Before we dive into the mechanics of marketing on each social media platform, it’s best to learn a basic social media marketing strategy that works for any platform. There are entire books written about “best practices” and “innovative marketing strategies” for social media, but in general it boils down to this simple three-step formula that I call the “LEO” Method. Those three steps are:
L – Learn, E – Engage, O – Optimize.
No matter what you read as you scroll through the thousands of blogs and articles and books that tell you how to create a social media marketing strategy, this simple formula is the basis of all of it. While this method is very simple, it requires some explanation to properly understand the process and necessity of each step. So, in this article we’ll discuss the first step, to Learn. In Part II of this article, we’ll cover the second two steps, Engage and Optimize. Let’s break down that first step:
L – Learn. Do your research first, and nail down your exact target market.
No matter how amazing your product or service is, you need to first do the market research to learn how to reach the people that will buy your product. It shouldn’t be a shock to you to learn that people respond to advertising in very different ways. If your product appeals to young professionals, you will market it differently than if it appeals to retired couples. This is a general rule of marketing that I’m sure you already know.
There are many ways to do this type of market research. The best way to get started is to look at what some of your most successful competitors are doing, and do something similar to that. I tell my clients all the time: When you’re learning a new skill, there’s no shame in emulating the masters. That’s how all of them learned too.
This step is particularly important for social media because the real power of social media marketing lies in its ability to send targeted advertising directly to the people who are most likely to buy your product.
For example: Let’s say you’re opening an upscale French restaurant in downtown Chicago and you want to run an ad campaign for your restaurant. Your target market is middle-aged professionals with a large amount of disposable income who live in or near the downtown area. Those people have the most disposable income and most refined taste of any demographic, so they will be the most likely to spend a few hundred dollars on a nice dinner and drinks at your restaurant.
You spend $10,000 on a 30-second ad on a local TV station that will run consecutively for a week leading up to your grand opening. Many people in your target demographic will see your ad, but in the best case scenario, they will only have exposure to your restaurant for the 30 second duration of the ad. And that’s assuming that their TV isn’t muted, their kids aren’t running around, and they aren’t staring at their phone during the commercial break.
What’s more, most of the people who see your ad won’t be in your target demographic. You can limit the exposure of your ad to the local station, so it might just play in the Chicagoland area, but every twelve year old and college student and grandma sitting at home watching that station will be exposed to your ad too. This is what makes TV advertising so expensive; it’s a blanket of advertising that covers everything in sight. Good for PSA’s and fast-food restaurants, bad for highly targeted products like our French restaurant.
It would be much more efficient and much cheaper if you could advertise only to people who are most likely to purchase your product. So you forgo the TV advertising, and instead opt for advertising via social media. We’ll use Facebook as an example.
You create a Facebook page that holds the address to your restaurant complete with interactive map, pictures of your new restaurant, a description of the menu, your contact information, and a link to your website, and a subscription button for people to join your mailing list.
Then, you take that same 30-second advertising video and put it into a Facebook ad. Facebook has a default function to auto-play all the videos that appear in a person’s “feed” (the first thing they see when they open Facebook), including the video you put in your ad. That means every person reached by your ad will automatically see your video playing, just like TV.
Here’s where things get awesome. After you create your ad, you can give Facebook very specific directives on who your ad should be displayed for. For example, you can tell Facebook to only show your ad to women in the downtown Chicago area between the ages of 35 and 55 who have expressed an interest in French cuisine. You can also tell Facebook to show the ad only between the hours of 6am and 9am, and then again between 5pm and 10pm, the hours your target demographic will most likely be checking their social media profiles.
What makes this so awesome is that through Facebook marketing, only the people who are most likely to purchase your product will see your ad, and you only pay Facebook to show your ad to those specific people. This reduces your advertising budget to a mere $20 – $50 per day, depending on the level of saturation you’re looking for. And, because you’ve already set up a Facebook page for your business, when someone sees your ad, they only have to click to be taken directly to a page that contains all of your information and any other message you might want to send to your potential customers.
This is only one example, but all profile-based social media sites (think LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest) work in a very similar matter. In later posts we will look at the specifics of each platform, but for now, know that this type of immediate conversion is possible, and it’s one of the things that makes social media such a powerful marketing tool.
In the next article, we will look at the second two steps of this method: Engage and Optimize. Remember, it takes all three of these steps to create a really effective social media marketing strategy, so be sure to check out Part II of this article.