24 Best Practices for Social Media Marketing Success

Want to ensure your social media presence is ultimately going to be a successful addition to your marketing strategy? Take note of these 24 best practices!

 

Have Goals and Objectives

Like every other marketing and business initiative, you need to have a goal or objective that you what your social media presence to achieve. Whether you want to use it to improve brand awareness or as a new outlet to interact with customers, having clear objectives for your platforms helps to optimise their reach and impact. In addition, having well-defined objectives also makes it clearer for you in what to measure for your return on investment. It is also worth noting that return on investment with social media marketing cannot always be measured in money. Whilst it can drive sales, the real power of social media marketing is in building relationships with customers. Whatever your objectives, make them achievable and relevant for your business and remember as you progress these objectives may change.

 

Portray Yourself Consistently

It is important that before you engage in social media that you are clear on what kind of image you want to portray of yourself and make sure to keep it consistent across all platforms. This consistency equally applies not just to the ‘voice’ you portray but also to the creative aspects, that is the overall presentation including the colour scheme and typography. If your brand or company uses certain colours then be sure to apply these consistently across the presentation of all your social media platforms. This also extends to a company logo or picture, make sure they are up to date and reflective of the image you want to portray. Having a social media platform is a great way to show a ‘human’ side to your business that customers appreciate and prefer. From this, it is important to have an idea of what voice you want for your page that can be consistently applied across all your posts, especially if your company page is going to be managed by several different contributors. In general, avoid generic corporate speak and replace it with your own unique voice and customers will be more drawn to and engage with you. By setting consistent guidelines over the presentation and integration of your branding into your page it ensures that all these factors support and are in line with your overall branding and help reinforce your message and brand across all social media platforms.

 

Be Where Your Customers Are

It’s important to have a presence where your customers are looking to interact with you. To find out where you should be there are two easy ways; research the demographics of your intended social media platforms and also ask your customers yourself. When you start researching what platforms you think are best for your business, be sure that their main audience are the ones you want to target. The other option is for you to ask your existing customers where they are active online; this will then help guide your platform choices.

 

Get In The Habit Of Checking The News

If you’re not already doing this at least once a day, you need to start. Get in the habit of checking both industry news and the news in the world. You don’t need to read an entire newspaper and several journals, just look to bookmark a few key sites and blogs and at the very least, skim the headlines. Social media covers all aspects of people’s lives and the more you understand about them in a wider context, the more you can understand where your brand will fit into your followers’ newsfeed. The added benefit of scanning the news daily means it will also help you to find real time opportunities that you can utilise for your social media content.

Learn To Manage Your Time Effectively

On average, 64% of marketers spend at least 6 hours a week on social media. As more social media platforms, tools and features are added into your marketing mix regularly, it can become overwhelming to keep on top of your timing and not to have your social media management impact your other duties. Timekeeping is one of the most vital skills for an efficient social media marketer, so make sure you’re getting everything done by creating checklists for regular tasks and using social media tools that help you work smarter.

 

Focus on Building a Community Rather Than a Number of Followers

The number of people following you can only take you so far. Having 10,000+ followers is noteworthy, but at the end of the day it doesn’t matter how many followers you have if they’re not interacting and paying attention to your content. So what can be done to build a community and increase engagement with your current and potential followers? Simple, always insert some personality, humor, and life into your brand and always converse directly with your followers: which is as simple as having a conversation with them, retweet them, like and comment on their posts, and directly ask them to interact with your content.

 

Create a Powerful Presence Across all Social Channels

If you want your audience to stay engaged, you need to be engaging. One of the great ways to do this by creating powerful social campaigns that run consistent across all your social platforms. How do you do this? Start by…

  • Telling a powerful story: Think of ways you can use your social channels to tell powerful, motivational and therefore compelling stories to your viewers. For example, you can share a story rooted in charity work that you do or support. Alternatively, you could share stories from your happiest clients on your blog and then create a social campaign with a unique slogan and hashtag to promote and create a movement around their stories. Team this strategy with…
  • Brand your movement with a unique name and hashtags: Branding your movement will make it memorable and stick out in the mind of your followers. Take time to brainstorm actionable ideas that will get followers involved, whether that is done by posting photos and using your hashtag to group them, running a contest, or throwing events run by your business. For example, you could use the inspirational aspect of getting fit, or New Year’s resolutions, or whichever angle you believe your customers would gravitate towards. Test out a few hashtags, find the one that resonates best, and brand your movement by announcing it on your blog and social platforms.

 

Suck Up to Influencers

The goal is to get these influential people to like you and like your brand. Once you get in with the people that matter, your business will exponentially grow because you are exposed to their audience and authority. Make a thorough list of key industry influencers and actively take the following steps to socially connect with them:

  • Favorite, like, comment, and re-share their content: Don’t favorite/like everything they post however, that is too obvious. Try to like and favourite a few times per week and comment when you genuinely have something educational and valuable to say.
  • Tweet at them: Whether it’s asking their feedback on your content or asking industry related questions, this strategy works very well as they will be flattered that you thought of them and consider them to be a valuable resource/influencer.
  • Use the same hashtags: This way when they’re reviewing their hashtag feeds they’ll see your content, and perhaps spark their interest.

 

Share Trending Content

Your platforms don’t exist to be solely self-promotional, this strategy will only make you be seen as boring and obnoxious. Rather, you need to strike a balance between sharing promotional content that markets your brand, interacting with your followers and influencers, and sharing other useful and entertaining content and news from other valuable resources. To help you become an industry influencer and produce content that is share-worthy, follow these four tips:

  • Look for viral videos on YouTube of hilarious children, adorable animals, and inspirational moments and re-share with your own unique spin.
  • Scan the news for the highest covered media stories and add a unique perspective keeping relevant to your brand.
  • Follow and use relevant trending hashtags to add your voice to the larger conversations happening on social media. For example on Twitter you can see “Trends.”
  • Use a popular tool like Buzzsumo to find content that resonates. It’s the easiest way to search related industry news sites and blogs, keywords, influencers, etc. to find the content with the highest number of social shares. Study the headlines that were shared and re-share those articles/headlines with your followers. This will continue the train of sharing, but also show your followers that your social posts are intriguing and follow-worthy.

