Social Media Marketing Guide for Beginners

Social Media Marketing is the process of gaining attention and web traffic through the social media sites. During this process, usually creative content to reach the masses through publicity coming from a third-party trusted source needs to be created in order for people to share the content of their interest with others and create a vicious chain that would make business cover and go beyond the market audience intended. Every online marketer needs to have a goal, a product, a service and a cause to promote through the vast and overwhelming World Wide Web. If you already have those things defined in your mind, then congratulations! That could be probably the hardest part of entering into the social media challenge, and from now on, every single effort will contribute to reach those goals efficiently and flawlessly until you put your feet on the Social Media Guru status.

The Social Media world is wide and more extensive than ever. It is a very strategic marketing platform that reaches different cultures, ages, religion, sexes, locations, interests and such, therefore it makes it the perfect vehicle to reach and target the right audience and achieve total success. The whole world won’t care about video games, for example, but only the people that video games is part of their interests. If you target male audience with ads of high heels on sale, maybe some of them would go and buy a pair or 2 for their wives, but a pair or 2 is not exactly the kind of impact you want to have. Therefore, you focus on certain group ages and certain other factors that cause some services and products, videos and news to go “viral”

First, we need to know the basic social media sites

Facebook
Holding more than 900 million users, if you’re already a Facebook user this might not be really new to you, but there are lots of features worth mentioning. You can create a dedicated business page and interact directly, and free, with your customers uploading free pictures, products and videos of the service you intend to provide or the product you are trying to sell. That way, you can build a data base of people that will share your posts to their friends and therefore create the never ending chain. Most of these social media sites have seamlessly mobile integration so people whether it is a portable PC, a desktop, tablet or mobile phone get always connected with media in a way that you should take advantage of. People log in to Facebook, in any situation, while commuting, in the park, at home, at school, at work. Then you’re there, promoting your business for it to be displayed in the news feeds, and you would be there, constantly doing the mind trick game to the point that people will find something attractive and worth checking according to their interests. Many big corporations like Starbucks, Microsoft, Apple, Rockstar, Pepsi etc. are doing the same, and it works perfectly!

Blogs
Blogs are an easy way for people to communicate in a semi-professional way when it comes to quality of content. Quality content is always the key to a good writing and therefore, a good blogging. There are many blogger CMS (content management service) where you can get yours up and running for free in less than 5 minutes, some of these are Blogger, WordPress and probably the most user friendly one, Tumblr. One of the tricks here is knowing your audience, your market, who you are targeting and what you want to accomplish with that. Now this has to do with some SEO or Search Engine Optimization knowledge, which is in other words, using the right keywords to rank as high as possible in a search engine i.e. Google, Bing. It has to be related to your posts and at the same time, you have to make sure you use a keyword search tool to check the competition and number of search this given keyword has. The lowest the competition and highest number of searches it gets in a month, the more convenient for you. If you were to advertise your website holding a service of technical support chat, you would have to make the keywords very specific so people that are looking for your service would find you first. It is, for example technical support for Windows, then you’ll have to include specific words, as going a little more straight to the point. Since the competition would be really high and Windows technical support is a wide content, you would focus and go further the specific services your product offers, therefore, adding additional keywords to go straight to the point would be the most successful way to do it and you would rank higher in a search engine and people would find your product easily. From “Technical Support Chat” to “Technical Support Chat for Windows 7 and XP” you can see how we are narrowing the concept of the service you offer making it more specific, detailed and then competition of support for mobile operating systems, cellphones, Mac, iPhone, Windows Vista, Windows 8 and such, are left behind and those sites offering the services you’re not related to won’t steal your chances to be found for people that are merely looking for chat support for Windows 7 and XP. Once understood the keyword concept you can proceed and create content on a blog that would be easy to find on a search engine by including the right tags.

Then we have the Social Media integration again in the blog space. There are many options to share the content of your blog. Many Content Manager Services like Tumblr have the social media buttons to share and like or dislike. You need to look for the options to enable them (in the rare case they are not enabled by default) so every post of yours would have the buttons for share on Tweeter, Google+, Facebook etc. and Reblog within the blogging network you are affiliated to. With great quality and eye catching content you are encouraging people to share your stories on other media sites like the ones mentioned above plus you sharing them and there you have outstanding chances to reach a wider audience.

