As Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer of the e-commerce marketing platform Social Rebate, Ben Stewart constructed successful social media marketing campaigns for more than 300 online retailers in 2013. Drawing from his background in social media marketing and SEO tactics, here are Ben Stewart’s “5 Social Media Advertising Tips for First-Time Entrepreneurs.”
1. Know your goals
It’s impossible to gauge the success of any effort without first establishing your goals and strategy for achieving those goals. If the goal is to boost sales using social media, first ensure you have a way to accurately track campaign performance. Use destination URLs that can track people from the social media link they click on all the way to your website’s receipt page. After you’re set up to effectively track the campaign, move on to the most important part: the message. Make sure your message is clear, engaging and, above all, centered on a call to action. Successful campaigns always contain a clear reason someone should buy the product right now.
2. Know your solution
A hip clothing shop can get customers talking about their product easier than a store that sells plastic mailboxes. But that’s not to say you can’t get your customers talking about those mailboxes. It simply requires more creativity. In this example, focus on why someone might need a new mailbox. Post an image of an old rusted metal mailbox that the neighborhood kids knocked over, with a title that reads “Need a stronger mailbox?”
Craft brewers don’t have that mailbox problem, but they do need to have their product stand out in a crowded market place. Know why your beers or your brewery stand out and create engaging content focused on that unique product message. In the end, it’s all about engaging content.
3. Know the medium
Each social network has its strengths and weaknesses. Twitter’s “less is more” approach limits message size, while Facebook allows users to get into the nitty-gritty. Naturally, these differences will affect your campaign’s reach. Deals containing coupon codes will be more effective on Twitter, while Facebook lends itself to campaigns that use images or video. So, when you’re designing your campaign, think long and hard about which network will best communicate your message.
4. Know your target
When I ask business owners to name their target demographic, they commonly tell me, “Well, everyone really.” Targeting everyone for your brand is a sure-fire way to overspend on advertising. The easiest way to find your target demo is to study your former customers. They may be broad in range, but one age group, gender or demographic will likely stand out. You can find this info through most analytics platforms (such as Google), but the free options tend to be less accurate. A great method for cost effective analytics is to invite previous customers to like your business’s Facebook page in exchange for a future deal or some other promotion. Not everyone may jump at the offer, but you’ll still get a great sense of your sample size and which group (or area of the country) is most interested in your brand.
5. Know how to maximize your efforts
Posting once or twice a week on Twitter or Facebook doesn’t cut it anymore. To maximize your brand awareness (and boost sales in the process), you’ll need to create inbound word-of-mouth channels. Say you’re promoting a seasonal release party, if you post once or twice on Facebook or Twitter, your reach will be limited to your number of followers. This is outbound marketing. But through inbound marketing, you can recruit your audience to spread the word about the party. There are various ways to recruit your audience (a post for another day), the strongest of which is social reward incentives. Incentives both strengthen your online relationship with existing customers and motivate them to spread the word to new customers.
Ben Stewart has an extensive background in web development and design for large-scale e-commerce companies. Before launching e-commerce marketing platform Social Rebate, Ben began his career as Director of Development for Out Of Pocket Films at Sony Pictures. He then became Head of Creative Media and Web Development for DDC Internet, managing and overseeing the creation of numerous websites focused on cosmetic surgery and medical devices while also coordinating all video production and marketing campaigns. He is originally from Atlanta and studied Film and English at CSU Long Beach.