Oh, how things can change in 10 years.
A decade ago, Bush was in office, Friends was still on the air, and Facebook was little more than an online playground for college students to post photos of their drunken weekend exploits.
Today, the social media monolith is one of the most powerful platforms for ANY business. And it’s one that could see a better ROI than conventional SEO – leaving the likes of Google and co. quaking in their boots.
Incorporating Facebook (as well as Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and the like) into your marketing strategy can pay off BIG TIME – especially when it comes to targeting your readers more effectively, advertising your services in real-time, and encouraging users to share your content.
Here are a few tips on how to get the BEST returns on your social media content…
1. Use social data to transform your marketing campaigns
Since Web 2.0 exploded, more people use social networking as their primary source of information, and not just when it comes to finding out what their Auntie has been up to all weekend.
In fact, according to a Forrester survey, a whopping 50% of those aged 18 to 23 used a social networking platform as their main search engine in the last year – statistics which could cause alarm at Google HQ.
It seems content marketers will need to re-think their SEO strategy in the future – especially when it comes to attracting the all-important younger demographic.
Social networking can offer more precise data about who views and (more importantly) who responds to our content. Social data (and in particular Facebook Insights) can tell us:
+ How old a reader is who has liked our social pages or have commented on content
+ How OFTEN these people interact with our content
+ Their hobbies and interests, and other pages they liked
2. Use Facebook analytic tools to monitor your readers
Why is Facebook tops when it comes to social media marketing? Well, with over 1 BILLION users, it has the largest audience of any social network platform.
It allows marketers to fine-tune their strategy based on the interests of their readers, and provides plenty of data which can be used to spearhead a new marketing plan in the future.
For a social media marketing strategy to actually work though, you need a core group of users that will engage with your content on a regular basis. But what if you can’t find those people?
Well, Facebook API is your new best friend. Here you can find out a wealth of information about the people who HAVE engaged with your pages, and see exactly what they are interested in.
You can even see what your competitor’s customers are up to, such as the things they like, the things they hate, and the things they share.
Not everyone is lucky enough to have Facebook API–but don’t despair. With Facebook Power Editor, you can still discover plenty of useful information about your audience and that of your competition (albeit in less detail than API).
You’ll need Google Chrome to be able to use Power Editor, but this handy tool is completely free and VERY useful.
Also, be sure to check out these Facebook Analytics tools to get more out of your spreadsheets.
3. Communicate MORE to build up a customer base
For those who want to make better use of their social media pages, COMMUNICATION is king.
Want to see more posts on your pages in the future? Well, you’ll need to speak more.
Increasing your visibility on your Facebook or Twitter profile can promote more responses, likes, shares, and re-Tweets.
Here are a few pointers to help you get started:
+ Use offers and promotions – want to encourage more people to share your content? Exclusive promotions and offers on your page can help showcase your product and spread the word. Competitions can also help, but only if the prize is closely related to your niche. You can even offer a promotion or prize based on the likes of your readers by using Facebook API or Power Editor.
+ We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again – images are imperative as people become increasingly VISUAL. Images can brighten up your pages, and provoke an emotional response from your readers – much more than boring blocks of text.
+ Use a tool like Postplanner to schedule updates ahead of time. You can tailor posts to reflect an upcoming sports event. How about offering a 10% discount if a particular team wins during the World Cup?
Schedule your update to be posted half-way through the game. This can be a great way to drive traffic to your pages, and drum up interest.
4. Walking the line between editorial and commercial
It’s a concept that many content marketers will need to grapple with once they shift to social. Does EVERY piece of content you post on social media need to advertise your product or services?
If you’re updating your social media pages three or four times a day, aim for one commercial post in the same time frame and see how your readers respond.
For example, if you own a gym and want to encourage more people in the local area to sign-up, you can ask your readers about their weekend with your first post on Monday morning.
The second could focus on a recent news story that pertains to health and fitness, and the third could follow-up on the second post with a promotion and a direct link to your sign-up page.
But Matt Cutts said…
Don’t listen to Matt, just this one time, ok?
Matt has said a lot of things – just remember the whole “guest posting is dead” scandal. People were running like crazy calling out the end of SEO as we know it.
SEO bench presses its weight from the amount of relevant on-page content AND the number of relevant links to your page. Hate it or love it, this fact is here to stay.
And while Google claims that the search algorithm doesn’t recognize social signals and Facebook and Co. no-follow their outbound links, there is some value to be gained nevertheless.
Google still crawls no-follow links of a social feed and thus adds to a balanced backlink profile of your website. I’m not even mentioning the visitors those links bring in to your site.
The power of social networks is growing every second and Google will have to reckon with it adjusting the algorithm sooner or later.
So, if not for the immediate exposure, but for a long-term SEO strategy, you’ll have to take social networks into account.
Here are a few more bonus tips to finish up with
+ Remember to closely monitor all your content. See which posts are liked by the most people, which are shared, and which receive the most comments.
+ Mix up your marketing with a combination of both paid and organic content. You could even create two campaigns (one for paid, one for organic) by using the Google URL builder tool, and see which one works best.
+ Use your employee’s social connections to advertise your business brand. This can help to spread the word for a business with many staff, but can still prove effective for smaller companies.
If you’re serious about making social media work for YOU, you’ll need to post more often, engage with your readers, and find out MORE about your customers.