A few years ago I was invited by a friend of mine, who was a crop dusting pilot, to visit them on their farm.
He knew how to fly.
Small planes, big mountains and dangerous weather had honed his skills as an aviator. He had taken those skills into the world of commercial crop dusting.
Crop dusting is a dangerous occupation and requires flying only a few feet off the ground and avoiding power poles, silos and large blunt objects that can kill. Many crop dusting pilots have an exciting career but short lives. Listening to their stories of close encounters and near misses, is enough to make you want that boring desk job or become a chicken plucker.
Too much excitement can be fatal in a career.
The best height to spray chemicals is about 8-9 feet off the ground, but to keep the farmers happy, pilots often have to fly at a height of 5-6 feet (it looks much more impressive, but doesn’t distribute the pesticides properly due to turbulence).
Fly too high and it looks like you are not doing your job. As the farmer is the customer and paying the bills, most pilots fly lower than they should.
But they get paid.
Social media marketing is sometimes a bit like that.
Facebook “likes” is not social media marketing
For many customers and marketers, social media marketing is the sole pursuit of chasing Facebook “likes”. Facebook is the largest social network on the planet (it’s impressive in size and reach with over 1 billion users and counting) and the number of likes your brand page has is visible for all to see.
Bigger is better.
The paying customer is impressed. So no marketer gets sacked for increasing that headline number.
But as Facebook reduces the reach to your fans and pushes you to “pay to promote” your posts then it is becoming less effective. It is moving to, “pay to play“. The truth is that increasingly Facebook is now charging you to reach your fans. Nothing wrong with that… they have to keep the shareholders happy and someone has to pay the bills to keep the lights on.
The reality is that this is only a small part of social media marketing and its power is diminishing fast.
So what is social media marketing?
In a nutshell, it is the art and science of applying the power of the global social networks to increase brand awareness, share your content and increase sales through “crowd sourced” marketing.
Do it well and your marketing is done for free by followers and fans.
A grown up approach involves integrating social media marketing into the fabric of your whole digital strategy and brand marketing.
Integration is key.
A balanced social media marketing strategy done well will increase your search engine rankings, grow your email list and share your blog content to the world. It is your distribution channel for content and your listening post for customer engagement.
Social media still has some image problems
Social media still has some image problems for some CEO’s and their executive team. Facebook is sometimes seen as having the odour of an online dating site and as the social network of choice for drunken teenagers posting photos.
Papers and magazines are much more serious and you can control them. Social media is still in some quarters not taken as a serious marketing medium by some businesses and management.
The control and command culture vs transparency and flexibility is still embedded especially in the conservative industries.
What if Google thinks social networks are important?
If the biggest search engine on the planet starts to realise that social media networks are important then its time to commit to a new marketing strategy.
Consider the following.
- Google has just spent $560 million designing, developing and launching Google+ (Over 400 million people are now users)
- Facebook has over 1.1 billion users, which translates into nearly one in two global internet users.
- Search engines are using social signals such as re-tweets, Facebook shares and comments as indicators of what people think is important content. And that is being woven into their algorithms that decide what appears on the first page of search engine results.
Don’t you think it is time to take social media marketing as a serious option.
Some more questions
Despite that some of the questions that still crop up are:
- Isn’t it superficial?
- Facebook marketing is social media marketing?
- What is a blog?
- Won’t I lose control of the brand if I allow comments on the blog?
- What is the return on investment?
- What do I do with a micro blogging social network that only allows 140 characters?
- Who is going to look after it?
- Why aren’t i seeing results after 1 month?
Setting up your social media brand online
There are many choices when is comes to setting up your social media brand online.
When it comes down to it, the two you cannot and should not ignore are Facebook and Twitter.
This is where you need to start.
The reason to choose these is that they are the biggest, most active, have high engagement and will drive the most traffic to your website or blog.
How to start with Facebook marketing
Here are the key steps to marketing your brand with Facebook.
1. Brand your Facebook page
Building an online brand with social networks requires ensuring your “brand image” is consistent across all platforms. Create a Facebook page banner that is recognizable as your brand when visitors land
2. Customise your Facebook page with an app
One of the most popular apps to do this with is “ShortStack” and this allows you to capture more likes or grow your email database list by offering access to premium content by liking or providing their email to access it.
3. Grow your Facebook community
There are two ways to do this
a. Free (organic)
Some top tactics to help you with this include
- Add a social plugin to your website or blog where people can “like” your page without leaving
- Include a link to your Facebook page in your emails
- Create or source great content and share it on Facebook
- Share your Facebook links on Twitter
b. Paid advertising
Facebook advertising is easy to do and can be limited and capped by time and daily spend.
