The Beginners Guide to Online Marketing

The Beginners Guide to Online Marketing

Chapter Twelve

Written by Neil Patel & Ritika Puri

Launch Your Social Strategy

Social media is not just an activity; it is an investment of valuable time and resources. Surround yourself with people who not just support you and stay with you, but inform your thinking about ways to WOW your online presence.
Sean Gardner

A social media strategy is more than just a Facebook page or Twitter feed. When executed correctly, social media is a powerful customer engagement engine and web traffic driver.

The social media landscape has evolved in the last few years, so if you’re jumping in now, you might be late. That’s the harsh reality.

But don’t worry. Everyone needs to start somewhere and you can still gain significant momentum through the social web.

As with any marketing strategy, the approach is straightforward:

  1. Identify the social channels where your target audience hangs out
  2. Solidify your brand messaging — what information will resonate with an audience with social media?
  3. Understand with social channels best complement your website’s conversion optimization process. Ultimately, your goal is to create a steady stream of buyers.

Know your social networks

Social media is more than just a Facebook page or Twitter feed. Here is a quick crash course in the variety of social channels available:

Channel Description Strengths Considerations
Pinterest
  • Virtual pin board for curation of your favorite topics.
  • Can be extremely strong referral traffic driver.
  • Strong skew towards female-focused demographic.
  • Visually engaging and friendly format.
  • Opportunity for community to share and pin products that they love.
  • Can be a challenging marketing medium for non-visual brands.
  • Self promotion is a big no here.
Quora
  • Question and answer engine.
  • Audience of entrepreneurs, marketers, engineers, VCs, and students.
  • Genuinely curious and intelligent community.
  • Opportunity to promote and get distribution for blog posts.
  • Amazing opportunity to research topics in depth and to learn.
  • 1:1 connections can be difficult to achieve.
  • Requires dedicated time and effort.
LinkedIn
  • Largest business-to-business social network.
  • Designed for networking and making new connections.
  • 1:1 outreach
  • Market intelligence
  • Employee recruitment
  • Variety of paid channel solutions
  • Interest-based groups
  • Some professionals don’t consistently use LinkedIn
  • Advertising on LinkedIn is relatively expensive
  • Don’t ‘spray and prey’ strangers with messages.
Yelp
  • Customer review platform for brick and mortar platform.
  • Advertising solutions available
  • Opportunity to engage directly with customers.
  • Significant word of mouth referral driver.
  • Some small businesses feel that the paid channel advertising platform is too aggressive.
YouTube
  • The world’s biggest DIY video network.
  • Significant referral traffic driver.

13 Tactics to Succeed on Social Media

  1. Resist the pressure

    There is tremendous pressure for companies to develop a social media presence. Feeling the crunch, companies will just jump in.

    This approach is a significant time and money-sink. Social media is just like any other marketing channel in that it requires a thoughtful, ROI focused strategy. Don’t jump in.

  2. Pick the right networks for you

    No Facebook? No problem. Develop a social media presence on the networks that align most strongly with your customer base and brand. Don’t feel like you need to drop six figures on a Facebook presence where your customers are already likely to be hanging out.

    Remember that social media is, at its heart, a distribution channel. To spread the word about your brand, you absolutely need an audience.

    KISSmetrics doesn’t feel pressure to be active on Pinterest — momentum will grow when the timing is right:

    But the community on Facebook is significantly more vibrant — it’s incredibly important to establish a brand presence here:

    There’s a caveat to this analysis. Even though KISSmetrics does not maintain a big brand presence on Pinterest, the company still syncs up with the platform for traffic.

    When KISSmetrics releases infographics, the goal is to get people to share it via the social web, especially Pinterest. The key strategy is to include social sharing buttons on the infographic page.If you look at the infographic snapshots below and on the next page, you’ll notice that Pinterest buttons aren’t added to the sidebar — they’re placed above. This helps drive more traffic. A full-sized version of the infographic shows the Pinterest button only.