 

Focus On Creating Content That People Care About and Inspires Conversation

On social media, you can’t depend on passive followers to convert themselves. You need to create as many opportunities to engage people as possible, and it all begins with your content. As people spend longer on social networks, their community expands and with every person followed, page liked, or friend added, they have a whole new set of posts and stories vying for their attention. Brands who have little respect for what people want in their newsfeed will find themselves further fenced off than before, therefore it is vital that the content you share is what your prospects and former customers generally respond well too. This may be a video about how your products work, interesting insights about the culture of your company or shocking stats about inefficiency in your industry for example. Whatever the case may be, build social content that gets your prospects talking to you.

 

Utilise Every Opportunity to Make Social Media Content

Every piece of content that you post is part of your story that you share with your audience. Everything from your ups and downs, your proudest achievements, to your charity work and the people behind your business are all prime areas in which you can create content that you can share with your viewers. So whenever you launch a new product, attend a conference or find a new way to use one of your products for example, look at the ways in which you can squeeze content out of it for use on your social media platforms.

 

Promote your Platforms

Anywhere your customers interact with your brand is an opportunity to encourage them to engage with you online. Once you begin, remember to promote all your social media platforms and that includes mentioning them on your e-newsletter, your email signature, business card, product packaging and anywhere else your customers will see it. Your customers and fans need to be told where they can connect with you through social media, so make it clear where you are.

 

Make Providing Value a Top Priority

Social media is centred on having conversations and engaging with people. That being said, unless the aim of your platforms is to be akin to a personal journal, the content you post should not be simply an update of what you are thinking or doing no with no real substance or value in what you are writing. To avoid to making this mistake every post and tweet should have a clearly defined topic as well as delivering something valuable to the reader, whether that be entertainment or information. You must also write your content with your target audience in mind so rather than trying to appeal to a generic wider audience, write content that contains specialised information and analysis that those interested in your services or in your sector would read. By openly giving out valued advice and information you will become an online repository of specialist knowledge and this will attract the attention of your target audience. Central to being effective is also realising that conversation is a two-way process so you also need to listen to what people are saying to you and about you and respond to them accordingly.

 

Be Active and Consistent

In order to get the most out of using social media as a marketing tool, you need to post content often. It is therefore vital that in the very beginning you figure out a comfortable writing routine that works with your editorial calendar, be it posting daily or several times a week, and stick to it in order to maintain consistency and maximise your impact. Although it takes some experimentation to find the best publishing schedule for you, there are two things that should always be considered and will dictate your posting schedule; your business goals and what your audience wants.

 

Respond Quickly

The fact that customer service through social media is quickly becoming an expectation of consumers means you’re publicly open to both criticism and praise online. From this, it is vital that you watch for any negative things that are being said about you and respond quickly and accordingly. Rather than simply deleting any negative comments you receive, as even the most universally loved businesses receive negative comments, view them as an opportunity to win over a customer offering help, guidance or even acknowledging where something went wrong. By dealing with negativity in an open and authentic way you can help build rapport and trust with your customers. Also remember that often you will get praise online in the form of a great review or comment, do not forget to say thank you.

 

Coordinate Your Social Channels

Your success will be limited If you treat each social media platform as a stand-alone effort. Your networks should work together to help you achieve your goals, with your website acting as your brand’s home base. Coordinate and cross-promote your social media efforts to reach new audiences, boost your following and to push people to your website where they can buy your product or service.

 

Boost Results With Social Advertising

If you want to accelerate your social media performance, it’s worth your time to explore paid advertising options. Facebook offers a number of advertising options to help boost sales, brand exposure, audience engagement and website traffic. Twitter has two advertising solutions: promoted content that helps you cut through the noise and serve your content to tailored audiences and promoted accounts which help increase the size of your Twitter following. Likewise LinkedIn also offers opportunities to reach specific audiences by advertising or by the use of the sponsored updates feature to increase your brand’s visibility. Even if your budget is limited, don’t dismiss social advertising. Used strategically it can produce great results to boost your visibility and success on social media.

 

Find Leads Using Social Media Monitoring Tools

Tracking and monitoring conversations happening around your brand and products is a time consuming but vital task that can be made manageable using social media monitoring tools. Ensure you actively make the effort to monitor mentions of your name, your business name, your products and any other keywords related to your business to find conversations already happening in your industry. Jump into those conversations and provide answers, guidance or helpful information where needed. Being useful is one way to start to build relationships with your target market.

 

Participate in Other People’s Communities (OPC’s)

Actively join and engage the discussions in the communities populated by people likely to use your services and share some of your expertise when it’s relevant. Make it your aim to become and trusted member of these communities. You never want to be promotional in social groups, but if you’re consistently helpful and engaged, prospects will likely be interested and click through to your profile where they’ll find your posts and marketing collateral.

Send Regular Emails with Valuable Content, Deals and Promotions

As your social media connections move into your email list, you can and should continue to provide valuable information, notify them of upcoming deals and promotions and provide general interesting business news and updates. At this point in the funnel you have likely already become a trusted source of information, meaning your subscribers are warmed up to buying from you. Social media is all about building connections with your target market, and making yourself the first name that comes to mind when they’re ready to buy. Take this opportunity to craft perfect email campaigns, using segmentation whenever possible to be sure your content and offers are targeted to specific groups of subscribers and by the strategic use of strong calls to action in your emails to make sure your subscribers know what you want them to do, and what to expect when they click on your offer/content. By continuing to cultivate them with engaging, valuable and entertaining information in your emails, you will help to build connections that will result in long-term, profitable relationships.

