Many business owners overlook Reddit as a social media marketing channel, but recent changes to the platform should have them all reconsidering. A complete overhaul has modernized the look and feel of Reddit’s various niche-focused forums. As a result, community members are engaging even more frequently than ever—with both posts and ads.
According to Reddit’s Zubair Jandali, their VP of brand partnerships, the platform has been engaging users at a rate three to seven times higher compared to before the redesign. Interestingly, ad response rates have also been rising. “Advertising didn’t play a role in the redesign per se,” Jandali told Marketing Land, “but we’re seeing much stronger engagement on ads by virtue of the fact the core organic experience is more engaging.”
Businesses have opportunities to engage directly with community members in ways that build brand awareness and relationships. However, they have to use the right strategy. Reddit notoriously fights against forms of intrusive marketing, and especially accounts that fail to be transparent about their business affiliations.
If you can play your Reddit marketing cards right and treat the community with respect, you can improve your brand image, open new lead sources, and subtly promote your offerings to an audience of millions.
The structure of Reddit combines an old-school forum format from the early 2000s with user-centric social media features of today. Posts are centered around text-based topics of conversation or links to popular content. Users have the option to “upvote” posts they like.
Upvoting increases the chances of a post making the front page for a particular niche forum, a “subreddit.” If a post gets enough traffic or upvotes within its subreddit, it can end up on Reddit’s homepage. The Reddit homepage aggregates posts across a staggering range of topics, which is why the company refers to it as the “Front Page of the Internet.”
After a post is made, anyone can reply with comments, and individual comments can be voted up or down to increase their visibility. Someone who says something clever or interesting, for example, might be upvoted to the top of a post. Someone who makes a bad joke or responds in a rude way to other users will get downvoted, burying their post and sometimes even leading to it getting hidden from view.
When users violate the rules repeatedly, they’re likely to catch the attention of moderators. Mods can ban users from specific subreddit forums or even have their DNS address blocked, preventing them from making new accounts. Each forum has its own set of moderation rules. Rules commonly discourage asking for upvotes, posting promotional comments or links too often (spamming), and posting content that’s irrelevant to the subreddit topic.
Individual users get notifications when they get replies to their comments or posts. They also get points based on how many votes they get, which are called “karma.” Users generally respect other users who have high levels of karma or who are regularly seen contributing interesting posts and responses.
In sum: Reddit is a place where people go to see interesting links and engage one another in productive conversations. Community members are not only highly enthusiastic and engaged, but they also take action when they see something they don’t like. This quality separates Reddit from social media channels like Facebook, where your experience is at the mercy of the platform and the sometimes nasty users that visit it.
Why Is Reddit a Good Social Media Marketing Channel?
Reddit has a reputation for its tight-knit, informed community. It remains distinctive by using community-led moderation to cut down on all the noise other social platforms create. People who don’t abide by etiquette (“reddiquette”) guidelines get “downvoted” into oblivion. This tendency prevents trolls and spammers from stealing attention or derailing conversations.
For marketers, Reddit provides an opportunity for authentic interaction with people interested in your industry niche. There are over a million different subreddits for every conceivable community out there. You’ll find professionals like photographers exchanging advice, dedicated hobbyists like golfers sharing links, and fans of just about every pop culture franchise under the sun conducting spirited debates on opinions and theories.
Business owners have two main opportunities when trying to reach communities related to their industry vertical:
Participating as a user to answer questions, share links, and generally engage with the community
The first strategy runs through Reddit’s advertising platform, making it a business activity like any other. The second strategy poses more complexity and much greater risk of alienating your community. But when brands or employees conduct themselves well and remain transparent about their affiliations, they can reap substantial rewards.
How to Not Get “Flamed” for Marketing Through Reddit
There is an inherent risk with using Reddit as a marketing tool: the community could revolt against you and ban you so fast it will make your head spin.
