The holy grail of the world wide web: what can we do to be the first result in search engines? In a previous post I gave you several tips to get to that coveted first position, based on how a search engine works internally. Basically, everything revolves around content: the more relevant and of higher quality it is, the more likely it is that it will be properly positioned and we will end up being relevant. Then there were other equally important factors, such as the speed of the page, SEM vitamins, webcasting… but always after addressing quality content.
Have you ever wondered why you want to be first on Google? The answer is obvious: because you want people to know you exist, to find you. But this has an important connotation: our real goal is not (or should not be) to appear as the first result on Google, but for people to know us… And if that’s our real goal, we might as well stop focusing on SEO only and start looking at other areas that can help us in this endeavor, don’t you think?
So today we’ll focus a little more on the world of social networks and how they can help you to improve the position of your website and your personal brand.
Social Marketing and Its Advantages
Social media marketing is nothing more than the use of social networks to promote our products or services (Wikipedia). If you’re still wondering why you should devote resources to promoting yourself on Twitter, Facebook, or other social networks, just read the latest GlobalWebIndex report: 1 in every 3 minutes we’re online is spent on social networks and more than half of all social network users follow brands they’ve bought from or intend to buy from ?
In another article by Hubspot we find even more statistics on the role of social networks. For instance, 80% of advertisers agree that their social media marketing efforts translate into more visits to the web and, in fact, more than half say these efforts helped them increase sales.
Looking at these statistics, it seems clear that having a presence on social media and being an active member is great for your business. And sure it is! According to Forbes, social media helps you increase your brand visibility and customer loyalty, improve your conversion rates, increase inbound traffic, reduce marketing costs… Tremendous, right?
Create the Perfect Strategy in 6 Easy Steps
If we want to be successful in social media and translate all our efforts into visits and sales, we need to define a marketing plan that works. Although this “marketing plan” idea may sound too professional and complicated for you, it really isn’t—on the contrary, it’s all a matter of common sense. So here I leave you with the 6 steps we took at Nelio to create a successful strategy:
#1 Define Your Goals Based on Your Needs and Challenges
The first step is to decide what you want to achieve with your strategy. As we saw a few weeks ago, depending on the goals we set, we’ll carry out one type of strategy or another. It isn’t the same thing, for example, to promote our personal brand as it is to investigate the reaction of our audience to a new product we’re designing.
Whatever your goal, you should always set challenging but achievable goals. To do this, it is best to follow the SMART formula: your objectives have to be specific, clearly identifying what we want to achieve with them; they have to be measurable, because in the end we want to be able to see how well we have met them (or not); they have to be achievable, because thinking about things that are impossible to accomplish is a waste of time; they have to be relevant to our business and needs; and they have to be time bounded to prevent them from getting too long and becoming a waste of time and money.
Tip: Think about what is relevant to your business at any given time and define the objectives you need to meet your strategy. These goals have to be clearly identified and, if possible, written down somewhere (don’t forget that some people say that writing down your goals makes you three times as likely to succeed as someone who simply has them in mind ?).
Oh! And don’t miss this other post from Sprout Social, where they give you several ideas of the goals you could set.
#2 Know Your Target Audience
The second step is to get to know your audience—a critical step in turning your followers into loyal customers. The better you can define your audience profile, the easier it will be to create a convincing and appropriate message.
Notice we’re talking about meeting our audience and not about imagining who they are. Don’t make assumptions about who your followers are or how they behave and define your strategy based on those assumptions—instead, make your decisions based on real data. Take advantage of the analytics offered by the social media to learn more about your followers and look at the available studies to know what to expect from them. For example, in this SproutSocial article the author talks about the demographic information of the different generations: “Millennials ask, Generation X buys, Baby Boomers observe.” ? Don’t miss it!
Tip: One technique that works very well to better classify our audience and create appropriate messages for our audience is to create audience personas (similar to the buyer persona Ruth told us about a few months ago). This post from Hootsuite explains how to do it ?
#3 Learn From Your Competitors
Before writing any content, you should probably take a look around and see what your competitors are doing. This is a piece of advice we keep repeating in our blog, but it’s something that Steve Jobs used to say: “Good artists copy, great artists steal“. You should do the same with your blog—”steal” from others. But don’t copy and paste their content. Instead observe, read, study, learn… and then make it better.
