How I SUCCESSFULLY Integrated Social Media into Content Marketing

Integrating social

Social media plays an important role in supporting your content marketing plan.

Today, I’m sharing some of the things I’ve personally learned about implementing a social media plan as an intern for Shari’s Ink.

Choosing the Right Platforms for Your Business

We can’t stress enough that if you’re just starting out and don’t have the funds to hire a social media manager, you should start with a maximum of three platforms. Make the most of your social media plan by choosing the social sites that are best suited for your business.

  • You can never go wrong with Facebook and Twitter; they’re user-friendly and make it easy to promote your message.
  • LinkedIn is good if you’re trying to market yourself to other businesses.
  • If your business is more visual or active, consider going with Instagram, Snapchat or Periscope.

If you need more help deciding on your three social platforms, see our breakdown of each one in our Social Media Series.

Managing Social Media

Just like a blog or any other part of your business, you need to plan to write and manage your social media posts.

  • Use your editorial calendar to plan upcoming social posts.
  • Post to your social sites two to five times per week.
  • Write your posts a week in advance.
  • Schedule your posts a couple of days in advance. You can use a scheduling tool like Hootsuite to make this process easier.

On average, you should look at investing about five hours per week into your social media plan.

Growing Your Following and Driving Traffic to Your Website

To get more followers and website traffic, try applying some of these pro tips to your social plan:

  • Create and share engaging content. Engage your audience by asking questions, inviting them to interact with your brand and writing posts around shared values. You should also share links to your quality blog posts to increase clicks to your own website.
  • Be relevant to your business goals. Your followers want to know what’s in it for them. If you’re not being clear about what your business does, they aren’t going to care about your posts. Let people know how they can benefit from your services.

For more information on how to grow your following, see our “8 Tips for a Successful Social Media Plan.”

8 Tips for a Successful Social Media Plan

social media tips

If you read our Social Media Series, you’ll probably remember a few of the big points made about specific social media channels.  But when it comes to developing your overall social media plan, here are our biggest tips to make sure your strategy is successful:

1. Be Strategic

Small businesses often make the mistake of trying to be everywhere on social media.  If you don’t have a lot of extra time or help, start with three channels and choose them based on your target audience.  If your business is in fashion and apparel, you’ll likely do well on Pinterest; if you’re an accounting firm, you’ll do better on LinkedIn.

2. Create and Share ENGAGING Content

If you have engaging content, you have great content.  Ask questions, make it fun and prompt your audience to interact with your brand.  If your audience shares a similar value to your product, write posts around that value.  For example, USAA provides insurance for service members and veterans, so its audience interacts very well with posts about serving our country and supporting our veterans.

3. Tie Your Plan into Your Business Goals

What do you want to accomplish with your social media plan?  Are you trying to drive more traffic to your website, build your email list or develop brand awareness?  Once you’ve decided on your business goals, you can figure out how to build your social media plan around them.  Make sure to develop specific, measurable goals for success.

4. Measure Results

The only way to know if your social media plan is working is to measure success.  All social media channels—Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest—provide analytics.  Use these metrics to analyze results, then compare them month to month, quarter to quarter and year to year.  You can then tweak your plan based on what works and what doesn’t.

5. Be Responsive

If someone posts to your Facebook page with a question OR complaint, respond to them!  When someone tags you on Twitter, favorite their post.  Let people know you’re paying attention and do it in a timely manner.

6. Schedule and Post Consistently

Not only does scheduling and consistency help with time management, but it also helps to maintain a professional appearance to your audience.  Also, Facebook takes into account how consistently active you are in its algorithm, making this point especially important.

7. Know Your Audience

When you know your audience and why they should be interested in your business, you can tailor your content to cater to them.

8. Don’t Be a Salesperson

Be sure you’re not only focusing on you and your business.  Create content that makes your audience feel welcome and ask yourself “what’s in it for them?”

Do you have a great social media tip to add to the list?  Tell us about it in the comments!

Social Media Series Part 5: Facebook

Facebook

It’s the last installment of the Social Media Series and we’ve made it to the second social media king, Facebook!

In today’s world, it’s rare to come across someone who isn’t on Facebook.  It’s an easy way to stay in touch with friends, family and even your favorite businesses or brands.  With a Facebook business page, you can share your company blog, news articles about your business or other content that relates to your business.

The Basics

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  1. You can start a business page by selecting “Create Page” from the drop-down menu in the upper right corner of Facebook’s website.
  2. Choose the option that best describes your endeavor and fill out the information as thoroughly as possible.
  3. You now have a Facebook page for your business!

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Some Practical Facebook Tips

  • Don’t be a salesperson. Remember the 80/20 rule—20 percent of what you post can be about your business while the other 80 percent should be about your audience. You can sell, but be social. That’s the whole point of social media.
  • Know your audience, engage and be relevant. Share content that will start a conversation with your followers.
  • Don’t write novels for all of your posts. The only reason you should ever have a long post is if you’re telling a story.

Using Facebook as Your Business Website

Don’t do it.  We see this all the time—you click a link to a business’s website and it takes you to their Facebook page.  There are many things wrong with this, the most important being that you don’t own your Facebook page; Facebook does.

