louise steiner

How To Develop A Social Media Marketing Strategy

Photo by Matt Hamm at flickr

Ford recently withdrew their advertisements from the US Super Bowl for 2011, redirecting that part of their advertising budget towards a social media marketing strategy.  One of the most watched tv broadcasts in the United States, Super Bowl is known for its high profile and high budget advertising.  So when a powerful company with a large advertising budget starts shifting the focus of its marketing spend away from this traditional form of advertising towards social media marketing, it’s time to take notice.

So what is Social Media Marketing and how can you develop a Social Media Strategy that will suit your business?  This post will walk you through a basic strategy that will get you started.

But first of all, what is Social Media?

Wikipedia defines “Social Media” as “media for social interaction, using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques.  Social media uses web-based technologies to turn communication into interactive dialogues…..  A common thread running through all definitions of social media is a blending of technology and social interaction for the co-creation of value.”

So, what does all this mean and how can we harness the power of social media marketing strategies in our business?

The Essence Of  Social Media Marketing

Building “social authority” is THE most important component of any successful social media marketing campaign and basically means an individual or company establishing itself as an expert or authority on a particular subject.

“Building social authority” is key to effective social media marketing and is achieved through participation in the “conversation” on social media sites.  Social media marketing therefore requires a big shift in mindset from more traditional forms of marketing and advertising….it is simply a question of getting out there, being genuine, natural and cleverly participating in conversations without an obvious marketing angle…offering solutions to people’s problems, providing valuable information and a genuine opinion.  People are resistant to marketing in general and even more so to ovbious marketing or selling through social platforms.  The Edelman Trust Barometer report of 2008 reported that 58% of respondents trusted product information coming from industry experts and authorities over and above any other source and this figure climbed to 64% in the 2010 report, reflecting the continuing rise in popularity of social media sites over that time.

Applying Social Media Marketing To Your Business

We’ve already established that building social authority is paramount for our social media marketing strategy.  Social media incorporates everything from Blogging, Microblogging, Social Networking, Events, Forums, to Articles and Press Releases and the list goes on.  So where to begin?  Here are a few tips on how to determine which forms of Social Media will best suit your business:

1.  Identify Your Customer And Your Brand

Craft a compelling brand based on your customers’ needs. In so doing you will identify the format your customers are most likely to be receptive to receiving information in.  Then find the social media that corresponds to their needs and your brand.

Ask yourself, do they want straight news, such as delivered by Mashable, or will they respond better in a forum type environment where you can give direct advice and answer questions?

In most cases a combination of social sites is likely to be most appropriate and there are litereally hundreds, if not thousands of sites to choose from.  Some, such as Facebook, have a very broad appeal, whilst others are targeted at particular niches.

2.  Identify Social Networks

Find the Social Networks your audience participates in on a regular basis. Facebook has over 500 million useres. and Mark Zuckerberg, one of the founding members, forcasts that it will reach 1 billion users next year. Facebook therefore enjoys a very broad appeal and most market segments will be represented here, making it a MUST for most businesses.

photo by Anne Helmond

But you should not rely on Facebook alone.  Look at your niche and find sites that are a good match.  For example if you have a need to get news updates out to your customers on a regular basis, Twitter will serve that purpose.  Similarly a photographer might want to be on Flickr or Tublr.  It is a question of finding the social media sites that  not only correspond to your brand, but where your customers are likely to “hang out”.

Once you’ve established your customer identity and brand, and identified which social networks will suit your customers and brand, it is time to start building the brand’s social profile.

3.  Establish Your Brand In Your Chosen Social Communities

It’s now time to get on to these social sites and start establishing your reputation as an authority on your subject, as we have already discussed above.  Find community leaders on your chosen social sites and establish whether or not there is room for your product or service on the site, and think about how you can distinguish yourself from your competitors.

4. Grow Your Followers

Typically your initial followers will be made up from both on-line and offline existing customers and contacts, but as word spreads, your customers’ contacts will be added to the mix.

Morepace conducted a survey in 2010, asking Facebook users why they had joined the site:  41% said they had joined to “let my friends know what products I support”.   And 68% ansered “yes” to the question:  “Would a positive referral from a Facebook friend make you more likely to buy a specific product or visit a certain retailer?” This is all good news for any marketer on Facebook and reinforces the value of building social authority discussed earlier!

5.  Incentivise Your Followers To Join Your Site

The same survey  found that 37% of Facebook users joined the site “to receive coupons and discount offers”.  So, providing an incentive, such as a freebie or discount voucher will encourage people to join you and grow your following.

6.  Participate In Discussions And Forums

Develop content relevant to your followers, based on their needs….think about how you can engage them.  Interact with your community, be present in your community and reply to comments where relevant.  Offer advice and share relevant information.  Build that social authority and become the first port of call for advice on your given niche.

7.  Analyse The Results

It can be difficult to measure the direct results of a social media marketing campaign, but there are plenty of tools out there to help analyze traffic, the most obvious one being “Google Analytics“.  This site will help you measure the level of traffic to your site and most importantly, the source of the traffic, allowing you to judge the effectiveness of your social media presence.  In terms of calculating the actual return on investment, be sure to ask all buyers how they found you.

8.  Refine Your Social Media Marketing Strategy

Using the information gathered in 7 above, you may come to realise that one particular social site is proving far more successful than another.  Have a look at why that might be, tweak your social media campaign or even leave a particular site that is not working for you.

