and include the attributes that make them your favorite. If you do not have customers, then list your top three types of customers you would like to have and include demographics and what modalities you like to utilize most.

Generate content in several media formats. Use all forms of media when addressing the problems you will be solving for the ideal customers. Here are some of the most common media forms of shared content.

You can create your own video using your web cam, phone or digital camera. The best videos for social media sites are no more than three minutes and provide answers to common questions or problems. You can also search YouTube for videos addressing your ideal customers' problems and post the link.

Link to your personal blog site, an educational organization or research site. Write blog posts to position your site as a great informational source. Your ideal customers will want to connect with people they know, like and trust. You will begin to earn the reputation in your ideal customers' minds as a leader. Your blog can be one of the best tools for building this relationship. Incorporate a strategy to share your blog posts on all your social media sites.

Find article links that address your ideal customer's problems, ask engaging questions or share an opinion about the information that helps your ideal client.

Sharing an info graphic is a form of content marketing. It is a visual image that uses text and/or images to convey a message. They are different from a video or photo. Generally, they are used to demonstrate how to perform a task, offer a description or tell the history of a product or service. Most updates on Pinterest are info graphics and are available in a variety of sizes depending on the social media site. For example, on Facebook, the shared image size is 504 pixels max width with a varied height while the recommend image upload for a shared link is 1200 x 627 pixels. Whereas on Twitter, the shared image size is 375 x 375 pixels. On Google, it is 497 x 373 pixels. Why is this important? Because you want your images, especially if they contain text, website links or calls to action, to show up correctly on each social site to be the most effective.

Use royalty-free photos that represent what you are trying to say and be sure to follow all the licensing rules and regulations for usage. Pictures and videos get the most engagement on social sites so try to coordinate a photo with your post.

Consistency is critical to social media success. Online marketing has a short shelf life so if you are making the commitment to utilize social media, you have to be consistent. How much content will you require depends on how often you are posting. My recommendations for each of the social sites are:

  • Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ = 1 to 6 posts per day, 5 to 7 days a week.
  • Twitter = 3 to 6 tweets per day, 5 to 7 days a week. 
  • Pinterest = 1 pin to each of your boards, 3 to 7 days a week.

Participate in group or community discussions on Google+, Facebook or LinkedIn once a week. Monitor and review your analytics regularly. This will help you determine who is the most engaged, the best times to post and gain valuable insight into your ideal audience. Review your insight at least once a month. Most social experts review weekly and if you are using any paid advertising, we recommend daily reviews.

Develop strategic online alliances with others on social media sites. Non-profit organizations, trade publications, manufacturers and distributors of products and services you use, and consumer groups are good places to start when you are looking to make connections.

Build your email or cell phone lists. Today, it isn't just about building a list, but how active your list is. You don't need a huge number of subscribers, as long as your list is actively commenting, liking and buying your products and services. Create avenues for your followers to join your email or mobile lists so you can connect with them anytime. Add subscribe buttons to your blog. Just remember your 80/20 rule! Eighty percent of the time share updates that are educational and information and 20% promotional. Here is the simple social media math: 3 posts a day, 7 days a week = 21 posts. 20% x 21 = approx. 4 posts a week to be promotional ("buy my stuff or subscribe now" type posts). Any more than that and you will likely be ignored by your audience.

You need to give to get. Whenever possible, help out others. Share blog posts, re-tweet messages, like their pins, share their pins, share their content, follow them and subscribe to their sites. Be sure to comment and like posts daily.

Does this feel like a full time position? Well, it can be but it doesn't have to be, as long as you are organized and have a good strategic plan you can easily manage one social media site in less than 40 minutes a day. Here is the bottom line. The world uses social media. There are guidelines for how to best connect with them and have the most success. So, if you want new clients, start by crafting a social media strategy.

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