Knowing that something is important in your digital marketing plan is different than understanding what that “something” actually does. Social Media Optimization or SMO is one of those things you need to know. The core idea of SMO is the use of social media to get your product or service in-front of the right people at the right time. This is a key step in an activated digital marketing strategy.
The intent of digital marketing is to better compete with all the content that lives on the internet, and make sure that the right content is making it to the audience that will respond the most favorably. The additional part, is to make sure the content is interesting by utilizing great text copy, eye catching digital photos, or video content. You want people to like, comment, retweet, embed, share, or organically promote your content. Getting the attention from just one person is great. When the content is shared and starts to spread, that is a win. That attention from people is the same thing that all other digital marketers are trying to get for their clients. It is hard and is not easy path to get there. It is important that to have educated SMO marketers in your corner to assure that any content that is produced, is content that is sharable and causes an action.
To assure that you are set-up to fully take advantage of social media optimization, you have to start at the beginning. Despite how easy it is to set-up your social profiles, it takes time and thoughtful execution to have social media channels work for you. Working through a social strategy helps determine the best channels and way of executing your social plan.
Social media is the current state of how most people engage with the internet and their smart devices. The Pew Research Institute found that 7 in 10 people use social media to connect. That is not just kids playing on Facebook either. The report found, “79% of internet users (68% of all U.S. adults) use Facebook and 62% of online adults ages 65 and older now use Facebook.” (Pew, 2016) Understanding social media means identifying who is actually using the social channels, and understand that this is always changing.
A social strategy will help you identify the who, when, why and what. Who is your audience and where are they putting their attention? When are the times that are most active on those channels? Why are you using social media, and what do you expect to get as a return?What content are you going to produce for your audience?
Setting up Social Media Channels
Once you figured out the strategy of the who, when, why, and what of your social strategy, it is time to start executing. There are a few core social sites that offer the most support, execution, and data tracking for their users. What works for one brand or organization is not the same thing for another. That is why it is important for a brand or company to dive into their customers, products, services, or general offerings to their audience. Understanding your audience is a major key.
Setting up a social media channel includes everything from profile pictures, bios, writing content to best describe your brand or business, images, and video. That is just the top of the list. The process of setting up a social media channel needs to have the same attention as branding your website or brand. For many people, your social channel is the first impression of the brand or business. That first impression can either mean the prospective client will either be interested and explore more, or will respond by clicking to your competitor.
It is hard to talk about social media optimization and not mention Facebook. Facebook is a beast when it comes to getting your content in-front of a growing audience. People are not just using Facebook to post pictures of pets, kids, or their food. In a 2016 report, Hubspot found that, “73% of people say they use Facebook for professional purposes.” That is people who are sharing business profiles, networking with services or brands, or sharing products or services to their friends and family. That is huge. That is marketing that you are not paying for. Many studies have shown that people are more favorable to respond or act on non-branded social postings than branded posts. The word of mouth is powerful, but social media has made it so much more amplified.
Facebook offers a very robust and powerful paid advertising platform as well. You can read about paid advertising services.
The interesting thing about digital marketing is that it is always evolving. Social channels evolve in a natural lifecycle. Don’t count Twitter out just yet. Twitter has been described as many things, but at the simplelist, it is a communication tool with prospective leads, leads, customers, and returning customers. Pew research found that about 21% of all U.S. adults actively use Twitter. Twitter is a great tool for immediate communication or real time engagement with your brand. Some big marketing moments have happened thanks to the wit of twitter users. There has also been some notable PR mishaps that have hurt brands as well. Many brands best make use of the Twitter platform by using it as an extension of their customer service execution.
You can’t be boring and be on Instagram. Instagram is a fantastic platform to visually tell the story of your brand. It isn’t for all brands, but a great fit for lifestyle and beauty brands. Instagram has a increase usage of women and men who are younger and interested in food, beauty, travel and general lifestyle experiences. Understanding who is using the channel means getting the right message to the right audience at the right time.
