Social media and content sharing platforms
No one has ignored the strong expansion of social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter, but how can these channels be used for marketing? Like blog articles, they can help promote your brand name, increase your thought leadership level, and drive traffic to your blog or website. Most of them offer more or less the same thing: a flow of posts, each containing a title, a photo, and perhaps a couple of paragraphs of additional text. That helps, as the same content can be pushed out to the different social media channels with little modification.
Since it takes time to write a lot of content, my advice is to simply push out shortened versions of your blog articles on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. That way you get a reasonable exposure to the benefits of these marketing channels, at little effort on top of writing your blog articles in the first place. Some marketing automation systems and social media management tools can even do this automatically.
In addition to these well-known social media sites, there are also content publishing platforms that act like social media sites to some extent. These include YouTube for video sharing and SlideShare for publishing presentations.
Facebook is the number one social media by far, with its 2.4 billion or so monthly users (Number of monthly active Facebook users worldwide), and it can be considered the biggest meeting place in the world. Naturally, Facebook can be a great place for marketing, though it is better suited for marketing towards consumers rather than to businesses. A local coffee shop or a company selling ecological child food will likely be more successful using Facebook marketing than a company selling ball bearing lubricants for industrial use.
The first thing you ought to do before you start a Facebook page for your business is to spend some time visiting the pages of other companies. In particular, study those of your competitors, those of related businesses in your industry, or any other company you admire. Like the blog, you should try to write a Facebook post a couple or several times a week.
In addition to using Facebook for organic marketing using posts people may read, like, and share, you may want to consider paid advertisement on Facebook. There are different ad types to consider:
– Send people to your website
– Increase conversions on your website
– Boost your Facebook posts
– Promote your Facebook page
– Get installs of your app
– Increase engagement in your app
– Reach people near your business
– Raise attendance at your event
– Get people to claim your offer
– Get Facebook video views
Facebook adverts can be targeted by criteria such as location, age, sex, relationship status, education, and more. You can also target Facebook ads based on interest or behavior.
You can also upload your leads database to Facebook. If one of the email addresses in your database is connected to a Facebook account, then you can target ads only to those Facebook members who are already in your leads database.
Twitter is the fastest moving of the social media channels and has approximately 330 million users (Twitter stats), and so is a lot smaller than Facebook. Twitter is like Facebook or your blog in that you can post (“tweet”) messages and a photo. Unlike the blog or Facebook, a tweet can only be 140 characters long. Not much for a marketing message that needs to contain a link to your website!
Luckily, there are some tricks. For example, if you want to promote your new blog article by sending a tweet with a link to it, you can shorten the blog article title to something with the same meaning. You want all your tweets to contain a link to your website or blog, or else the purpose as a traffic generator is lost. But with the 140-character limit, how would you fit long URLs linking to your blog posts or web pages? The trick here is to use a URL shortener.
A URL shortener is an Internet service that takes your long URL link and creates a working copy of it with a much shorter length. There are several free services offering this. The most well-known is probably Bit.ly. By pasting a long URL into the Bit.ly website, you will get a completely different and much shorter URL back. The example below shows a link before and after Bit.ly URL shortening:
To summarize, Bit.ly and similar sites can shorten long URLs so they are easier to use in your social media outreach. Use the shortened and obscure version if you are squeezed for space, as is the case with tweets.
You can also buy paid advertisements on Twitter, either to promote a tweet or promote your account to get more Twitter followers. With a promoted tweet, you pay to get a tweet displayed in people’s feeds. With a promoted account, you pay to get more followers. Twitter enables targeting by some demographic parameters, as well as keywords. For example, you may target Twitter members who have posted or interacted with tweets containing a certain text.
LinkedIn is primarily a social media channel for professionals, with approximately 630 million monthly users (LinkedIn Stats). Like Facebook, companies can have their profile page on LinkedIn too, but a LinkedIn company page can also have a separate section (a “tab”) for product information.
