Know Thy Enemy: Social Media Etiquette in Competitive Markets
The search engine optimization specialists of the world may not know the full extent to which socials play into SEO, but they do know that they are taken into account. Not only is social media an SEO signal, but it also offers you a chance for two-way communication between your brand and your target audience. Simply using the traditional marketing practices of yesteryear don’t quite cut it anymore. People want answers and they want them now. Deliver those solutions, in real-time, and you may just win over some new clients.
So, you’re ready to parachute into the world of social media. Wonderful! But be wary. While solid strategy and dedication can make your brand sound like the industry’s most authoritative voice, bad practice, poor planning and neglect can make the organization look like Tommy Lee Jones trying to fit in at the high school prom. While you may simply be ignored as you stand awkwardly in the corner, the cool kids may see you and laugh – totally not good for the reputation.
Don’t be Tommy Lee Jones at prom. Be Tommy Lee Jones from Men In Black – slick, confident and charismatic, without using too many words. Listen to the ForeFront Web playlist while setting up and kicking off your initial social media campaign (or before breathing new life into your old one).
Started From the Bottom: How strong is the competition in your niche?
First step? Lock down your brand name across the social media platforms and set these pages to private. Is your exact brand name taken? Don’t be afraid to add a geo-modifier at the beginning or end. Luckily, we landed @ForeFront on Twitter, but we could have went with @ForeFrontWeb, @ForeFrontOhio or a plethora of other options. Even if Facebook is the only platform in your immediate sight, snag your name on Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, MySpace … whatever!
After this, start looking around at your industry’s social sites. Who “looks” like the leader? Who has the most followers/likes, but more importantly, who’s interacting the most with its fanbase? Sure, the numbers may look impressive, but those can be artificially inflated and, if they’re not leading to conversions or conversations, what good are they? If there’s seemingly only one voice that stands out among the rest (or better yet, no real big player), then you’re in luck! This field can be dominated. If there’s a bunch of brands purveying information at all hours of the day, competition will be high. That being said, if there’s competition, there’s demand. If everything goes right, you can meet the demand and capture the captive audience.
The Man in the Mirror: Enough to flatter, not enough to offend
Scout the field. Watch what the above-noted accounts do for a bit. Take note of who they’re linking to, who’s following who, what hashtags are being used, how often they post and when they do the most. This will act as a bare bones foundation for your campaign – a little bit of direction to kick things off. And don’t be afraid to wait around for a while. You’ve already locked in your usernames – don’t jump straight in without a plan! Use this time to design your pages and make sure they’re presentable before unveiling.
While research is necessary, theft is bad. Don’t overtly steal competitors’ ideas. That won’t end well. While there isn’t a harsh penalty put in place for plagiarism within the social media community, users aren’t shy to point it out. If you find yourself in a really competitive industry, full of die-hard fans, be careful not to take too much away. Don’t post the same content or link that your competitor just pushed. Not only will you look like a copycat, you’ll be looking like second best.
It Wasn’t Me: Become the expert, but avoid slander & poor practice
The grand unveiling has taken place and you’ve gotten a few followers on your side and a few tweets under your belt. Awesome! Now is your time to start interacting. While your fanbase may be small, you have a window of opportunity by using popular hashtags. If you ask questions, with the right tag, you’ll get organic response from others searching the hashtag. Retweet, favorite and respond to these folks to signify conversation. If this makes the user feel good, you may have a new social friend/follower! If not, don’t worry about it. There are plenty of fish on the net.
Also, be aware of hashtag stuffing. People don’t like tweets or posts that are full of them because they look spammy. Sure, you’ll get a few clicks and bot responses, but you’ll annoy other real users.
Most Popular Hashtags that Get Views But Are Likely Useless to Your Brand:
Besides posing your own questions with the correct tags, seek out those who are confused about the topics in which you specialize. Find questions and answer them. This shows a proactive approach to a user! However, don’t go poaching on competitors’ turf. As meta as this may sound, don’t reply to another person’s reply to a brand’s tweet. It makes you look like you’ve been stalking the page. Leaders don’t stalk. They seek.
Why Can’t We Be Friends: Don’t be afraid to support those in your industry
The old adage remains true today: retweets don’t equal endorsements. That being said, don’t be afraid to have a little fun with the other brands! Interact with them. If they post something clever or insightful, like or favorite it. (We don’t necessarily suggest you retweet or share it, as this may make others go to this new brand instead of you for information.) Respond to their posts with your own insights in a friendly manner. Who knows, if they retweet you, your brand can get exposure to an even greater audience. Give them a follow if you find yourself on their page quite often. If done correctly, the social media world can look less like Mean Girls and more like the Brady Bunch. Social media is a marketing tool second, a conversational platform first.
Don’t Stop Believin’: Using social media metric tools & reports to get stronger
Not seeing the results you want after three months in the game? That’s fine! Just make some changes to your campaign strategy. Try some A – B testing by linking to the same blog post at different times or by using different wording. For instance, this article could be tweeted out as “The Social Media Playlist Checklist: Five ideas to consider before & during your new campaign” and “Wanting to kickoff a new social media campaign? Take a look at our top 5 tips to getting starting & maintaining success.”
Not sure if you’re succeeding? Take a look at your Google Analytics and see how much social traffic you’re garnering. Follow behavior path and see if these folks are converting. There are a ton of data compiling platforms out there to help with tracking, Hootsuite being the biggest. ForeFront has also found great value in one tool called “SumAll.”
SumAll: Keep In Touch With What You’ve Done
This handy dandy tool acts as a comprehensive social media dashboard, tracking the successes and shortcomings of all applicable accounts. There are paid options that include reporting, boosting and insights, but the free version is great on its own. Not only can you see stats from Google+, Twitter, Moz, Facebook and more, but you can even track phrases searched. Suppose you’re pushing flowers for a living. You can track the phrase “need flowers” and hit that target audience in real-time. It’s like sellin’ worms to fish in a barrel.
If you listen to this playlist and follow our guide, you should be on the road to success in the social world. Keep the conversations rolling. Keep your strategy fresh. You, too, can be Men-in-Black-Tommy Lee Jones – or even Agent J (Will Smith) if you’d like. The only character limit you have is on Twitter.