Effective Social Media Marketing: Are we in denial?

 

Love it or hate it if you are promoting something you are waist-deep or at least dipping a toe into the social media marketing landscape.  For public relations professionals, we are always focused on effective social media marketing tactics that will build our clients’ audiences.  I’ve written about social media on this blog, often breaking down different platforms and their uses, listing the latest stats, and how to build a content strategy.  However, I am adding this to the conversation because I think many of us are in denial. Our expectations and feelings about how things should work are getting int the way of our own success.    Below are some statements related to social media conversations I’ve had.  If you relate to one or more of these, then you might want to read on.

  1. My follower count on Instagram only increases by 5 to 10 followers per week so my campaign isn’t working.
  2. Nobody wants to hear from me on Twitter because I don’t get likes or retweets.
  3. I post contests and polls on Facebook and I don’t get any audience participation.
  4. I post every day and I’m not growing.

Time for a reality check

 

It’s time to face reality.  There are 3.3 billion people on social media; there are bots and marketing agencies spewing generic content; advertising is cluttering news feeds; and if you aren’t a celebrity, you won’t gain followers by the hundreds.  So why does anyone even bother you ask?  Because there are 3.3 billion people using social media.  If your audience was just a fraction of that number you could be happy.

We are so fortunate to be able to reach out to all of these people directly.  But you have to be thoughtful, dare I say strategic about how you talk them.    If you do your homework and start talking to your “people” who want to hear what you have to say, then you will grow and you may even become an influencer someday.  If your social media platforms are not behaving the way you want them to, it is likely that you are not properly focused on who you are trying to reach and what you need to communicate.

Build Authentic Online Relationships

Relationship building online is about earning the trust and loyalty of your customers and audiences so you can maintain, and grow your numbers.   But how do you do that?  Is it by working with a company that will push out “snackable” content? (I was pitched that idea by a social marketer.  Let me ask you this: If you were at a cocktail party would you want to talk to a robot who can say a dozen sentences or a real person who can tell you about a trip to Belize)? Is it by talking about how great you are or how wonderful your product is?  Would having a roomful of cats posted on Instagram fit the bill?

Even though we can now hide behind our screens, it doesn’t mean that the skills and needs of human interaction are out the window.  If anything, you need to be even more thoughtful about your dialogue with others to practice effective social media marketing.  Your content needs to be authentic and you need to do your due diligence and research in advance to identify an audience that will be interested in receiving your messages.  After you determine your audience, you need to figure out how to reach it, what platforms to use, the content you will use, and when you are going to post and share.

It takes time and tenacity

To build an army takes an army and that’s what you are doing.  You are setting up a foundation of friends and followers who want to know about your ideas or buy your product.  If satisfied, they will help spread the word via retweets, shares, and referrals.  And as I’ve said, it doesn’t happen overnight.

When I was at a conference recently a woman asked me about an aggregation application that helped drive followers on Twitter, but she was losing followers as quickly as she was gaining them.  I told her that Twitter has been public about their attempt to rid the server of unattended accounts and spambots.  Aggregators are not a shortcut when it comes to quality, actionable followers.  The ones you end up with are often spam and other ineffective types.  You need to put a real engagement plan into action, stick to it, monitor the results, and take appropriate action when necessary.

We all need to accept that this process is going to take a lot of work.  I’ve got a business built around media with a heavy social focus, and I know about the time that goes into an effective social media marketing campaign.  But if you aren’t able to hire somebody to do it for you, then you can set up a schedule that works for you.  Block out time every day to work on internet engagement and research.  Find a tracking program or use the tools that the individual platforms provide so you can see how your content is doing.  Someone told me once regarding careers that you start with one brick and soon you will have built a wall.  So go ahead and start your construction and you will see how things progress.

The last thing I’ll add is for people who dislike social media or do not feel comfortable with it.  My advice is: Don’t establish any platforms you are not going to use.  If you feel super hesitant about social campaigning, then do not do it.   In a future post, I’ll present some ideas for alternatives that will still build your SEO presence online.

Additional Informational Resources

Here are a couple of  articles from around the internet that talk about current content and social strategies:

10 Important 2020 Social Media Trends You Need to Know

12 Social Media Trends to Watch in 2020

 

Social Media 101: How to Use Hashtags to Grow Your Audience

We’ve all heard of them. Many of us have even used them. But the real question is, how can we use hashtags to grow our audience?

First, let’s start with the basic definition.

Hashtag: a word or phrase preceded by a hash sign (#), used on social media websites and applications, especially Twitter, to identify messages on a specific topic.

