The 7 Essential Elements of Effective Social Media Marketing

The 7 Essential Elements of Effective Social Media Marketing

Reader Comments (80)

  1. I think finding that balance between content and conversation is really important. I see that a lot of businesses online are either too conversational or are too linky. There are a very small percentage that actually do a great job of finding the perfect balance.

  2. Couldn’t agree more with point #7! Social media and SEO are getting more and more intertwined as time goes by that it would be silly for a company to ignore one in favor of the other. Both SEO and social media marketing are long term and thrive on content. They work best when integrated together!

  3. All good points, but the 2 keys in there for me is the time factor and the conversation vs content discussion. I usually have a set amount of time to spend on social media marketing and make sure I don’t go over, it’s easy to get carried away, specially when you get involved in too many conversations that don’t result in leads or sales.

    • Jamie: In my opinion, content should come first. That leads to people having conversations around your content. Deliver something that’s useful to them, and that will take care of itself.

      As for time management, I have a simple $2 kitchen timer that I picked up at Target. That silly little device is one of the best time management tools around!

      • I agree content is the most important (not the only important thing, but the most).

        I heard of the kitchen timer technique before, but I use Google Calendar which pops up when it’s time to change my focus.

    • Christina: What kind of work do you do? Or to be more specific, what kind of services do you provide?

      When I sold web design, I built a list of qualified prospect by doing WordPress 101 webinars. In the sign up process for the webinar, I asked two question:

      1.) Would you like to sign up to our newsletter to get updates on future webinars?
      2.) Are you interested in learning more about our web design services?

      I gave something away for free and immediately built a list of qualified prospects in the process.

      So, just an idea ๐Ÿ™‚

      • I am an interior decorator and I just finished my first book, Sassy Decorating Secrets: A Div’as Guide to Interior Design and Feng Shui. I am holding teleseminar course to go with it. I have free ebook giveaways along with signing up for my email list. i can’t seem to get anyone to sign up for my email list and have been trying for two weeks. I have three sign ups. Better than nothing!

        How do you get people to sign up?

        • Christine –

          1st I assume your pricing is competitive and you’ve done your home work and people will commit to 2 nites/week.

          From a quick look at your landing page .. it doesn’t provide, for me anyway, with enough detail on the specific sessions. So I have no idea what you’ll cover. “Spend two evenings per week going through Sassy Decorating Secrets chapter by chapter.” Perhaps including a description of the chapters might help as a start.

          Best of luck.

  4. Just as important as building your “Home Base,” build an email list. Your blog and your email list are your most important assets. (Credit to you Sonia for drilling that point home).

    I used an email list to promote my subscription newsletter. The setup was, sign up to receive 7 free courses on how to build a foundation for your real estate blog, and in between the lessons, you get a promotion, then of course a promotion at the end. I’ve not used social media to promote the newsletter (much). For the most part, that process drives itself. And it’s neat to see subscribers sign up for a process that is now for the most part, automated.

    • Thanks for mentioning that — the email list can be even more important than the blog/home base, although you need that home base to keep bringing new people in.

      I’m like you, I love it when it starts to Just Work. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. A note about primary platforms…

    If you choose Facebook or Youtube to focus your social efforts you should be safe. Both sites are so huge that you’ll die and live again before exhausting all of the prospects you can connect with.

    For instance, my site is about career development in the entertainment industry. So, that would make LinkedIn my primary platform, correct?

    Not so fast. Facebook sends me more traffic than any other social site, yet I don’t have my own presence there. Links to my articles spread the on Facebook faster and further than on LinkedIn.

    So, don’t get stuck on all the choices of social sites out there. Your customers ARE on Facebook and Youtube. Choose the platform you like best of the two, and ignore everything else.

  6. The really important one here for me is #6 – it is *sooooooo* easy to get sucked into wasting time on social networking sites under the guise of “participating in the conversation”, when there are hundreds and hundreds of other things that would be a better use of your time.

    Honestly, the best thing that’s worked for me is setting a timer to block off chunks of time for social networking. Once those blocks are up, I go back to building content for my website. I’m probably missing out on some things (and I really should have a better system for monitoring instances of specific keywords popping up), but for now, that’s what’s working for me ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I would add up all the time I’ve spent in the last 20+ years hanging out on social sites, but it would be much too depressing. ๐Ÿ™‚

      I’m a time-blocker too. If I don’t, it just gets away from me.