“Redditors are a particular community,” writes the Dreamgrow blog. “If they suspect you’re there because of marketing reasons, things can quickly turn bad.”
You may wonder: “If marketers get chased off the platform with torches and pitchforks, then why would anyone bother marketing on Reddit?” Well, the truth is that the community isn’t opposed to marketing outright.
In fact, you could easily argue that tons of subreddits are nothing but a grassroots marketing campaign. There’s an Olive Garden subreddit (r/unlimitedbreadsticks) with 8,600 members. The r/blackfriday subreddit has over 31,000 subscribers and is dedicated to giving people alerts about deep holiday discounts. r/gaming, one of the biggest subreddits at 18 million members, is wholly dedicated to discussing products people buy.
What separates the things these communities do from the more loathed version of marketing? A few things:
Product-focused communities are built around the fans’ needs, not the needs of a company that wants to make money.
The actual companies represented in these subreddits understand they have a very delicate relationship with their community.
Companies and their employees must always be transparent with their affiliations. Reddit users don’t like to be deceived even more than they don’t like being forced to participate in marketing schemes.
Each one of these principals reveals an important reality that businesses interested in Reddit marketing must come to grips with. Looking at No.2 above, the lesson is that moderators run the subreddits, not brand employees. The brands themselves only show up to answer questions or reveal information people wouldn’t find anywhere else.
If Patagonia has just started a huge ad push for their new jackets, r/CampingGear probably doesn’t need the company to make a new post telling them what they can already see on TV. Similarly, if people are asking opinions on the Patagonia brand, then Patagonia should be really careful about having someone go in and post “Yeah! The jackets are great!” without disclosing their relationship to the company. People will dig through your account to find proof that you are a “corporate shill” after all.
On the other hand, if a Patagonia rep sees the above thread and notices someone has a question about their repair policy, then they can declare “I work for Patagonia, and here’s how we repair things…” and receive a positive reception. Or, if someone wants to let people know that there’s a sale on specific high-demand items at a particular retailer, the community might appreciate the head’s up.
It’s all about thinking from the user’s perspective. If you are transparent and provide some valuable information or entertaining content, then people will warm up to you. If you try to trick them or post nothing but spammy promotions, they’ll quickly find ways to keep you from coming around.
Reconsidering Reddit Marketing in Light of the New Platform Improvements
Now that Reddit has improved its interface in ways that keep the community engaged, it’s definitely worth a look. You can depend on the platform to build audiences, generate traffic, create leads, and generally elevate your brand image in the eyes of users. You can also advertise under specific, relevant subreddits to earn clicks from people who are eager about your niche.
Be a good user, keep people’s feelings in mind, and always strive to provide value—that’s the key to building a community in Reddit that thinks you deserve all the karma you can get.
Despite being over a decade old, YouTube still acts as a ripe garden bed for audience growth. Brands looking to interact with audiences in current, relevant ways will find that video marketing content is one of the most effective methods they have at their disposal. They’ll also find that YouTube still remains one of the best platforms to host this content.
Creating a YouTube channel is therefore one of the best methods for earning traffic and engagement from audiences. By making smart moves and structuring your YouTube channel properly, your video content marketing campaigns can be poised for excellent growth. You’ll also be positioned to easily share and embed video content in order to grow your viewer base. It’s the perfect recipe for branded exposure!
You can start your business’s YouTube channel off on the right foot by following these steps to create a channel and give it the most growth potential.
1. Decide on Your YouTube Channel’s Video Marketing Positioning and Strategy
Your channel’s “position” is a name for basically everything that makes it distinctive. The idea is to not only have a channel that matches your branding principles but that can also meet your goals for audience building, lead generation, engagement, awareness and more.
The first step is to determine exactly who your audience segments will be, along with a few actions you want them to take in response to your content.
For example, maybe you are in an exciting industry like online retail for motorcycle apparel and accessories and you want everyone to come to your channel weekly for reviews and news on the latest products. Or, maybe you are a law office that wants to pop up first when people search for answers to their legal questions.