But that’s not all. The implementation of hashtags is constantly evolving with social media platforms, and with technology in general. They extend themselves to a community of people who are searching for new, inspiring content on a daily basis, which is exactly why you should be utilizing them.

Like everything else, hashtags require research. But where do you begin?

Step 1: Identify your target audience. I may sound like broken record here, but audience identification and research go hand-in-hand, in more ways than one. You need to know exactly who you’re looking to attract before you can create effective content to do just that.

Step 2: Search hashtags on Twitter and Instagram. After establishing your target audience and the content they figuratively subscribe to, pinpoint the hashtags they’re using and searching for. Get in the mind of your audience. Think about what tags they might search for on Twitter or Instagram (Facebook doesn’t use hashtags as much). If you’re an author, #bookstoread and #bookstagram are popular, community-based hashtags that many bookworms use when looking for new reading material. Complete a search of your own to see which posts get the most traction.

Step 3: Analyze and implement. What hashtags seem to be working for other people in your niche? What patterns do you see? Do the tags pertain to your content? If so, adopt them!

It’s also important to incorporate as many relevant hashtags as you can find, according to Jumper Media. Instagram allows a maximum of 30 hashtags per post, so don’t be afraid to use as many as you see fit. It will only widen your post’s reach and give you and your content more exposure.

The beauty of hashtags is the fact that they’re community-based; therefore, it’s up to you to figure out what community (or communities) you want to tap into. Although the specific tags may seem rather trite and adolescent, use them anyway. It’s simply the nature of the hashtag.

For more on content strategizing, check out our latest post.

Happy hashtagging!

Social Media 101: Content Strategizing the 2019 Way

If you read our recent blog post Social Media 101: Branding the 2019 Way, you’ll know just how critical it is to do social media marketing rather than banking only on traditional media to spread the word about your product/service/brand. You also might’ve been left wondering how to go about branding on social media. Well, we have you covered there, too—and the answer is content strategizing.

The most important aspect of social media branding is implementing a strategy behind the content you are going to put out in the world. Perhaps you are already plugged in to the major platforms but haven’t seen results in your engagement levels or follower count. Perhaps you’re starting from square one. Either way, it’s crucial to formulate a strategy before you post. Ask yourself:

  • Who is my target audience?
  • What is that audience’s age demographic?
  • What social channels are they on?
  • Why should they care about me and my brand?
  • How can I showcase my brand in a way that will attract them?
  • What content do I already have available?
  • What content do I need to create for effective brand display?
  • What do I bring to the table that my competitors don’t, and how can I present that through my social channels?

It’s important to know your target audience inside and out. Having inside knowledge about key groups will tell you exactly what channels they populate. Here’s a breakdown, according to a 2019 study done by Sprout Social:

Users on Facebook: 74% female, 62% male

  • 51% of 13-17 year olds
  • 81% of 18-29 year olds
  • 78% of 30-49 year olds
  • 65% of 50-64 year olds
  • 41% of 65+ year olds

Users on Instagram: 39% female, 30% male

  • 72% of 13-17 year olds
  • 64% of 18-29 year olds
  • 40% of 30-49 year olds
  • 21% of 50-64 year olds
  • 10% of 65+ year olds

Users on Twitter: 24% female, 23% male

  • 32% of 13-17 year olds
  • 40% of 18-29 year olds
  • 27% of 30-49 year olds
  • 19% of 50-64 year olds
  • 8% of 65+ year olds

Users on LinkedIn: 25% female, 25% male

  • 29% of 18-29 year olds
  • 33% of 30-49 year olds
  • 24% of 50-64 year olds
  • 9% of 65+ year olds

Users on Snapchat: 31% female, 23% male

  • 69% of 13-17 year olds
  • 68% of 18-29 year olds
  • 26% of 30-49 year olds
  • 10% of 50-64 year olds
  • 3% of 65+ year olds

TikTok is also becoming a popular outlet for the younger demographic. Nonetheless, identifying and creating on-brand content that caters to a specific audience is the key to success in any niche. You want to highlight what makes your brand unique while keeping your audience’s expectations in mind.

From there, develop a content calendar to keep yourself organized and pay attention to your social media analytics. It may be beneficial to look into different scheduling services like Hootsuite and Loomly (we have used both) that can also track engagement levels, relevant hashtags, and other important metrics. Knowledge is power.

Bottom line: You want your content to be true to who you are as a brand while capturing the essence of what you do and why you’re important.

To learn more about the importance of social media in business, check out our recent blog.

Small Businesses: Yes, You Need Social Media

Small business owners are jacks of all trades. You’re not only focusing on business development and big-picture items, but day-to-day operational needs. Your time is valuable – and you don’t have much to spare. Here’s why you should devote some of that time to building your online presence.