    Why does the KISSmetrics team do this?

    Because Pinterest drives more consistent traffic to infographics than any other social site. Just look at the following 30-day traffic snapshot.

    Even though the majority of KISSmetrics customers are male, Pinterest is still an effective marketing channel.

  3. Start with your customers

    In order for people to follow you, you need to follow your customers. Pick social networks that align most strongly with where your customers are hanging out already. If you’re running a B2B organization, for instance, participation on LinkedIn Discussion Groups is a no-brainer.

    If you’re running a publishing website, it’s mission-critical that you get your act together on Twitter, since audiences consistently tweet and re-tweet through this channel.

    An e-commerce site, on the other hand, may see stronger results on Facebook (that is, unless your customer base is active on Twitter). It really depends on your customers’ preferences, internet browsing, patterns, and demographic. For Woot.com, for instance, it makes sense to run a Twitter feed since the website specializes in daily deals.

    When in doubt, run an informal research study. Just ask.

  4. Invest in building a community

    Online communities add value in the form of exposure and distribution. A portion of your fans and followers are likely to convert. When you invest in building up your social media following, you are investing in distribution.

    Focus on building your fan base by asking your audience to become a fan or follower in order to read the rest of your content:

    Just like email marketing, it’s important to build your following organically. When audiences opt into becoming a fan, they’re more likely to engage with your brand on an ongoing basis.

    Be respectful when recruiting fans and followers. Some folks just won’t want to. Make sure that there’s an opportunity to opt-out. Include a “No Thanks” link. You will want to cookie your readers to make sure that after they see the invitation once, they don’t again.

    This strategy can help you double your social media following — which can easily evolve into 30% to 40% of your overall website traffic.

  5. Build your email list on social media

    Use a tool like 5 Minute Fan Page to collect leads on your Facebook page. These lead generation forms have the potential to achieve much higher conversion rates than they do off Facebook.

    Another approach is to collect email addresses through Facebook Connect:

    Expect to pay $0.25 to $1 per email address collected. If your email marketing strategy is well integrated with your conversion goals, you should be able to make your money back relatively quickly. Not to mention, an email list is something with long-term value. Every time you have a new product or announcement, you can instantly promote that message to your list.

  6. Time Your Messaging Perfectly

    Obviously, a 2AM Facebook post is unlikely to recruit eyeballs. Beyond the obvious, however, it’s important to pay attention to the nuances of timing your posts. Use free social media tools from Simply Measured to time your Tweets and status updates just right. Here’s what some of the reports look like:

    Post when audiences are most likely to be engaging with your social sites.

  7. Sync Up with Great Content

    Social media and content marketing go hand in hand. When people are browsing their Facebook and Twitter feeds, they’re not necessarily in the mood to buy. They want to be social, catch up with friends, connect with family, browse pictures, and relax.

    As much as you want to sell, your content shouldn’t. They key is to build audience relationships instead. People make laugh. Capture their interest. Be a brand that is also a friend. Share content, not products. Remember that people are emotional and want to be entertained.

    And yes, that sometimes means sharing a meme or two.

    Promote content beyond your own. Curate content from the community, and share what’s most relevant to your friends and followers. Clarity does a great job exemplifying this concept by curating amazing reads from entrepreneurs and business leaders.

  8. Drive engagement

    Once audiences browse through your content, make sure to connect them with more. This strategy is especially important for YouTube videos.

    Get more video views by ending your video with another. You’ll need a video editor to create this modifications.

    It’s of the key strategies used by Mike Chang’s YouTube Channel — and he has millions of subscribers.

  9. Host online events

    This strategy can help build loyalty and engagement. Host tweet-ups to help answer your fans’ most pressing questions. Other ideas include follower-only webinars and Facebook networking parties to help businesses connect with one another.

