Successful Social Media Marketing: The Rules You Need To Know

Successful social media marketing is on every business owner’s mind today.

If it isn’t on yours, you might not understand the value that social media brings to the table.

Since you’re online and looking for tips for a successful social media marketing strategy, I know it’s on your mind.

Even the smallest companies have something to gain from being on social media.

However, if you don’t learn how to handle your social the right way, you’re going to cause more harm than help.

There are certain rules that brands have to operate within if they want their social media marketing to be successful.

While they’re somewhat broad rules, they apply universally to every social platform.

But they’re not so broad that you won’t understand what to do.

In fact, it’s clear what you’ve got to do with them.

That is, once you learn them.

So that’s where we’ll start.

Successful Social Media Marketing Requires A Definition

If you intend to create a successful social media marketing strategy, you need a few definitions.

Not knowing what you’re doing or what you’re aiming for can stop success fast.

So, let’s define things.

First, what is social media marketing?

Social media marketing is the art of engaging with your target market through social media platforms, creating connections and meaningful conversation.

Regardless of the goal or outcome of that engagement.

Remember that marketing isn’t the same as selling and confusing the two could set you up with the wrong expectations.

Marketing and selling aren’t the same things, and both fail when you treat them like they are. Click To Tweet

With that being the case, what does successful social media marketing look like?

Successful social media marketing is easy to identify.

Much easier than you’d imagine.

Any time you connect with your audience for real, you’re successful.

The connections are what determine success because they’re what create a relationship and build loyalty.

When your audience is loyal and feels good about your brand, they’re more likely to become your clients and more likely to refer new leads.

Connections become powerful channels for growth when they’re genuine and strengthened with honesty, openness, and trust.

Hence the incredible power of successful social media marketing.

Follow The Rules For Successful Social Media Marketing

Like anything, successful social media marketing has ground rules.

They’re simple to understand and too important to ignore.

Oddly, many of them seem like basic sense.

However, in many small business owners’ quests to grow, they overlook these rules.

When they do, their instinctual reaction is to withdraw from social media because they aren’t getting results.

Most of the time, when I’ve discovered a business has been unsuccessful on social media, this is what went wrong.

If that describes you, you’ve got nothing to worry about.

Recognizing that you may have handled your social media incorrectly is a positive thing.

Making changes that support results is even better.

It’s unlikely that you’ve damaged your social networks bad enough that you can’t recover.

But the first thing you need to realize is that you’re not looking for an immediate ROI.

Instead, you need to focus on gathering an engaged audience.

Successful social media marketing is about playing the long game and you need to be aware of that before you begin.

Starting with that in mind, you’ll have an easier time staying within the rules of successful social media marketing and sticking with it long enough to see the results.

Here’s what you need to do.

You Need A Plan

The first rule is kind of a “no shit” rule.

Successful social media marketing needs a solid plan.

Though it sounds like it should be obvious, most small businesses jump into social media without a definitive plan.

Right. They have no idea what they’re doing.

Yet tons of businesses invest in some form of social media marketing.

Why spend money on something when you haven’t got a plan for that money?

The answer is simple, and so is the solution.

Develop a plan of attack for your social media marketing strategy.

Answer a few important questions about what you want to do on social media.

  • Who is your target audience? Develop a complete profile on the market you want to talk to.
  • Which networks will you use? Study the stats around each network and choose the ones that make the most sense.
  • What are your goals? Each goal should relate to an objective of your business and have a way to track its success.
  • Where do you currently stand? How does your current social media situation map to the targets you have in mind?

Take this information and mold it into your new social content plan.

Consider the messages you’ll send, the type of content you’ll use, and the resources you’ll need to make it happen.

Knowing what you’re going to do and how you’re going to do it is the first step to successful social media marketing.

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Build Your Network Early

Successful social media marketing requires a network.

Not the network you’re doing the marketing on, but a network of people that will spark your company’s social media visibility.

Followers, fans, customers, and advocates are all a part of the network you need to build.

And the earlier you build that network, the more successful your social media marketing will be.

There are several tactics to grow your social media networks.

For starters, promote your social media profiles across the content platforms you control.

Include links to each profile in your email communications.

Add social follow buttons on your website.

Assure that your audience knows where they can find your brand on social media.

From there, you can begin to reach out to your customers.

Invite them directly to follow your brand on their preferred platform.

These followers will form the foundation of your brand’s ability to promote your content on social media.

They’ll also provide the added benefit of helping you determine which networks are best suited for your target market.

By building a wide network on the social platforms your audience is already on, you’ll more effectively reach new audiences.

With a greater reach and more opportunities to build connections, you’ll run a far more successful social media marketing strategy.

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Give More Than You Ask For

People don’t enjoy being sold to.

Especially when it happens from a company that they don’t see a value in first.

Successful social media marketing hinges on your ability to adhere to this rule above all.

Give more to your audience than you ask for.

The singular effective way to hang on to an audience and get them engaged on any social media platform is to give them a great reason to.

Value, be it through entertainment or education, is that reason.

Your social media content should deliver as much as possible of one or both to your audience.

“Sell-sell-sell sales methods simply do not work on social media.” - Kim Garst Click To Tweet

Social content should never feel like a commercial for your brand.

Rather than sell, focus on the ways you can prove your brand’s worth to your audience.

