10 Steps to Not Sucking at Social Media Marketing

Marketing Tools & Tips Social Media Best Practices

Once upon a time, there was a well-intentioned marketer with a great product she knew the world would love, if only they knew more about it.

She had heard, “If you build it, they will come.” So that’s what she did, and it was a huge success.

Yeah.  Right.

In the real world – one not created by a Hollywood studio with a faux baseball diamond – the one you, I and seven billion others live in, social media marketing is the best way to drive traffic to your site and product.

It’s crucial you know how to market your business with it.

So, in a short five minutes from now — approximately the time it will take to read this — you’ll have the basics you need to build a great foundation.

Ten Steps to Getting off the Ground with Social Media Marketing

Step 1: ”ROAR”                                       

Estimated time: 2-4 weeks

Start strong by doing the heavy lifting, first.

“ROAR,” short for, “Research, Optimize, Analyze and Research your competition,” are the first four steps to that heavy lifting.

Social Media Marketing ROAR

Image courtesy of: tiverylucky at FreeDigitalPhotos

Research is the touchstone of your marketing foundation.

On average, small organizations spend about two to nine percent of their total revenue on marketing.

Most Popular Social Sites of 2014

Facebook 1.7 billion active users
YouTube 1  billion monthly visitors
Instagram 500 million monthly visitors
Twitter 313 million monthly visitors
Reddit 234 million monthly visitors
Google+ 111 million monthly visitors
LinkedIn 106 million monthly visitors

Primary source: dreamgrow.com

Step 2: Optimize

To optimize your site, make sure your social buttons are easily visible and include sharing numbers; it’s a visual of social proof.

Take it a step further with a call to action, to let readers know how they’ll benefit as your Twitter or Facebook follower. Consider disabling blog comments and focus on comments via a social media feed, like Facebook, for increased overall engagement.

Include “rich snippets.” It’s the text you see in Google search results that help readers know more about your page, to click through.


Step 3: Analyze

Google Analytics Social Media Marketing

Image courtesy of: Flickr

Set up Google Analytics. It tracks site visits and social campaign performance as well as measures engagement.

Analytics can feel like a headache if you’re new to it. So, it’s worth working with someone at first to get started. Google also provides a step-by-step checklist, too.


Step #4: Research Competition

Know what’s working for your competition, to identify areas for growth.

While Google Analytics is a start, consider additional analytics tools that are easy to use and give you insights across a spectrum of metrics. Rival IQ rocks this analytics area.


Step #5: Create Rich Content    

Estimated Time: 4 hours weekly

Diverse, interesting content draws an audience, but filling an editorial calendar can feel overwhelming.

This cheat sheet combines content ideas and resources to help you get started.

Case Studies Kissmetric’s 8 Tips for Creating a Great Case Study

DocSend’s Best Case Study Examples from the World’s Leading Companies

Contests Wish Pond’s 6 Social Content Ideas & Ideas
How-to Posts Coppyblogger’s How to Write a Killer “How To” Article That Gets Attention
Infographics Pictochart
List Posts Kikolani’s 15 List Post Ideas When You Get Writer’s Block
Memes Memestache.com
Podcasts Podcast Tutorial’s How to Podcast
Quizzes Buzzfeed’s How to Make a Buzzfeed Quiz
Reviews Enterpreneur’s Journey’s How to Write Review Blog Posts That Make Money
Videos EBusiness Guide’s Top 15 Most Popular Video Sites of 2014
White Papers Digital Relevance’s 19 Ways to Generate White Paper Ideas

Step #6:  A 7-item Checklist to Improve Your Writing

Estimated Time: 4 hours weekly

Social Media Marketing Checklist

Image courtesy of: Flickr

  1. Create a compelling headline. Your headline is a key factor whether someone clicks on your link or doesn’t. A great headline creates emotion, offers a specific promise and creates value. Jeff Goin’s post, Five Easy Tricks to Help You Write Catchy headlines is worth a read if you’re just starting out.
  2. In your content, you need to deliver on the promise you made in your headline. Nothing’s worse for your readers than wasting precious time reading something that doesn’t give them what they thought they were getting.
  3. Always give proper credit to a source, and where possible, link directly to them.
  4. Break up content so it’s scannable and easier to read. Also, increase the font size, to make it easier for mobile viewers.
  5. Include a “call to action.” It engages readers and lets them know what to do next.
  6. Make your writing conversational
  7. Always (always) proofread your work before publishing it.


Step #7: Use a Consistent “Voice” Across Platforms

It’s confusing and disarming if you sound like different people across platforms. Your voice lets your audience know who you are, and it should be the same whether posting on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.

If you’re not sure what your voice is, it should reflect the culture of your brand and company: Is the culture edgy, academic or very businesslike? Reflect that trait in your post.


Step #8: Know When and How Much to Post    

Time Estimate: 30 minutes daily

As much as I might love my cat – and make no mistake, he’s an epic being – no one wants to see 10 posts a day on him (even if I feel inclined to do so, at times).

It’s acceptable to post on Twitter three to ten times a day, and once a day to once a week on all other platforms. But really, find a cadence that works for YOU, and more importantly, your audience. Just activity alone is not the most important metric – it’s how those posts are driving engagement with your community. If ten tweets a day brings you great engagement, then go for it, but if engagement comes to a screaming halt after four tweets, then listen to your audience.

Pick up paid tools, like Hootsuite and Postplanner, to help you automate and manage your postings better, too.

In terms of when to post, the same is true. There are many people and tools advising on specific times per social media. But pay attention to when YOUR community engages with your content. Do your own testing, and find out what works best.

Here are some general guidelines for sharing time on different channels, but take these with a grain of salt. These are trends across all users, all time zones, all industries, etc. Every organization has a unique audience with different activity and engagement levels throughout the day on each channel. If you want to truly understand when your audience is active and most engaged, you need to test and monitor YOUR audience.

social media marketing post times

Image courtesy of: Placester

Step #9: Don’t Buy Friends or Fans

Estimated Time: 30 min. to 1 hour daily

It’s no fun when one person is holding court. Engage with your audience and take the time to create thoughtful comments. Share and engage with others’ content, too.

Buying followers is a no-no, and it won’t serve you well, either.  Social media influence takes time.  Really, your goal is a true love connection—not just a warm body. (Right?)

social media marketing followers

Don’t buy social fans – you get what you pay for!

Step #10: Have a Response and Legal Policy  

Did we just say that??

Let’s face it, sometimes commenters will say something that’s provocative and – I hope, very rarely – go all “negative Nancy” on your comment section.

Avoid breaking confidentiality agreements, forgetting to credit a source or stating something that’s not true, or harmful, about someone else.

Keep this link handy, Nolo’s Defamation, Libel and Slander: Key Element’s of a Claim, to help clarify it if you’re not sure.


Stop Sucking and Start Succeeding at Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing takes effort. There’s no quick-fix way to build an audience. It can take about 12 to 15 hours a week for small businesses, and for many companies, it is a full-time job.

Applying these steps will get your social media strategy off the ground and running.

And share with us what has worked well for you and your company? Or what hasn’t worked?

Social media marketing infographic

Image courtesy of: DeviantArt

Tricia Mool

Tricia Mool is a Bay Area freelance copywriter, blogger and analogy addict. She's dedicated to helping tech, healthcare and education businesses grow their audience--one well-chosen word at time. Follow her on Twitter @teejaywrites for practical tips and resources.

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