You should never make your primary website on a site you don’t own because you don’t have control over it.  Instead, use your Facebook page as a platform to reach current or prospective clients and drive traffic to your website.

Is Facebook Right for Your Business?

Not unlike Twitter, you can’t go wrong using Facebook as a starting point for your social media plan.  Just remember—you shouldn’t get on Facebook to serve only yourself.  Your followers want to know what’s in it for them. If you want to keep them around, it’s your job to share useful and relatable content.

Also keep in mind that Facebook’s algorithm changes a lot, meaning the amount of people who see your posts is very limited.  If you want your page to get noticed, you might want to consider investing in Facebook ads.  This isn’t a complete necessity, just something to consider.

Social Media Series Part 4: Twitter

Twitter

Today we’re talking Twitter, one of the two social media kings, in the next-to-last installment of the Social Media Series.

Unlike our previous platforms, Twitter is about using your words, or 140 characters, effectively.  Twitter does have a visual aspect—you can share images, but your characters matter more than they do on Instagram, Snapchat or Periscope.

The Basics

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  1. To create a new tweet, press the feather pen icon at the top of the screen.
  2. You now have 140 characters to say what you need to say, so make them count!
  3. Use hashtags to get your tweet noticed.
  4. Tweet to someone by using their Twitter handle (@ShariLopatin, for instance).
  5. Share a photo by pressing the camera icon.
  6. Press “Tweet” and you’re good to go.

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Some Practical Twitter Tips

  • If you’re sharing links, ask teaser questions to get clicks.
  • Be an information forum. Choose who you follow and retweet their information when necessary. You can retweet by pressing the circular arrow icon below your message.
  • Share images! Being visual will help you stand out.
  • If you’re not a non-profit and you’re not promoting a cause as part of your business, don’t use hashtags that are too political or controversial. Keep it professional.

Is Twitter Right for Your Business?

If you’re really unsure where to start your social media strategy, you can never go wrong with Twitter.  Twitter is a great launching point for anyone looking to get their business on social media.

However, if you want to use Twitter to talk about yourself, it’s probably not going to work for you.  When tweeting for your business, don’t make it just about you. Otherwise, nobody will read your tweets.

Only 20 percent of your tweets should be about you or your business, while the other 80 percent should be about your audience.

Your audience wants to know what’s in it for them, and you have to show them why they should care.  To be successful on Twitter, you need to know your audience, adapt to their needs and be able to do so with limited space.  So, ask yourself and really consider, what can I offer my audience in 140 characters or less?

Social Media Series Part 3: Periscope

Periscope

We’ve made it to Part Three of the Social Media Series, and we’re learning more about Periscope!

Of all the social media channels in this series, Periscope is the newest.  It allows you to share live-stream broadcasts with your friends or the public.  It’s easy to use and can seriously improve your social media strategy if you’re in the right business.

Periscope is also rapidly growing in popularity.  According to the Periscope blog, the app, which was launched in May 2015, had more than 10 million users in August with active participation growing each day.  I’m constantly coming across articles and individual recommendations pushing the importance of getting your business on Periscope.

The Basics

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  1. Click the camera icon (second from the right) at the bottom of the screen.
  2. Write a thoughtful title.
  3. Choose your options. Change your location settings, make your broadcast public or private and choose who can chat and Tweet your broadcast. To get the most engagement, I recommend using your location, going public, opening your chat and sharing on Twitter.*
  4. Press “Start Broadcast” and share your video in real time. All broadcasts are in real time only and remain viewable for 24 hours.

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Is Periscope Right for Your Business?

Periscope isn’t for everyone.  The time commitment really depends on what you plan to use it for; demonstration broadcasts are going to take more time than small clips.  Also, unlike Instagram and Snapchat, it’s more than just visual—it’s active.

If you’re wondering if Periscope would be a good place to market your business, you should ask yourself these three questions:

  1. Do you teach others or have something to share with the public? Periscope is a great app for expanding your audience by sharing how-to videos and live webinars.
  2. Are you active or do you sell/make a product that encourages an active lifestyle? For example, if you teach yoga or sell mountain bikes, Periscope gives you the opportunity to show how customers are using your product or classes.
  3. Do you spend a lot of time working in the field or with the public? With Periscope, you can share client experiences or broadcast live from your events.

*Periscope doesn’t use hashtags or sort by category, so the easiest way for new followers to find you is to use all of these recommended settings.

Social Media Series Part 2: Snapchat

Snapchat

Welcome back to the Social Media Series!  Today we’re learning about using Snapchat for your business.

In Part One of the series, we talked about choosing the right social media channels for your business and not getting in over your head.  Before diving into Snapchat, let’s make sure it’s the right choice for your business.

Snapchat is a photo-sharing app that allows you to share photos that will delete permanently after viewing.   When I began using Snapchat, I found the app quite intimidating.  I didn’t understand its purpose and was lost by all of its features.  So, I spent some time getting to know the platform a little better.