 

Create Customer Advocacy Opportunities

Customer advocacy is where your marketing ROI can take off. You’ll be putting in less effort to reach your marketing goals because your customers will effectively sell for you.

  • Continue to engage qualified leads and customers

There’s no reason why people should stop learning from you after they become customers. If they’re on an email list or subscribed to your blog, actively send out informational reminders for them to connect with your company on social networks.

  • Offer occasional incentives for customers to review your services or share certain posts

Depending on your business and market, offering vouchers or bargains such as free consultations can work well. The benefits for you are twofold: You’ll increase brand exposure and subtly help customers become your advocates.

  • Engage customers specifically about your products and services

If your company offers a complex product, it might be a good idea to create a forum on your website or an entirely hub that’s purely for continued customer support, just for you and your customers to interact around your products.  Externally, LinkedIn showcase pages and Facebook groups might be possible hubs for product-based conversations that build increased trust for your brand and position your company as worth advocating for.

  • Provide substantial advocacy opportunities for repeat customers

Over time, you might form mutually beneficial partnerships with repeat customers. Consider rewarding these relationships with more substantial opportunities such as inviting them to networking events.

Monitor Social for Un-Tagged Brand Mentions

Not every person who mentions your brand or products on social media will tag you in the post. In fact, many social posters may assume that you’ll never even see the posts they create mentioning you. Actively scan your social media networks for these types of mentions and join the conversation by provide pleasantly surprising customer engagement. You should look to actively monitor;

Your Own Brand Terms—make sure to monitor for all variations of your company’s name, including nicknames and common misspellings.

Your Own Product Terms—A less frequently used strategy involves monitoring social for some of your popular products, as well as the common nicknames and misspellings.

 

Create an Internal FAQ Document

Consult with everyone who manages your social pages and build a document that houses all of these questions and some solid answers. Whilst you should never simply copy-paste those responses over to your customers, you can use this document to quickly guide your response.

 

Do What Is Right for You

As you become a regular participant on social media platforms, you will find unique ways in which they can be used to the best advantage for your business. Nobody knows your customers and what they expect from you better than you yourself so delivering the content they want and engaging with them is the most important thing and will dictate your decisions surrounding your social media marketing efforts. As with any other marketing efforts, you will learn in time what works and what don’t, the important thing is to learn by doing.


 

This is an excerpt from my new book “The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Social Media for Small Businesses” out now in Paperback on Amazon! Head over there now for more of a Free preview! http://amzn.eu/2uuslrD


 

The Ultimate Checklist for Your Social Media Marketing Plan

‘If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail.’

Whilst Benjamin Franklin wasn’t speaking to the owner of a local cupcake company looking to start a Facebook page when he said those words, they still ring true when it comes to a business starting out on social media. Just as you wouldn’t set up a business without a business plan, you can’t just jump straight into social media, start aimlessly posting and expect the customers to come rolling in. Rather, you have to sit down, grab a cup of coffee and develop a clear social media strategy. While there’s no one-size fits all solution, you can find social media success if you’re armed with the right questions to get you started. After all, a plan equals focus and focus is what is going to drive your business forward online.

What Objectives do I Want my Business to Achieve by Using Social Media?

Whether you want to use your social media presence to gain exposure for your brand, directly educate and interact with your customers, promote specific products and services or all of the above, clearly identifying your objectives is the critical first step towards a successful social media presence. Identifying your objectives in the beginning ensures a multitude of critical elements of your social media marketing, it allows you to effectively tailor your content and posting schedule, provide value to your customers, right through to helping you accurately measure your success as you will be aware of the most appropriate metrics to track efficiently.

 

Common Social Media Objectives

  • Build Brand Awareness
  • Drive Traffic to Website
  • Provide Customer Service
  • Engage with Fans
  • Establish Thought Leadership
  • Launch New Products or Services
  • Generate Leads and Increase Sales
  • Research and Insights
  • Build Your Community
  • Improve SEO
  • Competitive Analysis

 

What is the State of My Current Social Media Use?

If you are already present on social media, you need to take a good hard look at your content from the eyes of a new (or potential) fan or follower. There is a whole host of important questions you need to ask yourself when you look through your online presence. Here’s a few taken from the checklist I use when I conduct a Social Media Audit;

  • Assess their presence: has it been thought through? Profile/cover photo/about section completed, effective and branded?
  • Can potential followers immediately get a sense of company culture, products and services on offer?
  • Content: How does their content support their strategy? What content receives the most clicks, likes and shares? Are they sharing engaging content? Do they encourage engagement? Offer something valuable/useful? How often is it updated? Are they engaging back with fans? Do they use hashtags effectively? How do they use images to tell the company story?
  • How are the individual platforms being used to drive traffic to the main web presence? Is it clear what the next step is that they want fans/followers to take? Call to actions in tweets/pins/posts?
  • Record numbers of followers and following – are they both relevant and targeted audience?
  • When the last time was their Twitter / Facebook/Pinterest etc. presence was updated?
  • What feedback do they get from followers?

 

Who are My Target Audience?

Determining the audience that you want to reach and engage with on social media is fundamental to your strategy.  Whether your target audience is your current or potential clients or customers, affiliate businesses, thought leaders or all four, your aim is to create a successful social media strategy that matches and is tailored towards understanding and acting on your target audience’s behaviours online. Creating Buyer personas helps you define and target the right people, in the right places, at the right times with the right messages. When you learn important factors about your target audience from their age, job status, income, interests, problems, to their likes, dislikes, motivations, where they spend their time online and in what format they like to digest their content online then it becomes easier to target them on social media. The key is to remember that the more specific you are the more successful and targeted you are going to be with your social media strategy that will bring real results and conversions for your business.