Twitter
A fast growing, very popular social media site. With over 340,000,000 tweets a day and around 140,00,000 users worldwide, this platform is pretty appealing to business and companies as well as for celebrities, musicians, actors, everybody! A tweet is a message of 140 characters maximum that one can write and post and followers can read and see any time in their news feeds. Talk about it, interact directly and start new conversations is one of the things that make this platform extremely successful. The way they follow Kim Kardashian and read and talk about everything she tweets in a day, the same way they can do with advertising and marketing campaigns about brands and products of their interest.

140,000,000 users to target the right audience might sound like a difficult task, but seen it from the other side of the coin, that means more potential customers for a business. Once you get into the already mentioned vicious chain of any social media site, things just keep coming along by themselves and first thing you’ll notice is hundreds of hundreds of people engaged in your brand, talking about it, reviewing it and telling others about events, broadcast and such.

Linkedin
Possibly a not so popular platform making it boring for some people, but a very professional and strategic one for the rest. Some people won’t spend long hours chatting or talking to other about silly, trivial things, instead, this social network goes straight to the point. People on Facebook and Twitter for example, follow anyone of their interest for the sake of simply socialize as well as businesses and companies, but Linkedin is intended to filter and leave the fun behind to focus deeper in professionalism in social media.

In Linkedin, you can be part of the people looking for a job/ service, or part of a company offering a job/ service. You can create either a personal profile with your professional information about yourself, studies, contact information, interests, certifications, identifications etc. or, create a business or company page, same way as you do it on Facebook or Twitter sufficing the same purpose: share information about your brand, service, product and keep your audience and followers up to date with the latest information about your company.

YouTube
YouTube is a very interesting platform. People go watch videos of any kind or gets redirected by any website that has a backlink to it or search engines. Once people is there on a given there you have some more “Related Videos” on a column on the right side of the screen. Clicking from video to video makes you find things you never thought you would find, interesting topics, funny videos, how-to kind of videos, publicity etc. Your chances to be seen are overwhelming and you can also get people subscribe to your Channel, which is in other terms, your own YouTube space where you upload your videos. Some people find it way more interesting and easier to just watch a video rather than reading a whole article. You have the resource of visuals. If you were to promote fashion clothes and that is the purpose of your whole social media marketing, you can, along with other options, upload a video with people modeling your clothes, redirect people to your main business site, recommend people to share your video, to subscribe for future video updates, to visit your “fashion blog”, like your page on Facebook, follow you on Tweeter, Google+, Linkedin, etc. Close your eyes and try to visualize the Tree Diagram of the whole Social Media marketing strategy and how it gets to potentially reach every single corner of the World Wide Web. Ambitious, isn’t it?

Google+
A fairly new comer on the social media site battle, Google+ offers integration of a variety of services including Gmail, Google+ Basics, Google+ Circles that let you share information or “statuses” in a way Facebook does, but has less popularity so far. You have the “Stream” feature similar to Facebook’s News Feed that would let you see what others are up to, an option for following very similar as well to Tweeter.

The service is very appealing to professionals and business networks because of the exclusivity and integration of services. You create a Gmail account for example, and unless you disable it, by default you have access to all these service and a profile ready to be edited with a picture, contact information, etc. You have access to the whole Google+ network including already mention Gmail, YouTube, You+, Circles, Basics and even the well-known search engine saving and displaying results to the most relevant things to you. It is convenient to have a spare Google+ account for any Social Media Marketer because it’s potential functionality and because no source is too little or too much in marketing. Might not have the same impact, a 30 seconds ad on TV than a small billboard on a bus, but the more you get the message sent the better results you will accomplish.

Social Media Stats

According the new 87 studies perform on social media marketing up to 2012, this approach from companies to customers called B2C or Business to Community has grown and reached 16% of customer engagement but has potential to grow to 57% in the next 5 years. More than 30% of the worldwide population is now online permanently or have some sort of eventual access to the web. More than 1/5 of consumer’s free time is being spent on the social media sites, reaching an approximate of 250 million tweets and 800 million Facebook statuses updated every single day. Only in the United States, more than 80% of online active users spend their on social media sites or blogs. 60% of people uses 3 or more digital forms of research product comparison, prices and information about intended purchases, being 40% of those done via social media sites like Facebook or simply redirected from one of these sites leading to even direct interactions with retailers about offers posted. Around 56% Americans have one to three profiles in a social media site being 55% of them aged between 45-55 and having at least one profile