  7. I LOVE this post. You are validating my quality content strategy, though sometimes, as a travel blogger, I feel I am swimming upstream. While others are heavily involved in experimenting with social media, SEO, advertising, affiliate advertising, text links, etc., I’ve concentrated on building content and contacts. I always say “I am playing a long term game.” I want to build my name, my brand, my integrity, my authority … and not dither it away.

    Bravo, well done with this post.

    • I know how you feel — there’s always something out there that looks sexy and glamourous, and may work really well in the short term. Then something like the Google Panda update happens, and the sexy stuff gets a lot less sexy in a hurry. ๐Ÿ™‚

      It’s good to try new techniques and stay open to what’s out there, but that’s not the same as chasing every fad that comes along.

  8. The first principle of marketing, of any kind, is simply this – what ever you offer must solve a problem. In the case of social media, the question should be, is what you say helping anyone solve a problem or are you just chatting?

    My take on social media marketing is this. Readers demand antigenicity. Anything that smells rotten will be discarded. Is you social media hype or commercial in nature? It’s more likely to fail if it’s off the mark when it comes to a readers expectation. No one wants to be sold – we all want honest information that actually helps us in some way.

    Social media must be used to support your core message, not to create it.

  9. Agree with your points! We have to balance the two most-important elements: your social media marketing and your base. Your prospects’ impression especially the first impression will determine yon can meet your target or not.

  10. I think this is such a timely article. I think people get so excited to be off and running on social media, but need to take the time to create a solid social media plan FIRST. In fact, I am going to take a clues a la points 6 & & and run out and buy an egg timer.

  11. It’s all very fine to get interested about social media, but don’t forget that you can create your own social media within your own group. So for instance, um ‘social media’ has existed for thousands of years in religions, groups etc. And even on the Internet, we have had a ton of stuff in terms of forums etc.

    In the right forum, it’s like social media on steroids. This is because a good forum, unlike Facebook or Twitter, doesn’t allow for blatant ‘hey look at my website’ or ‘look at my post’ nonsense. And therein lies the conversationโ€”social media conversation that can go back and forth. The best part (in my opinion) is that the relevant topics don’t die. They show up repeatedly as the topic becomes important. Sometimes posts from 6 years ago, get dredged and are new again.

    And yes, forums can be time suck too. If you waste time on them, yes anything can be a time suck. But if you use it well then it’s a huge boon. I write about an article every day, and I do it on the forum in response to a question. This makes the answer really stand out, and it’s relevant to the topic. You can use it to ask questions and know that the people answering it are at least somehow not from the mass of humanity, but actual folks who are interested in the topic.

    There are many ways to look at social media, and I’m sure I went right off tangent. But hey, it’s 6:18 AM here. A guy has the right to wander around at that time of a winter’s morning (Yup, still winter in NZ, but getting warmer).

    • Agreed — a well-run forum is one of the best social platforms there is. You get continuity, you build great trust and rapport, and you can really get in-depth.

      It depends on your customers, though. Facebook has so many users, and has become such a key part of mainstream life, that it’s hard to pass up.

  12. I think the #2 point of the “face” is so critical and that can be the golden step that many small business owners fail to grasp. A real persona sells. People love to have their icons, gurus, and whatnot with some real standout characteristics and eccentricities. Milquetoast has no place in business.

    On the flipside, as you said, people also don’t want to hear about you lunch or your speeding tickets.

    I am a firm believer in a separate social media plan for your business persona vs. your “real” life. I know it’s something that I need to work on, and I’m glad that you brought it up here.

    -Joshua Black
    The Underdog Millionaire

  13. Thank you for reminding people who are using social media to promote their BUSINESS to not get too personal and to keep the posts on topic.

    On Twitter, I just un-followed two e-entrepreneurs for a) ranting and raving about politics (a vegan chef!) and b) tweeting 14 times in an hour. Just like I would have walked out of their STORE if they had preached about politics or chatted incessantly.

  14. I completely agree with point #5 about time management. I remember someone said there is a theory that a task will take up as much time as you give it. Your example of checking sites to see what’s new is perfect. We’ve all been there, “Oh, it’ll only take a minute,” then 45 minutes later we wonder where the time went. I love the idea of the kitchen timer. I use a daily calender on my computer to “budget” the hours of my day for each task.

