Remember a few years ago when critics labeled social media as a fad? Well, it turns out that they were so incredibly wrong. Today, social media marketing is one of the most important and effective ways to drive traffic, engage people online, and boost marketing strategies.
For many companies, it’s the key catalyst driving people to their website, increasing sales, and growing their business. The value of social media as a marketing tool only continues to become more important. So, just how essential is it to have a strong social marketing strategy?
HubSpot has collected a series of important social media statistics from leaders across the Internet. Here are some of the most notable stats regarding the importance of social media as a business strategy:
- 83% of marketers indicate that social media is important for their business (Social Media Examiner).
- 62% of marketers said social media became more important to the marketing campaigns in the last six months (State of Inbound Marketing).
- Social media has a 100% higher lead-to-close rate than outbound marketing (State of Inbound Marketing).
While it’s clear having a strong social marketing strategy is a must today, with everyone competing for likes, share, retweets and the attention of users online, your social media marketing plan needs to offer something different. Generic and auto-formatted messaging, and using the same social marketing strategies used by your competitors, will do little to help you gain a competitive advantage.
It’s time to start thinking outside the box and try some unconventional techniques to boost your social strategy.
8 Quick Ways To Boost Your Social Marketing Strategy
With so many automated tools to choose from today, it’s easy to have a ‘set it and forget it’ approach to your company’s social media behavior. It’s tempting to auto-send your social media messages when you post a blog. It’s also very easy to fall into a pattern when executing your social marketing strategy. Too many of us post messages at the same time, on the same day, using the same formats. However, this will do little to boost your social analytics numbers.
People notice, and if you do the same thing all the time, eventually your users will lose interest and start to gloss over your posts rather than engage with them. If you truly want to boost your social marketing strategy, you need to keep things fresh and even unconventional.
Being an innovator—or even an early adopter of a unique social media behavior or strategy—will get you the attention you are looking for, and it will help you stand out in the crowd.
#1 – Use Twitter Cards
Twitter cards allow you to attach photos, videos, and media to your tweets, helping you to drive more traffic to your website. All you have to do is add a few lines of HTML to your website, and when users tweet links to your content, it will have a card added to the tweet that is visible to their Twitter followers. It’s a great way to add a new feature to your tweets and increase engagement because your messages will stand out in the Twitter feed.
There are a number of different types of Twitter cards that you can use as part of your social media strategy. Two of the most popular are The Summary Card and The Photo Card:
The Summary Card
“If your business has a blog or any page devoted solely to information, then you need the summary card. The summary card lets you include the title, description, a thumbnail image and Twitter handle attributions for a page,” says Kristi Hines on Social Media Examiner. Here is an example:
The Photo Card
This is a great tool for any business that wants to highlight graphical elements.The card features an image, description, title, and Twitter handle. Here is an example:
The benefits of using Twitter cards are simple:
- It increases your visibility.
- It helps your tweets rise above the noise of Twitter feeds.
- When users share your content, the Twitter card links the content to your Twitter page.
- It provides users with more information than traditional 140 character messages.
- New analytics to track impressions, retweets, and URL clicks.
#2 – Get Involved In Google+ Communities
You’ve heard about it, but many companies are still reluctant to get involved with Google+, let alone Google+ Communities. “A common misconception is that Google+ is a ghost town. In reality, Google+ is home to vibrant, active communities that foster deep engagement. The trick is learning how to find and take advantage of these communities to build long-lasting relationships with your core audiences,” says Megan Conley in, ‘How to Grow Your Google+ Engagement.’
Communities exist for almost any industry, topic and niche, and people in these communities are highly active and ready to engage. It provides you with another platform to share content, create new connections, and get actively involved with others in your industry – allowing you to drive traffic to your website and other social accounts from a new source, helping to boost your social marketing strategy.
#3 – Scale Back On The Hashtags
Less is more, especially when it comes to using hashtags. While excessive hashtags are something that many people find annoying, it can actually hurt your engagement with users. Socialbakers recently released data in regard to brands’ use of hashtags on Facebook. It found that the more hashtags a brand used, the less engagement they experienced.
