Social media 3Social media networks have become an extremely powerful marketing tool for companies – especially new starters and online businesses that are new to SEO. Whatever your rank though, social media should be a part of your digital marketing agenda.

Although search engines do not count likes and shares from social networks at the moment (although Google and Twitter have struck a deal for tweets to appear in search engines later this year), they do provide a different door for you to open and invite customers into your virtual store.

However, the key point to remember, is that social media is not designed to be used as a virtual billboard, or at least social users do not want to be bombarded with promotional copy and advertising slogans. There is an etiquette.

Content marketing on social media

Publishing content is the best way to attract attention on social media. If your online business is new to SEO and thus does not rank in search, social media networks are your best way to target an audience.

By posting content, you can drive traffic to your site, whereby you can improve your search rankings and your conversions. However, your content has to be good enough to attract attention and your on-page sales copy has to be good enough to persuade browsers to buy.

Another massive boost social medias can give new websites is instant access to prospects. This means being active on social media and engaging with them, either one on one or in groups.

Comment on posts they make and whenever you share the same interests, tell your follower about your experience or knowledge. If they ask a question, give them your best answer and demonstrate you are an authority in the field.

Social media networks are intended to be casual hangouts for exchanging knowledge and entertainment. Don’t go steaming in trying to sell your expertise. Give your connections genuine advice just as if you were giving advice to an actual friend.

Word of mouth recommendations

The best form of advertising is, and always will be, word of mouth. Consumers typically buy products and services based on the word and experience of others. Therefore by encouraging feedback from customers in your social network, word of your expertise spreads over a broader slice of bread.

Join groups and start your own group page to share knowledge and advice with peers and prospects. The people that engage with these groups are typically other industry professional who might share your content, and prospects actively seeking to buy products or services.

Groups are a great platform to fluff your feathers and underscore you as an expert in your field, and by attracting word of mouth recommendations within this circle, it will attract customers ready to convert.

Quality of followers

Your choice of connections count on social media. One reason for this is to target customers ready to buy, and also to encourage writers covering your industry to link into your content.

Do not miss this linking opportunity as inbound links are excellent for increasing your search engine rankings and uplifting your citation and trust scores.

The other reason for selecting quality customers rather than acquiring as many followers as possible, is because social media networks want you to buy paid advertising, and to do this they cut of the supply line to customers so that only a small percentage receive your content. As a result you have less incoming traffic and fewer conversions.

You can improve this rate by inviting members to join social groups which enables them to receive your content in their newsfeed. Their connections will also see this and maybe ask to join the group (see above for benefits).

Content and consumer research

Social sites are also excellent research tools. They provide a window to the world at large so you can analyse what people are talking about, what content that are sharing and what concerns they may have that you can solve, among other things.

You can learn a lot about your followers and build profiles so you can target content in their direction. You should also be checking out what type of content users are engaging with to get inspiration for your own blog posts, ads and landing pages.

Social media is a unique marketing tool that presents opportunities marketers have never had before. But despite all the benefits it offers, it is no walk in the park, so take some time to learn how to get the best from it.