Social media marketing 101


Photo by Jason A. Howie on Flickr via a Creative Commons License

I recently did a social media marketing seminar in Winnipeg (Canada) for sector councils.

The participants were asked to submit questions ahead of time and I answered them during the session.

I figured they’re probably fairly common questions that lots of other folks would like answers to so I’ve created an abridged version of that presentation for this blog post.

Who from our association/business should be responsible for social media?

Someone who will own it; someone you trust and generally NOT the intern unless the intern is the owner’s son/daughter who happens to be a social media whizz and totally understands your company/organisation. Often it’s the marketing person but it doesn’t have to be. Make sure it’s someone who’s passionate and dedicated.

How do we develop our company brand with limited time resources?

You need to find the time.

Will I ever get any work done if I am always monitoring social media?

Monitoring social media IS work!

This shouldn’t be an add-on to your job. This needs to be a serious part of your daily routine. Set aside time for it like you would your emails or create a schedule for when you check stuff. If you want your social media strategy to be a success you have to MAKE TIME for it.

What type of content you should be I posting on Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn?

My general philosophy is: share good shit (for which I have Jason Falls to thank).

It shouldn’t all be about you (or your organisation). Don’t just broadcast to people, ENGAGE with them; have conversations.

If someone connects with you on any platform, always reply promptly.

If someone asks an awkward or challenging question, RESPOND. Social media has opened up a whole new way to communicate. Nowadays you can’t hide behind ‘no comment.’

Should every tweet/post to go to everyone all the time?

My general rule of thumb is NOT to cross-post your content on all social media platforms. I’ve heard so many grumbles from friends and colleagues about how annoying it is to read the same thing 72 times because the author isn’t filtering where their tweet / update / Instagram goes.

Sometimes it’s necessary to cross-post but not always so try to be strategic (or at least think about it) before you connect all your accounts.

What is the return on investment from a business owner perspective? How much time would you advise a business owner to spend on social media marketing?

Honestly, it’s very hard to give you a number which is why so many businesses can’t see the value in social media marketing. But I will say the more you put in, the more you get out and if you don’t think you have enough time to do it, you’ll probably fail.

I do think you need to be at least monitoring your social media accounts on a daily basis but I’m not a believer in forcing yourself to tweet or post a status update x amount of times per day or week.

Successful social media marketing takes a lot of time and hard work.

Why doesn’t my Facebook page have more fans?

Probably the most common reason a fan page doesn’t have more fans is that you created your page and then didn’t do anything with it.

*Cue cliche* You have to nurture your page like you would a garden: feed it, often with good quality food (content) and talk to it (your fans).

Also play close attention to the ‘voice’ you’re using. I see so many fan pages that are full of robotic, corporate talk. Are you using a human voice or does it sound all ‘corporate’? Your fans will respond much better if it sounds like there’s a real person behind the updates.

Another common reason why a page doesn’t have more fans is because nobody knows you have a fan page.

Start by inviting your colleagues to ‘like’ the page, then invite suppliers, contractors etc. Add your fan page address to your business cards, letterhead, every page of your website (you have a website, right?), even your out of hours voice-mail message.

Every chance you get, give people that address and nurture that page with great content.

What kind of content should be tweeted?

Photos, videos, links to articles, thoughts, ANYTHING.

Just don’t repost the same info all the time. There’s nothing more off-putting than a Twitter account full of the same (slightly different) tweets.

Dan Zarrella calls himself the ‘social media scientist’ and has done tons of research on the types of content that work best. Do some research of your own by reading through his website and you’ll get a feel for the type of content that gets better engagement.

How important is it to put your own content vs. retweeting and posting links to articles written by others?

It’s very important to do both.

One of my favourite social media marketers Sheri Candler illustrated this perfectly when she told me her ‘cocktail party’ analogy: imagine you’re at a party talking to another guest who talks all about themselves and never once asks you a question. You’d probably try hard to get away and avoid that guest for the rest of the evening.

Social media marketing works in a very similar way. It’s called ‘social’ for a reason. Don’t alienate potential customers by coming across as self-centred and uncaring.

How can a business owner, whose time is limited, use Twitter most effectively from a business marketing perspective?

Remember that you’ll only get out what you put in.

But there are things you should do that don’t take a lot of time:

– Make sure you complete your Twitter profile by adding a bio, location, link to your website and profile photo

– Start following people: customers, business partners, suppliers, contractors, competitors, other businesses in your neighbourhood

– When you tweet, share useful information and answer any questions that come your way

– If you write something on your website, share it on Twitter

– Make sure your website visitors can easily share your content on Twitter

– Add a link to your Twitter account on your website, in a prominent place, on every page

– Use your phone to take photos and post them to Twitter

– Use lists to organise who you follow

– Use the search function to find other customers

How often should I tweet?

When you have something of value to say.

Is there a glossary of shortcuts for Twitter?

Yes. Check out this Twitter dictionary.

How do I engage followers?

Listen; respond; don’t make it all about you; have conversations; share good shit; if someone @’s you, reply to them; don’t ignore people; read through the tweets that are in your stream and respond to them; if someone follows you (and you follow them back or don’t) retweet something from their stream.

Do I have to follow everyone who follows me?

No. This is YOUR space. Keep your Twitter follows lean otherwise your stream will become too large to manage and full of irrelevant stuff.