Marketing your business through social media is critical to the success of your brand. In fact, social media marketing is no longer an option for businesses looking to promote their brand, products and services—it is a must.

Social media also is critical to SEO ranking. In her article, 10 Things You Have to Know about SEO & Social Media in 2016, Dee Stephens says that the relationship between social media and SEO rankings involves much more than creating and posting great content.

It’s about promoting that content so that it achieves the results we are looking for.

Unfortunately, many businesses today aren’t quite sure what they are looking for. Thankfully, Stephens’ article helps you to better ascertain what you need from social media as well as how to get it. She touches on topics such as why you need more than a social presence to increase your SEO ranking; the importance of post optimization; and the fact that SEO and social media are both considered to be inbound marketing techniques.

Stephens concludes her article with a healthy dose of realism.

As we move into 2016, it’s important that businesses’ and brands make allowances for social media, content marketing and SEO in their marketing budgets, and have these disciplines implemented in their business this year, as without these things working like a well-oiled machine, I fear those left behind in 2017 will stay behind.

If you own your own business, a strong social media presence is a must. Too often, however, small business owners find themselves spending so much time managing their social media sites, they begin to wonder if it is really worth the effort.

Social media has become complex. Each social platform has more features and the learning curve is steeper. There are hundreds of ways to use social media for business, but not all of those ways will work for every business.

Here are some tips for saving time on social media:
  • Target and master a couple of platforms, rather than dabbling in many. Social media has become complex. Each social platform has more features and the learning curve is steeper.
  • Focus on the platforms your customers spend the most time on or that fit your industry. The 80/20 rule applies here. By focusing on just two or three, you use your time efficiently and you’ll have a bigger impact on the platforms because you can learn more about how to use them.
  • Measure results – but only those that count. Pick a few metrics that directly impact your business. For example, track which types of posts get the most click-throughs to your product pages or lead capture form. When deciding which metrics to track, ask yourself: how does this benefit my business?
  • Schedule posts, set up brand alerts, and continue to try out new approaches.
  • Consider outsourcing social media management.
At GoLeads, we help businesses manage their social media sites every day. This allows our clients to concentrate on their core businesses while we make sure their business has an active and engaging presence on social media.

While many business owners are leery of handing off their social media management, it is important to remember that they still have ultimate control. The key is to pick an experienced firm that will be able to quickly get up to speed on your business and will require the least amount of hand-holding.

Small businesses with tight budgets are understandably cautious about where they invest their limited marketing dollars. This leaves many business owners wondering if they are better off skipping the costs of investing in a website and instead concentrating only on social media.

What many business owners do not realize is that a website can be as simple or as sophisticated as their budget dictates. And even if you start with a very basic design, you can build on that design as needed or when more marketing dollars become available.

Many people believe that they can make up for not having a website by increasing their social media presence. While the best case scenario would be to have a website and a social media presence, if you must make a decision between the two, a website is in almost all cases the best way to go.

Social media is appealing to businesses with very little money to spend on marketing because social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, are simple to set up and are free. Further, they allow businesses to engage with their customers without worrying about the overhead of a website.

The problem with diving into social media with no website to link it to is that you are at the mercy of the social media provider’s terms and conditions. You also have few options when it comes to layout. Further, the fact that social media sites encourage back and forth means that you may have people posting things on your social media accounts that you do not want posted.

While developing a website costs more to create and maintain than social media, it is well worth the effort. Here are some other advantages of a website for your business:

  1. In today’s digital world, savvy consumers are leery of businesses that don’t have a website. Such businesses are seen as behind the times.
  2. You own your website. Unlike social media sites, you can personalize even the simplest website to make it uniquely yours.
  3. You have space to market your business and obtain sales leads. You can include videos, customer reviews, testimonials, and promotional offers on your website without worrying about meeting your social media provider’s terms and conditions.
  4. While a website requires an upfront investment, it can actually save money in the long run. Many customer service tasks can be taken care of on the website, reducing your overall operating costs.
  5. Your business will be open 24/7.
  6. You can expand your customer base – exponentially. Billions of people are on the Internet every single day. Without a website, you have little chance of connecting with them.

It is always difficult to decide where your marketing dollars would be best spent. Creating and maintaining a website is one decision that is almost always in the best interest of your business.

 

Many businesses fret over how they will respond to negative reviews or customer comments on their social media sites. The truth is, even responding to positive feedback or simple questions can be challenging. After all, you are basically engaging in a public conversation and that can be difficult.

You don’t have to be a social media guru to know that the absolute worst thing you can do on social media is to ignore someone who is reaching out to you. Remember, these are customers and sales leads. When someone makes a concentrated effort to contact you, you must respond. This includes questions, compliments, or complaints. So how do you best respond in these three instances? Here are some tips:

Questions

We all know how to answer a question. It gets a little dicey, however, when there is no clear cut answer available. Maybe someone is waiting for an item that is backordered and they are wondering why it is taking so long. Since this may take some time to research you can’t be expected to provide an answer immediately. What you are expected to do is to acknowledge the question immediately. Let the customer know that you are looking into it and then provide regular updates. Even if you don’t have an answer, people want to know that you received their message and if it takes some time to find an answer, they want updates to know that you haven’t forgotten about them.

Compliments

Responding to compliments about your service or product or anything else having to do with your brand is imperative. If someone took the time to compliment you and you fail to acknowledge it, what does that say about your business? Be sure to thank that person for the compliment and let them know that you value their business. Such interactions will keep these customers engaged with your brand.

Complaints

Even if you believe a complaint or negative comment is unwarranted you still need to take the high road and acknowledge the problem. You then need to apologize that this person had a poor experience. It also is important that if a person complains publicly, you respond publicly so people who saw the initial complaint know that you handled it. By keeping it all out in the open, you are getting the message across that you take complaints seriously and always do your best to make things right.

Social media interactions can be difficult but they are essential to building brand equity and keeping customers engaged. And it is important that you don’t drag your feet when responding. Studies show that people who engage a business on social media expect at least an initial response in less than an hour.

Today’s many social media platforms make engaging with customers and prospects easier than ever. Unfortunately, this fact gives many business owners the mistaken impression that social media marketing is a simple undertaking. In truth, getting your target audience to engage with you on social media is no easy task.

In her article, 10 Laws of Social Media Marketing, Susan Gunelius tells us that social media can dramatically increase a company’s following. But like anything else, what you put into your social media marketing strategy is directly related to what you will get out of it.

If you publish amazing, quality content and work to build your online audience of quality followers, they’ll share it with their own audiences on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, their own blogs and more.

This sharing and discussing of your content opens new entry points for search engines like Google to find it in keyword searches. Those entry points could grow to hundreds or thousands of more potential ways for people to find you online.

At GoLeads, we tell our customers that the more accessible and inviting a company’s social media marketing efforts seem, the more hard work and strategizing actually went into those efforts.

Your social media strategy should always keep in mind the audience you are trying to reach. For example, if you are looking to attract investment bankers, your posts should contain information that specifically speaks to that audience. And fluff copy isn’t going to do the job. After all, these professionals know their industry inside and out and won’t waste valuable time on content that doesn’t bring something new to the table. Gunelius’ Law of Value talks about this:

You must add value to the conversation. Focus less on conversions and more on creating amazing content and developing relationships with online influencers. In time, those people will become a powerful catalyst for word-of-mouth marketing for your business.

Producing quality content takes a lot of time and a great deal of research. And it’s important to remember that it takes patience to achieve social media success. Therefore, don’t get discouraged if it takes longer than you expected to gain traction. When it comes to social media, slow and steady really does win the race.