Rules of Engagement for Effective Social Media Marketing
Rules of Engagement for Effective Social Media Marketing
It is said that Facebook is the “internet within the internet” and millions of businesses use it…with varying degrees of marketing success. Since Facebook has the participation of 96% of people 18-35 and is now the 3rd largest country in the world after China and India, it cannot really be ignored.
YouTube is another online phenom. Something like 46 years-worth of videos, accounting for over 70% of the activity on the internet, are watched every day at YouTube. This is the second most active search engine in the world after Google.
The need to learn how to use these tools effectively to grow your business is obvious, though the tactics do require effort and follow-through. I recently took a seminar on this subject and continuously read relevant ebooks and articles as well. My conclusion so far is that anyone can work out a strategy to make some hay out of all this for a business, but it is not easier than any other type of marketing in terms of time and commitment.
...Still, these cyberworlds are not going away and can be part of an effective marketing plan. So, here are the best tips I’ve learned so far that seem to relate to being in private practice in the field of alternative health. If you want to use Social Media to market your business, I hope these tips are helpful.
- Commit to working on this strategy a certain number of hours per week if you wish it to be effective (of course you do!). Like any marketing campaign, decide what you will create for these media and make a plan, timeline, schedule, and budget.
- Decide what it is that you can share through social media that will be valuable to your potential patient populations, and what they may not be able to get anywhere else that makes your posts unique. Another way to say this is how can you help people have a great time while learning ab out Chinese medicine?
- For example, if you mostly do gynecology, what types of educational information do your constituency love? I’d work on creating articles, research, podcasts, ebooks, and videos on beauty [inner and outer], longevity, weight loss, staying healthy, time-management for the working woman, healthy kids, stress-reduction, sexual health.
- If I specialize in sports acupuncture, the subject matter might include improving post-event recovery, maintaining stamina, injury recovery, strengthening important muscle groups for specific sports, off-season exercise strategies.
- And a thread through it all of these articles, blogs, “shares,” and videos would be how all this relates back to Chinese medicine, at least as much as possible.
- Use tools such as SocialMention.com and Google Alerts to see whose talking about the subjects that are of interest to your potential patient populations. How do you do this?
- Sign up at Google Alerts and SocialMention.com. Choose words or phrases that you want tracked throughout the entire English-Language internet.
- Tell them how often you want these real-time posts to be forwarded to your emailbox. Then when something of interest is written or posted, you can repost, write a blog about it, create a podcast or video about it, as you think it relevant and of interest to your constituencies.
- When you see interesting posts, tweets, videos or blogs, repost them with your own comments about why it’s useful.
- What you DON’T do on Facebook is be a narcissist (me, me, me…”I’m doing this and I’m doing that”) more than 10-15% of the time (the 90/10 rule is that 90% is fun useful beneficial and 10% is promotional). When you do, the best things to do here are special offers and special events. Your use of these online tools should mostly be in order to listen and build community, slowly making online friends and buzzers in your a community. This automatically connects you to others and leads to deeper engagement over time (i.e., becoming patients, members, buyers, and evangelists for your product, project, services, and community involvements).
- When you get a positive comment or response to any post, ask that person another question to keep the conversation going. This can be true using ANY of the well known social media sites. Learn to be a concierge, i.e., someone who points people in the directions that interest them by answering questions, sharing what’s happening in your industry, making it interesting, intriguing, juicy, useful.
- Something to consider is that YouTube videos, Blogs, and Vlog posts that have relevance to a wide community are indexed and get into Google than your website does! So if your website is regularly linked to these other locations on the internet, then your website gets more mentions and increases its standing with Google and other search engines as well.
- It’s pretty easy to link all these things together with software widgets such as Ping.fm, Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, Share.com, etc. These also save you time of having to post things more than once or link them to your website as a separate task
- People love online posts that have one or more of the following attributes:
- Case studies (“here’s what happened to so and so when they did such-and-such”)
- Product comparisons
- Top Ten Lists (“The 10 Top Reasons Why Acupuncture Makes You Healthier”, “Five Ways to Recover Faster from Your Last Race”, “Six Ways Chinese Medicine Can Improve Your Sex Life”….”Four Foods That Will Slow Your Reaction Time.” You get the idea.)
- Controversy (about almost anything)
- To convert your watchers, readers, lurkers, potential customers into real customers, you need to get them to:
- request a catalog
- get a free analysis or consultation after filling out an online form,
- request a free ebook or video (which requires that they fill our an online contact form.
- request free promotional products
- anyone who responds to these campaigns should get a thank you email from you and an invite to follow your blog, facebook page, twitter posts, or a link to something else cool on your website. (along with a statement saying you never share, sell, or rent their private info and you’ll only send them items that you believe will be of interest to them).
The way to do this is to make whatever that next step both easy and desirable. Don’t ask for tons of personal info…maybe their name and email address is adequate. They must know what’s in it for them and want it enough to actually fill in a form and give away some personal info.
For example, if you were offering a Qi Gong class and your specialty is sports acupuncture, you might offer a free into class to those who choose to sign up in advance on your website. Or you might offer the whole class free to the first five people to sign up. Or you might offer a free health analysis and in-office one-hour consult to anyone who signs up. Or you might offer to enter everyone who signs up into a contest to win a free acupuncture course of six treatments. Those are just a few value-added ideas.
- You may wish to monitor the success of your blogs or videos through a dashboard tool such as Social Media Dashboard or even Google Analytics. This will tell you what people look at on your website, blog, and Facebook pages, and more importantly, what words they used to search that got them there. This type of research is most relevant if you are offering a product that is not “local”…but is can be powerful knowledge for any online campaign you are doing if you know the search terms that people are using.
- The average number of Facebook Friends or Likers that people have is 130+. So if you have 130 friends, you have a potential reach of about 17,000 people who could see any post that you make. The very best things to post on Facebook are videos (and now Instagram photos). So, what could you make a video or vlog about to link to your Facebook page and website or link to your Twitter feed??
- A How-To video such as “How to Cook Bulk Herbs” “Use This Exercise to Help You Stay Healthy This Winter” “How to Make a Tasty Chinese Herbal Soup for Dinner Tonight” “Anti-Inflammatory Cooking for Arthritis Sufferers” or “Use This Self-Massage Routine to Improve Your Vision”
- Here’s a great idea for those of you who like LinkedIn. Create a short PowerPoint or video that is really a sort of advertisement for your website. This can be one of those “Top Ten (or five or six or whatever) Reasons to Get Acupuncture This Week”
- Why a blog??? Especially if you attach video to your blog, it can be your central command station for your social medial content. Google does not yet index Tweets, although I have recently seen Facebook posts on Google so that may be changing. Post any blog that you create on all your other social media outlets. Once you reach 40-50 blogs, your blog can really grow your audience. However….
- To leapfrog your competition, create videos. Watching is more popular than reading on the internet. And, videos are more than 50 times more likely to hit the front page of Google for a given search than even a relevant blog!! That’s huge and here are the rules:
- At least one new video per month
- Make useful educational videos, not marketing-speak
- Three minutes long seems to be the magic length.
- Encourage commentary for your videos
- Post links to them on your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn pages.
So all this is about creating an emotional connection, becoming a topic of conversation, creating a community around your service. Remember that people purchase based on their heart and emotions, so speak TO and FROM the heart. Remember that people don’t need commodities, they need emotion-based solutions.
Thanks for reading, good luck, and I’ll see you on Facebook!
To visit my video archive, go to http://www.youtube.com/user/bluepoppytcm?feature=watch
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