Social Media Marketing Best Practices

social media marketing

Why Social Media Marketing is important

From small businesses to large corporations, almost every business with any marketing savvy already has an array of social media accounts. They post to their Facebook and Twitter accounts, upload videos onto YouTube, manage their reviews on Yelp, and maintain a LinkedIn page. However, many companies continue to tear their hair out over social media marketing, unsure why they’re not seeing more results from all their efforts.

As with other marketing endeavors, social media marketing success is not dictated by how hard you work at it, but how you work at it in the first place. At 4thWeb Media, we’ve developed a list of Social Media Marketing Best Practices that we use to help our clients create social media marketing campaigns that really work.

1. Before departing on a social media marketing journey, pull out a road map.

In other words, make sure that you have a firm plan in place. Although that may sound like a no-brainer, too many companies go about social media marketing haphazardly. They have no idea when the best time to post is for their audience, what their specific objectives are, or how they are going to monitor their success and adjust accordingly. Therefore, your first step should be to outline as precisely as possible:

  • Who your audience is
  • How you want to interact with that audience
  • How you will measure the success or failure of interactions with your audience
  • How you will (and who will) regularly adjust your course to make sure you’re on track to meet your objectives

2. Create good karma with your audience.

The Buddhists say that the cause of wealth is giving. The cause of respect is respecting. The cause of being served is serving others. Therefore, the cause of getting value from your social media marketing efforts is giving value to your social media followers.

If you want to benefit from your social media marketing, you first have to benefit the people you’re reaching out to. What does this mean? Social media marketing is far more than a sales pitch to your audience. Social media is a conversation, a relationship, and a cooperation with your audience. How much value you’re willing to give to your audience will determine how much value they’ll give back to you.

3. Stop being a control freak.

Point 3 fits in with Point 2: In the world of social media marketing, you no longer have absolute, dictatorial control over your marketing message. Online, your company’s message will inevitably be mashed up and reshaped by the audience.

Smart marketers understand this truth and have stopped fighting it. You know the old saying, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em”? The best social media marketers encourage audience creativity rather than resisting it; in so doing, they use audience participation to organically extend the reach of their social media campaigns.

4. Find ways to encourage brand evangelism.

Seek out prominent figures within your industry’s community – admins of Facebook groups, independent bloggers, popular forum moderators, and fan website owners – and build relationships with them. For example, it has become a fairly common practice for companies to send products for review to amateur reviewers who have large followings on YouTube or on their blogs. Instead of evangelizing your own brand, you can have these credible individuals evangelize for you.

5. Find ways to encourage audience collaboration.

Likewise, a timely photo contest, video contest, or invitation for feedback both builds brand loyalty and can provide an enormous volume of valuable free content for your social media sites.

6. Let’s be honest.

After enduring decades of marketing ploys – ads designed to look like magazine articles, commercials designed to look like TV shows, and press releases designed to mimic authentic news stories – today’s audience is both clever and cynical. If you say your Facebook page is designed to help fans make better health choices, for instance, and then you consistently try to sell your own health products in a barely disguised manner, you will lose their attention very quickly.

The takeaway: Be transparent with your intentions and avoid being phony at all costs in your social media marketing.

7. You must make a proper investment of time and resources.

If you’re serious about getting social media marketing right, you either need to out-source your social media marketing to a savvy company like 4thWeb Media, or you need to hire a qualified social media marketing manager and also invest in the best social technology. Not appropriately staffing your social media marketing is a recipe for failure.

8. Watch out for having “too many cooks in the kitchen.”

However, as you staff for your social media campaigns, be sure that all contributors are following the same set of standards in order to keep on track with your overall strategy and message.

9. Think Point A to Point B to Point C instead of A to B.

A traditional marketing paradigm focuses on Action A leading to Result B, as in: A) Clever Superbowl commercial to B) Increase in Sales. As you analyze the results of your social media marketing, you should be thinking more along the lines of: A) Clever viral video campaign to B) Increase in the number of Likes, fans, or inbound links to C) Dominating the online conversation around your industry. Social media marketing doesn’t draw a straight line from campaign to sales; in measuring success, orient campaigns towards more sophisticated objectives.

10. Don’t be taken hostage by the data.

Creativity is key to successful social media. Therefore, although keeping your eye on the data is important, leave enough room for your marketers to step out on a limb and try some creative approaches.

11. Stay nimble enough to throw out “Social Media Marketing Best Practices” 1 – 10.

Following from Point 10, always remember that social media is an ever-evolving organism and what works today might be stale tomorrow. Keep innovating and be prepared to rewrite your social media marketing plan as the business and online environment shifts. There are no sacred cows in social media at this point in its history; your only Golden Rule should be to stay flexible and avoid Golden Rules.

Our Social Media Marketing Best Practices are really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to guiding your social media campaigns to success. At 4thWeb Media, we keep our fingers on the pulse of social media marketing and we excel at evolving.

Highlights of 4thWeb Media’s Social Media Marketing services. This is not the entire list and we’re flexible to perform all of, more of, or a subset of these services for our clients.

  • Planning, building and executing a viable marketing/social media marketing/social media plan.
  • Building branded social media content/pages/sites/communities.
  • Building community membership through social media marketing campaigns, community outreach, and social profiling and conversational activities.
  • Engaging with community members and developing members into brand and product influencers.
  • Helping convert community members into lasting, trusted customer relationships.
  • Manage, optimize and measure the progress of plan elements and growth using social media best practices and the best available social media marketing software and tools.