Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+, YouTube, Tumblr, Instagram and the list keeps growing. Social media is now the number one activity online, with almost three-quarters of online adults using social networking sites. You can’t ignore social media as a part of your marketing mix.
So you make a choice. Do you want to simply exist on social media, or do you want to use it to make a difference – to your customers, to your culture, to your bottom line?
“Social media allows you to find your potential customer in a much easier way,” says Matt Kreikemeier, founder of Leverage New Age Media, a creative and tech agency based out of St. Louis, Missouri. “Not only can you target and search specific demographics and interests across these platforms, but you can go one step further and analyze the interests of current customers and learn where you should next promote your product – fan pages, tech forums, blogs, and other similar outlets.”
According to research by Deloitte, 75 percent of online Americans say product information found on social channels influences their shopping behavior and enhances brand loyalty.
You sell digital products, so 100 percent of your customers are online, and they are most tech-savvy consumers out there. Whether you have a large budget with a team of experts or you are tackling social media with limited resources, you’ve got to know what you’re doing. We’ve put together some simple tips to help you make the most of your social media presence.
1. Have a Strategy
Whether your social media is produced in-house or through an agency, it’s imperative to have a real plan. Social media can be the most visible part of your marketing mix, so you want to make sure it’s well thought out and impactful.
Companies no longer have interns running their social media campaigns. They have skilled experts who not only know social media, but also understand analytics and reporting, as well as the company’s strategy, brand voice and message.
“A true social media strategy makes a world of difference, but can be one of the most difficult aspects of your marketing strategy to maintain because of its ‘always on’ nature,” says Kreikemeier. “Have a strategy and stick to it. Develop a brand voice or content pillars to ensure your message is consistent and on brand. Be responsible and promote brand safety – don’t let just anyone tweet on behalf of your brand.”
A number of variables affect your strategy, like company size, culture, product lines and budget. Dell Software has a very specific social media strategy that includes training and certification to ensure any employees representing Dell on social media know how to appropriately present the company.
“For a company like Dell, it’s important that all employees represent the company fairly and accurately,” says Mark Dykstra, senior manager of Internet marketing at Dell. “Social media certification ensures that Dell employees know the rules around social discussion of their employer and know how to promote our products and services effectively.”
Whether your strategy is extensive or simple, the important thing is to have one.
2. Don’t Use Every Platform
Find out which social media tools your audience uses the most and make sure you are there. Research each social media platform and choose the ones that make the most sense for your goals and target market.
Each social channel is unique and can deliver different types of benefits. For digital products, being active on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ will give you a well-rounded social media presence. “Know your audience, and know how to write content specific to each channel,” says Dykstra. “Each channel is a different in terms of demographics, styles, etc.”
With more than one billion users around the globe, your customers are looking for you here. Facebook provides the largest opportunity to communicate with your customers. Check out companies you admire and see what they are doing on Facebook to connect with their audience.
With 5,700 tweets per second, Twitter requires constant monitoring, and can be overwhelming. But if you take the time to delve in, it can serve you well. “People love Twitter because of its easily digestible content,” says Kreikemeier. “You can leverage the ‘instant gratification’ we all crave, and allow users to take action in the moment – greatly increasing your conversion ratio versus a website sign-up form.”
As the largest business-focused platform, LinkedIn attracts key decision makers. More C-level executives are on LinkedIn than any other social media platform. Users may not be as “active” on LinkedIn as compared to the other big social media sites. So you may get fewer eyeballs, but make more meaningful connections. LinkedIn could be a great place to schedule regular posts, but you should probably look elsewhere when looking for active participation in a product launch or contest.
“Google+ has a fairly substantial tech community made up of early adopters and other tech enthusiasts, which makes for a great environment for targeting users who are eager to support new products and ideas,” says Kreikemeier. “However, it can be a slow process to build a community on Google+ so it wouldn’t hurt to mirror your Google+ strategy over to Facebook as well, since they are so similar.”
3. Always Be On
Instant gratification is why people love social media. Your customers expect a quick response. Make sure you give it to them.
“People are going to talk about your product whether you are there or not, so you might as well be there listening, engaging, learning and refining,” Kreikemeier says. “Social media allows you to put a ‘face’ to a company or product, humanizing your brand and building a reputation you control. You are then free to communicate with your customer base in a more natural way.”
Staying on top of your social media accounts can be intimidating and time-consuming. Lucky for you, there are a variety of tools to help you. From scheduling posts to compiling metrics, there are plenty of useful tools to help you master your social media accounts – like HootSuite and TweetDeck – and many are free. So take advantage.
You can’t ignore the possibilities for social media success in e-commerce. “Social media drives traffic to our sites, resulting both in increased search engine presence and in direct lead and revenue generation,” says Dykstra. Be willing to put in the work to research your audience and the different social media tools. Then create a strategy and stick to it. Use the tools that benefit your company the most and stay active.