This is a Guest Post by Michael Jenkins, Director of Shout Web Strategy. Shout is an online marketing agency based in Melbourne, Australia that is specialized in Search marketing, conversion rate optimization and web usability testing and more. You can read more of their articles in the Shout Blog.
No matter how big or small your business is, you are most likely trying to tap into the new media that has evolved in the last couple of years. Social media is the cool kid in town. Every website owner now works extra hard to get some ‘social love’. There are lots of factors that determine the success of your website or campaign in the social media space. But if you focus the right amount of time on the four main pillars of social media marketing, you are most likely to succeed. The four pillars are: Research, Content, Socialize and Testing.
It is logical to start any decent social media and SEO strategy with research. The more knowledge and tools you accumulate, the better prepared you will be for your tasks and the upgrade of your site’s content. As you know, websites would simply not exist without content, and search engines would have nothing to monitor and analyse. In a way, content is the glue that holds everything together and, therefore, should be considered as one of the main component of social media marketing.
Every successful marketing strategy slots in time for socialising. This is necessary, to spread the word about your company’s brand. Just think about it, if nobody hears about your products and services, who will buy them?
Aside from research, producing quality content and promoting your company through social media sources, marketers should also spend a fair amount of time testing. Analysing your website’s performance is one of the most efficient ways to determining your strengths and weaknesses. Now that we have established which components are vital to your online survival, and why, lets look at them in detail below:
Doing proper research is very much needed in the social media space. It has to be conducted often and at regular intervals. Listen to what your audience says, because if you don’t, you will be unable to understand what their needs are and eventually your online presence will fade. You can avoid such a disastrous situation by incorporating social media monitoring programs into your online marketing strategy. Without your collected social data, the guidance of your audience, the support of influencers, and a chance to participate in real-time marketing opportunities, you will be flying blind in cyberspace.
While there are many things to monitor, pay close attention to these 4 elements, as they can help you achieve success in your social media campaign:
Define Your Social Channels – If you know your audience, you know where they socialise online. Do they interact on Facebook or Twitter, or are they LinkedIn members? Some people prefers media sharing sites like YouTube and Flickr, while others regularly visit popular forums and niche blog sites. Through social media monitoring you will discover where your followers gather, which will help you decide which social channels you should focus on most.
- Acquire Social Keyword Insight – Proficient social media monitoring tools are able to analyse anchor text, tags, comments, and other forms of written content to identify keywords associated with your particular monitoring requests. The results of such an inquiry can be quite helpful as they will show you which subjects your audience is interested in. Furthermore, once you know your followers’ web behavior and interests, you can manipulate your website’s content and optimise around those ‘hot’ topics.
- Identify Your Influencers – Research will also help identify your influencers, or the people who are – intentionally or unintentionally – promoting your company. Once you have categorised your influencers, you can prioritise who you want to connect with.
- Track SERPs – Social media monitoring resources do not track search engine results pages (SERPs), but you can. Monitor key terms that are relevant to your business, as well as the social sources that use them. For instance, if Google displays blog posts containing certain competitive keyword phrases first, you may benefit greatly from blogging or commenting on those issues. Just don’t forget to include a back link to your own site.
One of the growing industries in online marketing revolves around Search Engine Optimization (SEO), the creation, optimisation, and promotion of web content. Copywriters, editors and publishers pop up like wild mushrooms, creating great quantities of new content, and giving all businesses a chance to acquire a wide variety of promotional materials. Be careful though, as not all content is appropriate or of good quality. Many people believe they are superb writers, when in fact, they are not. Beginners or hobbyists simply do not have the skills, or they only practice traditional paper writing, which is quite different from the keyword-rich content necessary to stand out on the Internet. Publishing content online is more than uploading creative features and information about your products and services. Today, customers want more, and expect web pages with inviting images, informative videos, relevant audio, charts & statistics, and various file types that can be used for promotional purposes on social channels. Search engines recognise highly targeted content quicker, which will benefit your rankings. The faster you show up in a Google, Bing or MSN search query, the sooner potential customers will find you!
Socialising is quite beneficial to those companies familiar with the most popular social media sources in their industry, a target audience, and rock solid content. But that is not enough. They also need a plan to connect all these elements so they can be used to communicate with their customers and prospects.
Be smart and don’t waste your marketing efforts. Instead, concentrate them on the following three socialising aspects:
- Study Your Buyers’ Personalities – Discover what your customers do on social sites. Widen your research so you will also find out what their consumption and sharing preferences are. What persuades them to buy something, and who do they share their shopping experiences with?
- Expand your Social Networks – Although a lack of time is often the main cause, there are numerous reasons why marketers fail to expand their social network circles. Nonetheless, it is important to maintain your social connections. Even if you are overloaded with work, try to spend at least 10-30 minutes a day writing blogs, following up on comments, updating your Facebook page, tweeting, etc. That is all you need to keep networks growing organically.
- Carefully Select Your Promotions – Familiar with the preferences of your audience, you can now develop promotions that will further your business. Blogs are quite helpful, but so are other advertising features like cartoons, videos, and audio sound bites. Switching between different promotional options will give you valuable exposure on all your preferred social media sites.
Anyone involved in web development & maintenance, social media marketing, and SEO understands that ‘testing’ is crucial to success. Though many social media analytics and monitoring tools are free, or cost little; they usually take little time to learn. Do not ignore them, but use them to your advantage. Study the information they provide thoroughly and monitor your progress as you optimise your keyword selection, improve your content, and upgrade your social media strategy. Do A-B testing and see which one works and which doesn’t.
Changes do not translate into overnight, earth-shaking results, not even if you employ the most elaborate social media strategy. Be patient, and before you know it, your online identity will start to grow. Success will be yours, but remember, you will have to keep up the good work to continue with your success.