Does your company practice social media marketing, or do you use social networks for marketing? There is a difference.
The first – social media marketing – requires a strategy specific to social channels, and content tailored to those platforms. The second – marketing on social networks – is simply distributing traditional marketing messages through social media.
Social media marketing works. Marketing on social networks doesn’t. What’s the difference?
One (social media marketing) is a true two-way conversation between a company and its customers, prospective customers, and the world at large. The other is a way to push out company offerings to anyone who can hear them. This includes tactics like feeding miscellaneous news to a Twitter stream, posting special deals on Qwiqq, and sending direct messages and emails asking people to follow the brand.
While there are times and specific niche markets where some of these tactics – particularly hyper-local promotions like those on Qwiqq – work, simply pushing a traditional marketing or sales message out through a new channel is still one-way communication.
Here are five rules of thumb that can help you develop a social marketing plan that will work for you and your business.
Keep Scheduled Content at <75%
Personally, I couldn’t live without a great scheduling application for my social media. And it’s tempting to just write everything at once, and schedule it all, especially if you use Socialyzer (a new start-up in which I am a proud investor) that uses advanced algorithms and behavioral profiling of your followers and fans to predict the best time for your messages, and schedules them accordingly.
I tried Socialyzer before I invested, and it worked wonders for the company I was promoting. At first, I pre-scheduled 100% of my content. I quickly learned that defeated the purpose. Why? Because using social media solely as a one-way communications tool made people think that either I didn’t know how to use social media properly, or I couldn’t afford to hire someone qualified to do it for me.
Now, when I publish new content or have a message I want to promote via social media, I still write everything at once – the content, the press release, the banners or PPC ads, the social media messages (tweets and posts and social news and booking mark site abstracts, etc.). And then I schedule the posts, letting the predictive algorithms in my scheduling app recommend the best times and days for each message.
I also schedule some time every day – during the “peak audience hours” for my followers and fans, as analyzed by the geniuses at Socialyzer – to engage in social media conversations. What kind of conversations? I reply to tweets from followers, I comment on other people’s blogs and Facebook pages, and I post open-ended questions asking for help or suggestions or advice – and I say thank you to those who offer it.
Yes, it takes time. But not much. I only have about 15 minutes twice a day to spend on this, and that includes all of the social media channels we use.
Look on the Bright Side
Did you ever see actor and human rights activist George Takei’s Facebook page? If not, I’ll bet you’ve seen someone share something from his page if you’ve spent any time at all on Twitter. He has a million followers, and that helps. But even when George Takei’s social media successes are compared to that of people with many more followers – be they Lady Gaga, Rhianna, or Coca-Cola – Takei blows them out of the water on Twitter in terms of retweets, and on Facebook nobody gets more “shares” or “likes” than George Takei.
Nearly half of all the items Takei posts – and he posts multiple times each day – gets upwards of 50,000 likes and 30,000 shares. His success on Facebook – which began in late 2011 when he started his Facebook page – has helped his once sagging career, too.
What’s his secret? I think he has three of them
- He makes me smile. Even when I disagree with his politics, or he’s basically flogging tickets to an event or selling a product (DVD’s or whatever), he does it with humor and hilarious pictures. And it makes me smile.
- He knows his audience well. Takei’s fans don’t like words. They like pictures. So his posts are typically less than 20 words in length – with a hilarious photograph or image to go along with them.
- He often posts material from other people. Nearly a third of everything he posts is a re-post or credited as “from a fan”. And he is always polite and humorous in his responses to people who comment on his posts. Negative posts aren’t deleted if they’re about him or what he says, but he’s quick to remove anything in which a fan attacks someone else.
The result is that while he can be edgy, he’s almost never offensive. It’s a well-known fact that positive, upbeat posts on social media get a far better response than negative downers. So double check – do your posts make people smile?