The easiest way to start is with
- Standard Facebook
- “Like” ads”
- Run a competition
4. Engage with your fans
So you are building your Facebook community now it is time to start engaging with them.
Here are some tactics to get your started
- Ask Questions
- Write compelling headlines for your Facebook updates and posts
- Reply to comments
- Run polls and surveys
5. Sell to your Facebook community
So you are growing your community and engaging with them online on Facebook. You have now earned the right to sell to them
This can be done in a variety of ways
- Capture leads by asking for their email address
- Offer a coupon that provides a discount (the ShortStack “app” can help you with that)
- Setup a Facebook store
Not all tactics will suit every type of business. Use those that are appropriate for your brand and target market whether it is B2B or B2C.
6. Measure and Monitor your Facebook page
With all this activity happening on your Facebook page your need be measuring metrics such as:
- Brand awareness
- Click activity
Some of the tools to help you with that include
- Facebook insights (Free)
- Sprout Social
Note: Facebook is important but if you think that this constitutes a proper integrated social media marketing approach then you are mistaken. Facebook is only part of the equation. There are many elements to bring together and this is done with careful planning by creating a social media strategy plan that includes other vital social networks and takes into account search engines, content and other digital and traditional marketing assets and tactics as part of the mix.
The importance of a social media marketing strategy
If you want to succeed at social media marketing you need to create a social media marketing strategy. Just chasing Facebook likes is not a path to success. It is just a singular tactic that should be part of an overall plan that contributes to achieving your marketing goals.
On a social web, marketing is moving from campaign marketing to continuous marketing. Think of it as a journey of customer engagement and on going conversations rather than one off “raids” on your customers.
10 steps to social media marketing success
Here are the 10 key elements that will need to be part of that plan creation and execution.
Step 1: Create a clear focused vision and plan
This is where you decide whether you want to create brand awareness, position the brand as a thought leader, expert or increase sales. Make sure that the social media marketing goals are congruent with overall business and marketing goals.
Step 2: Obtain commitment from management
Trying to do this without commitment from management will set it up for failure. Obtain funding and ensure that you have a 12 month commitment as organic social media marketing takes time to see visible results. Increasing your Facebook fan base and twitter followers takes time.
Step 3: Determine target market and customer profile
Making sure you are clear whom you are targeting will enable you to choose the right social networks and social media networks.
Step 4: Outline and prioritise goals
Make sure you have clarity on your goals and their priorities. This could include
- Increasing Facebook likes.
- Improve customer engagement
- Build your email subscribers list through social media.
Be specific and set time goals.
Step 5. Develop tactics to achieve goals
If your primary goal is to increase Facebook likes then make sure the tactics to help achieve that are designed for that result
Want to increase customer engagement?… then ensure that your tactics and resources such as asking questions and responding to comments and thanking people for retweets and shares are in place.
Step 6: Resources allocated to achieve goals
Social media marketing takes time and resources.
Do you need to hire a part timer or will you contract it out. Will you need a community manager. Do you have the budget for design, developing the custom tabs on Facebook. Have you bought the software that will help you manage, monitor and automate.
Step 7: Create and plan content publishing schedule
Content is the foundation of your social media marketing efforts. Make sure you have sourced or created the content such as, articles, ebooks, images and online videos you will need for your social media marketing.
Then set a schedule for publishing that content on the social networks you are using.
It isn’t one size fits all. Different networks need different types of content.
Step 8: Publish and promote content on social networks
Some content can be automated for publishing especially Twitter. To optimise Facebook and Google+ pushing for the most visual impact then manual publishing may be required to ensure large and high definition images obtain the most impact.
Step 9: Measure, monitor and manage
There are a range of tools that you can use to measure social network marketing results and brand buzz. This can be a enterprise class tool such as Radian 6 through to Free tools such as Hootsuite, Google Analytics and Facebook insights.
Step 10: Modify, rinse and repeat
Some marketing tactics will not work well and others success will surprise you. Do more of what works and discard those that don’t. Digital marketing is very measureable.
So What About You?
Is your social media marketing all about Facebook likes? Are you chasing a headline number and forgetting some of the other key elements? Are you weaving social into your digital marketing, blogging, email and search DNA.
Look forward to hearing your stories, insights in the comments below.
Want to learn how to create and market a successful global blog with social media?
My book – “Blogging the Smart Way – How to Create and Market a Killer Blog with Social Media” – will show you how.
It is now available to download. I show you how to create and build a blog that rocks and grow tribes, fans and followers on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. It also includes dozens of tips to create contagious content that begs to be shared and tempts people to link to your website and blog.
I also reveal the tactics I used to grow my Twitter followers to over 149,000.
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