There are many other channels like LinkedIn, Youtube, and other that offer unique opportunities to brands. Sometimes the bigger the platform doesn’t always mean the biggest return. Brands have to find the right channels that are the best to highlight their content to their audience. The goal is to get the attention from people who are often looking at screens.
Why engage with your audience
A common mistake is for brands to just throw content up on a social channel and forget about it. The main purpose of social media is to be social. To engage with your audience and nurture them into leads and customers. Another way to look at it is to approach social channels as an additional way to move your audience through the sales funnel.
The way that the digital world has immersed itself into our day to day lives, means that there is always an opportunity. There is an opportunity to follow up with a client about additional information. There is an opportunity to talk with your audience to build credibility as an industry leader. There are many opportunities but a business or brand can not be afraid to engage or start a conversation with their audience.
No one wants to be just sold to on a continual basis. That is not interesting. That would be similar to someone just yelling at you all the time about buying their product or service. Customers are more informed now. Consumers can easily compare competitive prices of products from their smart phone. When choosing a place to eat, people can search reviews of nearby restaurants. There is truly an app for everything, and if there isn’t an app people ask social media. They ask for recommendations on social media. Is your business or brand leaving a positive tone for customers through social media engagement? You probably should.
What are you going to post? You could easily write a status update and press post or send. If only it was that easy. Brands have are competing for attention, from everyone else on the internet. Not only does your social media post have to be well written, but also include a visual component. “Visual content is 40x’s more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content.” (Buffer, 2014)
There is a lot of scrolling that happens on our digital devices. The best way to grab someone’s eye is through a really good photo or video. A visual component that supports your message and your goal of posting is what makes up a content strategy. What is the content that you need to create, and is it shareable across social media platforms. This is the way to maximize a social media optimization plan.
For example, blogging is a huge lead generator and brand awareness tool that a brand can activate. Planning that content around seasonal events, holidays, and services that you offer is a great way to plan your year. That way a brand can be responsible with setting aside time to create the content and visual assets needed to execute their social media plan of highlighting content to support their sales funnel. Understanding the best time to release content to your audience to maximize the return of the investment is all supported by a well strategized content strategy. Planning helps with successful social media optimization.
Get people to your social channel
To build a following on your social media channels takes an investment of execution and time. No one started a Youtube channel or a Facebook page and instantly received thousands of followers. It all starts with one follower at a time. That turns into a few hundred and thousands at a time. For some brands that happens quicker than others, but it is important to not get caught up in numbers at first. Are the people that are following you buying product or visiting your website? Are these people liking, sharing, or talking about your product or service?
To help build your following there are a few things your can do:
- Create valuable content
- Make sure there are visual components to your produced content
- Regular posting schedule
- Social links on your website
- Make sure the content on your website is easily shareable on social media
- Properly sized featured images are a huge asset.
You want it to be easy that the content you are sharing is good enough for one person to share to their followers, and so on.
Understand the power of data
Your social media has something that a lot of marketing efforts didn’t use to have. There is data connected to everything at some level of execution. There is one thing to just look at data to see how things are performing, and another to understand the valuable information it is giving to a brand or business.
Many times that data can help refine your demographic, pivot your sales strategy, or adjust your entire marketing plan over time. The data doesn’t lie. At the most basic analytical data is the number of likes, shares, retweets, or views that most social media channels give you. This let’s you know if your audience responds more to photos or videos. Maybe your content strategy is to produce educational tutorials over featuring product shots, and your audience responds to more with tutorials. You can make more informed decisions to adjust your marketing budget and digital marketing strategy.
Data doesn’t lie. Data gives clear information of the performance and the execution of your social strategy and ensuring you are optimizing your social media content. If your content isn’t engaging enough, easily sharable, and is not accessible on social media channels, your digital marketing execution will have some strong challenges. All the pieces of a strategic digital marketing plan work together for a reason, because the internet is so connected. Making sure your content is ready to be shared on social media is an important part to assure a brand is using social media optimization to the full potential.