So, there you have it….a basic Social Media Marketing Strategy that any business can implement to get started in social media.  There can be little doubt that we are witnessing a fundamental shift in the way big companies spend their advertising budget, which means social media is here to stay and not just a passing fad, as has been voiced by some. The beauty about social media marketing is that there are no barriers to entry in terms of budget requirements.  Big or small, all can get a slice of the pie and harness the power that this form of marketing has to offer!

If you got this far, thank you for reading such a long article :-) …..I appreciate your valuable time. Please share with your friends on facebook, twitter and wherever else you hang out.

If you are new to Social Media Marketing, you might want to sign up for my free report “Facebook Marketing Strategies” and please don’t forget to “like’ my page whilst you are there :-)

And as always, I love to receive your comments below!

24 thoughts on “How To Develop A Social Media Marketing Strategy

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  6. Sue Price

    Hi Louise
    This is an excellent summary of why and how to get started in social media. It is very interesting to hear that Ford has pulled out of such a high profile event to redirect those dollars into social media. It really is a sign of the times. Very exciting I think.
    Many small businesses are still yet to understand how they can use Social Media so your information here should be very helpful to them.
    Sue Price recently posted..Network Markting Today – Part 4My Profile

    1. Louise Steiner

      Hi Linda…glad you are having a blast in social media :-) Checking the impact your social media campaign is having is important in evaluating the effectiveness of any media campaign. It’s amazing how the smallest changes can sometimes have a huge impact. And forums are of course a great place to share your knowledge and develop relationships.

  7. Patricia

    Hi Louise

    Excellent summary of the importance of deveoloping social media marketing skills. For me in my small niche, I am finding Twitter to be so effective. Get to interact with my followers and those I follow. Definitely brought more traffic to my site.

    Also get to keep up with recently published posts and now I am having useful messages tweeted me and meeting some great people there. I am a regular tweetheart and although I am not really a fan of Facebook, just in the past couple of days I have been adding friends as they add me. Will probably get more active there, time permitting.

    Patricia Perth Australia
    Patricia recently posted..Lavender Product Review-The Truth- The Whole Truth…My Profile

    1. Louise Steiner

      Patricia, I think many people have a preference for either Facebook or Twitter. It’s great that you are having such success with Twitter. Although Facebook is a fabulous social networking site, it doesn’t work for everyone. Being fully committed to one site is going to be far more effective than spreading yourself thinly across several sites. Look forward to catching you on Twitter.

  8. Darlene Davis

    The fact that Ford pulled out of the 2011 Super Bowl ads is huge. It cements the relevance of social media.

    You have a wonderful ability to pare topics to their core and make them relatively simple and easy to follow. I was going to list the areas that I need to concentrate on, but alas, there are too many.

    You are setting a good example of how to approach social media correctly. Thanks for being a guiding light!
    Darlene Davis recently posted..Teamwork At Its BestMy Profile

    1. Louise Steiner

      I agree Darlene….When a company like Ford starts directing their advertising budget away from such a high profile event and puts it into social media you really have to take notice. I wonder how long it will be before others follow suit?

      Social media covers a huge array of topics, but the beauty about it is that you do not need to do all at once to create some impact. It takes time to build an effective social media presence, but every little baby step helps.

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    1. Louise Steiner

      Hey Seph….thanks for dropping by and your comment. I totally agree with you that any social media marketing strategy needs to fit in with the overall objectives and goals of the company. What I find fascinating though is the shift we are seeing away from traditional marketing methods, in favour of social media. It will be interesting to see how things evolve over the next few years.

  11. squidoo lens

    Hi Louise,

    Thanks for the post. I know social media very much I don’t know how to do marketing by those. I usually read such blogs over social media marketing but still not getting it completely. I will subscribe for your newsletter to get over it.
    One more thing, the hovering ads box is quite annoying on your blog and it just distract user while reading..:)..sorry but its true.
    squidoo lens recently posted..How to choose a web development company updated Sun Jan 23 2011 3-24 pm CSTMy Profile

  12. Lloyd Dobson

    Hello Louise,

    You have a great article and I look forward to visiting again soon. When we visit someone’s blog or article we always learn something. Commenting is a viable way of showing a person you care and enjoyed your visit. The internet is like anything else in life, the more time you put into it the more you will get out of it. And most importantly always give value. What we give comes back twenty fold.

    Being a successful entrepreneur on the Internet is all about giving value if you wish for that higher lofty place called the good life. The amount of money you make will come down to the value that you offer the world, and how much you help others. The advise I would give anyone getting started in this industry or if you are seasoned, is the following:

    (1) Find a good mentor.
    (2) Become a student of personal development and life.
    (3) Always be a student no matter how successful you become.
    (4) Offer as much value to the world as possible and be sure to share your strategies with others.
    (5) Remember it’s a marathon and not a race.
    (6) Always have FUN! Stick to the above list and you will have success.

    For more information on the system and strategies that have helped me and other leaders, please visit http://LloydDobson.com

    Make today the best day of your life!
    Lloyd Dobson :)
    Lloyd Dobson recently posted..How To Build Confidence And Destroy FearMy Profile

  13. Clarissa

    This information is really very useful. Your explanations on use of social media for marketing are helpful. All things you clear very well. So these tips are very beneficial. I like your post so much.
    Clarissa recently posted..Party DressesMy Profile

  14. Marc Rasmussen from downtown sarasota condos

    I’ve been looking for this type of write up. It’s really detailed about how to start a social media marketing strategy. It doesn’t beat around the bush. Now that’s what we called an amazing post. Keep up the good work and i just want to emphasize that social media marketing would really give you massive traffic as long as you do it right. Thanks for sharing!

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