September 17, 2014

Social Media Marketing and the Need for Focus

Because I write about subjects regarding social media and traffic generation, I get a number of emails from readers and visitors with questions regarding their own lack of success with social media. Several times I received an email stating that they’ve spent hours and hours working on their site/blog submitting to every social media site imaginable only to get no results, or very disappointing results.I know those that write to me do not represent every blogger and social media user, but I also know that there are plenty of others out there in similar situations. The problem is all in the approach.

I did some consulting a while back for a client that claimed to have read every article and ebook about traffic generation, SEO, SMM, etc, all with no results. She was willing to spend money and a lot of time to learn what she needed to do, but that only made her more confused than she was before she started.

There’s obviously a lot of hype around social media marketing, and internet marketing in general, so it’s easy to see where mixed advice would be a problem and a distraction. The truth is Social Media Marketing can be an incredibly powerful vehicle for creating buzz and drawing traffic to a website, but there has to be some focus. The strategy is critical. (For a great example of how social media can work with a strategy, see Mark Heyward’s post at ProBlogger, Launching Your Next Venture Using Social Media – 5 Lessons Learned.)

Mass submitting of poor quality content to all kinds of social media sites will not work. Social media is not the shortcut that many people want it to be, but for someone like my client who had been spending plenty of time working on her site, SMM could have been producing much better results with a different approach.

What’s Involved with Focus?

1 – Identify a Goal or Purpose

It’s an obvious first step, but too often it’s overlooked. Getting content up on your blog and submitting to social media should never come before the purpose. What is it that you really want to accomplish through social media? This will direct everything that you do with SMM and some major decisions that will need to be made.

2 – Assess What You Have Available

Because some time and effort is required in order to achieve real and lasting impacts with SMM, it’s important to realize what is available to you. Do you have the time and ability/knowledge/experience to create the content for your social media campaign? This isn’t going to be a one-time thing, you’ll need to produce content on an ongoing basis.

If you don’t have the time or knowledge, is money available to hire someone to do it for you or to teach you what you need to know to move forward on your own in the right direction? Social Media Marketing can either be done on your own or with some help, so you’ll need to evaluate what you’re able to do and what you need to outsource, if any.

3 – Define Your Target Audience

While keeping your overall goals and purposes in mind, establish a specific target audience for your social media campaign.

4 – Target Specific Social Media Sites

Now that you have defined a target audience you’ll want to find a few social media sites that are used extensively by that same audience. Niche social media sites can be great for getting your content in front of certain types of readers, and major social media sites will bring more visitors (if you can achieve success). In my opinion you should target 2 – 4 social media sites, ideally a combination of major sites (Digg, StumbleUpon, Reddit, Yahoo Buzz, Delicious) and some niche sites. While there are probably thousands of social media sites you can use, you’ll be spreading yourself too thin if you use them all. Pick a few that are the best fit for you and forget about the others for now.

5 – Develop Targeted Content

In order to achieve long-term and at least somewhat consistent results with social media, you’ll need to keep social media users in mind when developing content. One of the problems some people run into is that they are trying to force content on social media users rather than providing them with something that they’ll love and spread even without much effort on your part.

Creating content specifically geared towards your targeted social media audience is a must. Don’t cut time here to allow for more in other areas of SMM. Try to focus more on quality than quantity. One really good post will almost always outperform 3 or 4 mediocre posts.

6 - Be Consistently Active

Especially if you’re submitting your own content, you’ll need to be an active part of the community. Visit your targeted social media sites on a daily basis and vote for others, add friends, leave comments, etc. Basically, be a real part of the community that contributes in other ways than just submitting and voting for your own content.

The client I spoke of earlier had showed me her Digg and SU profile and she had only submitted her own content, only voted for her own content, and not added any friends. That’s taking the “social” out of social media, and it doesn’t work very well that way.

In her defense she didn’t know much about Digg or SU, and she had only set up an account because she read someone’s advice to do so and submit your content to get big traffic. One of the reasons for only targeting a few sites is that you can be a real, contributing member of the community. You need to be able to get to know the site and the community well so that you can be an effective part of it.

7 – Develop a Plan for Conversion

Once you’re getting some visitors to your site through social media you are part of the way towards meeting your goals. After all, there are more important things than just padding stats. Based on your goals for the campaign, you’ll need to have a plan to convert those visitors that are arriving through social media into something useful and valuable. Are you looking for inbound links, product sales, leads, subscribers?

8 – Evaluate the Results

Once your campaign is in progress you’ll need to be evaluating the results and making some tweaks and changes where necessary to produce better results. The results, of course, will be measured in terms of your overall purpose. If your goal is to draw inbound links, then evaluate how many links you are getting. Don’t worry that no one from social media is buying any of your products if your goal is to build links. You can move to different goals later, but first you have to know if what you have been doing has worked for your purposes.

9 – Make Adjustments to Improve

Evaluation, of course, leads to the implementation of some changes as a result of what you’re seeing. Watching stats is not good enough, you need to be adapting in accordance with what the stats are telling you.

The Results of Focus

With a focused approach you can have success with social media for virtually any type of website or blog (See Tad’s post, How Can Websites About Boring Topics Succeed on Social Media?) Without the proper focus any blog can wind up wasting a lot of time and effort with ineffective social media marketing. I’ve done some work with social media marketing that didn’t produce any lasting results, and I’ve had other work that has tremendously impacted my blog(s) and my business. The variable is the level of focus and the existence of a solid plan.

About Steven Snell

Steven is a web designer, blogger, and freelance writer.

6 comments

  1. Nice article. I’m working on a blog and need tips! Thanks

  2. Thanks for a good article, Bengt!
    I’ve tried different Social Media. The one that seems to work best for my blog is StumbleUpon. The reason is that some older posts can suddenly catch fire and produce a good run when you lease expect it.

  3. These are great suggestions for anyone writing a blog, or for that matter writing any type of marketing communication!

  4. Thanks for the article you’ve posted! Bookmarked.

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