  10. Jump into conversations

    Be social. Join Quora and LinkedIn discussion groups to build trust and awareness about your brand. If somebody asks questions related to your product, provide an answer. If your company can solve a specific problem, make sure that the community knows.

    NewsCred founder Shafqat Islam makes sure to answer questions about content syndication:

    Unbounce co-founder Oli Gardner stays on top of questions related to landing page optimization (and his company):

  11. Ask questions

    Conversations go both ways. Ask questions as much as you’re broadcasting messages. Questions can help you better understand your customers and show how much you care. Conduct market intelligence, learn what people think of your products, and get people talking.

    This approach can also help you brainstorm topics for your content marketing, blogging, or infographic strategy.

  12. Capture attention with images

    People don’t want to read chunks of text. They want easy-to-scan, attention-grabbing images. Get creative, and don’t afraid to be funny — even if you’re a little off base from your brand. Just don’t be boring.

  13. Measure all results

    Like any marketing channel, social media ROI should be measured and tracked. Make sure to segment your data by post-type (content vs. deals vs. products), and keep track of your long-term user value. With social media, conversions are much less likely to be direct.

    Virality is another metric that you should watch. When people share your content with their fans and followers, your company gets free marketing. This exposure has quantifiable value.

    Typically, social media ROI metrics fall into the following categories:

    Engagement Virality Conversions Value
    • Unique Visitors
    • Pageviews
    • Avg. Visit Duration
    • Return Visits
    • Bounce Rate
    • Shares
    • Conversion Rates (direct & indirect)
    • Conversions (direct & indirect)
    • Leads
    • Cost/Lead
    • Cost/User
    • LTV
    • Customer Acquisition Cost

Final Thoughts & Case Study:
Look for Opportunities

Your data will help you identify key opportunities for growth. Confront problems directly to make your social media strategy as strong as possible.

This test and scale approach was critical for Foursum, an app that makes golf more social and rewarding.

Renee Warren, co-founder at Onboardly, walks us through a recent case study:

  • Description of Goals:

    We had a good Facebook following, but we weren’t seeing much engagement outside of announcements about big tournament wins. We wanted to turn that large following into a more engaged community.

  • Hypothesis:

    By creating branded images that featured popular golf quotes, we suspected we’d be able to extend our reach from shares. By creating branded Would You Rather? images, we suspected we’d be able to get some debates going and fuel comments.

  • Methodology:

    Branding is very important to us, so we wanted the images to be well-designed. We put all of the quotes on beautiful golf-related backgrounds (courses, greens, etc.) and added a small logo.

    The quote is the main focus because we didn’t want to come off too promotional, so the design fits our brand perfectly without being overpowering.

    We took a similar approach with the Would You Rather? images. We could have just made them text-based, but we imagined people sharing the images and starting mini-conversations on their own pages.

  • Results:

    By creating and sharing the custom, branded content, we’ve definitely taken a big step towards creating a more engaged community. We’ve noticed an increase in engagement around those images and other content we’ve been sharing as well.

  • Data:

    Where we’d normally see 0-10 shares, we saw up to 60 on a branded quote. Where we would normally see 0-15 comments, we saw nearly 40 on a Would You Rather? image.

Key Takeaways

  • Choose social channels that align with your audience.
  • Don’t feel obligated to launch social media profiles that are misaligned with your brand.
  • Track results so that you can make optimizations and continuously improve performance.
  • Monitor metrics related to virality, engagement, leads and conversions, and costs.
  • Shares and re-tweets are extremely valuable because they generate free exposure for your company.
  • Encourage users to share your content by implementing (and testing the placement of) social sharing widgets.
  • Be as visual as you possibly can. People don’t like to read giant blocks of text.
  • Remember that people on social media aren’t necessarily in the mindset to shop. They’re looking to connect with friends, sync up with family, browse photos, and discover entertaining media.
  • Integrate your social media strategy with your branded content program. Content is a powerful referral traffic driver.
  • Listen as much as you broadcast. Use social media to learn about your customer base.