We’ve talked a lot about how to use paid media to promote your business here on the LeadPages blog. But what about running an entirely free social media campaign? Is it possible? Can you get decent exposure for your business without paying Facebook or Twitter a lot of money?
Yes, you can.
I asked our Social Media Manager, Sarah Tessien, what strategies she would recommend to anyone who was trying to attract customers using free social media tools. She gave me three steps that anyone can follow to take advantage of the power of social media.
In this post, I’m going to be talking mainly about Facebook and Twitter, but you can apply many of these tactics to other platforms. For a breakdown of the audience and key capabilities of the top 6 social media platforms today, download our free “Social Media Platforms at a Glance” infographic:
Step 1. Plan Your Campaign
This is probably the most involved step, However, if you do this right, it will definitely pay off.
Have a clear purpose and strategy
There are a lot of questions you need to ask yourself when you’re setting up any social media campaign. Answering these questions will help you create your strategy. Here’s are several questions you need to ask yourself before starting your social media campaign:
- What do you want out of this campaign? Do you want more likes or followers? Do you want people to opt into your list? Are you launching a new product? Determine your goal and build your campaign around it.
- How will this campaign affect your business? How may this campaign affect your business both positively and negatively? For instance, you may get a lot more customers, but can you keep up with demand if you are producing a product? Are there enough hours in the day to work with all the new clients a campaign could bring in if you are offering a service? Think about the short and long-term effects your campaign will have and plan accordingly.
- How will this campaign affect your potential and current customers? You are building a relationship with potential customers and maintaining and improving your relationship with your current customers. You need to think about what each group is getting out of your social media campaign. Will your current customers feel that they’re get something from this campaign? Will potential customers they feel like they’re becoming a valued part of your community if they share your post or tweet? What can you do to make this campaign a positive experience for both groups?
- How will you engage or interest your potential and current customers? Are you offering something of value? Most people are willing to give something, like their email address, or a follow or like, in return for getting something they consider to be valuable, so you must think of something that is easy to create and is valuable to your audience.
- What are your key performance indicators? You use key performance indicators, or KPIs, to measure the success of your campaign. These measurements can include:
- Number of retweets or shares
- Number of new likes or follows
- How many people clicked on a link to get a lead magnet or other benefit
- Number of new leads created by the campaign
- According to Sarah, “If you have a clear strategy and an idea that’s engaging and accessible to your customer base, you’re off to a great start.”
Create a valuable lead magnet
We talk about lead magnets all the time here on the LeadPages blog. They’re one of the primary components of our marketing campaigns, so we’ve become experts on these by necessity. When you’re creating your lead magnet, think about the following questions: What do your customers care about? What information would your customers be interested enough in to take action to get it? What appeals to your particular audience on social media? What can you give them that would benefit them? A good lead magnet is usually something you either have on hand or can create quickly but will be of benefit to your audience. For instance, around here, resource guides are a favorite lead magnet. Everyone wants to have the “right tools” for whatever they’re doing so a collection of your favorite resources tends to go over well. For more information on how to create a resource guide, check out our 4-step tutorial. Here are some other good lead magnet examples:
- A chapter of your e-book
- The first module of your online course
- A coupon for a percentage off of one of your products or services
- A free consultation
- What would push them to buy your product or service? Whatever you give away, it needs to be something that will interest them enough to want more. LeadPages’ Head of Automation, Chris Davis, likens your lead magnet to a piece of bread you have sliced off of a loaf. You’re offering your potential customers a sample of your product so that once they taste your bread, they want the whole loaf.
Does giving away a lead magnet actually work?
Yes, it does. Many of our customers use this strategy to grow their email lists. To demonstrate a classic example of how to run a social media campaign where the goal is to get new leads by giving away a lead magnet, I give you George Bryant. George is a New York Times best-selling author and the Founder of Civilized Caveman Cooking Creations. He is also a LeadPages® customer. George used a free social media campaign to get more of his Facebook followers to become subscribers to his email list. George took a chapter on desserts from one of his Amazon best-selling cookbooks and repackaged it as a stand-alone ebook with calls to action on the first page. He made a landing page and published it to Facebook using the LeadPages® Facebook publishing option. He then set up his campaign so that anyone who downloaded the ebook would get another free gift if they shared the link to his Facebook landing page. Once George had everything in place, he started posting to all of his social media channels, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram, and drove traffic to this page. His posts went out every two hours and shared lots of useful information like recipes from the ebook and photos of the desserts he was sharing. He would also cross-promote on his different social media channels. George ran this entire campaign by hand, instead of using scheduling apps. One of the things he said this allowed him to do was to be more authentic and to craft his message to appeal to his audience at that time. For instance, he gives the following tips on what to (and not to) post:
What I wouldn’t post: This free ebook is awesome, get yours free now What I would post: I included this paleo banana bread recipe in the book since over 2,000 people on Facebook said they loved it. Now you can have that plus 93 other recipes for a limited time. Go enter your email address and I will send you the book.”
