Social Media – Your First Marketing Pillar
Marketing and branding are the two most misused words in the business world. Marketing is not branding and branding is not marketing. You must have a brand before you can market, but you can’t have a successful brand without marketing.
It’s a tangled web, right? Let’s dive into the specifics.
Building the Marketing Mechanics
Once you have your brand – you’ve done the legwork, you know your mission, and you know what makes you stand out, it’s time to put the marketing mechanics in place.
Marketing mechanics is all-encompassing. It includes social media strategies, email service providers, Facebook ads, paid traffic, website design, SEO, and even podcasts and blogs.
In this blog, we’ll focus on social media and how it affects your business.
Choosing the Right Platform
It’s tempting to jump onto every social media platform out there.
Choose the one or two that you know well or that you’re committed to learning well. Become an expert at them, and then branch out to the others. Choose from any of the popular platforms including Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
Pick one or two favorites and dive in deep.
But, don’t, run your entire business on social media. Don’t waste all of your time learning and running your social media pages if you haven’t mastered the other marketing pillars, because they are all an important part of your success. This is just a piece of the puzzle.
Don’t Live on Social Media
Think of social media as rented real estate. You don’t own it like you would a website or email list.
So, what’s the big deal?
You could get locked out, deactivated, or hacked much easier on social media than you could on your own real estate.
It’s like putting all your eggs in one basket. One wrong move, one hacker, or one accident on social media could cause you to lose it all in one fell swoop. If you have a website, email list, or some other way to interact with your followers, you could pick up the pieces.
If you don’t, you’re starting from scratch and most businesses don’t survive.
What is a Social Media Strategy?
Now that you’ve chosen your platform, it’s time to create a strategy.
A social media strategy is how you’ll present yourself on the chosen platform. Each platform is different, but uniformity is key.
Your audience must be able to recognize you no matter which platform they’re engaging with you. This is where your branding is important. You need consistency so that your followers get the same feelings no matter where they engage with you.
Act like you’re talking to one person no matter which platform you’re one. Remember that one person you identified in your branding blueprint? Identify the characteristics of your ‘person’, their location, likes/dislikes, and problems you’ll solve. That’s the person you’re talking to no matter which platform you are on.
Social Media and Billboards – What they have in Common
Remember the old days of billboards? You’d drive down the street and see these huge signs advertising the one thing you ‘had to have.’ That’s social media today.
Your social media today is your living billboard. You have just a few seconds to capture ‘your person’s’ attention.
You have about 3 seconds to convince them why they should give you their time. If you don’t provide value – they are moving on.
Your message must be clear and specific. Don’t leave room for questions or you’ll send viewers elsewhere. Your message must say within a few seconds ‘hey here’s who I am and how I can help you.’ If your message is vague – you won’t capture your desired audience.
Get your Real Estate on all Platforms
I discussed how you shouldn’t jump on every platform from the get-go. It’s too much, and no one can be an expert at everything at once.
But secure your real estate on each platform.
You have your name, now secure your page. Get your spot on all platforms, including Tik Tok and Twitter. As new social media platforms pop up, get on them. You don’t have to do anything on them or give them any attention right now. But you never know how popular they’ll become in the future. If someone else grabs a page with your name, you’re out of luck.
Create your profile, make it consistent across all platforms, and let it sit. Keep your image, wording, font, and logos all consistent. Don’t use different profile pictures on different platforms. Make it easy for people to find and recognize you – you’ve claimed your real estate.
Instagram – More than Pictures
Instagram is the most confusing social media platform, so I’m going to focus there. People see it as a bunch of pictures – how does that help your business?
It’s much more powerful than you think. Here’s how to make the most of it:
- Have a link to your website in your profile.
- Put any accolades your company has earned (especially brick-and-mortar stores) in your profile too. For example, voted best salon in Chicago – that draws attention – put that in your profile.
- List your address in your profile if you have a brick-and-mortar store. Many people don’t bother with websites. They’ll use hashtags to search for businesses and then visit their Instagram profile to learn more.
The Importance of Hashtags
Instagram is all about hashtags. It’s the number one way to bring in new viewers. It’s the best way to get noticed when people search for specific hashtags, or the equivalent of keywords in the search engines.
You can use up to 30 hashtags in a post. Make them as specific as possible and use all 30. If you have a brick-and-mortar location, start with hashtags for your location. For example, #scottsdale, #scottsdalearizona, #scottsdaleaz.
