Liam Veitch

In my opinion businesses generally overcomplicate social media. By looking too far ahead; toward the holy grail of realising the true pounds-shilling-pence value of a social media follower, SMEs overlook the fundamentals, the foundations that lay a path to that success.

To most this post may seem basic, headslappingly’ obvious but you’d be surprised at how few businesses truly build up solid foundations. This sows a seed for boredom and dissatisfaction with the campaign further down the line. So here goes, the 5 most overlooked foundation pillars of social media marketing.

1. Invest in content
Social media represents one of most targeted, most transparent and most cost-effective ways ways the way to communicate with your ideal audience. But you can blow that opportunity in a heartbeat if you do not engage each and every passing social visitor.

The key here is to make it count; to invest (time or money resource) in content as the fuel for your social output. Way too many people overlook this fundamental item and that’s why I am putting it out there. Content in the form of blogs, videos, press releases, ebooks or whitepapers can help drive updates on social media.

Quick tip 1: 
If you don’t have a blog, then please please please get one. Believe me it will make the creation of social updates a whole lot easier, especially when tied in with foundation pillar 2. If you are low on cash & skill resource use a service like Elance – you’ll be able to get a consistently-styled blog in a subfolder of your current site, on WordPress for less than $150.

Quick tip 2:
Think video is difficult & expensive? You can bootstrap the whole process by using your iPhone (Record in HD video) prop up the phone and plug in a lavalier microphone (£23.95 from Amazon) and you are pretty much away!

2. Automate & Schedule
The next most overlooked element is tools. If you are managing a campaign with several social profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and others then it just makes sense to combine all those platforms, right? Well you’d be surprised at how many businesses battle through updating each in turn.

This can easily lead to burnout and inconsistent upkeep. TweetDeck and Sprout Social do the job perfectly well. Sprout Social is probably a better all-round management tool, starting from $39 p/m.

TweetDeck is free but both of the platforms allow you to schedule tweets in the future. With tools at your disposal you can put time aside on a set day to schedule your “baseline” tweets for the week, then add to these to increase overall volume utilising great browser extensions enabling you to tweet on the fly when you uncover good content from around your niche.

As a good rule of thumb, 5-10 updates (Twitter) is a healthy number to start building an audience, Facebook a little less but the point is that TweetDeck, Sprout Social et al allow you to schedule your future updates, enabling you can go onto your other duties if you’re juggling social media with an already busy schedule.

You should appreciate that social media is a slow burner (nothing worth having comes easy) and it should be an additional arm to your existing marketing output.

Quick Tip:
Maximise your content reach; Sprout Social allows you to tweet one update at several points into the future, so you can have one post to distribute on a Monday, on Thursday, Friday and the next two Mondays after that. This tip in isolation is worth investing in tools – helps you get maximise eyeballs to that one piece of content and more importantly maximises your time.

Click here to view my post on time management

3. Make the most of your business profiles
Fortunately the days of pink flashing ‘pimp my profile’ Myspace profiles are behind us but do not underestimate the power of design & usability within your social profiles. LinkedIn just brought out a company page; invest in it. Facebook have just released a new company profile page design; invest in it, likewise Twitter. The time investment you make in populating your description on all platforms, your imagery and so on will enable you to engage with otherwise passive social visitors which ties in with point one. The trick here is to maximise everything at your disposal to help you convert visitors to your social profiles into fans & followers.

4. Social ads are cheap – set them to work
LinkedIn and Facebook have excellent profile-targeting capabilities, yet you’d be surprised how few businesses use these to their advantage. LinkedIn, especially if you have a B2B audience is very powerful and for B2C Facebook takes some beating.

Taking LinkedIn as an example, you can now pin down your ads to specific job titles in your locality, so show your ads for your accounting software only to credit controllers in the Manchester area. The sweetener in the deal is the cost – billed on a cost per click basis – grab site visits from as little as $1.

Remember these are finely targeted so almost guaranteed to be qualified.

5. Integrate your platforms with your site
You need to ensure that if you are working hard to build an audience on Facebook or Twitter, you give your website visitors a chance to get in on the action. There are too many businesses that operate the two sides almost independently.

You have a website which is doing a good job; pushing content via blog then you have social media profiles doing good jobs posting relevant industry niche updates, nurturing your audiences.

If you combine the two, by having your latest tweets and/or a simple Facebook like box the power of the two is multiplied – allowing a gateway into the conversation from your website.

Social media can be at the heart of your marketing strategy and has the power to multiply the volume of inbound leads by a figure of 10. So it pays to get the 5 foundation pillars in place to ensure – if nothing else – that your efforts are not wasted and you are maximising your time and marketing feel-good factor.

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Liam Veitch

Posted By Liam

Liam heads up the Production Team here at Tone (amongst other things). Connect with Liam via @toneliam or Google+ Liam Veitch