 

What Platforms am I Going to use for my Business?

What platforms you choose to use will ultimately depend on where your customers are and which ones are best suited for your business. Spend the time researching where your current customers are online and what platforms can be best utilised with your resources and business. The key is to not spread yourself too thinly across lots of social media platforms just because you think this will gain your business more exposure, rather it is much more effective to run a handful of platforms consistently and efficiently and to spend the time reviewing the platforms you are on to make sure they are as effective as they can be. You should also keep up to date with research into new technologies and platforms that your business could potentially utilise in the future.

Selecting the Right Social Media Platforms for Your Business

Each social media platforms is unique, with its own best practices, style, and audience. The key to choosing the right social media platforms relies on you having a clear understanding of your objectives for social media, your target audience and what resources/ information you have to share. Simply put, choose the ones that best fit your strategy and the goals you want to achieve on social media. You don’t have to be on them all—just the ones that matter to you and your audience.

To help you decide the best platform, ultimately ask yourself these questions;

  • Purpose – What information do you want to share with and communicate to your audience?
  • Format – In what format is the best way to present this information? Videos, Podcasts, extended pieces of writing etc.
  • Platform – Which social media platform will allow me to share this message best and which platform has the correct audience that I want to reach?
  • Time – How much time can I devote to a social network? Aim for at least an hour per day per social network. Once you get going, tools like Buffer can help you effectively manage your time.
  • Resources – What personnel and skills do you have to work with? Visual social platforms like Pinterest and Instagram require good quality images. Social platforms like blogging emphasize quality content. Do you have the resources to create what’s needed?
  • Audience – Where do your potential customers hang out? Which social network has the right demographics for you?

 

Have I Done my Research?

A successful social media presence is always aided by a good, solid foundation of prior research. You should look to do initial research into key areas such as your competitor’s social media, your target audience demographics, the latest trends and news in social media, marketing and business as well as many others. Conducting research and paying attention to changes in your industry and audience for example should also be a regular and active occurrence as things, especially social media, evolve and change so you need to keep up to date to ensure your strategy is as relevant and effective as possible.

  • Market Research – Who is your target audience? How do they behave on social media? Where are they online?
  • Competitors – Which platforms are your competitors using? Are they directly engaging with prospects online? What are they good at online? In which areas could they improve? Can you get case studies? (Both successful and unsuccessful examples?)
  • Latest Business and Social Media News, Trends and Techniques – Do you know the latest techniques on your social media platforms that are effective? What is changing in social media and/or business that could affect your marketing?

 

Am I Clear on My Marketing Voice and Tone?

The temptation at this point might be to jump right in and start sharing. Before you do however, it is crucial to cultivate a voice and tone of your marketing that effectively encompasses your brand.

To help you with this, start with questions like these:

  • If your brand was a person, what kind of personality would it have?
  • If your brand was a person, what’s their relationship to the consumer? (A trainer, friend, family member etc.)
  • What do you want your customers to think about your company?
  • Describe what your company’s personality is not
  • Are there any companies that have a similar personality to yours? Why are they similar?

 

Who is Going to set up and Maintain my Businesses Social Media Platforms?

In the beginning you will need to decide who will implement and maintain your social media accounts. Whether you want to run them in-house or hire a social-media marketing manager or firm, you need to ensure that the person who is in charge of your platforms can effectively represent your brand and has the know-how to create and maintain a successful social media presence. That person is going to ultimately control how your business is presented to others in the online world so you need to be absolutely confident that they are the right person for you and your business.

 

Have I Chosen My Core Topics?

The key to a successful content strategy is finding the core topics you want your business to be known for and the topics that attract and keep the attention of fans and followers. What topics or categories best represent your company? For most this is a combination of 3 areas,

  • Your Passion – the topic you are passionate and love to talk about
  • Your Assets – the topic you’re known for and skilled and trained in
  • Market Reality – is there a demand on social media for the type of content you are offering?

 

What Resources/ Content do I Have at my Disposal?

Each social media platform has a certain type of content that is best suited towards it, for example Pinterest is inherently visual and as such requires good-quality and memorable images to be effective. From this, you need to understand what type of content that the platforms you are using is most effective and importantly what content resonates best with your audience. Once you are clear on both these aspects, you will be able to form an effective content strategy with maximised effectiveness. It is important that you share with your audience a diverse and interesting mix of content types that encourages engagement so you need to think about the types of questions you will ask, updates you will share and ultimately what resources you have that you can utilise and repurpose for your social media platforms.

 

What Should I be Posting?

A quick glance through any social media article, research and blog post will show an emphasis and push towards sharing visual content. This trend towards the visual has plenty of anecdotal evidence too, with it being a widely known fact that image posts get more views, clicks, re-shares, and likes than any other type of post. On Facebook, photos get 53% more likes, 104% more comments and 84% more click-throughs on links than text-based posts. Similarly for Twitter, in a study of over two million tweets from verified users across a number of different industries, Twitter found that photos have the greatest effect on retweets. Photos average a 35% boost in Retweets with Videos getting a 28% boost. What does this mean for your business? Simple. You must prioritise producing good quality visuals in your social media content strategy.

So now we have established that you need to incorporate the visual into your content strategy. It’s time to take a look at what elements should make up your other content. There are hundreds of rules, strategies and theories on the best way and most effective ways to structure your content, the most used and most simple but effective strategy I use is the 70:20:10 rule.