George ran his campaign for 48 hours. By the end of his campaign, he had 12,000 leads. That’s a 68% conversion rate. Of those 9,700 were brand new leads. Will you see results like George’s? That depends on your goals and how you structure your campaign. But you now know how it has been done, so you can do something similar for your business. For more excellent business building strategies from George, check out the case study we did on his business during Small Business Week.
Types of posts
There are a wide variety of posts you can use across different social media platforms. Here are some that Sarah recommends, specifically for Facebook and Twitter. Some of these can translate over to other platforms as well. Facebook:
- Recurring posts: These are posts that you run on a daily, weekly or monthly basis that your audience becomes familiar with. The post could be a recurring trivia question about information relating to your product to build familiarity and rapport with your audience.
- Sequential posts: These posts relate to one another but are posted at different times. The initial post will allude to the fact that there is a future post coming, as will each subsequent post. A good example of this would be a series of articles to educate your audience on the benefits of your product, or the many ways it can be used. These type of campaigns are great for encouraging your audience to come back for more. With each post, there should still be something “in it for them” not just hinting at future posts.
- Limited-time campaigns: This would be an offer or a promotion that is only available for a certain time frame. This type of campaign should be limited and high-value. For example, if you’re a hairstylist you could offer 15% off hair-cuts to everyone who calls to schedule an appointment and mentions a certain codeword within a 24-hour period. Warning: This type of campaign can be extremely effective but can wear on your customer base if you conduct these non-stop.
- Hashtag campaigns: The hashtag (#) has power. According to Buffer brands can see a 50 percent increase in engagement when a tweet includes a hashtag. In addition, they report, “Tweets with one or more hashtags are 55 percent more likely to be retweeted.” Using a hashtag before a word or phrase makes that phrase searchable with the click of a button. One way to use hashtags is to find a specific phrase or word that relates to your lead magnet. For instance, if you’re hosting a webinar on being a better business coach, you might use the hashtag #businesscoach and encourage your followers to utilize that hashtag for a chance to win an additional lead magnet like a one-on-one coaching session. To find out if there is already a hashtag that will work for your campaign, or to see what other people are using, you can search within the Twitter app, or use apps like Hashtagify.me and RiteTag. For example, I searched #leadpages on Twitter and here’s what I found:
- Twitter Chats: Host a question and answer session with your audience. This gives you a chance to engage directly with them, allay any fears they have about your product and show them all of the benefits of using your product. You can offer specific lead magnets to those who participate and bonuses to those who purchase during the Twitter chat.
- Follower Campaigns: Offer a lead magnet to everyone who follows you to increase your Twitter following. Get your current followers to promote this to their own followers for the same (or a different) lead magnet.
- Retweet/Share Campaigns: Encourage your followers to retweet or share a specific tweet with their audience to receive a valuable lead magnet. We’ve done this with our template downloads and gotten a great response, as well as new leads.
- If you’re at a loss for what to post, check out our recent interview with Facebook guru Mari Smith who gives some very useful advice on this subject.
Do You Have What It Takes to Go Viral?
The most commonly shared social media are either posts that offer practical and useful information and posts or tweets that arouse emotion (positive and negative). Practical and useful content: Practical and useful content goes beyond writing a post that gives people good information. It also gives people the next steps they need to take. When you give people actions that they can implement immediately and see results from, they’re more likely to remember you, and to share the blog post, article or product that changed their lives. For example, my very first post on the LeadPages blog was called “The Real Reason Your Landing Page Copy Is Failing (and 5 Things You Can Do to Change That). I gave specific, actionable steps that readers could follow to improve their landing page copy and increase conversions. This post has been shared 1,700 times on Twitter, 362 times on Facebook and 229 times on LinkedIn. While that may not be viral on a huge scale, it certainly got exposure to people who had never heard of LeadPages before and brought in a bunch of new leads. Pat Flynn has a great system for sharing practical and useful information, which he calls the “small quick win.” For more information on Pat’s system check out our recent interview with him. Arousing emotion: I’m certain you’ve seen the memes that deliver some heartfelt message that everyone comments on and shares, or the controversial articles that someone posts, accompanied by their own, very firm, opinions on the matter. Posts like these are designed to get a response. Sometimes it’s positive, sometimes it’s negative, but because people need to give their opinions or want to share what you have to say, you can get a broader reach with your tweets and posts if you arouse their emotions. This is a tool to be used carefully. You don’t want a bunch of people who are pissed off at you to make a lot of negative statements about you and your product. For more information on both of these techniques, check out this article on viral content by Derek Halpern of Social Triggers.
