Online advertising and social media marketing are now so fundamentally interlinked and interdependent that it is almost impossible to imagine the former without the latter. While it is of course vitally important that you have your own well-maintained website, the reality is that so much of so many people’s online experiences do not span outside the walled gardens of places like Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and Facebook. Because of this, a well-crafted and carefully co-ordinated social media marketing campaign is a key part of any good small businesses outreach plan, and while the exact details of what that looks like can vary significantly from company to company and product to product, the following seven core principles are of key importance, whatever you are trying to sell.
Being contemporary in the context of a social media campaign is less about being up-to-date or on the ‘bleeding edge’ of social media marketing developments. Rather than knowing what is contemporary, it is more important to know where your contemporaries are. The most recent and up to date platform developments won’t be of very much use to you if your consumer base is in a more senior sector of the market, and primarily uses a more established social media platform. Knowing where your consumer base goes to use social media, if they use it to shop, if they accept product recommendations from it, and generally being up to date with contemporary demographic trends of such things, these are all vital parts of a good social media campaign design.
Social media output can be said to be the metaphorical ‘pulse’ of your business. The presence of an active and regularly used set of social media channels indicates that your business is alive and kicking. If there have been no updates since two years ago, two months, or even potentially two weeks, many prospective clients or potential customers might look at these pages and think your business is no longer a going concern. The exact levels of tolerance for inactivity will vary depending on the sector, but as a rule of thumb, multiple posts in a single week are advisable. Multiple per day can sometimes be alright, especially if something especially dramatic or significant is happening in your sector, but this could be seen as spam and may push people away. A careful balance needs to be struck, and a regular schedule is a useful tool in this circumstance.
Rightly or wrongly, and for better or worse, social media is often thought of as the channel that allows the followers to lift the veil, go backstage, or otherwise see behind the curtain. Ignoring this tendency may make your social media outlets seem aloof or haughty in a way that could potentially harm your brand. Of course, the extent to which this is the case, and just how much you reveal, is very brand-dependent. A data security firm obviously should not be revealing all the details of every last technique it uses to keep everything safe, and many aspects of a business like a waste recycling company might not be of wider interest. But every business has some insider secrets that can be shared, and every employee has an interesting story or two to tell. With careful management, such things can be shared in a way that will garner attention and interest from across the spectrum of your target demographic, and even potentially beyond.
Your social media content needs to be the kind of material that your wider audience will not only understand, or find entertaining, but they also need to be able to relate to what it is you are saying. Being aware of the level of expertise you can reasonably expect from your customer base about your field is important here. What you talk about, and how you talk about it, will be directly affected by just what your customers can be expected to know about what you do. Talking over peoples’ heads is a fast way to get followers falling away, and seeing engagement numbers decline. While it is important not to talk down to people, you also need to keep in mind that for most fields, customers will always know less than providers.
For the vast majority of companies, the social media experience is an important part of advertising and outreach, but it should not be something customers have to participate in to get access to the companies’ full suite of services. Social media should be a good addition, a useful extra. Something that allows people to get discount codes and other benefits of that kind. Not a necessary component of how you sell every single one of your products. This will only turn people away, as they will feel a level of pressure to commit and connect that they may not expect to need from a company. Not every customer is going to want or need high levels of engagement, and that’s just fine.
Social media is an ideal tool to build up interest, expectation, and anticipation of an upcoming event, but it is not (usually) the primary lens of the event itself. Interviews with people who will be a big part of the event. Descriptions of what the event will be, what it will contain, and what the aftermath will be. This turns your calendar and schedule from a series of sharp spikes of activity into a gentle set of cones, with peaks and troughs that make it far easier for new customers to get involved, and understand just what it is that’s happening, and why it is important.
While no one expects you to let competitors or other players in your field have content or time and space on your social media feeds, a good social media marketing campaign does involve publicly networking with other parties. By showing that you are one part of a much larger business ecosystem, you display a kind of confident humility that can make your organization much more attractive to many different parties. A clothing company giving time to out-of-company designers, a window cleaning firm talking to double glazing firms. It gives the feeling of less overt advertising, which is always valuable in the social media marketing sphere.
Social media marketing is a modern-day necessity for entrepreneurs of all kinds. Principles like this will be a valuable compass as you seek to navigate these complex and constantly changing waters.