  15. Thanks for the information. I’m trying to play catch-up, to learn everything I feel I need to know. Nice to have a clear, well-written article to reference as I asorb all this new information.

  16. Sonia,

    You’ve shared some great insights here so I’ll share my thoughts on each one:

    1) Home Base: I remember the earlier days of my blog when I wasn’t using a premium theme. I definitely had readers and comments. But right after my first redesign and upgrade, people who had read my blog before started to take me much more seriously. I think if you can’t afford to hire a designer your best bet is to use a premium them and go simple.

    2) The Face of a Business: I think that the corporate world from can learn quite a bit from bloggers. It always amazes me that a corp blog with a million dollar budget makes me want to gouge my eyes out and somebody who doesnt’ have two pennies to rub together produces amazing/interesting stuff. One of the most interesting challenges of having a “personality” in social media is the amount of red tape people sometimes have to deal with. At the end of the day I think that you have to be willing to showcase some of your personality even if it is on behalf of a brand. I ran the twitter account and blog for a travel company and I remember having a conversation with a blogger about the television shows he liked. If we can let go of making it all about business and take a genuine interest in the people connecting with us, it goes a long way.

    3) Other People Who Have Your Customers: I remember asking Dave Navarro in an interview that I did with him how to leverage another person’s audience. The key is basically to offer something that complements but doesn’t compete. Bloggers do this well and brands could learn from it. Why isn’t a hotel chain partnering with an airline for social media marketing campaigns/contests?

    4) On Managing Time/Platforms: As far as time goes, I think it’s easy to get really unproductive and chase the next shiny thing. I think we can’t really say that there is right or wrong way to manage your time. My only time management rule is work when you are most productive. But I do think it’s important not to waste time as you said. in terms of platforms, going where your customers are is key. I think some people get caught up in the “We need to be on twitter because everybody is” mindset. If your customers are not there, then you should focuson on where they are.

    5) On Content: I told the people I spoke to at at travel industry conference: tell the stories of the people in your organization, tell the stories of the customers, tell the stories of customers using your products. In my opinion good content comes down to telling a good story.

    6) I’m no SEO expert so i’ll defer to you on that one:)

    Great write up that I’m sure I’ll be coming back to over and over again.

    • That’s a whole mini-post in itself! ๐Ÿ™‚

      You point to a lot of issues that big companies have trouble with — it’s hard for them to trust and let their employees show some personality, it’s hard for them to create joint ventures and navigate all the contract issues. There are some beautiful advantages to being small (but powerful)!

    • It really does help! Also good for when you’re in that I-don’t-wanna mode, for example if you’re procrastinating on writing. (Not that I have ever done that.) Set that timer for 20 minutes, it’s amazing how much you can get done. And usually when it rings, I’ve broken the inertia problem and I want to keep going.

  17. Great comments, I am so new to blogging, a lot like a sponge just soaking everything up at this stage. I would love to know how to use social platforms eg.Facebook to promote the websites I build for back links maybe. I have been building sites for a few years now and apparently I can get back link juice from Social media. Do any of you guys know much about promoting websites on Facebook for example? I will keep reading and learning, it’s great to see so many people helping each other without negatives and complaints.
    Thanks again all.
    Best regards Steve

  18. I am wondering if this niche approach would be more advantageous with major search directories like Google. The system might naturally have so much to catalog that it processes information in trees. Those trees that are well connected are considered a community and those who have the most conversation going on are likely to have higher rankings. Therefore, it may be beneficial to comment on other blogs and link to those blogs as well.

  19. Hi Sonia,

    Sensational pointers here!

    #6 resonates with me, BIG TIME. I luv engaging, and I do add value to wherever I’m at.

    But I have a real talent for churning out copious amounts of usable, impactful content. I intend to get back to writing 3 blog posts a day, shooting a handful of videos and producing new cash gifting content daily. I will set aside a number of hours in the morning to do this, then proceed to network later in the day.

    Conversations are wonderful, especially when we’re adding value, engaging and answering real questions. But we all need to honor our unique talents, the things we do best, so we can provide the most value to those around us.

