Social Media Marketing 101: Just the Basics for Businesses

social media_croppedSocial media marketing. Blog. Pinterest. You’ve seen these terms floating around, heard your fellow business owners discuss them…and have no idea what they mean. Fear not. We’re here to give you an education about social media, and you don’t have to tell anyone where you got the information from—just look smart using these terms (correctly):

Social media marketing
The term “social media marketing” sounds intimidating, but the definition isn’t. Social media marketing is using social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ and other social media sites to get your products and services in front of potential online customers. Ironically, though the goal of many businesses utilizing social media marketing is to get leads from social media, or get exposure for products, one of the keys to success is not to heavily sell on social media. Social media sites are all about conversations and connections, and customers are on these sites for those reasons—not to be banged over the head repeatedly with advertising. You can find other bad advice for social media marketing in our recent blog post.

Business Blog
Think of a blog like an online newspaper, with articles for customers. Like a newspaper, users flock to blogs for useful information and news—and not necessarily for the ads. Businesses can have advertisements next to the content, but the goal of a business blog should be to provide relevant, useful and entertaining information for current and potential customers. Blog articles are useful for businesses for three purposes: 1) for businesses who want to give out information on social media sites, 2) for businesses who want to get the attention of major search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo, and 3) to give your customers information they need to make a purchasing decision. Websites with new web pages (such as new blog posts) show up higher in results on search engines, and blog posts are an excellent way to attract customers with information (information that’s available 24/7) and get higher rankings.

Post
A post is referring to an update on Facebook, the largest social media site with more than a billion active users. Each Facebook user sees a list of posts in their newsfeed from other users and businesses—from friends they allow to see their posts, and businesses they ‘like.’ Though Facebook is the largest social media site, it’s not the right social media site for every business. Find out what the right social media site is for your business by knowing your audience. Where are your current and potential customers so you can connect with them? One last note: even though a business may have thousands or millions of fans on Facebook, the way to measure success of a Facebook page is the level of engagement. How many fans like your posts? How many fans are commenting on your posts?

Tweet
A social media tweet is associated with the logo of a bird, but these tweets come from 232 million active users on Twitter. Tweets are no more than 140 characters (including the url of the website you want to share), so you have to produce an attention-grabbing tweets to attract followers and give them a website to click on for more information. You can respond in three ways to a tweet: reply, favorite or retweet. If you want to ask a question about the tweet or tweet back, you hit reply. If you want to ask another user a question, type the “@” sign with the person’s Twitter name and then type a question in 140 characters or less. If you like a tweet from another user, simply click on the star under the tweet to favorite the tweet. This is one of the ways you can build relationships with other users, and they can “find” you when they are notified you favorited their tweet. If you want to share another user’s tweet, hit retweet to share the post with your followers. If you want more users to see your tweets, use hashtags (i.e. #packers or #marketing)—but know who else is using the hashtag by typing in the hashtag and phrase in the search box at the top of the screen. What’s the value of Twitter? Twitter is a great social media site to establish your business as a subject matter expert, spread the word about your products, “pull” users into your website by writing a catchy tweet and connect with potential customers and fellow businesses.

Pin
No we’re not talking about that sharp implement that pricked Sleeping Beauty. Not in this case. We’re talking about Pins on Pinterest, a social media site with a whopping 70 million users. People and businesses post pictures on Pinterest with a short description.  Eye-catching graphics are key, as well as a catchy description. Users pin photos they appreciate to their boards, which Pinterest defines as, “Boards are where you save your Pins. You can make boards for anything and everything—add pretzel recipes to your Grub board (done!), travel plans to your Going Places board, or watches and Aston Martins to your James Bond board.” So why should your business be on Pinterest? To get your products noticed and shared!  In addition, Pinterest is a great way to “pull” users into your website (which is a convenient button on each pin) because if a user is looking at your pin they already like your type of product—making them a potential customer.

One last (and very important!) key to social media marketing success: regularity. Businesses should not go into social media marketing with a half-hearted attitude. It not only embarrasses your business, but doesn’t yield the results you signed on to achieve. If you don’t have the time to post, tweet or pin for your business, hire a social media marketing firm that can. A good social media marketing firm can provide the regular updates on your social media sites—and expertise necessary for success.

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