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) facts

70% of the links search users click on are organic. 46% of all searches are for information about products or services. Half of all local searches are performed on mobile devices. 66% of new customers use search and online research to find local businesses. There are 863 million websites globally that mention “SEO.” There are 9.1 million searchs conducted including the acronym each month, with the top two phrases being “SEO services” and “SEO company.” More than 60,000 Twitter users include “SEO” in their bios, there have been 13 million blog posts published that include “SEO” in the title, and Amazon.com carries almost 2,700 different books about SEO 75% of searchers never scroll past the first page of results. 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine. B2B companies that maintain active content like blogging and SEO programs increased their total website traffic, on average, by 25% in the past year, while those who neglected SEO experienced an average 15% decline in overall visits. 21% of all time spent online is spent on web searches. The big three search engines Google, Bing and Yahoo! are among the five most-visited sites on the Internet. Considering that AOL is #7 and Ask is #10; five of the top 10 most-visited sites on the web are search engines.

In conclusion, Social Media Marketing is a field where professionals and amateurs in advertising can come across and put their own ideas and plans implementing their own techniques. There is no Social Media Marketer university or college degree, this knowledge that should be acquired by extensive research, it needs to be constantly employed and tested in the desired field. It is a revolutionary strategy that has taken down the old TV advertising tactics shifting it to the online market. The percentage of people that prefer to go online on a computer or capable device versus people that watches TV grows steadily every single day. Statistics show Social Media Marketing in a lower impact percentage compared to the legacy ways for advertising, but the potential it has and room for growth is in no doubt overwhelming and could be much more improved and interactive than TV has been for the past decades.

How Social Media Marketing Can Help Your Business Thrive

The traditional marketing model was to get as many eyeballs on your product or service’s message as possible and hope that a percentage of customers purchase. Yellow pages, radio advertising, direct mail, television commercials, magazine ads, etc.. are examples of these traditional advertising methods. These conventional types of marketing are no longer effective as many consumers have become blind to the ‘one way’ messaging. The message has been overdone and people no longer trust advertisers. A recent survey found that only 14% of people trust ads while 76% of people trust consumer recommendations. Accordingly, more marketers began seeking alternative ways to connect with potential consumers.

Marketing on the Internet was originally made popular by utilizing Websites and optimizing those sites through Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques. While still a worthwhile strategy, SEO has been updated by Web 2.0 strategies, such as social media marketing. Social media marketing is when companies utilize Web 2.0 platforms, such as blogs, social networking sites (like Facebook, Google+, Foursquare, Twitter, & YouTube) and other emerging online marketing tools. The benefit of web 2.0 platforms versus traditional means of advertising, and even traditional website marketing, is that it involves ‘two-way communication’, where users are empowered to generate content and businesses are incentivized to communicate with their customers.

The days of broadcasting your product or services message out to the masses and hoping for a response are gone. People don’t want to purchase from nameless, faceless companies. Not only are consumers paying attention to the ‘man behind the curtain’, but they also want to know what others are saying about your product or service. A recent study concluded that 80% of US Internet using moms were influenced by word-of-mouth from friends and family when making a purchase decision. No other media platform allows for small businesses to benefit from consumer word of mouth advertising like social media marketing.

Benefits Of Social Media Marketing

  • Increased New Customer Acquisitions – The main advantage of social media marketing is that you will have the opportunity to connect with networks of potential customers that you would otherwise be unable to come across utilizing other traditional marketing techniques and even SEO.
  • Word of Mouth Marketing– Word of mouth marketing has always been the most influential way to generate sales. With social media marketing, you are able to create raving fans who will voluntarily promote your product and services to their networks of friends. Of course, if your product or service is poor, you may suffer the reverse benefits of this.
  • Brand Awareness – Branding your business using social media marketing is much simpler, faster, and less expensive to achieve than the traditional advertising medium or even website marketing.
  • Customer Retention – Web 2.0 platforms are the perfect places to communicate with your customers about new products, special promotions, or merely to educate them on your business. Through consistent, FREE communication, you can keep your company in front of your customer’s eyeballs which will in turn lead to repeat business and referrals. Remember, the key to this type of communication is to be content rich; don’t use these avenues to pitch your product or service.
  • Rapid Results – The effective and successful implementation of a social media marketing plan will create almost immediate results for your business. This increase can be quantified through increased site traffic, increased lead acquisition, and ultimately increased sales. Unlike radio or TV ads, where your customers disappear once the ads go off air, these web 2.0 platform benefits will continue long-term as long as the communication and updating of your social media presence is maintained.

Why Aren’t More Businesses Utilizing Social Media Marketing?