As another alternative, maybe you want to create highly shareable videos that generate brand awareness and drive traffic towards your site.
Your goals and your audience will significantly affect how you decide to run your channel, including:
Your style and approach (e.g., formal or conversational)
The format of your videos, such as an ongoing “show” vs. how-to videos vs. quick Q&A sessions
How long your typical videos will be
How often you will post new content
Who your target audiences will be, and how you intend to reach them
Your amplification strategy for getting maximum views on your new content, such as sharing new videos on Facebook or through your email list
All of these factors come together to make your YouTube channel unique compared to others. And being unique is important considering that over 400 hours of new content are uploaded on YouTube each minute. Being unique also means that your channel is as prepared as it can possibly be to appeal to your chosen audience and accomplish your chosen goals.
2. Decide on a Channel Name and Icon
Your next step is to start filling in the blanks for your new channel. Specifically: what’s your name going to be? And what image will you use for your channel icon?
These two seemingly minor things can have a gigantic impact on your ability to attract audiences. Your channel name serves as both your brand and your initial pitch to potential viewers.
You can choose a descriptive name, such as “DUI Law Q&A,” which already promises what type of content the channel will contain.
Or, you can go for a long-haul strategy and create a unique brand name for your channel that allows it to build a presence as it builds an audience. Channels like Smosh and Dude Perfect have titles that are as recognized as any pop culture movie or show.
Plenty of people choose to use their business name or even their personal name as their channel’s title. This strategy provides the benefit of immediate association. As your channel gains strength, you can rely on more people knowing who you are or what your company is, thanks to the shared name.
Once your name is chosen, decide on an icon that reads well on a small screen. Keep in mind that over half of all YouTube views come from mobile devices. You might not be able to use your logo or cram a bunch of text into your shrunken down profile picture.
Settle on something that’s easy to comprehend, such as a few letters or your host’s face. You can also use some sort of iconographic representation of your channel’s purpose. For instance, the fictional motorcycle gear review channel mentioned earlier could have a helmet or a gloves gripping handlebars.
3. Come Up With Channel Art, a Description, and a Trailer
Some channels stand just on the strength of their content. They earn views through shares and YouTube algorithm suggestions, and eventually someone might connect the dots to realize several of the things they’ve watched come from the same channel.
Smaller channels, especially business-focused ones, often come under much more scrutiny. Someone may wonder “what are these people all about?” and take a look at their channel to learn more.
This instinct to inspect actually benefits your business. When they read your channel description, they can learn how the channel connects to your brand, for instance. They might even follow a link back to your official website.
Above all else, they’ll get a first impression that helps them decide then and there whether they’ll bother to ever check out your channel again. Accordingly, your channel’s “home page” elements better make one heck of an impression!
Start with your description. It should be short, exciting, and explain exactly why they should tune in to your channel regularly. Avoid talking too much about yourself or your business unless you think those elements hold inherent interest.
For instance, a personal injury law office might not want to bore people with local peer awards they won in the precious channel description space. On the other hand, they might want to throw out a number like “we’ve earned our clients nearly a billion in injury settlements.” Wow! That’s something they can get interested in.
Consider your channel art a supplementary description of what your channel offers. Maybe you have an image of a handsome host dressed smartly next to some of the informative topics they’ll cover. Or, maybe it’s an image of an awesome project your business has completed, such as a sandwich shop showing a record-breaking hoagie.
Keep your channel art simple and readable. Think of it like a billboard you have to read while whizzing past at 60 mph; if you cram too much on there, it’s just going to be a distracting mess. Limit the amount of text you use to a dozen or so words. Balance any “busy” graphics with blank space to give them air.
Finally, you’re going to want to create your channel’s trailer. This is a video that ideally gets someone hooked on first view. Far too many channels instead approach the trailer as a show-and-tell. “Hi I’m Bob this is my channel we have many exciting things to share with you…”
Instead, think of your trailer as a highlight reel of sorts or an actual TV show trailer. Yes, you want to tell people what you’re about, but you can do that by showing rather than telling.
