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Preparing Your Social Media Marketing for 2013

The New Year is almost upon us, and as a part of your resolutions, you should also resolve to have a better year of online marketing. The best way to do that is by preparing different parts of your online marketing campaign for success. In this post, we’re going to look at how to prepare…

The New Year is almost upon us, and as a part of your resolutions, you should also resolve to have a better year of online marketing. The best way to do that is by preparing different parts of your online marketing campaign for success. In this post, we’re going to look at how to prepare your social media marketing for 2013.

Create and/or Update Your Social Profiles and Pages

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Now (like right now) is the perfect time to create social profiles on the top networks if you don’t have them already and update your pre-existing social profiles to make sure they are up to date. The following are the top five social networks that most businesses should have an active presence on and the key things to have on them.

  • Facebook – A Facebook page for most businesses is absolutely essential. Make sure that your about information includes your website link and is no more than 165 characters long so your website link shows up on your page itself without people having to click About. Also be sure you’ve got a great representation of your business as your timeline cover photo and you are regularly posting status updates direct to Facebook so it doesn’t look abandoned.
  • Twitter – Twitter has been beefing up their business appeal, from new profile designs to advertising. Make sure that your profile includes your targeted keywords in the bio, a website link (preferably both in the bio and the website field itself), and that you’ve updated your design with the new header photo.
  • Google+ – While Google+ may not have the search power that they did before, they are becoming an even more powerful platform with more Hangout features and the new communities. Be sure you have a page for your main business (or a local page for your local business). A bonus would be to have as many people in your organization on Google+ with personal profiles in order to follow your business page as well as claim Google+ authorship on posts they make to the company blog. Make sure each of these pages and profiles include keywords related to your business (especially in the tagline) and that they link back to your business’s website.
  • LinkedIn – If you haven’t already set up a LinkedIn company page, be sure to do so. If you have, then you’ll want to take advantage of some new features that have been implemented this year such as the banner images and variations for products & services. Encourage employees to create their own professional profiles and participate in Groups and Answers to gain more visibility for themselves and your business. And be on the lookout for the new design for professional profiles coming out soon.
  • Pinterest – In case you haven’t heard, Pinterest is slowly rolling out new accounts just for businesses. They simultaneously changed the TOS for personal accounts that now states you can’t use a personal profile for marketing, so if you have set up a Pinterest account, make sure to convert it to business. If not, create a business account and stay tuned for the new features they plan on making just for businesses.

Are there more great social networks out there? Definitely. You can see a variety of social networks categorized by type and niche on KnowEm. If you and your social media team have the time to try out more, definitely give them a shot but otherwise, make sure you have an active presence on the top social networks.

Create a Social Media Content Strategy

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Photo Credit: SocialMediaOnlineClasses.com on Flickr

Speaking of active presence, social media is not a set it and forget it thing. In order to keep building a strong social following, you’ll have to provide great content on a consistent basis. The best way to do that is to create a social media content strategy. This should include:

  • Who is in charge of social media content. Not only do you need to decide who in your organization will be responsible for creating social media content and updating your company’s profiles, but you also need to make sure they know who to talk to in each department about they types of things that need to be shared on your social media. For example: sales may have a new promotion, support may have a new tech manual, the blog editor may have new posts, HR may have a new job ad, and so forth.
  • How often you will update each social network. Generally speaking, people will expect to see more updates on Twitter than Facebook. You’ll need to evaluate your own audience and other factors like the best time of day to send updates.
  • What types of updates you will send. While you can only update Pinterest with images, variety is always good on other networks, especially Facebook where the type of status update directly correlates with the amount of engagement it will receive.
  • What tools you will use to send updates. When it comes to Facebook I always suggest directly updating through Facebook itself in an attempt to beat the Facebook EdgeRank algorithm. For other networks like Twitter and LinkedIn, you have a variety of options beyond directly updating on the network itself such as HootSuite (which also works with Google+ pages) and Buffer.

Also keep in mind the golden rule of social media updates – 80% should be about things that will interest your target audience. 20% should be about your business and direct marketing / sales updates.

Get Engaged

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Social media is not just about strategic updates. It’s also about building and managing relationships. The person / team in charge of your social media should also be in charge of keeping up with social interactions. This includes:

  • Replying to Twitter mentions and direct messages. While most direct messages are spam (and some mentions too), it doesn’t mean you can ignore them as legitimate messages can come through frequently.
  • Replying to posts on your Facebook page’s wall, comments on your updates, and direct messages. Make sure you and your admins are not missing out on these interactions by going to your page’s settings (Edit Page > Manage Notifications) and turn on onsite notifications (and/or emails if you prefer).
  • Replying to comments on your Google+ updates. They may not happen as often, but don’t forget about your audience there either.
  • Replying to comments on your Pinterest pins. Again, they may not happen as often, but it’s good to let your Pinterest audience know you care.

Aside from replying to the people who have directly engaged with your social profiles, you’ll also need to monitor those talking about your brand without talking directly to you. This includes:

  • Monitoring mentions of your business on Twitter. You can do this by setting up searches for your business name and unique products on Twitter itself or on HootSuite. If you want a full Twitter relationship management tool for more than just brand mention monitoring, also check out Commun.it.
  • Monitoring mentions of your business on Facebook. Facebook has a search that will pull up public posts, groups, pages, and other areas of Facebook where people might be discussing your business. It’s definitely wise to search for your business now and again as some businesses have entire groups dedicated to them (and not in a good way).
  • Monitoring mentions of your business on Google+. Just use the search box at the top of Google+ and then use the dropdown to filter by Google+ posts.
  • Monitoring mentions of your business on LinkedIn. Updates on LinkedIn are going to become even more important when the new profiles roll out. Use their onsite search for your business name and filter it by updates, Answers, or Groups to find discussions about your business.
  • Monitoring Pinterest pins from your website. Using the URL http://pinterest.com/source/domain.com/, you can see any images people have pinned to Pinterest from your website. Let your fans know you appreciate the pins by thanking them! Also don’t forget your subdomains like http://pinterest.com/source/blog.domain.com/ as these results will come up separately.

Try Targeted Advertising

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Need more fans, followers, or engagement? Want to drive more traffic from social media to your website? Be sure to try targeted advertising. Out of the top networks, Facebook is great to reach the masses as it is the largest social network and LinkedIn is powerful if you offer B2B products and services.

The keys to saving money and getting the best results? Make sure you have done the following.

  • Update your social profiles / pages prior to advertising. Otherwise you might miss out on new fans and followers because they’re not getting right impression of you.
  • Target your ads diligently. While it might be discouraging to see a potential audience of millions drop to just a few thousand, the goal of advertising isn’t so millions of people can mindlessly click on your ad and cost you money. The goal is to get a targeted audience to click on your ad – an audience most likely to become a lead or customer for your business.
  • Use customized landing pages. Don’t create ads for specific products and services, then direct people to your website’s homepage and lose them because they couldn’t navigate your site well. Instead, create landing pages specific to the things you are advertising or to the audience you are advertising to in order to increase conversions.

If you want to learn more about creating a conversion-oriented social campaign, then be sure to check out this guide.

Use Your Social Analytics

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Last, but not least, make sure your social media marketing plan for 2013 includes utilizing your analytics. Google Analytics introduced new social reporting features under Traffic Sources > Social that can help you easily see everything from traffic coming from social media networks to conversions related to your social media tracking (assuming you’ve set up Goals in Google Analytics). Don’t just blindly invest in social media – find out what networks are working best for you and adjust your social media marketing plan accordingly!

What other ways are you preparing your social media for 2013? Please share in the comments!