Step 2. Execute your campaign
Once you’ve planned out your campaign, put it into action.
Create an editorial calendar
This is essentially a calendar with all the posts, content and details that you’ll need to publish your campaign. It should include the copy and images for your posts and tweets, along with links and any other media you’ll be using. This will ensure that even in a time crunch, you’ll have the assets and resources to execute your campaign. Think of the short-term objectives of the campaign and plan the necessary steps to meet those goals. There are a variety of tools available to help you schedule your posts and tweets. Facebook has it’s own built-in scheduler, which you can find under the “Publishing Tools” tab on your Facebook page. There are also free tools (or free versions of paid tools) available like Hootsuite, Buffer, SumAll and Quintly.
Start posting and tweeting
Get your hard work out there in the social media world so you can see what happens. Be flexible, as thing will change, but try as much as possible to stick to the plan you’ve created. You can tweak things along the way such as the times you’re posting and the copy you’re using, but the overall goals and KPI’s should remain the same.
Analyze your results
Once you’ve had your campaign up and running for a few days, you’ll want to see how it’s performing. Facebook and Twitter both have analytics tools built into their systems that you can use without having to pay for ads. Facebook: On your Facebook page, click on the “Insights” button. This will bring you to a dashboard filled with useful analytics information, including:
- An overview of the last 7 days of activity on your page
- How many Likes you’ve received in a given time period
- The reach your posts have gotten (or how many people have seen your posts)
- Page and tab visits, including where people come from and where they go from your page
- Post-performance, so you can see how each post performed and focus on those that work
- Demographics for your fan base, including gender and location
- Twitter: If you click on your picture, you will see a drop-down menu. Click on “Analytics.” Here you will find a month by month summary of tweets, impressions, profile visits, mentions, and followers. You can use the information in both of these systems to determine how your campaign is doing, what you need to change and whether you’re reaching your goals. In addition to these two tools, you can also add Google Analytics to your website and landing pages to track visits from social media to these pages. This may be an even better tracking system, as it shows how many people actually make it to the information you’re trying to promote. If you’re a LeadPages® customer, you can track how many people come to your landing page and opt into your email list using our built-in analytics.
Step 3. Tweak and Perfect Your Campaign
Social media campaigns that are well planned tend to succeed but there is always a chance that your audience just doesn’t resonate with or respond to your campaign. If you receive positive feedback, great. Keep doing what you’re doing and look for ways to improve on that. If you receive negative feedback, or worse–no engagement at all, don’t be afraid to tweak parts of the campaign along the way to cater to your audience. Always keep your KPI’s and goals in mind, but making tweaks along the way is something every social media pro has to do. Here are a few things you can do to tweak your campaign:
- Change your copy: Does your post or tweet copy match the landing page or blog post you’re sending people to? Does it clearly state what you want people to do, if you’re asking them to retweet or share to get a lead magnet? Make sure your copy is clear and easy to understand (even if you have to do this in 140 characters or less).
- Change your image: Again, any images you use on social media should match the ones on your landing page or blog post, so if you change an image in one place, change it in the other as well. If you’re not sending people to a link, try different images to see what resonates best with your audience.
- Change the times of day you post or tweet: People are frequently overwhelmed by the number of posts and tweets that show up in their feeds. If you don’t catch your audience when they’re paying attention, they’re not likely to scroll through their feeds to see your message. Try changing your posting schedule to see if that makes a difference in engagement.
- If you want more useful information on tweaking, or even creating, your social media campaign, check out the social media section of this post.
Need a Good Place To Start?
There’s a lot of information here so if you just want to figure out where you should be looking for your potential customers, download this guide to social media sites. It will help you figure out where you want to focus your initial efforts so you can start building your next social media campaign.
Have You Seen Good Results with Free Social Media Campaigns?
Share the best strategies you’ve discovered in the comments below!