Everyone’s doing it. Regardless of your industry, it is important to know the trends of your peers to better compete and foster growth in your own ventures. In 2015, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook Cheryl Sandberg reported that 50 million small businesses are using that outlet to connect with their clientele. Social media is now industry standard. Being part of the digital community also enables you to monitor your competitors via their own public pages.

Referrals. Ever the heart of small business, social media encourages client referrals. 71% of consumers who have positive experiences with a brand’s social media are likely to recommend it to others. Over half of these same consumers, 63%, are expecting that brands will offer some form of customer service over social media channels. Society has grown to use social media beyond entertainment. Users share news, exchange currency, and communicate this way. It’s time to join the community and meet the needs of your clients (DreamGrow).

Content distribution. If you have a blog on your website like we do, you want an ROI from the content in which you’re investing precious time. We share all of our blog posts on Facebook and Twitter. Pushing your content through as many well-maintained channels as possible will benefit your search engine optimization (“SEO” increases the likelihood that people searching terms related to your industry will come across your business) and get your website click-throughs beyond a simple Google search.

Having a so many accounts that you can’t keep track of their results is not useful. We recommend you pick 2-3 platforms, update them regularly, and engage with your audience. We know entering the world of social media can be daunting without help. You can learn all about the different platforms and how to use them effectively by signing up for the Claire McKinneyPR newsletter. Check out our free guide!

Social Media 101: TikTok and Book Promotion

If you aren’t using it, you’ve heard of it. However, you might not know how to use it -or, you might not even know what it is. Today we will be discussing the underdog tool in your promotional belt. The overnight, 15-second sensation: TikTok.

What is TikTok?

TikTok is a window to the latest pop culture trends among Generation Z. Gen Z (any individual roughly between 13-and-24-years-old) dominates TikTok’s user base; the same generation also happens to be the next large target group of potential consumers.

TikTok was created by the Beijing news-media tech company ByteDance. Often described as a combination of both Snapchat and Instagram, TikTok is a video-only application that posts in 15-second bursts. The app hit over one billion downloads in February of 2019, exceeding its competitors up to that point (HooteSuite). Their net user and download numbers only continue to climb.

Needless to say, a large audience is there for the taking – particularly ripe for YA authors.

How do I use TikTok?

Currently, the application is only available for download on mobile device. You will need to download via smartphone or tablet. While this sounds limiting, don’t fear: TikTok has a host of editing tools in-app that enable you to create unique and original content.

  • Setup: The first prompt you get when logging in to the application is one asking your interests. Would you like to see comedy skits? Do you follow beauty influencers? What about dance performance? Your answers to these questions feed TikTok’s algorithm and influence what content you view under the “For You” page (one of two pages that make up your TikTok “Home” screen). The “Following” page consists of users you are subscribed to after tapping around the app and finding what you like. Each user has a page setup much like Instagram -a photo of themselves, their handle, a follower count, bio, and their content.
  • Creating Content: Similar to Snapchat, creating your own content starts with a simple point-and-shoot clip. As talked about before, you only have fifteen seconds to deliver your message. Spend more time focusing on visuals, use dialogue sparingly. Most users supplement sound clips from popular music or memes rather than talking in their TikToks.

How can I use TikTok for book promotion?

Here is where you’ll need to get creative. TikTok is very similar to Twitter’s late application Vine -there is little to no text involved, and strictly video-based. In other words, TikTok users aren’t looking to read when they engage with the app.

Thankfully, there are plenty of opportunities to promote your book.

  • Challenges: TikTok users generate a great deal of challenge-based content. An example of social media challenge is the ALS ice bucket challenge that took social media by storm in 2015. Users would dump a bucket of ice water over their heads in the name of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, then nominate fellow users in order to raise awareness for those affected.

TikTok is rife with similar challenges, distinguished by hashtags (much like challenges seen across other social media). There is even a “#bookschallenge” with over 109.2K views! Feature your new book in original content to spread the word. You can even create your own hashtag and start a trend by simply adding a # before your desired phrase.

  • Memes: Aside from challenges, memes spread like wildfire. Users essentially take a pop culture item and tweak it with their own personal style. From songs to live-TV bloopers, TikTokers take soundbites from these moments and make a 15-second video performing their own take. Like we mentioned before, it’s all about the visuals with this application. Having a stack of your own books as the background of a TikTok is the perfect subliminal marketing strategy.

TikTok has increased in notoriety to the point of Facebook imitating the application (Wired). It’s time for you to make use of the trend. Now you’re ready to TikTok with the best of them!