 

The 70:20:10 rule

As a general rule of thumb, the rule states;

  • 70% of posts should add value and be brand and business building, stuff that your followers will find interesting, valuable and insightful and that supports who you are as a company.
  • 20% should share ideas or content from other sources e.g. blogs, digital PR, websites, other social media channels etc.
  • 10% should be self- promotional – your offers, discounts, marketing and promotional, sales etc.

 

21 Quick-Fire Example Content Ideas

  • Business Tips: People love to hear valuable business tips.
  • Humour/Relatable: Whether it’s a funny meme or something funny that’s happened in your life or your business, share it.
  • Inspiration/Motivation: Inspiration is the number one most shared type of content across every social media platform.
  • Open-Ended Questions: People love to talk and they love to answer questions.
  • Offers and Deals: Did you know that getting deals is still the number one reason that people like brands on Facebook? We all love a good deal.
  • Behind the Scenes/Sneak Peeks: People love to feel like they’re a part of what’s happening in your business.
  • Opinions: You can give yours and/or simply ask for theirs. People love to give their feedback and feel like their voice is being heard.
  • Industry News: There’s a huge value proposition in this. Firstly, you are educating your community on things that are happening in your space or in your niche. Secondly, doing this routinely will help you become an industry news or thought leader.
  • Fill in the Blanks: It’s an alternative way to phrase a question and the best ones only require a one or two-word answer, which makes it easier for your fans and followers to answer and engage with.
  • Strike Up a Conversation: Take the time to strike up a conversation. It’s a great way to build relationships.
  • Testimonials: Let people know that other people value your services or your products.
  • Open Q&A’s: Are a great way to provide value and get some real-time engagement with your followers.
  • Polls: You can use a poll for a number of different things like collecting opinions and/or ideas. Polls are a great engagement tool, but it’s also a great way to get great information.
  • Caption a Photo: Asking your fans and followers to caption a photo normally elicits good engagement.
  • Make Predictions: People love predictions. They want to know what you think.
  • Crowd Source Ideas: Ask other people for ideas. Whether you’re getting ready to do a new product or anything of that nature…ask!
  • Highlight Your Customers: Let your social media followers know that you value them. It’s important.
  • Tech Tips or Tools: People love tools and they love tech tips.
  • Advice: if you have some great advice and you feel like its valuable then share it.
  • Share Video or Audio Clips: In some cases video and audio posts are more impactful than a simple text based or image post.
  • ASK!: Ask your followers what content they want to see.

What is my Publishing Schedule?

Whilst it is wonderfully easy for you to be told from a social media expert that you should post 2 Facebook posts a day, 10 Tweets and 2 Blog posts a week for example, the ironclad and definitive answer to the questions ‘What, When and How often should I post?’ is simple: It depends. Everything about the social media experience is about your individual audience and niche. What works for you might not work for me… the important thing is that you experiment and learn what does work for you.

Your publishing schedule is going to be ultimately dictated by three things, your business capabilities, the platform you’re using and your audience needs. In the beginning you will need to experiment to find a publishing schedule that works best for your business, goals and readers and is the perfect balance of what you want and what your audience wants. Part of this consideration is also understanding the nature of the platform you’re using to publish and whether it is one such as Twitter that favours several short updates per day or Facebook where posting 7+ times a week is effective. Ultimately, when you are creating a publishing schedule you need to ask yourself, Can you keep this schedule consistently? Can you always publish high-quality content at this rate? And will you have enough content for this schedule? Once you’ve discovered the most effective schedule for you, being consistent with your publishing schedule has the benefit of increasing SEO value, maximising value and engagement from readers and encourages readers to come back regularly for more.

How Often Should you be Posting?

As you have come to realise, everything about a business social media experience is unique to you. There is no one size fits all approach to what content to post, just like there is not one for about how often to post to social media either. Some of the factors that will impact your specific sharing frequency may include your industry, your reach, your resources, the quality of your updates and the social network you’re using. The best way to discover the ideal posting frequency is by looking at your own analytics and several tools available in the market, these are a great way to show you the best time of day to post on your social media platforms, how often and even when your audience is online. So what are you to do if you are just starting out on these social networks, with no audience and no history? This is where best practices come in. As a good example, SumAll, which compiled timing research from sites like Visual.ly, Search Engine Watch, and Social Media Today has created a great visual resource of what their extensive research found in terms of timing.

  • Twitter – 1-3pm weekdays
  • Facebook – 1-4pm and 2-5pm weekdays
  • LinkedIn – 7-8:30am and 5-6pm Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday
  • Tumblr – 7-10pm weekdays and 4pm on Fridays
  • Instagram – 5-6pm weekdays and 8pm on Mondays with a sweet spot at 6pm
  • Pinterest: 2-4pm and 8-11pm weekdays with weekends being the best
  • Google+: 9-11am weekdays

How am I Going to Ensure my Business Branding is Representative and Consistent?

Having a social media presence is a great way to show a wider audience who you are, what you stand for and ultimately why they should love you. From this, it is important that you know clearly what your brand stands for and how this is going to be conveyed consistently and accurately across your platforms. This consideration needs to be applied to everything from the voice you want for your brand that can be consistently applied across all your posts to the creative aspects of your platforms- that is the overall presentation including the colour scheme and typography. By setting consistent guidelines over the presentation and integration of your branding into your social media platforms it ensures that all these factors support and are in line with your overall branding and help reinforce your message and brand.

 

Am I Going to Have to Create a Written Social Media Policy for my Employees?

If there are going to be several different administrators of your platforms or you run a business with staff members who have personal and/or business social media accounts, it is well worth creating a social media policy for your staff to sign so everyone is clear on their responsibilities and what is deemed appropriate and inappropriate behaviour when they are representing or discussing your business online.

Have I Considered My Mobile Strategy?