This chart by Mashable summarizes the findings:
Scaling back on hashtag use, and using 2-3 targeted hashtags per message, should be implemented on all social media accounts, especially Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Instagram.
#4 – Make LinkedIn A Priority
According to Content Marketing Institute’s 2015 B2B Content Marketing Trends Report, LinkedIn is rated as the most effective B2B social media platform for content marketing. They also found that LinkedIn is the platform that is most often used by content marketers.
LinkedIn continues to improve its functionality for personal and company pages, and features like LinkedIn Pulse and the ability to publish content directly on your profile, allows you to increase engagement for your social marketing strategy. LinkedIn is not just for connecting with colleagues anymore.
Here are five easy ways to take advantage of LinkedIn and integrate it into your social networking strategy:
- Distribute company press releases.
- Make businesses announcements (product launches, partnerships, recruiting notices).
- Share industry related blog posts, news stories, reports, and infographics.
- Use your personal LinkedIn account to write business related posts directly on your LinkedIn account.
- Get actively involved in LinkedIn Groups for Business.
The important thing to keep in mind is that LinkedIn is more business focused, so save the cat videos for Facebook. Focus on publishing content that your business partners and peers would be interested in reading.
#5 – Focus On Timing Over Frequency
Timing is an essential part of your social media marketing plan. “Coming up with a good content is one thing, but maintaining the correct frequency of posting is more important and is often crucial for implementing a social media strategy successfully. If your content is informative enough, then people would share it willingly in their social circles. But if you continue to post and re-post your own content, then it could go over the top and appear annoying instead of being a valuable content,” says Reetesh Sharma, in ‘Timing Plays an Important Role in Social Media Marketing.’
Focus on quality of content shared and timing over frequency. The best time to post depends on the social platform you are using. Keep in mind that engagement for your company may vary, and this is why it’s important to track not only the type of content your users engage with, but when they engage.
#6 – Try Social Gamification
Gamification continues to grow in popularity, and it is now making its way into the social realm. Everyone loves games, and it’s only a matter of time before it becomes more widely adopted as part of social marketing strategies.
According to Commerce Lab, “Gamification uses video game design techniques in non-gaming experiences with the overall goal of improving user engagement and driving user behaviour. It can be used in a variety of ways to enhance user engagement on multiple platforms and is being integrated into business and marketing campaigns to captivate users that have grown weary of more traditional marketing tactics and messaging.”
“Social gamification is expected to become a major trend in the sector, and I believe it will be of great value for the purposes of content marketing on platforms, which are all about social,” says Monica Wells, in ‘Gamification, social media and success: 4 prime examples.’
Magnum Ice Cream did an excellent job of implementing this with their Pleasure Hunt. You control a ‘Magnum Woman’ and go through a game and help her collect chocolates. Players collect points as they gather chocolates all throughout the web.
This game really engaged users and they enjoyed going all around to different sites. But the best part, and how so many people learnt about this game, was how they used social sharing. When player’s complete the game they are encouraged to share their results on their social media platforms, bringing referral traffic back to the game.
#7 – Blatantly Ask Users To Engage
Sometimes all you have to do is ask. A common mistake is not asking your users to share, like, or comment on your posts. Simply adding a short call to action in your post can help create the social media behavior you want from your users.
A study by Dan Zaralla found that ‘Please ReTweet’ Generates 4x More ReTweets.
#8 – Make Your Website More Social
Tools like Social Login and Social Sharing can help your make your website the social and interactive environment your users are increasingly expecting when they visit your website. Social Login allows users to sign into your website and interact with more than 30 social networks; and social sharing buttons and widgets make it easier for users to share content from your website, creating a social word-of-mouth recommendation, without you having to do anything. The best part is you can fully customize the design and user experience, creating a unique social experience for your users on your website.
Every once in a while, you need to stop worrying about the best way to do things and try something a little unconventional if you want to stand out in the increasingly crowded social media landscape. An effective social marketing strategy will only continue to become a more embedded part of your overall marketing plan, and finding unique ways to engage your users is what will help you get the boost in your social marketing strategy that you are looking for.Digital & Social Articles on Business 2 Community