See what content your competitors write about, what social networks they are on, how often they publish, what kind of publications they share… all this information is a source of incredible ideas and inspiration. Do you want to do even better? Focus especially on the interactions between your competitors and their followers. What complaints do they have? Are they asking for new features, products, or services? Those interactions that used to take place in private are now fully public, 24/7, so take advantage of all that know-how to design your strategy.
Tip: Learn from your competitors. When you’re self-employed or a small business with few resources, seeing what others are doing is a good way to understand where your industry is moving without having to devote large resources. But keep in mind this approach has its caveats—you won’t be as innovative as you could and you’ll be always one step behind, following trends instead of setting them.
#4 Write the Content that Works on Social Media
And finally, after three more or less complex steps in which all we did was study, analyze and prepare ourselves, it’s time to write the content that we’ll share on social media. Hurrah!
Since this is a topic we’ve already covered in this blog thoroughly, I think it’ll be better if I just link our most recent and relevant posts about it:
- How to Create a Successful Editorial Calendar for Your Blog
- Top 5 Problems All Bloggers Face
- Follow These 5 Tips to Easily Write Content Around Your Relevant Keywords
- 7 Skills that Will Help You to Create High Quality Content
- 5 Critical Components to Successful Content Creation
- What Is Content Hacking? Your Best Option To Compete With The Big Ones
Tip: Almost half of all social network users stop following a brand if they get out of line promoting themselves, remember that a good content marketing campaign is one in which content solves problems for your users. If all you do is promote your product or service and you don’t add any other value, you can get hurt.
#5 Talk to Your Followers
Some companies forget this, but social networks are places where people meet and talk and discuss. They aren’t your personal bulletin boards where you can simply promote your content over and over again. You have to share relevant content. You have to interact with your followers, talk to them, solve their doubts.
Remember when we were talking about studying our competitors? Seeing the interactions they have with their followers is an invaluable source of information. But so are your interactions with your own followers! For instance, here’s a recent example with Nelio Content:
@NelioSoft we love Nelio Content, but we would love a more robust way to create just tasks. Like the ability to edit the task add links, and sync it to google calendar.
— 88NineRadioMilwaukee (@RadioMilwaukee) April 12, 2018
Customer service through social networks is, like it or not, a reality. As stated in this Forbes article, “delivering an amazing customer experience gets customers to come back as well as refer their friends, colleagues and family members. Word-of-mouth marketing is one of the most, if not the most powerful brand strategies, and customer service is the way to get customers talking.”
Tip: Don’t use social networks as a bulletin board. Take a few minutes in the morning and a few minutes in the afternoon to interact with your customers. Watch what they say, what they’re worried about. Be active and don’t always wait to be questioned directly, let it be noticed that there is a person behind this great company, with his little heart! ❤
#6 Track Data, Analyze, and Start All Over Again
Finally, all you have to do now is see how your content marketing strategy is working. Did you plan to increase your visits by 20% in 3 months? Well, take a look at Google Analytics and check if your efforts helped you fulfill your goals. Did they? Great! Now prepare the next campaign and start all over again. They didn’t? Try to understand why, look for any mistakes you may have had, and start all over again too!
If you don’t put a lot of effort into seeing how well you’re doing, you won’t be able to grow as a professional and you’ll be basically operating completely blindly. You have to learn what things work and what things don’t, what you excel at and what you fail to do… Think of this as an iterative process—it’s not enough to run a marketing campaign and forget about it. You have to get better little by little, step by step. And ideally every step you take is supposed to be based on everything you’ve learned in the previous ones, so take note of everything you do, evaluate it and… start over!
There are many ways to reach our audience, and social networking is one of them. In fact, today social networks are perhaps the best media out there, as they offer a two-way channel where we can not only promote ourselves and share our content, but also interact with and get to know our followers. Don’t jump into the void and get into social networks without a plan: remember that your presence there has to translate into more customers and more sales. Define a suitable strategy following the advice we have given in this post and everything will be fine.