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Social media & business - a really simple explanation.

If, like many business owners and marketers, you keep hearing about how amazing social media marketing is but have no idea how to implement it into your business - then don't worry, you're not alone. You may also be one of the many more traditional business owners who only see social media as young people posting selfies. If this is you, the following should help to explain how social can actually be a solid business tool, not just a fleeting fad.

There are literally thousands of agencies and 'experts' out there who are telling you that social media is the magic bullet you've been waiting for. Sometimes they're right, but if you don't understand what you're trying to achieve and set very clear goals there's a good chance that it won't work for you.

Here's my basic overview explaining the various ways social media works and what each option is designed to achieve.

1. Paid campaigns - the most common way of advertising through social media. A paid campaign is essentially inserting an advertisement into someone's social feed. This is similar to the Google AdWords model in that you pay for each click. You may want people to like your Facebook page (so you can send them special offers on a continual basis) or you may want them to go to your website and purchase/sign up. Either way, this option requires a very compelling post that is targeted to a very specific audience. Let's use children's clothes as an example. If you had a sale happening on your online range of children's clothes, a post showing the great range & amazing prices (better yet a video) could be targeted to those in your ideal geographical range, who have children in the age range and are within a specific socio economic range. Importantly, paid ads on social media are a lot cheaper than AdWords, so the ROI can be very good if your ads are well written and properly targeted.

These are typically one off and not always a part of a larger social campaign.

2. Social engagement campaigns. This is a longer term campaign, designed to build an audience that is consistently engaged with your brand. A campaign like this requires plenty of planning, as typically you'll need to post relevant content weekly, or at least every 2 weeks. The reason that this type of campaign is so important is all about customer loyalty, brand recognition and engagement growth. This is why larger brands often spend so much on their social accounts, often with full time social media managers. Whilst small and medium sized business often use social media as an engagement tool, they are typically finding paid campaigns a more effective tool to drive revenue growth. These campaigns also work well for businesses with a highly social aspect.

3. Funnel developers. Sales funnels are basically models that capture a large, engaged audience and funnel them through a series of practices designed to turn them into warm leads and, eventually, clients. Social media is a very effective way of finding suitable candidates for webinars, sales presentations, seminars etc and using social discourse to help build chatter around your service. Best of all you can geo target exactly who you want to find using sites like Facebook, so for service based businesses and consultants this is a very powerful use for social media.

3. What type of content works in social media? This is the big question, as every audience differs. This is why it's so important to work out what voice your brand has and stick to this on social media. Are you funny, serious, helpful? Do you have a younger persona - using memes to help build engagement or are you an older, trusted advisor sending out videos to help your clients in their day to day lives?

I like to break content into 3 sections: Hero, Hub & Help. Your hero content is entertainment and sets your brand persona. Think of it as your TV commercial, full page magazine spread or 'flag in the sand'. Your hub content needs to continuously help build confidence in your brand and products - things like testimonial videos, magazine articles, e-books etc. Finally, your help content is all about providing free value to your audience - setting you up as a thought leader. Videos, articles and web content that helps your audience to do something for free. If you're a web design agency, this could be an article on how to get your SEO running perfectly. If you're a consultant, like me, it's blogs like this that give your audience some real, tangible information about things they often ask you.

I'd like to finish off with 1 simple rule I use when developing content for social media. Ask yourself 'what emotion or action will this achieve for my audience, and is it what they want, not what I want'. Always be customer centric, always be the voice of help and never forget that your audience started following you for a reason - don't make them regret it.

I hope you found this information helpful. If you'd like assistance in developing a plan for your business, or simply someone to develop fantastic content for your channel, I'd love to have a chat.