With ever increasing numbers of people accessing the internet and social media platforms from their mobile devices, it is vital that you optimise your profiles for mobile users and give them a mobile friendly experience. Therefore you should test and experiment with your platforms to see how they look on both your desktop and a variety of other mobile devices to ensure you provide a seamless experience for those visiting your social media platforms no matter what device they are viewing them from. When assessing your site from different devices, you should check for several key areas such as; do your images still remain high quality? Are the social media sharing buttons clearly positioned and working properly? If text is used, it is readable on a small screen? The time you spend to perfect your platforms from your desktop should also be spent on making your site work for mobile too, if you fail to do so then you could lose traffic and sales as you will not be providing users with a good experience.

 

How am I Going to Measure the Success of my Social Media Marketing Efforts?

Tracking your social-media marketing metrics is a fundamental part of the social media marketing process as it helps gauge which tactics are successful and which areas are in need of improvement. Put a plan in place that allows you to track, measure and assess your results consistently to see what content/strategies resonates best and to ensure you are successfully meeting your social media objectives and if they are still relevant to you. Adjust your strategy and your content when appropriate to keep your social media content fresh and your information topical. The more you post, the more you’ll discover which content, timing, and frequency is right for you.

Ultimately, Have I got a Clear Strategy?

Having a clear idea on every aspect of your social media marketing strategy is key to its success. Ultimately, you should easily be able to answer confidently and with clarity the below questions that form a basic social media marketing strategy. Part of maintaining a strong, successful presence is also to regularly assess whether certain aspects of your original strategy have changed (For example are your objectives still the same? Is there a new social media platform that your audience is using?) and then adjust your efforts accordingly. As you become a regular participant on social media you will find ways in which you need to improve certain areas and areas in which you excel in, so never stop learning and listening to what your audience and your analytics tell you.

 

Keep referring back to this handy checklist;

 

Setting Goals

  • Why have I joined social media?
  • What is my brand’s overall purpose?
  • What does my business aim to achieve with social media?

 

Audience

  • Who is our target audience?
  • Which social networks do they use?
  • What topics and sources of information are most important to them?
  • What problems can I help them solve?
  • What jobs can I help them complete?

 

My Brand

  • What is my brand voice?
  • What is the overall tone of my social media updates?
  • What emotions do I hope to convey through my brand’s messaging?

 

Content

  • What types of content should I post on which social platforms?
  • What type of content best supports my content marketing aims?
  • What are the main topics, categories or messages that support my brand?
  • Should I use social media to provide customer service?

 

Content Creation

  • What realistic resources do we have?
  • Who should set up and maintain my company’s social media accounts?
  • What is the workflow from content creation to publication?
  • How often should I post new content on my social networks?
  • How does social media fit with our other campaigns?

 

Measuring Success

  • How will I measure ROI and define success with my social media strategy?
  • What is working with my social media marketing efforts?
  • What is the customer journey from search to purchase?
  • Where does social media fit within my funnel?

10 Valentine’s Day Promotion Ideas for Your Restaurant!

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, and with love struck Brits spending in the region of £1bn every Valentine’s Day, if you don’t have your restaurant marketing ideas in order, now is certainly the time to get them sorted. Live music? Flowers? Special Menu? Here are 10 Valentine’s Day ideas to help inspire restaurants across the country to get in the mood for love!

 

  • Host a Class

You could hold a couples class experience where they can learn to make a dish in an evening. For example Red Lantern hosts a sushi making class for couples with guests even getting to take a gift home with them as well. What’s not to love!

 

  • Offer a Gift Card

Give the gift of great food by offering a gift card! Start promoting your gift card availability right now to try and catch the eye of someone looking to buy a gift for their partner.

 

  • Offer Your Customers a Souvenir

You should offer your customers at least one thoughtful souvenir from the night. This could be anything from a small box of chocolates, to a fresh cut rose or have a photographer going around on the night taking photos for customers to take home with them.

 

  • Create an Atmosphere with Live Music

Rather than playing generic radio/cd music, look to invest in some live music to create a special atmosphere. It doesn’t need to be an expensive string quartet, you could go for single pianist for example. Bonus points for hiring a local musician! (Make sure to promote this on social media and get your musician to promote the event on their platforms too).

 

  • Create a Special Cocktail/Mocktail

Create a special Valentine’s Day cocktail or mocktail to make your meal something special. For ideas you can always look for mixes online!

 

  • Create a Special Menu

Design a special Valentine’s Day menu, making sure to create it around foods associated with love and romance! Honey, Oysters, Figs and of course chocolate are all aphrodisiac foods to add to your romantic Valentine’s Day menu, to ensure you get your customers in the mood for love!

 

  • Ask Your Suppliers to Get in on the Action!

Ask your supplier to supply some free stock for the big night. A few complimentary bottles of fizz isn’t that expensive to them and offering a free glass on arrival to your customers is a nice touch that will certainly have them loved up!

 

  • Ensure You Price Things Right

There’s a lot of competition for business on Valentine’s Day, so keep an eye out for what your local competitors are up to and price accordingly. Remember that you are not only competing with other local restaurants, you’re also competing with the major supermarkets that offer a variety of ‘Meals for 2’ eat at home options! Charge enough that people expect (and get!) something special and thoughtful but bare in mind that running a promotion via Book a Table, Groupon or Wowcher for example will help ensure you appear where people are searching for potential Valentines Meals.

 

  • Be Ready for Proposals!

It’s inevitable that being in a low-lit restaurant, with soft romantic music playing in the background whilst you eat incredible food is the perfect ambience for a proposal! If someone does pop the question to their significant other, make sure you’re ready with some free champagne and desserts, along your camera – so you can share the romance across social media!

 

  • Don’t be Afraid to Do Something Different!