If you aren’t 100 percent in love with any of these elements, then let that motivate you to revisit them over time. Your channel trailer in particular will evolve as your skills, content, and familiarity with techniques improve.
Getting Ready to Launch Your YouTube Channel
After you have all the main elements of your channel in place, you will want to prepare for its launch as a sort of grand opening. Consider that this is your chance to debut with flash and gather an early audience. If they get a bad impression, you’ve sown the seeds for an uphill battle to convince them to come back.
Ideally, you will have several videos’ worth of content for them to peruse—including your channel intro. You should also have the next months’ worth of videos queued up on your backburner so that you can ensure your channel posts regularly. Channels that post sporadically tend to lose audiences. They also have a more difficult time getting visibility via suggestion algorithms compared to more-active channels.
These are just the ingredients to the recipe for YouTube success; it’s up to you to make them work! If you need help with any aspect—including content creation—do not hesitate to contact an experienced digital marketing company to ensure your YouTube marketing meets with success.
There is no official playbook for getting great social media performance. Those who succeed get there by making educated guesses, marking their results, experimenting with optimization changes, and measuring again. You should go through this process, too, but you can take a shortcut by observing what works for others.
Facebook’s algorithm is changing all the time, and even the people behind the scenes aren’t 100 percent sure of how it will affect things. That’s why they’re always tweaking it. You should always be tweaking, too. Otherwise, what gets good performance today may not be viable tomorrow.
Keeping this in mind, know that the most successful brands on Facebook are doing a lot of tweaking and experimentation for you. By observing what they do, you can get great ideas for how to improve your social media marketing strategy. What works for them may not work for you, but it’s at least a good starting point for an educated guess.
So, to help you improve your Facebook marketing success, here are four common traits between the top pages worth putting in your personal strategy book.
They Post Multiple Times a Day to Beat the Engagement Slump
The biggest challenge business pages face on Facebook these days is earning reach and engagement from their posts. To combat this trend, many of the top brands post content daily—often multiple times a day.
Then, things got even worse. Facebook retooled their newsfeed even further to obscure page posts in favor of posts from friends. The change was devastating, leading to post engagement drops as big as 96 percent.
The study also determined that the top Facebook pages all have a similar strategy to fight against engagement drop: posting more frequently. According to their data, the overall volume of posts from the top pages grew by nearly 20,000 posts from Q1 2017 to Q2 2018. On average, the top 20,000 highest-performing Facebook pages post 135 times a month on average, which averages out to just over four posts a day.
This data doesn’t necessarily mean you should go all out on Facebook posting. Top pages admittedly already have large audiences in the millions, so posting more often is more likely to lead to a significantly higher volume of views and clicks.
At the same time, while brands that post five times a day get the highest volume of engagement, brands that post less than once per day tend to get the most engagement per post. Additionally, pages that posted 10 or more times actually saw their engagement drop.
So, since your page likely doesn’t have millions of followers, the best takeaway is to experiment with how frequently you post and measure the results. You may find that producing steady streams of content can help you build audiences, but you may also decide to dial back if you discover that posting too frequently offers diminishing returns.
They’re Diligent About the Times They Post
Avoid Facebook posting to an empty room. Audiences follow similar engagement patterns throughout the day and week, meaning that they tend to log in around similar times. Your job as a social media marketer is to figure out when those days and times are.
For instance, unless you know for a fact that your audience is up at 3:00 a.m., maybe hold off and schedule that post for the next afternoon.
You can identify when your audiences tend to engage the most within your page’s insights data. You can also look to engagement data from big brands to see if their strategies work for you.
According to Sprout Social, Wednesdays and Thursdays get the best engagement, with the weekend days getting the least by far. Their data also shows that people tend to browse Facebook most heavily during work hours, especially around lunch time. Who would have guessed?