Also, get into your industry’s specific hashtags. What do you do? Hashtag as many things as you can that will get the attention of people looking for your services. For example, #chiropractor, #realestateagent, #hairstylist all say what you do, but also include as many variations of them as you can.
If you operate online and worldwide, narrow down some of your posts with local hashtags. Whether you’re traveling to a certain part of the world or you’re trying to break into a specific local market – target it with hashtags.
If you don’t have a specific area, look at your Instagram insights (your business reports if you have a business Instagram account). See where your customers live and hashtag those places. Usually, it’s major cities such as Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago, etc.
Vary Your Hashtags
Choosing your hashtags is a big job. Vary the popularity of the hashtags you choose. You’ll see the volume when you start typing them.
If you want to set yourself apart from others, choose a few niche hashtags that will land you on the explorer page, getting you in front of more viewers. Niche hashtags have fewer posts, but more possibilities.
Don’t avoid the larger hashtags though. You never know when you’ll ‘hit it big’ and if you do, you want to be ranking for those bigger hashtags.
Ranking for hashtags helps with your organic reach. You’ll get more engagement with likes and comments. They all won’t turn into followers, but you’ll get the exposure, even if just for a minute. Many will follow you though and if they make it over to your profile, you need that powerful profile, and consistent posts to convince them to hit that ‘follow’ button.
A good rule of thumb is to pick five or so hashtags from each ‘level.’ So choose five super popular hashtags with millions of posts, five with hundreds of thousands, five with thousands, and five with only hundreds because they’re so niched down.
Stories – An Important Part of your Instagram Page
Stories are different than posts. Your posts need to be on target with your branding. It should be the best of the best.
Stories, on the other hand, are only live for 24 hours. They’re an opportunity to have a little more fun. Have fun and post a story at least once a day, using one of these three categories:
- Behind the scenes – Let your viewers see a day in your life is like. Let them see the good, bad, and ugly. Make it funny – let them see the real you.
- Share your favorite things – You aren’t getting paid, but they are things you would share with your friends, and your viewers are your friends.
- Things you’re interested in – Anything you would recommend, whether a person, podcast, book, or something else. Share posts from fellow business owners. Shine the light on someone else and show the value you can provide.
Don’t forget to include hashtags. You are limited to 10, so choose five location-based hashtags and five market-specific hashtags.
A Hashtag Hack
30 hashtags seem like a lot or a lot of work, right? While you should vary the hashtags you use throughout your posts, when you start initially, use the same 30 just to save yourself time.
Here’s the hack.
Save the hashtags in your notes app on your phone. Then you just copy and paste them. Save one note for the regular feed and one for your stores (30 and 10 respectively).
As you get comfortable, switch up your hashtags, adding at least a few new ones (and removing repeated hashtags) to switch things up. It’s not proven, but I’m pretty sure Instagram doesn’t promote your posts as well when you overuse the same hashtags.
Your insights will tell you which hashtags are working the best. Keep the hashtags with the best response and replace those that aren’t doing much for you.
Follower Count – is it Important?
Of course, we all want to be that influencer with millions of followers, but don’t let that make or break you.
There are hundreds or even thousands of people out there with millions of followers and yet they make very few sales. Don’t let someone with a lot of followers intimidate you or make you think you’ll never make it.
Of course, everyone’s ultimate goal is more followers. It drives more traffic to your website and increases your chance of sales. So how do you get them?
- Consistent posts
- Post good content
- Provide value-added content, not just sales posts
- Running contests
You need eyeballs on your products or services. You have to be able to promote yourself and your products. You have to treat people well and take care of your business. They are all pieces of the puzzle that create your success.
Email List – The Most Important Piece
Now we’ve talked about social media, it’s time to talk about the most important piece – your email list.
You could have a million followers but if you have no way to capture their contact information, it’s useless. Getting email addresses is the only way to engage with your followers. Whether it’s through a landing page, contact form, or your website – encourage followers to provide their email addresses and you’ll see your followers convert.
Growing an email list is the lifeline of your business.
Take your time learning the different social media platforms. Choose your favorite, find a way to capture emails, and start growing your followers. Have fun, provide value, and let your followers see that you are more than about sales – you are a brand that looks out for your audience and is someone everyone can count on.