The key to effective social media marketing is the same as effective content marketing: providing value. Unfortunately, this is something that a considerable number of businesses have no idea how to do, and that results in some very poorly managed social media.
Take a look at the social media pages of your typical local B2B companies, and you will find some rather uninspiring and dull statuses and posts.
You’ll see things like: “Find out why our contact management solution is the best in the business!” and “Order our POS system today to start serving your customers better!”
Ask yourself: why would anyone be interested in such blatant self-promotion? What are they gaining by reading your posts? One of the single most important questions to ask when looking at your social media or your content is: would you read it? If not, then you need to do something to make it more interesting!
Your social media needs to provide purpose and value. It should be interesting, entertaining, or useful. Inspiring social media can work particularly well. Take a look at Instagram, and you’ll find lots of accounts filled with people wearing stunning clothes, posing to show off their rippling muscles, or even just showing their wealthy lifestyle.
Then there are travel and vacation profiles with lots of pictures of beautiful mountain ranges and sunsets. Why do these work? Because when someone sees those channels, they feel inspired – they live vicariously through them, and they enjoy dreaming of a life like that! By following that account, they’ll see more similarly inspiring posts to fuel their dreams. And guess what? When you then promote a piece of clothing or an ebook on how to get fit, they listen.
An excellent example of a successful Facebook page is IFL Science, which posts links to articles with really eye-catching titles and gets tons of likes and shares. The best Twitter accounts run by personal brands make followers feel engaged, like getting to know them with insights into their daily routines, with jokes, or insider tips.
Want to make a splash on Pinterest?
How about creating a board to show off life hacks? Or to demonstrate great outfit choices? Or workout inspiration? The aim again is to provide real value, and the way to know if you’re doing this well is to ask yourself: would people be disappointed if you stopped posting to your account? Not just your blog – but your social media channels?
Your social media needs to be able to stand on its own two feet and be something that people enjoy in its own right. That’s how you gain followers and shares, and that’s how you get people to visit your site and buy your products.
Thereafter the key is to post regularly and to be consistently on-topic.
Don’t create a blog on fitness and then continuously post about your love of gardening, or people will get tired and leave.
How frequent should you post?
Ideally, the more frequently you post, the better. Several times a day is generally recommended, especially since sites like Facebook will only show each post to a small percentage of your followers.
Providing Value in a Boring Niche
You might be wondering how exactly you provide this kind of entertaining, engaging value when you run a website about life insurance. What could you possibly do on Instagram or on Pinterest that would be appropriate?
The answer is to think not about the service directly but rather about the value proposition and audience. You aim to post things that will be interesting to the same demographic, and that will be relevant, that doesn’t have to mean that you only ever post directly about life insurance!
One example of this might be to make an Instagram account all about ways to spend time and take care of your family. Parental responsibility has broad appeal and is directly relevant to life insurance – because life insurance is all about looking after your family once you’re gone.
People who want to be better Mums and Dads can follow your Instagram, which will be in the same spirit as your business. once you have their ear, you can recommend life insurance policy X.
Likewise, you could do something similar with a Pinterest account. How about ways to save money as a family? Demonstrate money-saving hacks, budgeting tips, etc. Then, use it to promote your life insurance as the best financial option or your website as the best place to learn about life insurance.
Targeting a Specific Audience
Another important tip is to think about your audience and who they are. If you want people to share your posts you need to be sure that you are targeting your audience correctly. Trying to achieve too broad an audience will ultimately mean that you don’t specifically appeal to anyone.
Content performs best when it is targeting a specific type of person. Why do we ever share content? There are two simple reasons: to express ourselves OR to communicate.
Understand the psychology of sharing
We communicate by sharing things that we think will appeal to someone we know. If you see a post on ‘How Working From Home Turns Your Brain to Mush’, you might share it with your friend Alex who works from home as a cheeky joke. It might be a way to help him work from home better, or perhaps it’s just for a bit of fun.
If you yourself work from home, you might post it to express how you feel about working from home and help others understand you better. But notice that in both these scenarios, the post only works because it applies specifically to people who work from home.
While being very specific might appear to exclude potential customers, it makes it much easier for you to market to the particular type of person who is likely to buy from you. To make this work, you need to spend some time profiling. How old are they? What gender are they? Find out what their hobbies are? What websites do they spend time on?
Create a Strong Brand
Decided how you’re going to provide value, either by sharing your blog posts, posting images, or both. Make sure that you have a strong brand that will have excellent visibility. Your social media channels should tie neatly to your website. It’s essential that when someone sees your post, they know it’s from that same website they saw the other day.
Make sure you have a distinctive logo and use it as your profile picture or cover image on each account. Likewise, use the same name wherever possible. Another tip is to integrate your social media and your website as tightly as possible. It will take a while to build up momentum on your social media. One thing you can do straight away is to add social media buttons to your website. This allows people to check out your Facebook directly from your website.
Ideally, you will gain new followers each time someone visits your website, that way, they’ll be more likely to see your future posts and share them. Bringing in even more visitors who can subsequently become followers!
Don’t forget that social media is still primarily a social tool. One of the best ways to ensure that people are engaged is actually to talk to them. Even just following people or liking their pictures helps.
If you use Instagram, you will be familiar with how pleasing it is when someone starts following you, especially if they are a professional brand. Likewise, it’s great when they comment and say something like ‘nice pic. motivating you to check out their channel and, in many cases, to follow it! So spend some time posting and, of course, be sure to respond to people.
Running contests and surveying your audience can also be an excellent way to increase engagement. You will also get a better idea of what your followers want to see from you. A good idea is to offer a freebie if you get over X number of likes. This can help you get more shares and likes and be a great way to thank your fans!