They Pique Interest Without Being Clickbait
What are the types of Facebook headlines that get the most clicks? The answer may surprise you!
In all seriousness, viral Facebook content has evolved considerably since the days of shameless clickbait headlines from yesteryear. Make no mistake: there’s still a formula to top-performing headlines, but it’s gotten more informative rather than mysterious.
Another BuzzSumo study gathered data from millions of headlines and found that the absolute best performing phrase used was “will make you…”—as in “This Video Will Make Your Heart Melt” or some similar promise. Essentially, the headline promises some sort of emotional reaction, and people really seem to bite. The phrase earned over double the engagement of the runner up (“this is why…”). The phrase also appears in self-help type content, such as “This cooking technique will make you better at barbeque.”
Taken beyond face value, the phrase “will make you…” gets to the heart of what the best content does: it’s transformative. You’re a slightly different person after consuming it because you learned or felt something. Keep this type of concrete promise in mind when you craft content for your audiences.
Put in effort, and offer audiences value to ensure their clicks lead to a rewarding experience.
They Ensure Their Facebook Page Provides a Service, Not Just a Presence
The biggest reason people don’t engage with Facebook pages (beyond having them hidden from view by algorithms) is that they really don’t have much reason to. If a brand isn’t publishing funny, entertaining, informative, or highly clickable content, people don’t just visit its page to hang out.
On the other hand, brands that offer value get rewarded. Some brands are even going above and beyond the typical Facebook offerings to help their customers out.
Starbucks, for instance, has embedded a handy maps tool on their page that helps people locate a store near them. They can also click around the map to see store hours, whether the location has a drive-thru, and other tidbits. Definitely consider this feature if you have multiple locations, or consider using it to point people to areas of interest related to your services.
The Starbucks page goes even further by sharing intriguing Pinterest content posts about coffee recipes, how to’s, and historical facts about coffee. “The goal of this integration is to keep you glued to their Facebook page,” explains Neil Patel. “You could spend hours going through every content piece here.”
Patel also provides another excellent example of a seldom-used Facebook capability: providing great customer service. Online shoe retailer Zappos, for instance, told an inquiring shopper where they could buy a particular shoe brand offline. Even though pointing the customer to a brick-and-mortar competitor could cost them a potential sale, it goes a long way towards building a trusting relationship.
Discover Your Own Winning Facebook Marketing Strategy
The brands mentioned above may have oodles more money in their marketing budget than your business, but the strategies they use are pure and simple. By identifying an optimal posting schedule, promising transformative experiences in their content, and going above and beyond with social customer service, they make an impact and keep their engagement levels high.
You may not be able to copy them and find automatic success, but at the very least you’ll be headed in the right direction. Learn lessons from others and from your own data as you experiment to ensure your Facebook marketing meets your business’s specific goals.
Internet marketing strategies can get complex fast, so it helps to take a few steps back to ensure all of the most vital components are in order.
Otherwise, you might get too focused on the details to see that your online marketing funnel as a whole is broken. Or, you might miss out on a key digital marketing practice that would be essential for earning you new leads and converting those leads to customers.
Of course, every business is different and has different needs. Some businesses may be in an industry where finding new leads through social media is nearly impossible, for instance.
Regardless of business variables like these, there are five internet marketing essentials all businesses should account for as part of their overall strategy. Even if you confidently decide that you don’t need one of them, you should at least consider the benefits it brings other businesses that you might be giving up.
A Mobile Friendly Business Website Optimized for Conversions and Easy Information
Your business website is the absolute foundation of your internet marketing strategy. You may think that your business model can do without a website because of all the services offered by platforms like Google, Facebook, and Yelp.
The fact of the matter is that your website backs all of these other elements up. Your website is also one of the only internet marketing environments where you have complete control. Google or Facebook could decide to delete your business profile tomorrow with nary a warning, and you’d have to fight with them to find out why they did it and how to get it back.