Valentine’s Day isn’t such a great day for singletons. If you fancy doing something a bit different, why not tap into those people and hold a ‘Singles’,‘Gal-entines’ or even ‘anti-Valentine’s Day’ night for those not wishing to get caught up in all the soppiness. Another idea is to consider promoting a romantic lunch instead of dinner for those who want to celebrate without the crowds.

 

  • Leverage the Love!

Savvy restaurants will utilize this day by teaming up with local press to gather some attention! You could build a social media campaign around a great offer such as a free Valentine’s meal for 2 to in exchange for the best love story!

 

TOP TIP: You can have the best idea ever for your restaurant on Valentines, but if you don’t tell anyone about it then nobody will come. Ensure that whatever idea you decide on… you tell people about it! Use all your social media platforms (plus your email marketing!) to tell your existing customers, fans & followers about what you have on offer and consider paying for some advertising – particularly on Facebook to give your posts that extra boost. You can also encourage your current Facebook fans to tell their friends about your night too, by offering an additional special deal for those that share your post.

What is Social Media and Why is it Important?

What is Social Media?

Social media is the means by which people interact with others in virtual communities and networks allowing them to create, share and exchange information and ideas. With the rapid popularity growth of these new technologies, social media has had a profound impact on the way people discover, read and share news, information and content. Social media encompasses all forms of ‘user generated’ content, from communication platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to multimedia services such as YouTube and virtual gaming platforms like World of Warcraft. It has become extremely popular as it allows people to connect and form relationships in the online world for personal and business use.

 

How is Social Media Being Used by Businesses?

Social media puts you out there and brings your solutions to your prospects’ doors. As such, the benefits of creating a social presence on the web have been felt by every type of business and industry. Whether you have a restaurant, retail outlet or provide professional services, social media enables you to build your online reputation, increase credibility and help generate business and drive sales. By taking advantage of social media, you can make your business gain more exposure, be more personable and generate and maintain long term connections as well as benefit from rich insights into your customers and industry. All of which can greatly benefit your business in the future.

 

Why Should You Join In?

With the surge in popularity in having a presence on social media, the chances are that your customers and competitors are already involved. On the web your customers will be talking, forming their opinions and its’s where they’re making their own recommendations to their friends and connections. Likewise your competitors may be already channelling in on those customers and reaping the rewards from engaging with, joining and listening to those conversations. People all around the world may be already talking about your business, so it’s important that you get involved in the conversation and present yourself how you want to be presented on the web. Still not convinced? Here are 5 more reasons why you need social media for your business;

 

Social Media is Everywhere and Very Popular

Social media has become a central part of most people’s lives, whether they are at home or on the go, people are actively engaging online. These users aren’t just sharing updates from their own lives; they are searching for businesses, products, and services, and connecting with brands through their social channels. People of all ages and genders are actively using social media so no matter how old or young, or what gender your target audience may be, chances are most of them are already logging on and waiting for you to get started.

 

Social Media Sites are Free

Getting started on most social media platforms is completely free. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, WordPress and LinkedIn all offer free accounts to users and businesses and in most cases signing up won’t require anything more than an email address.  There are features within some platforms that you need to pay for such as a Facebook Ad or a profile upgrade in LinkedIn, but for the purposes of getting started there’s no upfront cost for most of the social networks.

 

Join an Existing Conversation

Social media provides you with an opportunity to listen to the conversations about your business and industry being openly discussed online. Not only does joining this conversation mean you can hear what is being said about you, it also means you can easily develop a richer understanding of your customers and benefit from insights into your target audiences. Moreover, it can also be used to create dedicated communities where you can host discussions about the products and services you offer or use your followers as an outlet for helping build new ones.

 

Social Media is Great for Customer Service

Customer service through social media is quickly becoming an expectation of consumers. Businesses have quickly come to realise that it offers a unique opportunity to showcase your customer service skills, promote more intimate business relationships with your customers and enables you to cater to your customer’s needs instantly. In a world where everything is fast-paced, a quick response that showcases how much you care about providing a memorable experience can create a lifelong customer.  Social media allows you to continually strengthen relationships with these customers through social engagement and because this engagement is publicly visible to others, it can introduce your business to a whole new audience and enable you to reach your next customer.

 

It Helps People Learn More About Your Business

Social media sites are becoming the go-to place for consumers who want to learn more about a business. People are online actively searching for information about anything from product reviews to informative articles and general entertainment so it is up to you to utilise this and use your social media presence to provide valuable, informative and entertaining news and updates to existing and potential audiences.  If customers are already searching for you on Facebook or Twitter and not finding your business, you are missing opportunities to win new customers and inform and engage your existing ones so it is vital that you join in with social media and have your brand heard and seen online.

 


This is an excerpt from my new book “The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Social Media for Small Businesses” out now in Paperback on Amazon! Head over there now for more of a Free preview! http://amzn.eu/2uuslrD


 

Get a Healthier Social Media Presence in 2019 with this FREE PDF Audit Checklist!

Is your social media presence giving you the results you want?
How do you compare to competition and other leaders in your industry?
Do you know how to take your social media marketing to the next level?

Many businesses set up a Facebook Page, Blog or Twitter profile with the aim of utilising the great benefits in getting social on the web. Some however go on to find that over time they either don’t know how to efficiently use their social media platforms or just put them lower down on their list of marketing priorities. The unfortunate result is that these businesses do not then experience the overwhelming benefits for their brand presence, reach and sales in using social media effectively. To ensure that you do not end up in a similar situation, a Social Media Audit is a kind of ‘Health Check’ for your business, designed to help and guide you back on track and refocus your efforts to make sure you can understand how to use social media effectively for your business.

