When I'm out networking, people always tell me they aren't sure how to use social media for marketing. It can be intimidating and involves a great deal of experimentation to find the right mix of content, not to mention the fact that every business is different. I've found two questions need to be answered to point marketers in the right direction. First, what is important to you? Second, who are you trying to reach?
It sounds simple enough, but those two basic questions have led to long conversations. In the end, you need to choose the "voice" of your social media channels and know the audience you want to reach.
1. CHOOSE A VOICE
This probably sounds much easier than it really is, but asking yourself what's important to you is a great starting point. Each response that comes to mind can be qualified against how it compliments your business culture, your own ethics, and whether or not it's something you feel your customers will be passionate about.
I've always been something of a privacy nut and I bring that as part of the culture of the company. Not many people think about it at great length, though that's changed some recently. Sure, I could post every news story about hackers stealing personal information, passwords, or defacing sites, but it's really about what people can do to protect their online accounts so that, when a popular site is compromised, their information isn't as vulnerable.
For that reason, privacy and online security is the "voice" of my social media channels. We sprinkle in a good mix of how you can market your site in the digital realm, but at the core we provide PSAs (that's "Public Service Announcements") when high-profile sites are hacked and useful articles containing tips about securing online accounts, since that can impact our clients both professionally and personally.
2. KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE AND CHOOSE THE RIGHT SOCIAL NETWORKS
This is really the crux of any marketing plan, but it warrants exploration as it applies to social media. You need to know who your customers are and where they are online. You'll probably need to blanket all the major social networks at first, but you can filter down where you're posting (made really easy when you add HootSuite to your toolbox) after you find out from your customers where they're posting online. Here's a quick rundown of some of the larger social networks:
- Facebook: Great for B2C companies (any kind of retail or restaurant or any business selling to the consumer directly).
- LinkedIn: Excellent for B2B companies (especially professional services and it's generally a great way to grow a small business).
- Google+: Great for both B2C and B2B because you can easily control who sees what (works best when your customers/clients are Android users over iPhone).
- Pinterest & Instagram: Varies, but generally great for creative and travel industries (photographers, travel agencies, do-it-yourselfers, and restaurants)
Get to know your customers and find out where they spend their time online before you make the call on which network to focus on. If you're a solo employee, you might be handling this yourself, but if you've hired a social media marketing guru, you'll want to know some of these answers to pass along. It's going to help them find the best shareable content with your networks to grow your business.