Your business website also acts as a cornerstone that reinforces all of your marketing channels. If you want someone to discover your local business through a voice search, for instance, having detailed information about your hours, services, and products increases the chances that the searcher’s voice assistant pulls up accurate information.
Most businesses also think of their website as the final point of conversion. You can create landing pages that people arrive at from your email marketing or social media campaigns. Since these pages are nearly 100% customizable, you get to control the impressions of your business the visitor gets and influence their desire to convert.
Tips for an Effective Website:
Think carefully about how to make navigation intuitive. Google mentions site layout and your navigation hierarchy above keyword use in their own SEO guide.
Express your brand but don’t make your website noisy or cluttered. Usability requires a layout that’s easy to interpret visually and that doesn’t cause eye strain or mental fatigue.
Treat your home page like a landing page. Think about the absolute most important information a customer would want to know first then fill in details and support your claims efficiently with a few pieces of social proof as evidence.
A Strategy for Ranking Your Website on Search Engines (SEO)
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the marketing practice of engineering your website content to increase your website’s chances of appearing near the top of search results.
According to a recent study, the number one search ranking position earns around twice as many clicks as the number two. Once you reach position six, you start receiving clicks from less than 3% of the people who see your search result listing.
Put even more bluntly: People will have a really hard time finding your business if you aren’t ranked near the top of search results.
Once you have your overall site in order, download Google search console, Google Analytics and Bing Webmaster Tools. These platforms will help you analyze your site and track metrics for stats like website visitors, how long they spend on certain pages, and other valuable decision-making data.
Only after these technical details have been dealt with should you start to worry about content and keywords. Your goal for using keywords is to signal to search engines and to audiences that your content is relevant to what they’re looking for. So if you’re a hardware store in Sacramento, your website should say phrases like “hardware store in Sacramento” or “Sacramento hardware store,” and related phrases, at least a few times on each major page.
Don’t overdo it! Spamming keywords is more likely to lead to a search penalty, pushing you further down the ranks. Write naturally and try to help guide people rather than trick search engines.
A Social Media Presence
People spend a lot of their online time within social media apps. Businesses able to cultivate a community on these apps – or at the very least have a searchable presence – stand a better chance of being discovered by potential customers.
Just as important, many people may look on social media platforms to research your business. They may want to read reviews, look at other people’s comments, or see something like your hours without having to leave their favorite social spaces.
Social media can also strengthen the backbone of your content marketing campaigns. Every article you write can be shared on social media, and you could also use social platforms to broadcast promotions, contests, or announcements.
When using social media as a marketing tool, we strongly suggest that you lead people who click on your links to a specialized landing page. This strategy ensures they won’t get lost or forget where they were navigating after the click.
More Social Media Marketing Tips:
Post on a regular schedule a few times a month so that people will come to depend on your content.
Interact with your followers and engage them when possible. For instance, you can ask a related question when posting new blog content to encourage responses.
Set goals for social media marketing beyond likes and follows. For instance, track how many people click on your links to promotions or content.
An Active Blog
Business blogs are a vital component of your SEO strategy. Search engines like to index fresh content, so if you’re home page was last updated in 2010, they may rank your site lower than a more recent one.
On the other hand, if you have an active blog that publishes weekly, you can send recurring signals to search engines that your content is current and relevant.
Avoid thinking about your blog as another advertising channel. Instead, it should be a helpful resource for visitors. Blog about topics that introduce them to important industry concepts. Or, give them a convenient list of tips. Always offer value, but follow your blog posts up with a strong call to action.
Email marketing offers your business a reliable channel to stay in touch with customers and leads.
For instance, if you offer a really helpful and informative e-book, the typical person might download it and never think about your brand again. But if you ask them for their email to send it to them directly, you can also have the chance to follow up with a drip campaign that nurtures their interest in becoming a paying customer.
