Social Media Blogs by Aliza Sherman
Aliza Sherman is a web pioneer, author, and international speaker. Sherman is the author of 8 books about the Internet including The Everything Blogging Book, Streetwise Ecommerce, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Crowdsourcing and Social Media Engagement for Dummies.

10 Basics of Social Media Marketing

10 Basics of Social Media Marketing

Whether you’re new to social media marketing or you’ve been doing it for a long time, there are some basic principles of effectively communicating on social networks as a way to market your business. These aren’t rules, per se, but are ways to approach social media marketing that apply no matter what your business or who you’re trying to reach.

If you aren’t thinking about these things when engaging with your following, think again.

1. Stay on brand. If you’re marketing your company, you should have a clear understanding of what your brand represents, the image you want to project, and the tone you want to use in the way you phrase your messaging. Your brand should have a distinct "personality." Is your brand formal or informal? Serious or humorous? Emotional or intellectual. What you share in social media should always align with your brand.

2. Be authentic and transparent. The words "authentic" and "transparent" are tossed around a lot by social media marketing experts. What those qualities boil down to is being open, honest, and human versus secretive, dishonest, and overly commercial. Authenticity and transparency should be part of your brand image so you can better connect with customers and prospects and gain their trust.

3. Get to know your audience. The people who follow you on your social media accounts can be both your existing customers and prospective customers. But who are they and what do they want to hear from you? You want them to do business with you, but if you don’t understand their needs, interests, and even shopping habits, your social media messaging will miss the mark. Ask them questions and use polls and surveys to engage them and learn more about them.

4. Tailor to your audience. Once you know more about your audience, you can use those insights to craft social media messaging that is more relevant to them. By targeting specific audience segments, you can gain more attention and increase engagement. With attention and engagement, you can begin to cultivate stronger customer relationships that can translate into increased sales.

5. Plan out messaging in advance. Because social media marketing demands a great deal of content and resources to maintain an active and responsive presence, planning weeks or months in advance helps you stay organized, on brand, and strategic.

6. Customize for each social network. Like your brand, each social network has its own "personality" and style as well as specific ways its platform works. Even the sizing of the graphics that fit properly into each news feed and different sections can vary. Make note of the optimal dimensions for graphics and the tone and you want to take for your messaging to suit each network.

7. Balance scheduling with participation. Yes, you could schedule all your social media messaging if you wanted to do so - but don’t! Being present in each of the social networks on a daily basis is important to not only interact with your followers but to see what they are posting and "talking" about. Schedule key, time-sensitive posts but also post live and in-the-moment when appropriate.

8. Develop measurable campaigns. If you’re putting together a social media marketing campaign, make sure you set some parameters - duration, frequency of posts, and how you will measure success. Are you going for shares to increase awareness? Or do you want people to sign up for something, subscribe, register, or otherwise take more specific action? Build measurement into each campaign so you can gauge success.

9. Pay attention to metrics. You should be checking social network insights for each platform you use on a regular basis. Each social network provides a certain number of key metrics as do social media scheduling dashboards, URL shorteners, and other tools you might be using to produce and publish content online. Keep a record of the most important metrics to your company and pay attention to growth or attrition.

10. Do more of what is working. Knowing which posts received the most engagement or the most conversions helps you home in on the right tone, style, and calls to action for continued progress and growth.

Knowing the fundamentals of strategic social media marketing is a good starting point toward engaging effectively with your audience and seeing positive results from your efforts.

Read other social media blogs by Aliza Sherman