If you’re spending thousands of dollars on AdWords and banners (or anything else that might be considered conventional ‘conservative’ marketing) but are doing nothing to boost your social media reach, you’re doing business wrong.
Plain and simple.
Sure, I could sugarcoat that and say that you’re definitely getting some traction from your spending (and you are), but, in the end, I would be doing you a disservice. The fight for customers has long ago left the conventional arenas of the past. Whether we’re talking about retail, manufacturing, B2C, or B2B - social media has a huge impact on everyone’s customer base, their leads, and their sales.
Anyone with a smartphone and a TV is exposed to up to 5,000 ads in a single day. Is it any wonder that banner and text ads are largely ineffective - or at least, not as effective as they were several years ago? On the other hand, everyone (and their dog!) is present on various social media sites. They provide people with an open venue where they can comment and rate various brands, products, and services - in addition to liking and commenting posts from their friends.
And that’s exactly what they’re doing. Close to 88% of people will read unbiased reviews on social media sites before they set foot in a local brick & mortar store or open their wallet to spend their hard-earned money. What this means is that just being out there, interacting with those people, can make a huge difference for a business.
I can help you with that. These 5 tips, which are easy to follow and implement, will help you boost social media reach and engagement. The end result will be increased interactions, better engagement (like knowing exactly what your customers think and want), and, ultimately, more leads. All that and you’ll be spending an equivalent of a lunch for one (or less) on any given day.
Offline Events Are A Social Media Opportunity You Can’t Ignore
Too often, companies fail to utilize their offline events to direct more potential customers toward their social media channels. How often do you think of ways you can make those events benefit your social media presence in the long run? I’m guessing it’s rarely, which is a shame since there are certainly events you organize or attend regularly.
Some examples would be:
- Trade shows
- Association events
- Speaking engagements
- PR events
- Point of sale locations
There’s more of them, of course, but you get the idea. Next time you’re organizing or attending a trade show or an event, think of a gimmick that would get people to follow you on social media, post pictures or comments, and interact with you:
- A cool VR experience in your booth
- A photo opportunity with your mascot
- Live video challenge
The sky’s the limit here. Heck, if you don’t have a mascot (and you probably don’t), hire a group of cosplayers from the Marvel Universe - everyone wants a picture with Thor and Wonder Woman! You can tie those activities to a giveaway, creating a contest for the best picture or video on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and whatever else you’re using.
Giving away free stuff (even in your stores) can also be a great incentive for people to like and rate you on social media. A very crude example would be giving a leaflet with a coupon code for 20% off on the next purchase, which features some of the best Facebook comments and reviews your business has - a sort of a ‘What Others Say About Us’ type of thing. This could nudge people to offer up their own two cents about the company.
Or, you can offer a free upgrade in exchange for a review - a smartphone repair shop could give away a screen protector mirror foil to all customers who like or rate their Facebook page while their phone is being repaired. However, keep your local rules and regulations in mind when offering incentives for reviews because it can be tricky (and illegal) sometimes.
Social Media Monitoring Tools Are Essential
Why are they essential?
Because if you can’t measure something, there’s no way you can improve it. Keeping an ear on the ground is absolutely crucial. There are several reasons why it’s vital that you know what people are saying about you:
- Using positive feedback as social proof
- Tracking brand growth on a specific platform
- Finding your best brand promoters on a specific platform
- Finding complaints and negative feedback and reacting on time
Here are a couple of tools you can use, depending on what you’re looking for:
- Hootsuite - manage all your social media accounts in one place - schedule posts, cross-post, and have access to an array of analytical tools that will make your social media marketing laser focused. Hootsuite packs all that and more.
- Sprout Social - a tool that allows you to manage everything social, from customer care to mentions and interactions. Easily identify conversation opportunities, schedule tweets, posts and images, and measure your performance across the board.
- Mention - a simple tool that allows you to monitor your brand, your products, and your competitors on social media. Simply create a new alert and add keywords and nothing in the social sphere will ever slip by you again.
Make Use of New Technologies - Beacons and Chatbots
I think it’s fair to say that the technology today is moving forward at an outstanding pace. If we don’t embrace it and implement it into our business practices, we’ll soon be overrun by competitors that were not so short sighted.
And that brings me to two relatively new technologies which should, nonetheless, be at least partially familiar to everyone in the marketing business - beacons and chatbots. While fresh and still not completely explored (in terms of social media and marketing in general), both have their uses so let’s look at them briefly.
Beacons are small devices that operate using bluetooth and send out packages that are then picked up by smartphones that happen to be in the close proximity to them. The technology behind them is pretty interesting - check out this video by PulsaTehq’s Patrick Leddy to learn more about it.
How can beacons help you boost social media reach and engagement?