A LinkedIn company page has a home page with company details, a photo, and news flow. There is a “Page insights” tab with statistics on page views and visits, and other insights tabs providing more detailed statistics.
LinkedIn visitors are usually more career oriented than those on Facebook and Twitter, and your profile page, content, and news flow should be more formal to match that. LinkedIn Ads is a paid advertisement solution on LinkedIn.
While not a social media channel as such, YouTube is a tremendously successful platform for video sharing owned by Google. YouTube has over two billion of monthly active users (YouTube Stats) and is the right place if you want your videos published to the general public. Users can search for keywords and YouTube will present a list of available videos relevant to that search phrase.
Videos published on YouTube are publicly available and do not generate any leads because they are not gated. But there is nothing that stops you from publishing a video on YouTube (for brand building, thought leadership, and traffic generation purposes) and the same video on your website with landing page protection (for leads generation). Visitors to YouTube or your website are unlikely to notice the same video is available elsewhere with different access protection.
Videos can make great marketing assets. For example, videos of educational value can include interviews, training videos, recorded webinars, or product demo videos. A video can record you or someone else talking in front of a webcam (or a smartphone these days), or it can show a narrated PowerPoint presentation or a recorded product demo.
When recording the video, make sure there are no disturbing background sounds (such as trains passing by), and if you record the computer screen, embarrassing popup notifications should be disabled. Make sure the videos include a call-to-action driving traffic to your website. In particular, do not end the movie with a black frame. Instead, add a call-to-action.
If you produce multiple videos, you can create a YouTube channel (it is like a playlist) that helps your viewers to find your other videos. If visitors get interested in the videos you publish, they can register with YouTube to get a notification email when you release additional videos. You can also tag your movies with certain keywords, helping people to find your movie should they search for those topics.
A company that leverages YouTube exceptionally well is Molecule-R, a Canadian company selling equipment and food additives for Molecular Gastronomy (a modern and advanced type of cooking). Molecule-R has published a large number of exceptional video tutorials on how to cook using their products. Search for “Molecule-R” on YouTube to see what I mean. No doubt their beautiful cooking videos on YouTube help generate a lot of sales for them!
Paid YouTube ads are short videos that play before other videos start. They can also be promoted in video search results or beside other videos. You can define which search keywords or demography of visitors should trigger your video ad.
SlideShare is similar to YouTube in that it is primarily a content sharing platform. As the name suggests, it is designed for sharing presentations. SlideShare is owned by LinkedIn, and claims to be one of the top 100 most visited websites in the world, with 80 million visitors every month (SlideShare Stats).
You can upload presentations and other documents for public sharing. Supported file formats are PDF, Microsoft Word and PowerPoint files, and the OpenOffice equivalents. Once uploaded, the documents become searchable and browse-able. You can embed SlideShare hosted presentations into your web pages and blog articles, thus making those documents browse-able right on your own website.
Add clickable calls-to-action (hyperlinks) to your presentations to drive traffic to your website, blog articles, or landing pages. If you have no other ideas for calls-to-action, drive traffic to a landing page offering the reader a download of the presentation as a high-resolution PDF (in this case, switch off the default SlideShare behavior of offering unguarded PDF downloads).
SlideShare can be used for leads generation, as it can show custom designed leads capture forms. You can define where and how the registration forms should appear in your content.
Similar to traditional social media sites, SlideShare allows viewers to “like” presentations and “follow” content creators (i.e. you). You can see who shares your content, where visitors come from, and what search terms brought them to your presentation.
Some marketing automation systems integrate with SlideShare, such that captured leads are automatically transferred into the leads database of the marketing automation system.
Social media management
Managing and monitoring many social media channels concurrently may be impractical and time consuming. Hootsuite is a tool you can use to publish on many social media platforms simultaneously, and let you engage with people across all your social media accounts through a single dashboard. Hootsuite also includes social media monitoring and analysis.
Marketing automation systems often include social media management features too.
This post focused on how to use social media marketing for organic traffic generation and paid ads, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and SlideShare.
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