Since I started promoting www.forahand.com on the social media I immediately realized that driving traffic is not an easy task but rather an art of converging well known and apparently easy techniques to a final goal: improving website traffic and search engine ranking. Since the beginning of this journey into SEO, digital marketing, inbound linking, I learned a lot from experts, enthusiasts and newbies on social media platforms; everyday I discovered something new, unusual social marketing tips, well-established ways to promote blogs and business websites and even how to live a better life. However, the journey can be at times a very puzzling and frustrating experience in particular at the beginning when the efforts are many and the results scarce: your traffic looks as flat as the bank interest rate, your ranking is more static than a Gothic Cathedral and social media feels more like the London Tube at peak time than a platform where connecting with people.
In addition, even reading and learning can feel a bit discouraging. It is quite frequent to read that the success of a digital marketing campaign is all about engaging with your audience; however, isn’t social media all about getting an audience in the form of followers and likes? So, how can you convert your followers into brand ambassadors if you need to get an audience first?
Let’s say you want to promote your business website on Twitter. More exposure needs more followers. How do you get more followers? You need an audience to engage to. So, let’s create that audience on another platform, let’s say Facebook, to drive them to your Twitter account. You move on Facebook, create a fan-page and… look out for people who like your fan-page. What do you get people to like your fan-page? You need visitors. How do you get visitors? You need an audience to invite to your fan-page. Now, you are officially stuck!
Here few tips on how to start to break the circle of social media marketing and turn the circle into a line that goes straight to your final goals.
Whatever your platform of choice is, just start! No matter if you prefer Twitter, FB, Instagram or Google+ simply start a conversation with other users about your brand new webpage, the launch of your new product or new blog. Remember as different social media platforms have a different strategy, select the one that makes most sense for your business.Explore few and get familiar with them. If you are still unsure, I would recommend Facebook first as it allows to post short or long updates, images, videos, encourage likes, shares among friends. In case you decide to use more than one platform, you can sign up to Hootsuite, a platform that allow users to schedule social media entries from one dashboard to avoid doing everything manually. In this manner you can save time and post throughout the day without the need to be present at specific times. When it is clear which one works the best for your business, focus on that social media platform and optimized your content for that audience; for instance, if you decide to use Instagram and Pinterest where users promote an image-rich content, make sure that all your images are of high definition and quality.
Whatever your brand and social platform, people are all looking for a place where they can be listened, chat with others, learn new skills, be empowered to become a better version of themselves, energized, supported, encouraged. Be the one source of inspiration for your followers.
Connect and build trust
As always remember that social media marketing is about being helpful, putting the customer as the protagonist of your marketing campaign. Therefore, do not aggressively talk about the many benefits of your product but put on center stage who you are having a conversation with. Start a chat that feels personal, be helpful, funny but still professional. After gaining trust your audience will turn into first time customers and with time in recurring customers and final in loyal brand ambassadors.
Offer good content and be consistent
Even as newbie, you should aim to deliver the best curate content. A short but well thought of post could be enough to start getting some attention from the social media crowd. If you need some help to come up with ideas and how to deliver them, check out what other users are talking and posting about. Be inspired by long time users and with time and practice you’ll find your voice. It is important to remain consistent, and dedicate a set amount of time (daily or weekly) to social media interaction, do not post obsessively for a short time, instead focus on a slow but consistent pace.
Show who you truly are
While engaging with people on social media, make clear who you are, wheat your company stand for and how they can find your business and your services. To increase your chances of growing your media exposure, connect with people of your industry, invite clients, customers and create a conversation with them. Be ready to reply to their comments, questions and solve rapidly any issue they might have.
Think about your goals
Every-time you start a business you should have in mind what your vision and mission are. After stating your vision of your brand and mission of your business, you can start thinking about your marketing campaign. Are you looking for a brand exposure? Provide an online platform for your current buyers? Increase your sales by increasing your online presence? Whatever your final goal, state it clearly and how much you can invest. Media exposure can be cheap but time consuming, in particular for start-up and small businesses that do not have the resources to dedicate to a digital marketing campaign. However, by defying your goals you can better determine the amount of time and money you want to invest; for instance if your final goal was to improve sales, it might be a good idea to spend some money into a Facebook advertising campaign which you can easily track using Google Analytics. Promotions, discounts, raffles, contests and subscriptions to upcoming events are all good strategies to promote your campaign. In addition, have a look at what your competitors and big brands are doing, you might not have the budget to replicate their approach but you can still get ideas and inspirations. Whatever you do, always make your campaign sound human, and more like a shareable story than a TV advert. As Sheldon Cooper once said: “He was worse than drunk, he was boring!”. So, don’t be boring!
When established a conversation with followers, provide more than general post. Provide extra information, encourage feedback, comments and subscriptions. To engage with users that just stop by create content to grab their attentions, such as a free download a special offer, a link to your business website.
Learn from experts, followers, new niches
Use the social media platforms to build an audience. First, connect with people connected to your brand and from your niche to learn how to post entries and optimize your visibility. Then, add social media marketing experts who could recommend new strategies to grow your social media presence. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice but don’t forget to show gratitude and appreciation: a re-tweet, a Facebook thumb up, a recommendation on your site could be simple but effective ways to say thank you. In addition, be kind to your followers, answer their questions, re-post entries that you like, add comments to their posts and finally say thank you when they start following your business. Just start with few short blog entries and with time you’ll get more confidence.
From online to in real life
The main goal of social media is to drive traffic to your website/blog and eventually turn those leads into sales. If you own a business, provide geographical information of where people can find your store, such as an address or a google geo map. Do not forget to get listed on local directories, google place listings and search engine business listing. Encourage people on social media to visit your business webpage, leave a review and exchange links with local businesses.
Starting can be fun but also very frustrating. You need to keep going, be positive and with time you’ll see your business grow!