I’m glad you asked. Although primarily used by retail businesses to collect and disseminate customer data (time in store, most popular products, and things like that), beacons can be used for far more than that.
First of all, you can advertise your beacons to draw customers into your physical locations. Simply post on your social media that promotions and discounts can be found in your stores by using an app and strategically placed beacons that will give information about products and prices. You now have a valuable post that will potentially get shared and get you foot traffic and sales.
Another, more ingenious use of beacons, lies in using them to encourage or even automate social media posts by your customers. For example, a beacon placed by the entrance of the store can (with permission) automatically do a social media check-in. Another good idea is to use beacons to prompt customers to publish a photo on Facebook or Instagram if, for instance, they are trying on a product, such as shoes or sunglasses. These actions can be incentivized with a small discount but don’t necessarily have to be.
Most of us are familiar with chatbots as a customer care tool. However, the technology requires only a little bit of fine-tuning to become extremely valuable for boosting your social media reach. Almost every platform uses chatbots to some extent these days. I’ll keep things simple and focus only on Facebook here, for clarity sake.
So, what exactly is the Facebook Messenger chatbot? It’s a programmable sequence that can be used to reach a lot of Messenger users at once. It’s scalable and can be triggered by responses, behavior, or something else.
Remember, there are four goals you’re hoping to accomplish with social media marketing:
- Build an audience
- Build awareness
- Generate leads
- Generate sales
Messenger chatbot allows you to work on all four in a single platform, easily and without complications. Here are a couple of ideas on using Facebook chatbots to boost social media reach:
- Generate lead conversations - a comment on a Facebook post can now be tailored so that it triggers a message directly in the Messenger app. Once there, people are more likely to interact with it as it’s a slight pattern interruption and not as invasive as email marketing.
- Content distribution - once you have permission to contact people through Messenger, sending your content there is a piece of cake. You can send a short video or a poll without the whole setup that was previously required - landing pages, email sequence, or similar.
- Giving heads up - if you’re preparing a live stream or a live video, you can now notify people in advance and trigger what is known as ‘live stream stacking’ - more people watching and commenting on your video while it’s live, which will boost your social media reach and engagement.
Content Is Still Important
Or, dare I say it, content is still king. As horrible as that is starting to sound, it holds true even after three years of hype. What you post on your social media channels will determine your appeal. Some general rules are:
- Be on point and newsworthy as much as you can
- Be transparent and open - faking it is not ‘making it’ in this case
- Know your audience and their needs like the back of your hand
Anything you post should easily pass those three hurdles. On a more actionable note, I do find that some types of content tend to do better than others:
- Posts featuring powerful visuals - an image speaks a thousand words, on any social media channel. This Buffer post is almost two years old but still valuable when teaching that lesson - their image posts received around 18% more clicks than posts without images.
- Targeted (informed) content - not informative, informed. As in, you actually did your research and know what your audience wants to see. You can easily get this information by running a poll or even using Messenger chatbots to gauge interest.
- Funny/thought-provoking/inspiring content - people are more likely to share and engage if you make them laugh. Don’t do it all the time - it might hurt your brand image - but an occasional light tone won’t kill you. Going against the current (as in, challenging the norms) will also get people’s attention - just make sure you have the evidence to back up your claims and don’t play the devil’s attorney just for the sake of an argument.
- Giveaways and contests - by far the easiest way to get people fired up. They will share, comment, like, and tag their friends with impunity - all for a chance to win something. Make use of that and you will quickly boost your social media reach and engagement while spending (usually) less than you do on a business lunch.
Word of advice - stay away from overly controversial or political topics. Unless you know your audience really (and I mean REALLY) well, these types of posts can backfire. So, however funny that new Trump-inspired GIF is, passing up on it will be the smart move nine times out of ten.
Consistency Is Key
A solitary tweet won’t get you anywhere. Neither will posting sporadically on Facebook, giving chatbots a 3-day try, or checking your social media tools once in a blue moon.
Either commit - or just quit.
The effort to boost social media reach should be a conscious one - a part of a well-thought out, long term marketing strategy. Only once you’re fully investested and pushing the envelope will you see:
- More reach - more and more people checking you out on social media
- Better engagement - people participating in your online conversations
- Impactful interactions - interactions that go beyond mere likes and comments
Once you get to this level you will start transforming your social media followers into active participants of your story. They will start spreading the word and some of them are likely to become true brand ‘evangelists’ - which is a dream come true for every company!
Boosting Social Media Reach and Engagement Takes Time - It Also Pays Off
Social media marketing has to be one of the cornerstones of your overall marketing strategy otherwise, you are missing out on a huge chunk of potential business. It doesn’t matter if you’re B2B or B2C; if you’re selling shoes or advanced software - your customers are online and that is where they are looking to find more information about their potential purchases. The Internet is full of social media marketing success stories - make sure your story becomes one of them.