Social media marketing is about being online where your target audience hangs out and positioning yourself to engage with them. To build relationships and create a base to which you can offer your products (goods and services) that solve their needs.Mwendwa Kilundo
…is more than just opening an account/page on your favourite social media platforms. It is more than just a Facebook/YouTube page, a Pinterest/Instagram/WhatsApp/Twitter account.
It is important to note as early as now that social media marketing is not synonymous with digital marketing. Social media marketing is a subset of digital marketing. In our article on Digital marketing for businesses: The Beginners’ guide, we go over this in-depth.
Quite a number of businesses use social media for only one purpose: to sell. As we shall see as we progress in this guide, that is hardly 1/4 of the power of social in use. These businesses will tell you about an offering and you guessed right, sell!
It’s almost like walking down a street and greeting a stranger and by the mere fact of them responding in kind to your greeting, you sell them on what the business offers. We tend to forget that even us as individuals, we don’t like to be sold on things, but we do want to buy. We do business and buy from entities we trust.
The 4-Step Social Media Marketing Guide for Businesses:
Social media marketing used fully requires a business to perform 4 key things, in order to derive maximum value. We have created a nifty acronym for the 4- key steps (LINS-Listening, Influencing, Networking, Selling). Are you ready to dive into what those 4 steps are:
1. Social Listening:
Listening involves monitoring and responding to customer service and reputation management issues on the social web. Your major interest here is to: understand and know what conversations your target audience is involved in. As a business, you want to know what matters most to them. That, in turn, allows you to know how you are perceived online as a business.
This understanding and knowledge will enable you to know how best to engage your prospects and customers at their points of need.
2. Social Influencing:
Now that you have successfully social listened and gotten the intelligence, what next?
Listening got you the intelligence to be informed so as to know how to influence. Social influencing entails establishing authority on the social web, often through the distribution and sharing of valuable content.
Being an authority simply means that people can turn to you for help in areas that they find difficulty in. That your business understands customers’ needs and solves them satisfactorily.
And this you cannot be effective at if you are just selling and pushing products down people’s throats.
So you need to listen, socially listen before you can influence anyone or any prospect.
3. Social Networking:
We now find ourselves in the last half of the LINS- Networking and Selling. if you have gone through the first half of listening and influencing, you now understand the way of social. And that is- it is a community. Communities have leaders or influencers. People with the ability to sway a people’s perception not only about your business but also in regards to other issues. You just need to log onto twitter to see the power of communities and influencers.
This brings us to Social Networking, it entails finding and associating with authoritative and influential individuals and brands on the social web.
Your knowledge as part of the business and the business as an entity is only as valuable as the source of your own information. Businesses grow and thrive in their markets by interacting with higher niche knowledge bases/people that help to refine products and offerings.
These knowledge bases/people could be your very own clients as is most commonly the case. And this is a culmination of your social listening skills and social influencing skills that you develop as a business.
4. Social Selling:
Finally, we get to the last part- this is where most SMEs start and end their social marketing initiatives. It is sad but that is the reality of the day.
Social selling is the generation of leads and sales from prospects and existing customers on the social web.
This is the last stage that almost all MSME’s go for when they get online. What is normally oblivious to businesses that just use selling tactics online is that they are hardly utilising ¼ of what social media is capable of. This is normally caused by the short term nature in which social media is viewed as by most MSME’s.
People, including you, do business with those firms or personalities that they trust. We are people that require certain degrees of bonding and emotional connection. Those bonds and emotional connection forms the basis for building relationships.
Social media marketing goals
A key question you might be asking is why do all that listening, influencing, networking and selling? our answer is that there are about 14 business goals you may be attempting to achieve with your social media marketing.
Each goal is met by employing 1 of the 4 categories of social media marketing tactics: Social Listening, Social Influencing, Social Networking or Social Selling. Let us look at the tactics in tandem with the goals and see why it is necessary that you do each step adequately.
A. Social Listening Goals
- Manage reputation online
- Increase retention (keep the customers you already have)
- Reduce refunds spent managing your presence online
- Identify product gaps (identify the product/service changes your customers/prospects want)
- Identify content gaps (identify the content your customers/prospects want or need versus what you are offering currently)
B. Social Influencing Goals
- Increase engagement (increase the number of people that know, like and trust you)
- Increase website traffic (people actually landing on your websites and performing the calls- to- action)
- Increase offer awareness (increase the number of people that know what you offer)
C. Social Networking Goals
- “Earn” media mentions (get interviews, links from bloggers, invited to speak at events, etc.)
- Develop strategic partnerships (develop mutually beneficial partnerships with influencers)
D. Social Selling Goals
- Generate leads/grow email list
- Initial customer acquisition (generate new customers)
- Cross-sell/upsell (sell more to the customers you have)
- Increase buyer frequency (sell more often to the customers you have)
In a nutshell, the link between the social media marketing tactics and goals for example might be:
- If you want to generate leads, you’ll need to employ Social Selling tactics.
- If you want to manage your reputation, you’ll need to employ Social Listening tactics.
- If you want to increase website traffic, you’ll need to employ Social Influencing tactics.
The 3-Step Social Media Marketing- Customer Service Plan
For social media marketing to work, you need to make it human and authentic. Regardless of whether some of the services are handled by bots. Even when you’re dealing with a complaint, your aim is to align yourself with the person, de-escalate the situation, and provide a compassionate, human touch. Who doesn’t want that, including you?
Here’s the 3-step process for doing just that:
- Respond quickly. Social media moves quickly. Make sure you perform triage within 12 hours and resolve issues within 24 hours.
- Make an empathetic statement as soon as possible: “I’m sorry you ran into this,” “I know this is frustrating,” or “I can understand how important this is to you.” Mind you, they are not talking with a company but engaging with its representative who is human.
- Move it to a private channel. If you can’t solve the issue in a sentence or two, take it off public channels. Private messaging, email, or a phone call allows you to talk in detail without the rest of your followers adding their two cents to the discussion.
This approach demonstrates that you’re listening. It also allows you to express compassion. And by moving the conversation to a private channel, you make people feel you’re committed to giving them a real solution.