    Thanks for sharing your keen insight Sonia. I appreciate the shift you just provided me with!


  20. I’ve been meaning to sign up for social networking sites, but haven’t got around to doing so. This post is a great explanation of how to use social media effectively.

    I’m concerned that I’ll spend a lot of time using social media, so I may have to set limits!

  21. I really love this. Point six makes since to me since because this is the evolution that I am in. My first change was to move from learning to doing. I spent more time learning than actual implementing. Now I am learning that I have to keep producing content. I answer most emails and respond when something is directed, but this a great article. thanks

  22. Thanks Sonia,

    Is a great wrap-up of SEM. I find the most important guideline is to be authentic and consistent.
    Content is critical for a website, but for social marketing I find it plays second fiddle to consistency.

  23. yep i agree, working on homebase first, and then social media
    imho google searchers are much more interested in your content than your friends

  24. Thank you for your insight on how to best use social media for marketing. The question I has relates to The static content used in product descriptions. If it does not change from day to day, how does Google treat it from an SEO perspective. For instance, if I describe an executive desk I cannot change the content associated with it every day. Your thought on this will be greatly appreciated.

  25. To sum it up…Home base blogging first with one social media tied into YouTube and tie this into my home base. Conversations are at the end of my day for 20 minutes. Is this correct?

  26. Thanks, Sonia. I needed the reminder right now. Content before conversation. It’s so easy to get the priorities mixed up. I guess that’s one of the reasons I’m subscribed to Copyblogger ๐Ÿ™‚

  27. Thanks good post – I’m so bad at making the 2 minutte Facebook visits only last the 2 minuttes.

    But a good question is – how many time would you say a new blogger should update their socialsites (FB/twitter and so on)???

    All the best

  28. Sonia,
    I particularly agree with Element No.5. I’ve seen so many clients that were given the best social media plan but failed to execute it correctly because they didn’t manage their time efficiently. We as a company have many clients who have basically overexpanded their social media reach, tried to connect with too many networks and users and end up with thin content, thin relationships and ultimately a social media platform that doesn’t connect or function well.

    Thanks for that!

  29. Sonia great insight on point #5:
    “The best tool Iโ€™ve found for managing social media time is a $3 kitchen timer. Decide in advance how much time youโ€™ll spend checking in and being social, and stick to that.”
    I often find myself setting the alarm on my phone to go off in 10 minute intervals to keep myself on track with multiple projects. I find that dedicating a set amount of time to tasks rather than overloading my mind with one project keeps ideas fresh and organizes my day.

  30. Great article that we’ll be sharing with clients. So many small businesses have no clue how to conduct themselves online (personal, all business, somewhere in between) and this article is a fantastic “30,000-foot” view of how to go about establishing your online personality and style. As always, thanks for the great content Copyblogger!

  31. It is all about the pre-sell, and yes point 6 about content first is an old internet marketing/SEO golden rule.

    It is then about aggregating that content to the relevant channels and this is usually better to be multiple in my opinion, but horses for courses and al that.

    The main point I agree with is this: “Content before conversation” which just so happens to be how we work at Aim Social.

  32. Love the part where it says that you might love Twitter, but Facebook is probably a better outlet for your business. I think that this is so true for so many businesses. They need to find their niche, and they need to be pushing out valuable content where their audience resides. Know your audience! I recently wrote a blog post about small biz, big biz and social media. Check it out here:

  33. Wonderful foundational principles for SM marketing!

    Essential Element i’d add is integrating your profiles.

    If your different properties aren’t connected, then they’re operating independently: leaking traffic, and functioning with limited value.

    When their integrated around a central hub (usually your blog or website), and woven together, each acts as a spoke for the wheel, making it stronger.

    Link them all together. Make sure they point to each other, and back to the center.

    The trick is balancing that strategy with #4… And it all takes time.

  34. Ouch! My husband and I were talking about 5 & 6, but in conjunction with something he’s working on.

    I needed to hear the same advice from you! A lot of great thoughts.

    I’m glad to know there are some things I’m doing right, but wish I had read something like this before I started my blog. Thanks again!

  35. Hey, i’m trying to manage different Facebook and twitter accounts as inside marketing for the company, but i’m not finding a way to increase my number of likes and followers ! i don’t want automated followers from a silly twitter app ! i need help ! right ?

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