Show them that your content is something that can provide a benefit to them over time.

Through that benefit, you can build the connections that create successful social media marketing.

Consider what you have to offer.

Can you entertain your audience while staying relevant to your brand and product, or would it be smarter to educate your audience on your industry?

Are you capable of continuous creativity in your content, or might it be more intelligent to document your company’s process?

Don’t be afraid to try different angles until you discover what resonates with your audience.

You’ll never know what they consider value if you don’t try.

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Engage With Everyone You Can

Successful social media marketing asks for engagement.

That’s how we defined what social media marketing is.

So, it should come as no surprise that engagement is a rule.

But spend a little time looking across different social networks.

You’ll observe that many brands never respond to a single comment on any of their content.

In some cases, thousands of comments go unanswered.

Why would companies with so much feedback ignore it so frequently?

Simple: they don’t view engagement as necessary.

Behavior like that might work for major brands who don’t have to worry about their failure to respond impacting their business.

However, small companies can destroy their reputation quickly by failing to acknowledge a fan.

Cold and corporate isn’t an image that works for a small business.

When your audience has taken the time to offer feedback on your content, show them you’re paying attention.

The more you can re-engage and create conversation, the more successful your social media marketing is.

If engagement is the point, you need to do your part.

Those conversations are at the backbone of any future interaction with your audience.

They lead to successful social media marketing, which leads to earning new clients.

As Sprout Social reports, 64% of consumers want brands to connect with them.

A request that’s easy to grant.

And it’s totally worth it.

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Stay True To The Networks You’re Using

Every social network has a unique way of delivering a message.

They handle content differently and allow different types of content to be used.

There are no two social networks that operate the same way or offer the same kind of content, despite any similarities.

To create successful social media marketing, you’ve got to understand how content is best represented on each of the platforms you use.

That also means you can’t cross-post.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

With every platform comes a new format to produce content in.

Trying to share the same content in the same way across multiple platforms not only doesn’t produce a benefit but also makes your brand look cold and corporate.

Yet one more way to demolish your reputation.

Here’s a solid example that proves my point.

Would you post a picture of your company’s recent pool party on LinkedIn?

Not likely, but it will probably work well for Facebook.

Knowing where each type of content works is essential to a successful social media marketing plan.

For each platform, you’ll need to adjust your subject, format, style, verbiage, frequency, and timing.

Other benefits of the platforms that work similarly – like hashtags – also can’t be duplicated.

Just because Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook all use hashtags doesn’t mean that the number of hashtags used should be the same, nor does it mean the same hashtags will work on all 4 platforms.

Learn the language of each platform you’re on so you can get the most benefit from it.

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Know Your Brand’s Voice

Every time your brand communicates it’s developing its voice and tone.

Your ability to be intentional with that development contributes to a successful social media marketing strategy.

The audience you’re after will respond better to a brand that has a congruent voice across different networks.

So, while you develop each piece of content to fit each of the platforms you’re using, you need to remember to keep the style of communication the same.

Factors ranging from branded language to the context of the ideas you share should match across all platforms.

If your content is typically casual in nature, keep that same feeling across everything.

Even when the platform might leave you inclined to be more serious.

When a brand comes across inconsistent, the audience doesn’t know what they’re going to get.

It damages the process of building trust.

Audience comfort comes from a certain level of predictability.

They’ve got to know what to expect every time they encounter your brand.

This lets your audience know that you’ll always be the brand they’ve grown to trust.

And if they’re ever going to become your client, they have to be able to trust what that experience will be like.

Otherwise, they’ll find another brand they can trust.

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Never, Ever, EVER Do Anything That Will Cost Your Audience’s Trust

Speaking of trust, that’s something you can’t afford to lose.

For successful social media marketing to exist, so must your audience’s trust.

That’s why you can’t ever do anything that will cost it.

Trust is hard to earn for many businesses, especially online.

It takes a long time and a lot of work, and it’s hard to hold it once you have it.

Unfortunately, it only takes a small mistake to lose it.

Most of those mistakes, however, are easy to see in advance.

I don’t think I need to tell you how to avoid compromising your integrity through your own actions.

However, there are a few areas of social media marketing where those mistakes might blindside you.

You’ve got to be careful where you place your message.

More accurately, you need to be careful who you trust in delivering your message.

Brands often put their content message in the hands of other people.

Sometimes it’s spokespeople, like celebrities.

Other times, especially for small businesses, it’s through influencers and brand ambassadors.

When selecting an influencer to help expand your successful social media marketing campaign, make sure you know who is representing you.

The content they’re building around what they distribute for you can find itself associated with your brand in the wrong way.

Always assure that integrity and doing the right thing comes before any other part of your social media marketing strategy.

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Successful Social Media Marketing Is Within Reach

Regardless of what your experience with social media marketing has been, you can improve it and see success there if you follow the rules.

Understanding what to do and what will hurt your efforts will only make your strategies better.

More importantly, you’ll have a better perspective on what’s important on social media and what you’re trying to achieve with it.

If you can begin engaging in a meaningful way with your audience, you’ll know you’ve created a successful social media marketing strategy.

That’s going to create a legacy of success for your brand.

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Successful Social Media Marketing: The Rules You Need To Know

by Michael McNew Read in 10 min