Currently, there are more than 1.82 billion users on social media worldwide. And that number is only expected to grow. Experts project that the number of users on social media will increase by 2.33% by 2017.
Social media marketing is essential to remaining competitive in today’s business world. But the question on many business owners’ minds is how they can stay ahead of the competition while keeping on budget.
That’s the best part about social media marketing—for the most part, it’s free. Engaging content is an essential part of any successful marketing strategy. For small- and medium-sized businesses and startups, there are a number of free tools for social media success.
Utilize Free Social Media Monitoring/Listening Tools
What people say about you on social media can make or break your brand. That’s why your social media marketing plan should include tools that allow you to monitor your impressions. That way, you know just how big of an impact you’re making and exactly where to make improvements. Most of these tools are free to use. And they’re very easy to navigate and implement. Here are just a few to try:
- Google Alerts
- Social Mention
Drive with Visuals
There’s no denying social media is a visual medium. Whether you’re using photographs or graphics, it can be highly beneficial to your social media marketing. According to research, visuals can increase interactions by 85% on Facebook and increase “retweets” by 35%. Think about it this way; if you were scrolling through your news feed, would you be more likely to be attracted to a block of text or an attractive image?
If you want to share a statistic, creating an infographic would be more eye-catching than just writing that statistic out. The potential added cost of doing so is worth the benefits you’d get from customers sharing it on social media. Just make sure it’s information that’s share-worthy.
One idea is to post old photos of team members or previous corporate logos for “Throwback Thursday”(#TBT). If you and your team are heading to an industry event, share images or “live tweet” during the event to keep followers up to date on what’s going on. If a particular leader or celebrity relevant to your industry is going to be at the event, try to get a picture of or with them and give them a mention (@). If the said celebrity were to “retweet” or “favourite” the image, your exposure increases exponentially.
Games, Contests, and Giveaways
Whether it’s the promise of receiving a prize or even mass recognition, having a contest or giveaway is an excellent way to drive engagement on social media. People love getting stuff for free with minimal effort. So have your customers share a fond memory about your product for a chance to win a prize.
Using easy-to-play games is another way to drive interaction. It has the added benefit of drawing in users who may not have been aware of your brand through word of mouth, whether it’s through “shares” or “retweets.”
For instance, run a game on Twitter where followers offer a humorous story about an image in 140 characters or less and reward the best one or the one that received the most “favorites” or “retweets.” Encouraging followers to share their content benefits both them and you, as they can indulge in the spotlight of popularity and your company can leverage the exposure.
Ask for Feedback
Social media is one of the greatest tools for engaging your customers, as it’s a stream of two-way communication. Contrary to traditional marketing where you’re talking at people, with social media, viewers have the chance to respond to you and have everyone else see it.
This gives you the opportunity to ask them for advice on how you can improve your products. Or you can seek out suggestions for what they would like to see in the future. Organizations like Google have Q&A sessions. And Reddit is famous for their “AMA” (Ask Me Anything) sessions. Implementing something similar for your business as part of your social media marketing is a way to get direct market research for free!
Just be sure to keep an eye out for people who seek to disrupt a discussion. If comments are too offensive to be responded to accordingly, they may need to be deleted to keep discussions positive. If there are sensitive questions about your product, find the best way to handle it delicately. Remember that everyone can see your responses. So keep your tone consistent with other professional business activities.
Link and Participate
A successful social marketing strategy should also include linking to other web sites. This is content marketing. When you share things that are relevant and interesting to you as a brand, you gain more trust and following than if you only try to sell to people. Not only does content marketing increase exposure for your brand, it can also provide excellent networking opportunities, something that is invaluable if you are a startup.
Inviting a guest blogger can further add to your eyeball count as the content is being shared with their followers in addition to yours. Q&A sessions on business-related social networks like Quora or LinkedIn can link you with potential customers and industry leaders, if that fits with how your given business operates.
Make Your Content Fit Different Social Networks
It doesn’t make sense to take a one-size-fits-all approach to your social media marketing plan. Not every social media channel is made for every business. Those that believe so and invest money are wasting precious time and resources. Tailoring your social media efforts to the given cause will get the most results.
Moreover, content can be repurposed. A list on your Facebook page or LinkedIn profile can be converted to an image and shared on your Pinterest page, for example. Just don’t get too repetitive. If people follow you on multiple channels and see that you’re regurgitating the same content, they could perceive that as laziness and maybe even “unfollow” you.
Conversely, if done in the right amount, it could open up the potential to share content with followers who may not follow your organization on all your social media streams and increase numbers across more channels.
Showcase Your Personality
Use the content your organization provides to showcase your brand’s personality. Social media is the place to get away with more light and fun tones, if that’s how your business presents itself. Whether it’s a personal anecdote about how you started your organization or what you do for fun, the content you share with your followers should give them a glimpse of the real people behind the brand. You can use your blog posts to make recommendations for products you enjoy or share your views on specific industry topics. A blog post can even outline what a typical day at the office is like for you and your staff.
As the leading provider of social media marketing, Numero Uno Web Solutions offers clients customized plans as well as expert advice on the dos and don’ts of marketing on social media. For more information on how your business can benefit, visit the company web site.