July 7, 2017
By: Josh Weikel
Social media is a vital tool for businesses when it comes to engaging with their customers and reaching new audiences. If you have followed this blog, you already learned how to develop a social platform strategy and what platforms are priorities for your business.
Your social media campaigns should be all about interacting with your customers in genuine, meaningful discussion. However, it’s possible (and easy!) to bring business conversion to your social media efforts without turning your accounts into endless streams of promotions or alienating your followers.
Look at what your competitors are doing for easy wins
Competitor analysis is one of the oldest tricks in the book and remains relevant (and potent) to this day. You can apply a competitor analysis to see what channels they are using and what methods are getting engagements. This can help shape your strategy on what tactics work and what not to waste your time or money on.
Create a list of competitors in your industry. If you’re a small business that serves a local area primarily, be sure to get a healthy mix of small business and larger, regional companies. While that other photography and picture frame company in town may be your most direct competitor, larger companies likely have larger marketing budgets. This means they’ve done a lot more research and investment on social media marketing and engagement.
After you have a solid list of your competitors, it’s time to investigate what platforms and methods they use to bring people to their sites or sale pages. This can come in many forms, including:
- Twitter hashtags, tweets, and retweets
- Facebook ads, posts, pages, replies, and comments
- Reddit threads
- Instagram posts
- Snapchat videos
Keep an eye out for times where the competitor funneled followers to their sites or their business partners, especially if it also has strong, positive engagement in the form of likes, replies, or shares. If you spot a common tactic among your competitors that consistently receives positive responses, this is a strong indicator of a worthwhile approach and easy win for you. Also, don’t base your conclusion on just one competitor or a handful of tweets. The more research you do, the better sense you will get of an effective strategy.
Finally, it’s important to consider the size and marketing budgets of your competitors. If you run a small business, don’t spread yourself too thin by trying to do everything that other large companies are doing. Focus on your largest audiences that engage frequently.
Occasionally promoting your business is ok
Occasionally promoting your business with direct or affiliate links is acceptable, but don’t go overboard! Many of your followers are likely already customers so showing them sales or discounts on services they currently have will not further increase your revenue. However, new features, products, services, campaigns, charities, and business partnerships could bring them back into the buying cycle along with new customers.
Look for genuine opportunities to direct users to your service or product. “Did you know you could do this with our service?” posts are a great way to encourage interest from both current and new customers. Answer questions about your service or product – this can be a great way to mention trial or starter deals to potential customers. Some followers may be looking for a feature that is included in a higher level (or pro) package, creating an opportunity for an up sale.
Affiliate partnerships can also be an effective way to benefit your followers and earn money at the same time. Several businesses will pay you for sending them new customers. The important thing to keep in mind is to only become an affiliate for services that compliment your business and are relevant to your social media audience. If you run a site focused on movie news and reviews, consider affiliate programs for ticket buying services or services related to media in general.
Don’t constantly post promotional and affiliate links, but when you do, get the most out of it by following social media best practices:
- Use URL shorteners for links.
- Use emojis if it makes sense and feels natural.
- Arrow emojis or even text-based arrows (?) are a great way to draw attention and encourage clicks.
- Use pictures and video in your posts as much as possible; they draw much more attention than text alone.
- One size doesn’t fit all: different platforms will likely require approaches.
There are several platforms out there that can help you assess the engagement and, ultimately, success of your posts. Services like Hootsuite and Sproutsocial will give you great insight into your social media campaigns on various platforms as well as compare your performance to your competitors.
Use social proof to establish trust
Social proof puts names and faces to the people that have actually used your product. By doing so, you build trust and rapport with the people around the initial person who used your service. It’s the online version of word-of-mouth advertising. A simple example of social proof is seeing your friends’ names and faces in the Facebook widget on a site you’re visiting. This becomes a form of social endorsement for the site.
Social proof for your company can accrue naturally, but it’s best to take a proactive approach. When someone uses or buys your service, encourage them to share the good news with an automated tweet or post. This generates positive feedback about your company in hashtags, threads, and discussions and can lead to the customer’s friends and followers seeing the post and checking out your company as well.
However, you can squeeze even more value out of social proof! Embed or take a screenshot of noteworthy comments and reviews and work these into your landing pages, sidebars, and other types of sales pages. These can be used as testimonials to help build trust with people outside of the original commenters’ circles.
Use social media to promote your lead magnets and squeeze pages
When it comes to online marketing, an email address is the single most powerful bit of information you can have for someone interested in your content or products. Lead magnets and squeeze pages provide an opt-in way to obtain email addresses in exchange for giving users quick, highly-valuable content. From there, you can use the addresses in your email marketing campaigns and sales opportunities.
Turn some of your most valuable content into lead magnets and promote them directly on your social media networks. In exchange for providing useful content (the lead magnet) to your followers, the squeeze page asks for their email which you can use later for marketing. For example, the following tweet promotes the lead magnet for a healthy taco recipe:
Users are directed to a squeeze page that highlights how tasty – but unhealthy – tacos can be and offers to send the user the recipe directly to their email:
After they enter their email, direct the user to a “thank you” page that reminds them to check their email and whitelist your site if it ends up in spam. This will help your future emails land in their inbox and acclimate the user to seeing your emails. Finally, do send the user the content without any more hoops to jump through. At this point, building trust is vital so follow up on your end of the deal!
About the Writer
Josh Weikel runs WHdb where he helps visitors find web hosting, learn what features they need, and start their own web site. For nearly 10 years, The Web Hosting Database has been a go-to destination for facts on hosts and services in the US and around the world. Josh holds a bachelor’s degree in Web Design and Interactive Media and has worked on several hundreds of sites since graduating in 2009.