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A beginner’s step-by-step guide to social media marketing

Posted on October 08, 2015 POSTED UNDER:

Content Marketing, social media marketing

THREE THINGS YOU’LL GET FROM THIS ARTICLE:

1.How (and why) to get people back from Facebook to your website

2. Who to search for on social media

3. Two bits of software we’ve tried and can recommend for pre-scheduling your updates

 

Social media marketing is a holy grail for some people right now. Many companies are pouring money and time into chasing engagement, likes and clicks. There are apps you can buy which will look for tweets or posts featuring your keywords, and automatically ‘favourites’ them. And if you think it’s all a bit silly, remember, compared to social media, your website is a ghost town.

 

You can look at Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the others as places where people share pictures of their food, or holiday selfies. But there is another way to look at them: as competitors to Google. According to one report, the top eight social networks drove more than 30 per cent of all traffic to websites. By comparison, major search engines (like Google and all the others) usually account for around 40 per cent of all traffic.

 

Why you should take social media marketing seriously

You see, social media (like Google) isn’t just about keeping up with your friends. It’s also a place where people discover (and share) information. Think about how many articles pop up in your Facebook feed.

 

And Facebook is the gorilla in the social media room. Facebook has 250 million users. To picture that, imagine the Melbourne Cricket Ground, filled to capacity. Then imagine putting ANZ Stadium and Allphones Arena beside it, both full to capacity. Then imagine duplicating the three of those, so you have six stadia all up. THEN repeat the process in every local government area in Australia.

 

So if you want people to visit your website, you have to start where the people are. Half of that time and effort should be spent on search engine optimisation (as we explained in this post). But the other half should be spent mastering social media.

 

Renting your social home

This is not a license to get the folk on the front desk surfing Facebook all day. The reason you want to be thinking about social media is to let a wider group of people know about what’s on your website, and what you’re blogging about. You want to use social media to draw people back to your site, where you can capture their email address.

 

Once you have their email address, you should be sending them a regular email newsletter, as I wrote about in this post.

 

So before you follow the next steps in this guide, you’ve got to have some basics in place. You must have a blog on your site, and you must be updating it regularly. It’s also a good idea to have a plan for what you want to do with these contacts—do you want them as patients or customers? If so, it’s a good idea to have a plan that moves them from social media, to your site, through your site, to your front door.

 

Then your next step is to rent your patch of social land.

 

Choose your social media

Although Facebook is massive, it’s not the only place where you can have a social media presence. Twitter is also popular, as is LinkedIn among professionals. Instagram and Pinterest have large followings in certain demographic groups. Wherever your customers are, that’s where you should be.

 

If you have a primarily professional customer base, for example, then LinkedIn may be an appropriate forum for you. If your business is tied closely to your local community, then Facebook might be a better bet. If your focus is on cosmetics, you may find an appropriate home in Pinterest or Instagram.

 

You want to get this right because people use the different media for different things. If you’re posting friendly messages and cat videos into LinkedIn, for example, you probably won’t get much of a reaction. You may want a presence on a couple of platforms, although you can spread yourself too thinly. It’s often best to focus on one or two.

 

The most important thing is you don’t go charging in there, promoting your business.

 

Instead, take a deep breath and head into step two…

 

Join groups

Think of social media as a party or networking event. It’s not enough to turn up. To get the most out of it, you have to mingle. Facebook, Google +, Pinterest and LinkedIn all let you create or join groups.

 

Plenty of companies create groups to promote their products. The problem with many of those groups is you don’t want to join them, and nor does anyone else. Who wants to walk into a room only to find people shouting at them to buy stuff?

 

So find a group where your potential patients are, and join that. It may be a Facebook community group, or a LinkedIn group dedicated to looking professional.

 

If you can’t find a group, it may be worth creating one. If that’s your plan, invite everyone you know on that social platform to join it. As the moderator of that group, you control what goes in it. So you don’t have to worry about it getting hijacked by someone else, or turned into some social spamfest.

Once you’ve settled into a group, you’re ready for step three…

 

Talk and listen before you promote

The key to using social media successfully is realising it is social. That sounds very simple, but a surprising number of people don’t get it. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of lurking on social media. But if all you do is lurk, you’re wasting your time.

 

You might find at first that you ask questions or make comment to people who don’t respond. You can feel a bit silly, but persist. If someone goes to the effort of posting something they will probably be thrilled that someone else has seen it, read it, and either added a comment or asked a question. And even if they don’t respond straight away, they will remember you. And others will see you interacting, and know you’re not just there to sell them stuff.

 

Now you have the hang of how people are interacting on the social media platform you have chosen, it’s worth getting some software help for step four…

 

Schedule your posts

You are primarily using social media to get people back to your website, where you can capture their details. Your plan to do that is to post up links to articles from your blog, which will hopefully interest readers enough that they’ll leave the social media site and come over to yours for a read.

 

But remembering to schedule a post every day or every other day can be a real pain. Much more convenient is to use software like Hootsuite or Coschedule, both of which allow you to pre-schedule social messages you are planning to send out.

 

We’ve used both (and there are plenty of others too) and they both work really well. Hootsuite gives you more options in terms of monitoring your social accounts, where Coschedule has great analytics and a calendar-style interface which makes it very easy to use.

 

By scheduling a lot of your social media posts up front, you are broadcasting your knowledge and advice to the world of your patients or followers, and if they like it, to their friends, family and acquaintances too.

 

So now you’re interacting, posting and promoting like a social media champion, your next step is to maximise your reach.

 

Buy ads

Many of us have many connections on social media. So it’s easy for your message to get lost in a stream of messages that come through. On top of that, if you are trying to use Facebook as your primary platform, the reach of businesses has dropped since that company changed its algorithm.

 

The reality of social media is it’s sharecropping. You are building an audience within someone else’s audience, and that someone else is either Facebook or Twitter or whoever the relevant company is. It’s very difficult to extract good information from these platforms as to who your followers are. Your only way of contacting them, often, is through the platform.

 

So to reach outside of your existing social circles, the platforms encourage you to buy an ad.

 

The good news is, social media ads are frequently much, much cheaper than ads in local newspapers or elsewhere. It’s a great, cost-effective way of expanding your reach. And unlike traditional print ads, you get what you pay for. The amount you pay is based on the reach you want.

 

How to take the next step

Now you have the process to follow, you might think, “I need to get some software on my website that will help me capture those patient details”. That would be wise. Luckily, we have a post on our website here which tells you the top WordPress plugins we use to do that kind of stuff.

 

Or you might think, “I wish they had done a step-by-step guide like this to optimising my blog for Google and other search engines”. Luckily, we did, just last week. Here’s a link to it, and you can use that post and this one to work out how you’re going to get your content found.

 

I dare you to disagree

If you disagree with anything I’ve said here, please feel free to leave a comment. We do read them and comment back, and I’m more than happy to discuss it with you.

And if you like what you’re reading, why not sign up for more of it? Fill out the form on the right hand side and we’ll send you our monthly newsletter with three original articles on either content marketing, content strategy or content production. Feel free to use them to make your content, and your content marketing, better and more effective than ever before!

 

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Rob Johnson

Rob is the co-founder of Bite magazine and Vet Practice magazine. He writes and gives talks about content marketing, and leads a team of good-looking and stylish content folk from their Sydney HQ.

# Content Marketing, social media marketing

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