It is very likely that someone has already told you that blogging is a good idea. Blogs are a good way to let your customers and prospects know about your products, your brand, and get to know and trust the people behind your company.
However, a blog alone is not going to attract the traffic you need to reach your goals for revenues and profits. Once your blog posts are written, they will not magically reach the audience you want. In fact, they might not reach any audience. That's where social media promotion comes in.
You might be saying, "But Sam, we already post all our content on Facebook and Twitter. What more do you want?"
To which I would reply, "Yes! That's great, but what else are you doing?" -- Do I hear crickets?
Here's what's up: A study conducted by KissMetrics found sharing content at least three times on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ increase shares more than 100 percent. If you're not sharing your content everywhere you can, multiple times, then you're doing social media promotion all wrong.
Let's talk about it.
The Role of Social Media
If you had a lot of time, it might be possible for your blog posts to gain the traction they need to reach your prospects via organic search alone. That's one of the main benefits of putting content on your site: long-term search traffic. This is also what it's so important to SEO optimize your blog posts (see a quick guide here).
But time if time is a factor, and you want leads now, you need to be promoting your blog posts -- and I mean, everywhere you can. Social media gives you the opportunity to tap into a network of lots of people who can potentially share your post with their friends and acquaintances. However, you don't just want any person to see your post. You need the right people to read it, the people who are interested in buying your products or services.
Promoting Through the Right Channels
How do you find the right places to reach the right people with the right content?
You need to do some research. Narrow down the social media channels that your "right people" visit the most. Before all of this research, your marketing team created a profile or persona of who your best customer is. Using this profile, research where they hang out. Depending on their age, where they live, what interests and occupations they have and other data, you can learn if they prefer Facebook and Pinterest or Instagram. There is a range of social media sites to consider, and you may find one primary site or several secondary sites that work best for you.
Don't limit yourself to just the "big" social sites. Dig deep, do some search engine detective work and find out where people are hanging out.
Here are some ideas for the major networks to get you started on figuring out which is right for you:
- Facebook: Kind of a given, nowadays. Be prepared to drop a little dough here if you want to really reach people. $2 a day can go a long way in Facebook, though. Plus, the platform's targeting capabilities are nearly unrivaled to any other social network to-date. You can reach a very specific audience with a little bit of money involved.
- Twitter: Twitter moves fast. Really fast. That is what makes it so powerful for content, though. You can easily put your content out on Twitter dozens of times (spaced out, of course) to reach the right people. A quick way to understand if your audience is hanging out on Twitter is to do a search for some keywords or hashtags you think they'd use. If some good conversation is happening there (and it's not all spam), jot down those hashtags to use later.
- LinkedIn/LinkedIn Groups: Talk about a gold mine for B2B! LinkedIn is THE professional network. It is a fantastic source for prospecting as well as recruiting. One of the hidden gems in LinkedIn are the LinkedIn groups. I used to be a naysayer when it came to the use of these groups, but I've recently been converted. In one month, a single LinkedIn group made our web traffic jump 10x from the month before. Check out our article on how to generate business through LinkedIn for some tips.
- Pinterest: Pinterest is fantastic for e-commerce, wedding, craft and food businesses. A lot of people have asked me about its capability to boost B2B sales. I have to say, I'm skeptical of this. You need a pin to really travel and be repinned multiple times in order to reach enough people. You have to decide if it's worth the effort. Like Twitter, search for some keywords related to your business and see what comes up. Have those pins been shared hundreds of times? No? Then perhaps look elsewhere.
- Instagram: Instagram has kind of been the best-kept secret in the social world, at least when business is involved. It can be a great source of new business, if you play your hashtag game right. . . Or you could end up with a bunch of followers who don't mean anything to your business. But, ya never know.
- Google+: Do it for SEO, but... well, you know. (if you don't know, ask me and I'll tell you)
- YouTube: YouTube is fantastic for SEO. Pretty much any business can leverage video + search to attract new business. It's just a matter of putting out the right content and targeting the right keywords to get in front of the right people.
- Quora: Quora is the social site for questions. People post their questions on a certain topic, and experts answer them. Conduct a quick search on your topic within Quora. I guarantee you'll find opportunities to answer a question and drop a link to your content for more info.
- Reddit: Reddit is the king of forums. There are so many different forums (called subreddits) within Reddit, that you are certain to find a group specific to your niche. Participant beware: Reddit mods (moderators) are no joke. If they catch you being too self-promotional, you're out.
Type of Content
Depending both on your audience and where they like to be social, they will prefer a certain type of content.
Content is available in many forms including curated content, long articles, whitepapers, short concentrated blurbs, images, videos, infographics and audio. New types of content presentations are being developed all the time.
Vine is a social media site that shares short videos only, for example. If your audience loves Vine, then videos are the way to go. On Facebook, you can share all types of content including videos, text and image content or links to longer content forms. Instagram is a site to share images and videos. Your social media content should be designed to work with the social media site you are posting it on.
40% of cell phone owners use a social networking site on their phone, and 28% do so on a typical day. (Pew Research)
Disseminating Social Media Content
Once you decide on which social media sites to use for promotion, the next step is to learn how the sites work.
While there are many things in common on social media sites, there are also key differences that a savvy marketer needs to understand. Pinterest used to use hashtags for their primary search mechanism; however you no longer need them for search anymore. Meanwhile, if you are promoting your pins on Twitter, then hashtags are necessary to have. Twitter does use hashtags for search. These types of details are what you need to learn about each site.
Additionally, Social media sites have preferred sizes for media posts, recommended methods of posting and best practices for interaction.
Optimizing Your Message
We hear the word "optimize" a lot in online marketing. In the case of social media posts, it means more than one thing. You can optimize posts in the same way you do in your blog posts, using keywords in your message. However, there are other ways to optimize your social media posts such as frequency. Social media allows you to repeat your post to reach more people; however, there is a limit to repetition because you don't want to be seen as a spammer.
Repetition can be used safely and effectively in a variety of ways:
- Straight and Easy: Post Title + Link
- The Question: Ask an engaging question to stir conversation
- Cite a Fact: Share a fact or figure that is included in the post
- Share a Quote: Grab a pull-quote from the article and turn it into a social message
- Add Intrigue: Write a teaser message that grabs the attention of readers.
- Different Images: An image can be a powerful driver for clicks. Try different image types to see if it boosts your click throughs.
- Time of Day: Experiment with different days and times to see when your audience is most active.
Using an Editorial Calendar
At this point, you are probably thinking that this whole social media mess is very complicated. But, it really isn't. Once you get on each site, you will learn quickly how it works. To keep track of your blog posts and social media promotion, a good suggestion is to use an editorial calendar. Just like large print publications, an editorial calendar can tell you when you need to take each action for maximum effect. Grab our free Social Media Editorial Calendar here.
A Last Note:
Don't forget that social media is about connections. You need to interact with your customers, not just post out to them. Make sure you're answering questions, talking with people, staying engaged. After all, what is social media without being social?