Quite frankly, most businesses don’t know how to create or implement this type of strategy. What options to small business owners have when seeking to create & implement a social media marketing plan:

Hire an employee– while leveraging the time, experience, and services of others is a smart way to do business, many times this strategy fails. Why? Ultimately, it is up to the small business owner to create the plan and manage the employee. However, most business owners don’t understand web 2.0 enough to create a plan and haven’t a clue how to manage the employee. Plus, paying an employee increases your labor costs, your payroll taxes, your benefit, etc…

Outsource– outsourcing is a better alternative to hiring an employee as you won’t have to hire, train, manage, and pay an employee to perform these functions. However, there is a price for these benefits. Outsourcing these services can be very expensive. I’ve known social media companies to charge over $1,000 to create a Facebook Fan Page. This task takes, at most, 20 minutes to set up. Again, the problem revolves around education. Unless you understand how social media marketing works, then you shouldn’t hire or outsource the tasks unless you’re willing to overpay.

Do it yourself– The fact is learning the basics of social media, creating a plan, and implementing the plan is a task that every business owner is capable of performing. Finding the right training programs that will show you step-by-step how to create and manage web 2.0 platforms is paramount as is utilizing software that will allow you to manage all of your accounts from one simple location. With a little bit of an investment in education, you can create your very own web 2.0 marketing plan. With a little bit of research, you can find an all-in-one do it yourself social media dashboard that will allow you to perform your web 2.0 marketing in less than 10 minutes a day.

What Are Your Goals For the Next 30 Days?

Being a small business owner often means wearing a number of different hats. How many of you act as the CEO, the general manager, the accountant, the salesperson, the computer technician, the secretary, the receptionist, etc…? Sound familiar?

Many entrepreneurs try to chase too many targets at once and end up overwhelmed rather than focusing on their business. They spend all their energy carrying out daily tasks leaving little time for the most important part of their business – their own business!

To avoid this, spend some time focusing on your business and decide which strategies will be most helpful in developing your own marketing plan. In order to grow and succeed in your business, you first need to have a crystal clear idea of what you want to do and where you want to go. In other words, have you defined your objectives? And more importantly, have you put them in writing?

This was actually a new concept for me. In the French culture we are not used to doing this and when I tried to teach it to some of my French clients, they just thought I was nuts! But I understand why because it took me a while before I decided to give it a try. My thoughts were that I had always managed to get what I wanted without the need to write my objectives down. But since so many people here were already applying this concept to their business, I decided not to be stubborn and give it a go too.

Wow! Since I have been using this concept everything has moved so much faster!

Writing my objectives on a weekly basis and being very specific in each area of my business has given me the opportunity to create strategic alliances with other entrepreneurs, triple my database, double my revenue last year and write a book. I am now also working on numbers of new projects with people who I could never have expected to meet or work with just a couple of years ago.

Now my big dreams are a reality!

I love the way people do business in the US. I don’t know if you realize it but you are very lucky. You have all the tools to succeed, but do you use them?

When you write your objectives on a weekly or monthly basis it makes you actually work on them and act faster. If you are not specific and just say, “I will have money, or I will have more clients,” then yes, these things will come, but the question is ‘when’? You don’t have any deadline to accomplish them by! But if you decide that by May 30th you will have 6 new clients, you will then do something in order to get those clients instead of praying or waiting to see if this will happen.

In my last networking event, I asked my members, “What are your goals for the next 30 days?” Some answered without hesitation while others had to think about it. And somebody told me, “Thanks Biba for reminding me that I need to work on my goals, I had actually forgotten about it”.

I found that the best way of incorporating time for your objectives and marketing plan into your schedule is to set up an appointment with yourself. And whatever happens, even if there is a client emergency, never cancel this appointment with yourself.

Make a decision that once a month or once a week you will spend an hour or two working on your business, focusing on: strategies to get more clients, new products or services to offer, special campaigns to make more sales and writing articles to post on your newsletter, newspapers or ezine directories to promote your business. The more links you get, the more traffic you will receive on your website (by the way, do you have a website? If not this should be one of your objectives for the next 30 days). Do you have a newsletter? This is the easiest and cheapest way to communicate on a regular basis with your clients and prospects, in order to promote and grow your business. This can be another objective for the next 30 days.

Take the time to plan strategies that will help to grow your business. Consider yourself as your most important client. Do for yourself what you do for your clients. Your business needs all your attention, all your energy and all your dedication. Your future and your success depend on it.

© 2006 Biba F. Pédron