Using email campaigns can encourage a past customer to make repeat purchases. By sending them exclusive offers tailored to their interests and their purchase history, you can develop a relationship and inspire loyalty.
Email Marketing Tips:
Receiving too many promotions and messages is the #1 reason people unsubscribe. Try to limit your campaign emails to one to two times a month, not counting contacts like order confirmations.
Think carefully about your subject lines. A good subject line can dramatically raise your open rate, while a bad one could get you flagged quickly as spam.
Make your emails brief and to the point. If you have something more in-depth to say, direct them to a landing page.
Try to make emails feel personal, as if they’re sent from a specific business employee, not a faceless company brand.
Nice to Have: Video Marketing
Video marketing requires a larger budget than most small businesses care to muster, but the results truly do speak for themselves. 81% of people say that they were convinced to purchase something after watching a brand’s video. Also, 95% of people say they have watched an explainer video to learn more about a business, product, or service.
Your video marketing strategy can start small with live Q&A sessions, short recaps of your most popular blog posts, or a quick explainer video of your most important products/services. You don’t need a million dollar budget to make an impact! You just need to focus on meeting your audience’s needs in a format that few people can resist.
Combine All of These Internet Marketing Essentials Into a Complete Package
Focus on strengthening each of the above components individually and then strategize for ways to tie them all together into one strong, effective package.
These days, people flock between more media channels than ever. By having a strong website, an engaging social media presence, an SEO ranking strategy, and a method for communicating effectively through email, you can catch people on any and all of the channels they inhabit.
For a small business, gaining steam on social media is undeniably an uphill battle. You have to contend with algorithms that make it nearly impossible to get discovered until you achieve a certain level of visibility. This situation puts you in a catch-22: you can’t get anyone to view your content until you get engagement, which requires views!
Nevermind the fact that social media overwhelmingly prefers silly or opinionated content—two things that really don’t gel with the average business’s branding. Sure, you can gain thousands of shares by posting ridiculous cat videos, but there’s a slim chance all that attention will aid your business goals.
Following this logic, people on the internet spend the majority of their time looking at social media apps on their phone. While Google Search is another top app—meaning SEO is also critical for businesses—social media is by far the most common way people discover content. Consider that two thirds of U.S. adults say they get their news from social media.
Put simply: if you aren’t on social media, you will have an incredibly hard time gaining brand recognition for your business. You will also have a tough time getting attention for your laboriously crafted content.
So how can you climb uphill to earn engagement and, eventually, legions of fans? Start by following these six tips below.
Talk About Your Audience, Not Your Business
No one logs into social media to talk about you! Okay, that may be an unfair exaggeration, but our point is that most people enjoy social media because it’s all about me, me, me.
You should use that tendency. Instead of talking about your business, talk about your industry in a way that people can relate to. Suddenly, you’re not just promoting. You’re conversing. Or, you’re informing. Sometimes, you might even be commiserating.
Here’s an example: consider a post written by a local dry cleaner that says, “Our new powercleaning process can bust the deepest stains! Come in today and mention this post for $5 off.”
While the offer may be tempting and the service may be useful, people may tune them out. Instead, the business can say, “Got a piece of clothing hiding in your closet because you can’t remove a stubborn stain? Bring it to us! With our new powercleaning process, your favorite outfits can find new life. Get $5 off your service when you mention this post!”
The difference is all about perspective. When you write content, don’t just subtly hint at relevance to your audiences. Instead, write things for them that subtly steer them towards your business services. Flipping your thinking around can be a quick path to more consistent conversions.
Cover Interesting Industry Topics Rather Than Just Your Brand Alone
Another way to branch away from overpromotion is to be a font of news and information for your industry. A restaurant can discuss exciting new culinary movements. A healthcare provider can offer self-care tips and the latest studies on which health practices are most effective. A local gym can share stretches and exercises people can do at home to start feeling better.
When done right, this content earns your audience’s interest without your business appearing like it wants something in return. You also round out your subject matter pool to include topics that are universally interesting and helpful to people in your target market.
