Five Steps to Social Media Marketing Success

Businessman with an umbrella crossing between two cliffs on a rope.Your company just started up an online presence, there’s all this buzz about social media and some so called “conversation” going on. Figuring out you’ll have to join Facebook and Twitter, maybe even starting a company blog, this is just for starters, what about that steep learning curve to knowing what is what?

The five steps below can ensure more new digital business successes than failures from the “get go”.

Step One – Your Community

Even in a one sided conversation knowing to whom you are speaking, targeting your audience, is the most crucial first step. Let’s just face it, the wrong audience just won’t listen anyway. And then there’s the two way nature of today’s business talk online.

Then, once the audience has been determined, finding out where those people spend the most of their time online is another key consideration. Which social networks, forums, or even g+ hangouts do your prospective community members frequent. Lastly, where community is concerned not only do businesses need to identify the niche and the hangouts of audience, but the nature of the conversational tone too. What I mean by this is, engaging Facebook fans and Twitter followers, these are two vastly different propositions. Where business speak and casual chat are intertwined amid all those tweets, Facebook lingo is geared far more to the after hours leisure side of things.

Content – The Substance of Being Digital

You may have heard the saying “content is king” before. This is still true on the web, and it probably always will be. Targeting your audience is one thing, well created and curated content is what you engage them with. Put simply, figuring out what you want to present to your community of fans and followers, then organizing and presenting your relevant content is how you retain community.

Let’s say your audience is into sports. Scouring the web to find the best media bits and pieces to share, organizing these little “packets” of content, and sorting out how best to “leverage” them, this is how business is done via social media. You cannot simply “broadcast” your wares onto Facebook, not only will your attempts be shunned, your brand will eventually suffer too. Just posting a cool video won’t do, you’ll have to share the right video, at the right time, to a receptive community.

Connectivity

You targeted your demographic, thought long and hard about what and when to share with them, and now you want to connect. Wanting to engage sports fans in Iowa, fans who need running shoes, who are girls, and between the ages of 15 and 25, with red hair and green eyes, and those that only drive VWs – you see the point already.

Connecting is really about really understanding who your audience is. Connecting in this century is as much about being at the right place at the right time and trends as it is about one on one communication. Social marketers with a leg up use tools like Banjo to get inside the buzz, figure out what, when, and how consumers will absorb content, and for optimizing connectivity. What connects people to businesses, and to one another, is the substance of “what’s happening” what’s “hot”, not what’s not. Be on and in time.

Talking – Listening – Being Real

Any expert on social media out there will within two minutes tell you about “the conversation” if asked. Just looking up the term suffices if one wants to see the logic of today’s web. Social media is a two way conduit, this is for sure, but not so many really engage as they should. Super effective connections are made using not only speaking and listening, but reciprocity as well.

There’s lots of good advice up there at the top about creating munch-able content bites for your community to gobble, but what about real fan and friendship? Do you really want conversions and community? Sharing your content, your ideas, this is one sided in the extreme. What about sharing other people’s interests, voting and commenting on their stuff? What about really being part of your own community. The digital world mirrors the real one, try not being reciprocal and selling a car at the Ford dealership, an iPhone at the Apple store, lemonade, you get it.

ROI – Oh Boy!

The sell. If we can be brutally honest here, the biggest rub in all the marketing world is getting fans or friends or followers to take out the check book. Here is where the rubber meets the highway. All the friends on Earth, a Lady Gaga following, won’t matter an instance if not enough people are converted. And social media conversions are as tough as the door to door ones.

That said, you needn’t get out your suitcase and book the next traveling sales flight, not just yet. Knowing how social media conversions differ from traditional models, getting them that is, is crucial to being successful at it. Branding, sales, and customer retention are super crucial for digital marketers – and ensuring clients of differences in ROI metrics is as crucial as anything. Face it, converting a Facebook fan to a loyal customer is not as easy as it seems.

There are those immediate results traditional businessmen are used to, but what I call “residual” conversions are the most prevalent in this space. Explaining those is the rub. Your company will lose many clients before those businesses see the results of your efforts. Get a handle on how digital peeps convert. Return on investment (ROI) is sometimes down the road a piece.

I leave you with a clip from Banjo to get you headed in the right trendy direction.

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