More than three-fourths of small businesses say they do at least 25% of their marketing on social media. And 7 out of 10 say social media has been somewhat or very effective. (Buffer)
Even so, many businesses don’t feel confident that they’re getting the most out of social:
- Where’s the ROI?
- How do I define success?
- This doesn’t feel like marketing.
One of the biggest challenges in learning social media marketing is knowing how to think about it. You see, social media isn’t like traditional marketing.
If that’s how you see it, and if that’s how you act when you’re interacting with people in social media, you’re going to be seen as that guy. No one wants to connect with that guy.
So let’s look quickly at some tips for using social media for marketing (the right way).
Tip #1: Respect the Channel
Social media has its own set of rules. First, every channel has its own algorithms. It rewards some types of content and not others. Some behaviors and not others.
But even within the channels, you’re expected to behave a certain way. People will even call one another out for posting something they consider “wrong.”
In this LinkedIn post, Belanie Borden even calls out the LinkedIn Police… and then goes on to tell the type of story that’s likely to offend them.
But here’s the thing. While we want to be aware of algorithms and triggers for angry trolls, there’s one rule you can’t ignor, no matter which channel you’re on.
And that’s that social media is, above all else, social.
Work within that rule, and you’ll succeed as a marketer. Break that rule to achieve some business agenda, and you’ll fail miserably.
Tip #2: Go Where Your Prospects Are
Where’s your target audience? You’ll find them in social media.
Pew Research reports that 72% of the public uses some type of social media. That’s all ages. All education levels.
Of those, more than half use it daily. The average: 2 hours and 25 minutes a day.
Because people use multiple social media sites, it’s tempting to try to be active on all of them. But if you’re everywhere, you’re either spread too thin… or you’re a robot.
Choose one or two channels where you can shine and where your audience is most active. You can be more present if you aren’t trying to engage in five apps at once.
Tip #3: Be Human
The truth is, people want relationship, not a sales pitch. But you know that already.
We’ve been doing social media for years now. Working. Relaxing. Even finding and hanging out with our tribe. We know how it works.
We just forget ourselves when we start marketing on social media. We get so focused on our own agenda, we forget that it’s all about being human.
People are usually fine with your brand showing up in their social stream. Because you’re a whole person: the professional who cares about what you do for a living, and the weekend warrior doing weird stuff with your family and friends.
But if you’re going to be present in a social space, they expect you to be human.
That’s the point of social media, after all.
Share your ideas. Build relationship. Invite interaction. But don’t try to hard-sell.
On your website, in the mailbox, and even in person, you may fall back on your hard-sell tactics. But in social networks, respect the space you’re in.
Social interactions are about relationship. So be relational first.
Marketing on Social Media: the Rules
Here’s what you need to know:
- You can sell in social media, but not all the time.
- You can be excited about what you’re doing, but not endlessly bragging.
- You can encourage action, but not manipulate results.
The goal is simple: Relate to people as a human.
As a friend.
What you post is often less important than how you post — and why. Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Post daily, if possible. But don’t flood your followers’ stream.
- Be your random, weird self: post cartoons, funny thoughts, interesting ideas, as well as marketing posts.
- Link to useful information, even if you didn’t publish it.
- Make only about 1 in 10 posts sales-oriented.
- When you promote something, phrase it as an invitation, not an offer.
- When people comment, comment back.
- Focus on your followers as much as your business.
- Trust that by building your personal brand (being yourself), you’ll gain good will, which will translate into profits.
In short, be human.
Yes, you can market in social media, but save hard-selling for other channels. In this space, you’ll do better to prioritize relationship. Teach, relate, share your ideas. Let people know what you’re doing, but don’t be that guy.