A Social Media Heath Check is a service I offer, but as it’s nearing the new year and, as such, is a perfect time for you to give your social media the once over, I’m giving you a very early Christmas present – a free downloadable (more user-friendly!) version of the actual checklist I use for Social Media Health Checks! It sadly doesn’t come with the extensive bespoke suggestions and report that is supplied when I conduct a Social Media Health Check (Although you can head over to this page and get your business booked in for a health check and receive one 😉 ) It does however, give you a clear, easy-to-follow and easy-to-fill-in Health Check Checklist which gives you a great head start to a healthier social media presence in 2019 !

Download your Social Media Audit Checklist

Special Offer for Lancashire Businesses!

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Facebook Management Benefits;

Page Set-Up or Optimization of Existing Page – Fully set up new account or check and optimize existing one.

Audience Building – This includes daily effort of finding influencers and optimising content/account for user engagement.

Content Creation – Engaging and valuable content will be created organically using external sources plus relevant assets supplied or if preferable, check and optimise content you have written and make your existing marketing materials work in the social media environment.

Reputation Management – This includes daily monitoring and responding to online customer conversations about your business, including feedback, questions and general inquiries, compliments and complaints. A truly 24/7 customer service, service!

Content Distribution – Content will be distributed and tailored effectively and daily. There are no numerical limits to the number of posts.

Monthly Tracking and Progress Report – At the end of each month a progress report is supplied, documenting insights that show how the page is performing. This will look into what content is most engaging with followers, user likes, amongst many other important metrics. Information from this report can help guide content creation for the following month to maximise social media effectiveness and engagement.


 

For more information or to enquire about this offer get in touch quoting the code HOTPOT!

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How to Build More Members of Your Facebook Group

Groups for Pages, enables the 70 million+ Pages on Facebook to create their own unique communities and feeds. More than 1 billion people around the world use Groups and more than 100 million people see Groups as the most important part of their experience on Facebook. Facebook Groups are the place to connect with other like-minded people and are becoming increasingly important for brands and businesses aiming to cultivate a community.

Whether you choose to have just a Facebook Page, Group or Both in your Facebook marketing mix, Here’s a quick overview of the positive features for each:

 

Facebook Page

  • Built-in analytics (Page Insights).
  • Call-to-action button (e.g. Sign Up, Book Now, Learn More) on your Facebook Page.
  • Boost your Facebook Page and Page posts with Facebook ads.
  • Like and comment as your Facebook Page.
  • Add apps and services to your Facebook Page, so that your fans can easily order a product, make a booking, get a quote and more.

 

Facebook Group

  • Built-in analytics (Group Insights) now.
  • Set your Facebook group as private (Closed or Secret).
  • Post documents, create polls, and even buy and sell in your Facebook group.
  • Group chat with your group members.
  • Members receive notifications about new posts to the Group.

 


Click Here to Learn How to Set Up Facebook Groups for Pages


 

10 Things you Can Use Your Facebook Group For:

  • Building Relationships
  • Growing a Community
  • Establishing Yourself as an Expert
  • Share your Blog Posts
  • Drive Traffic to your Website
  • Grow Your Subscriber / Email List
  • Launch New Products and Sell Existing Ones
  • Host Trainings
  • Find Partners

 

Tips For Growing your Group

  • Engage With Your Members Regularly

When your community is in its initial small stage, there might not be many posts from your community members. Help cultivate conversation by regularly (perhaps 2/3 times a week) adding relevant, helpful conversations to encourage engagement. For example, you could welcome your new members every Monday, initiate a discussion on every Wednesday, and invite members to share their weeks’ achievements on Friday.

 

  • Use Analytics to Inform Your Strategy

Group Insights can be accessed by clicking on “Group Insights” on the left sidebar. Here, you can find out insights such as how your Facebook Group is growing, when your members are most engaged, and who your most engaged members are. Use these metrics and insights to inform your community-building strategy.

 

  • Host Regular Events

Hosting events is a great way to get community members involved and attract inactive members back to the community. In-personal meetups help to reinforce the connections made online, making the relationships more meaningful. Here are some online and offline events you could host:

  • AMAs (Ask-Me-Anything) with a community member or industry expert
  • Q&As with someone from your company
  • Talks and panel discussions
  • Mastermind sessions or community discussions
  • Casual get-to-know-each-other gatherings such as brunch, picnic, dinner, etc.

 

Once you have planned your event, create an event in your Facebook Group and invite members to attend.

 

  • Email Your List and Invite them to Join

If people subscribe to your email list, send them a welcome email with a link to join your group!

 

  • Write a Blog Post Promoting Your Facebook Group

This is a great way to get in front of a new audience and attract more people to your group. You can use this piece of content and promote it on Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook to expand your reach.

 

  • Leverage Your Friends and Group Members

Encourage your members to invite their friends in your post, group description and per private message directly when inviting them to your group. You may also encourage your group members to help you and reward those who put in the most effort.

 

  • Advertise Your Group

Remember to promote the link to your group on other social media sites like Twitter or in YouTube videos etc, wherever you can. You should also look to post the link to your group in similar groups and invite members directly to join your group via private message. Don’t be spammy with this technique though, simply ‘like’ other members posts and write them a private message, asking them to join your group so you can create new relationships at the same time and they will more likely have a look at your post in your own group.

 

Top Tip: Get rid of Spammers. Admonish or delete spammers to keep your group clean and on topic. Decide who you are going to accept in your group and check out their profiles if necessary.

 

  • Make Sure you Respond to Every Post in Your Group

You want to reward people for posting high quality content into your group, so reward them by commenting and letting them know how much you like what they’re posting. Think positive reinforcement.

 

  • Give Your Group What They Want

You’ll be surprised at how being of service will build your client base, no matter what your business is. Ask people what their needs, wants and desires are, and structure your posts around that. The more you can fill a need, the better.