Participate in Discussions in Groups and Trending Hashtags
What if your brand were a really helpful person? That’s the approach many of the most successful social media marketers take when they’re trying to build an audience. They get proactive, reaching out to target audiences in the social niches they occupy.
For example, the same hypothetical dry cleaner mentioned above could join laundry and housecleaning groups. As long as they are not overtly promoting or stealing focus from other discussions, the business can become a valuable contributor to the group. After all, who better to offer expertise than the experts?
When building your initial audience pool, try to be very active in Facebook groups and public discussions. Avoid coming across too opinionated, but don’t be shy about setting facts straight. With enough effort, you can gain some initial followers—and maybe even customers!
Aim for Emotional Content That Tells a Story About Your Customers
Going back to one of the main drawbacks of social media marketing for small businesses: only certain types of content seem to excel on platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. These popular content categories include humorous content, content that impresses/amazes, content that sums up people’s feelings succinctly, content that isn’t afraid to state a strong opinion and content that stirs emotions.
Of all these options, emotional content can be the easiest for a small business to pin down. While getting an emotion out of your audience may seem like a tall order, it’s actually fairly hard to fail completely at it. An attempt to make a joke or be “cool” might go over like a lead balloon. Being controversial is never a good idea since it, well, stirs controversy. But no one can 100 percent fail at communicating emotion as long as they’re sincere.
Think from your heart, and start by telling stories either about your customers or related to their lives. Get to the emotional core of what your product or service offers. If you’re an event caterer, you’re offering strong memories and good times. If you’re an IT and cybersecurity services provider, you’re providing reliability and peace of mind. If you’re a dry cleaner, even you offer customers an emotion: a feeling of control over their lives and the ability for them to wear what they need when they need it.
When using a storytelling approach, start small. Highlight a customer whose day you made. Or, mention the emotional benefits of whatever information your content offers, such as information to help make people’s day less stressful.
From there, you can learn more about how to combine images and text in a way that stirs people’s souls.
Consider Gatorade’s mini film “The Boy Who Learned to Fly,” which earned the sports beverage company 15.3 million views and over 68,000 “likes” on YouTube. It told a powerful story that ranged from exciting to tragic to joyous in just seven minutes.
You may not have the budget for something that ambitious, but at the very least you can be inspired by businesses able to tell a story where they’re just a supporting character or an outside observer.
Engage Your Social Media Marketing Audience Directly by Asking Them Questions
There is probably no more powerful social media marketing phrase than “What do you think?”
Arguably, all of social media is just one big pile of people telling others what they think. When they share art or humorous content, they’re really saying, “This is the type of thing I like!”
“People like to think things through,” explains Barry Feldman on Hubspot. “They like to hear from other thinkers. Certainly, they want other people to know what they think.”
Soliciting opinions is a surefire way to get your audience talking. Try to avoid controversial topics, and moderate comments that include vulgar, hostile, harassing or otherwise off-brand statements. Having someone mad at your business for deleting your comment is a whole lot better than being the business that let someone attack others in their comment section.
The beauty of asking others for their opinion is that it can be done with just about every post. If you’re a cybersecurity company talking about the dangers of weak passwords, you can ask people for some of the worst passwords they’ve ever seen. Or, if you’re a restaurant writing about the best foods from around the world, throw in a question on your post asking your audience about the best meal they’ve eaten abroad.
Research Your Audience’s Interests and Influencers
All of the above tactics work well on their own, but you turbocharge their effectiveness by doing a little digging and documentation on your audiences. Try to identify the types of content topics they seem to be most interested in. Look at influencers they frequently interact with, and try to write content you think that influencer would share.
Above all else, write down your strategy, measure your results, and experiment to find better performance over time. The nice thing about social media marketing is that your engagement numbers are easy to track! Keep an eye on your graphs, and let your “likes” point the way to a bigger, more interactive audience.