Last but not least, we’ve come to the first thing everyone thinks of when they hear the words “online marketing”. Social media may not be every business owner’s best friend, but it should be! It’s the quickest way to update your customer base on new events, requires less extensive writing than a blog and less organization than a newsletter, and is often the place where you and your staff can really let your voice and company culture shine through.
Informative? Absolutely. Engaging? Heck yeah. It’s the new generation of creative content marketing.
Part 3. Social Media.
What if I told you there was a way to get everything about your product in front of a group of people who are all already interested in it, for free, even?
No matter how you feel about social media personally, the fact remains that your customers are already using it. All those people you want to market to are already on their phone for an average of two hours every day, looking through cat videos, Aunt Nancy’s adventures in Pinterest baking, or updates from their base-jumping club. It’s a captive audience. All you have to do is seize the opportunity.
That said, you can’t just slap some comic sans on a picture of a kitten and call it a day—probably. (This depends on what you’re selling.) Successful social media marketing requires an understanding of the respective social platforms, the savvy to know which platform is right for your business, and an understanding of what exactly it is that your potential clients are going to keep coming back for.
1. Social Platforms. What is a social platform and how does it work?
Even if you’ve lived under a rock for the last ten years, you know there are multiple social platforms out there, all with a vast array of features and potential utilization. And none of them serve quite the same function.
- Purveyor of the original “like” button, Facebook definitely has the most users and can be invaluable where ads are concerned, and with some audiences. This is particularly useful when targeting based on interest or to a certain age. At the same time, more of your younger customers are shifting to other platforms.
- The little blue bird with limited characters and a sea of #s looks very complicated but is actually quite simple and popular in many business circles. Twitter is good for quick interactions and building connections. It is very popular among busy people looking for fast bites of information throughout the day. Executives, entrepreneurs, international businesspeople, politicians, activists, and so many more people are available eyes on your feed at any time of day or night. #s are a must to engage with trending conversations and topics.
- Once a haven for fitness enthusiasts and travel bloggers, Instagram has become a rapidly-growing platform for selling any product that you can photograph well and/or slap a pretty filter on. Don’t forget your #s so people can find your posts!
- Google+. Don’t bother, honestly. Sorry, Google.
- Excellent resource for professional relationship building, particularly when it comes to establishing expert authority on your subject. Want to look like a more credible source? Post articles and cite sources related to your expertise. Ta-da, you’re the expert now.
- Still the best and most extensive video hosting service around, no matter what your video needs are. Embeds marginally well into other social platforms, and excellently with websites.
And that’s not all of them. From Snapchat to Pinterest, social media platforms are still in the process of growing and expanding, so more will come as technology evolves. Part of keeping your business’ social presence up-to-date will inevitably be learning when to pivot your social media strategy and either update or switch platforms entirely.
2. Business Needs. Optimization, utilization, and other big words.
Half of using social media for your business successfully is knowing where to spend your resources. Each social media network offers a unique set of advantages and disadvantages, so focus on finding the network that best complements your business’ needs.
If you’re an entrepreneur selling glittery pants with unicorn sequins, for instance, Instagram might be a good choice for you. Modeling them for your online audience could become a key part of your success, as you take good pictures of your product in artistic lighting to showcase your dazzling pantaloons.
On the other hand, if you’re a recruiting agency or a real estate agent, LinkedIn and Twitter are both platforms where professionals go to build connections. If you meet 25 people at a business dinner, adding them all on Twitter or LinkedIn is a great way to maintain that relationship and stay connected for professional opportunities.
Rinse and repeat this formula for any social media you consider. YouTube’s strength is video, so if you need to do product demos for your handmade axe-throwing kits, that might be the way to go. Need to reach a very specific demographic? Facebook’s targeting features will do the job. Just want to get a lot of recipe gurus in the same place? Pinterest is the place to be. Consider your needs as you consider what social media to use.
3. Client Needs. Be my muse!
The other half of using social media for your business is learning where your target audience lives, and what content they want to see. Social media is unique among other marketing strategies, in that it allows you to open a conversation with your audience rather than market AT them. You can ask questions, offer advice, and share related information on your social channels, in ways that engage your customer base and spark interaction. In return, your clients may share positive experiences, ask for help, or talk about their ideas for future products or services based on what they need.
Social media truly is a unique tool in the marketing world. Instead of your clients seeing you as a big and impersonal business, you can humanize your image and get people to trust you, by speaking to them in a language that they understand. And yes, sometimes that is cat pictures.
Are you ready to hashtag and emoji your way to fame? If that sounds like too much to juggle, and you’d really prefer to communicate via handwritten epistle anyway, don’t worry. Hot Dog Marketing makes it our business to keep up with the cool kids and stay up-to-date on all the latest social media trends. If social media management isn’t up your alley—we’ve got this. Hot Dog Marketing has the social media marketing experts you need.
Looking for more content marketing advice? Don’t miss parts 1 & 2 of this series:
Abigail is a writer and editor with a focus on integrative storytelling in all its ever-evolving forms. Her creative background ranges from explorative fiction and observational travel blogging, to web content and film reviews, to scripts for stage and screen. Her work has appeared at Rusty Scythe Publishing, The Modern Cultural Reject, and Houston Baptist University.