October 29, 2013 | By:

The New Rules Of Social Media Marketing

Alright – huddle up, brands; it’s time for some tough love. If you want to win in social media marketing, you have to keep up with the ever changing rules of engagement in this often ambiguous game of real-time consumer communication. There are a few tactics that, while only casually discussed a year ago, are now accepted norms and standards for utilizing social media successfully. If you’re not ready to hit the field with these practices in place, you’re likely setting yourself up for a loss.

Go Big or Go Home

Small social media programs have little impact, and that’s all there is to it anymore. There’s a minimum number of hours that must be dedicated to your social media strategy and execution every month in order to realize any real growth potential. The reason for this is found in all of the research and analysis that lies under the surface of each truly effective post that goes out, each response that’s written, and even the organization for the timing of both. Social media is not just about posting updates; it’s about engaging with the right users, in the right manner, at the right time. So how much time does this take exactly? It’s hard to say, and varies by each industry and brand, but don’t be surprised if you find that 20 hours a month just skims the tip of the iceberg that is your brand’s marketing potential.

Ads and Contest Are a Must

Ads, contests, giveaways, sweepstakes … all of these services cost a little extra. However, they have become a minimum standard for any brand that truly wants to compete for social media superiority. Building your fan base is the first step to creating an effective brand advocacy community that willingly engages on a regular basis. Second, social media sites have fully embraced your need to utilize them, and have done a great job of programming your ability to engage with other users in a way that incentivizes spending on boosted reach through ads. Third, because sweepstakes and contests are now a norm in social media, yours has to stand out to get noticed. This requires using applications that allow your entries to be visually stunning and user-friendly, and the most effective features are generally only part of paid access to those applications. The good news is that all of these resources have very cost effective options, so you’ll get bang for your buck!

Utilize User-Generated Content

When it’s done right, leveraging user-generated content beats traditional marketing and advertising every time, particularly with up-and-coming generations. If your fans are already sharing their love of your brand through tweets, pictures, or posts, why not share that with the world? This method accomplishes two things: real testimony and incentive for fans to increase such activity. While you can’t use this content for paid advertisement, the world of social media is a fair game playground for sharing public content. In fact, it’s quickly becoming a user expectation.

No, You Won’t See All of Your ROI

It is what it is. You also won’t ever see a direct link for the return in investment for every newsletter, billboard, good Yelp review, or even in having a customer service phone number that lets you speak to someone in America. It’s there, of course, but we can’t measure all of it. At Ilfusion, however, we do have effective methods of analyzing both the solid and the fuzzy of what makes a social media program successful.

Intuition and Strategy are Key

When opting to hire a professional social media strategist like those at Ilfusion, you’re investing in talent and experience. While your niece probably has the ability to use a business Facebook page, a professional strategist has a background of effective writing, public relations principles, crisis management, strategic analysis, platform best practices, legal issues and workarounds, and an overall “been-there-done-that” expertise that is hard to come by and always pays off in the end.

Be Patient!

The best and biggest social media programs can take a couple of years to build into the active community you want. Even Coca-Cola had to execute an effective strategy to ensure that their online communities built quickly to match their true fan base. Just because someone already likes your brand, doesn’t mean they’ll automatically like your page. You have to guide them there, and that takes a while. Think about the restaurant you last visited and enjoyed – when you left, did you jump on your phone to like their Facebook page? Probably not. But if your server asked you to, and even offered an incentive for doing so, that likelihood skyrockets. This principle can be applied to any industry and part of the strategy we form for clients includes how to make this happen.

The bottom line is, you can’t just grab a ball and run on the field if you want to reap any reward. You can always enjoy a round of flag football with your friends, but that won’t win you any rings. Anyone can buy a football and anyone can start a social media account, but are you going to play around or play to win?

If you’d like to know more about effective social media marketing strategy and what it can do for your brand, contact us today.

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