What’s the difference between social media marketing and online marketing?
One talks to their audience, the other talks down to them.
Websites, emails, and banner ads all tell you about a company, but they don’t exchange views or information with you. Social media can be a part of your overall online marketing strategy, yet it’s different in one significant way:
It’s about conversation.
I feel terrible when I see a Facebook business page that is dominated by its own haphazard marketing posts. What’s worse still, is when people have posted on its wall or commented on a post, and there’s zero sign of a response from the company. Where is the ‘social’ in that type of social media?
Here are three steps to getting it right with social media marketing:
1. Be a person.
Are you a human? Then act like one! Especially for small businesses – don’t adopt the tone of an impersonal corporation. Some of social media marketing is community engagement. Develop a personality for your business, build relationships, and start conversations.
In 7 Social Media Tips for Small Business Owners, we say: “Treat social media as a two-way street. This is so important. It’s not just shouting ad slogans, but engaging in something like conversation.”
Listen to what your friends, influencers, and customers are saying. Don’t throw advertising tactics at them; they’re smarter than that – and they deserve better. The idea of a community is to expand it, to help people by solving their problems, and to manage issues.
3. Add value.
Content is key here. Your blog posts, status updates, and tweets should make a contribution to the ongoing discussion. Don’t chime in on others’ posts just to get some views, and don’t post anything controversial just to get engagement. Plus, incessant self-promotion doesn’t get you far.
But what about the ‘marketing’ part?
Social media marketing is still about interacting, and it’s still about creating and maintaining (business) relationships. Yes, you want to create awareness about your brand and gain new customers, but do this in a human way. Prove to everyone why your business is important; give them something to show for it.
I’ve been talking a lot about being human in your social media efforts. HOWEVER: there is a limit. Never go the other extreme and get too personal on online networks.
How much is too much? That’s determined by your business. Do you have a small group of dedicated clients, or countless customers from every walk of life? Are you an established company that delivers high-quality products, or are you a start-up that’s finding its footing?
The familiarity with your audience might depend on the answers to the above questions. But to make sure that you don’t cross the line, read these specific tips.
Just be careful about every single thing you publish online. It’s crucial for your business reputation. Also, if mistakes happen, apologize for them. You’ll find that people are more accommodating when you’re open and straightforward.
Apologizing also makes the difference between a robot and a person; and with social media marketing, you’d rather be the latter.