The Basics

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  1. The app opens in camera view. Take a photo by pressing the circle at the bottom of the screen.
  2. The next screen gives you several options. In the bottom left corner, you can choose your Snap’s lifespan (up to 10 seconds), save the photo to your phone and add the Snap to your Story, allowing your friends to view it as many times as they want for 24 hours.
  3. In the top right corner, you can add emojis, text and you can even draw on the photo.
  4. Swipe right to add filters.
  5. Press the arrow at the bottom right to choose who to send your Snap to.

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Is Snapchat Right for Your Business?

Snapchat is really popular with young people.  If you have a product or service that targets a younger generation, Snapchat could be a great social media channel for your business.

However, keep in mind that Snapchat requires a serious time commitment.  You should generally ask yourself the same questions that we previously posed with Instagram.  Consider the commitment and these questions before taking on Snapchat:

  1. Does your product or service have a visual component? If so, you could share product demonstrations, customer experiences, or your lifestyle.
  2. How often do you take part in community events or work in the field? Share Snaps from these moments to engage your followers.
  3. Can you tie your Snaps into your brand to drive traffic to your website? Share relevant content that your followers can relate to.

Social Media Series Part 1: Instagram

Instagram

Welcome to the Social Media Series!  We’re here to help you decide which social media channels are best for your business.

The biggest mistake small businesses make in social media marketing is thinking they need to be everywhere.  Although social media seems like a harmless investment, it’s a serious time commitment.  If you don’t have the funds to hire a social media manager, we recommend starting with no more than three platforms.

Instagram happens to be my favorite social media platform.  I absolutely love it.  In fact, I don’t know a lot of people who don’t.  It’s a great visual way to share small pieces of your life and brand yourself or your business at the same time.

My favorite thing about Instagram?  It’s extremely user-friendly and easy to use on your smartphone.

The Basics

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  1. Take a photo.
  2. Choose a filter and edit.
  3. Write a caption and include any hashtags.
  4. Share! It’s that easy.

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What Users Like on Instagram

I spend a lot of time on Instagram, so I know what I like to see in photos as a user.

  • Bright, well-styled photos.  Dark photos just aren’t pleasing to the eye.
  • People, not just product.  We want to see people using your products.
  • Thoughtful and engaging captions.  Engage your users to get more likes and followers.

A Word on Hashtags

I read someone’s opinion on Instagram hashtags; he thought they looked desperate and clunky.  Personally, I don’t mind seeing a few hashtags as a user—they can be fun.  However, too many in one caption can grow annoying.  Try putting hashtags in the comments if you don’t want them to interfere with your content.  This way, you can hide your hashtags and still reach a wider audience.

Is Instagram Right for Your Business?

Instagram is an entirely visual platform and was not made to be “clickable” content.  This is the key point in determining if Instagram is the right channel for your business.  Ask yourself these three questions when making the decision to use Instagram for your business:

  1. Does my business offer a visual product (i.e. apparel) or service (i.e. photography)?
  2. Does my business generate a lot of public relations? In other words, do you work in the field or engage in the community a lot?
  3. Can you tie your Instagram posts into your brand, thus driving traffic to your website?

Twitter is Becoming More Visual – Are You Adapting?

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By Shari Lopatin

Once upon a time, there was a company that changed the essence of breaking news to 140 characters.

Newspapers, television stations and the Associated Press abhorred this little company, until they could no longer ignore it. Now, that company is evolving yet again, and if you don’t adapt, you might be left irrelevant.

Yes, I’m talking about Twitter. If you haven’t figured this out by now, you need to reconsider whether to remain in media.

Twitter Went to the Pics … Whaaaat?

When I first started in social media marketing, Twitter thrived off 140 characters. That’s it—words. However, within the past two years, Twitter has strived to make itself more visual.

At first, I thought the company was trying to compete with Facebook and the effort wouldn’t last. Now, however, I understand that Twitter is succeeding. While it’s nothing like Facebook, images are beginning to dominate the Twitter news feed.

Here’s a Case Study to Prove It

One of my clients is the Desert Botanical Garden. For the past couple of months, I’ve been helping the Garden’s communications team develop and manage social media content—including Twitter posts.

One day, I wrote and posted this tweet:

Good tweet_DBG

As you can see, the post received 27 retweets and 14 favorites, which far exceeded the engagement of the Garden’s other tweets.

Therefore, I decided to experiment. Whenever I posted a news story, I published an image with the link, rather than just the content. Here’s an example:

Sunset Mag tweet

BOOM! Another 15 retweets and 22 favorites. “Hmmm,” I thought. “I’m beginning to see a pattern.”

Since I started using more images in the Garden’s tweets, a quick analysis of the past few weeks showed the following results:

  • The average number of impressions per tweet increased 38.5 percent (from 412 impressions per tweet, to 670 impressions).
  • Engagements increased by 16 percent, from 102 to 121.
  • Retweets increased 55 percent, from only nine … to 20.

Keep in mind, I conducted this analysis before the week finished. Therefore, the increases will go up dramatically by week’s end.

What’s the takeaway here? Simple: use more images in your tweets. Otherwise, risk falling into the black hole of irrelevant content.

MY QUESTION TO YOU: Have you noticed this change in Twitter? How have you handled the switch?