Learn 5 inbound marketing tricks to help you achieve success on social media, including creating buyer personas, focusing on the awareness stage, and implementing calls to action.
The days of blind luck on social media are over. Businesses can no longer achieve success without skill and strategy.
Nearly one-quarter (24%) of companies are struggling to build a social media following. What will happen as the competition continues to grow?
Businesses will have to get smarter when it comes social media marketing.
Fortunately, small- to medium-sized businesses can use inexpensive inbound marketing strategies on social media to stand out from the crowd.
In this article, you’ll learn how to apply proven inbound marketing techniques to your Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, YouTube, and Instagram pages.
Skip the algorithms and build your own following by stepping up your social media tactics with this 5-step guide to social “inbound” marketing success. You’ll learn how to:
- Create written personas
- Position yourself as an expert
- Create content tailored to your audience
- Use Calls to Action
- Test, measure, and adjust for improved growth
Before we begin, a word of warning: Inbound marketing techniques work as a collection. If you pick and choose tactics instead of following all of them, you might get a little boost of traffic but you won’t enjoy the full benefits.
Inbound marketing techniques create a recipe for success - not a potluck dinner where you pick and choose the best-looking dishes.
1. Create Written Buyer Personas
Buyer personas are a fictional representation of your ideal customers.
If you’ve already created buyer personas for your marketing campaigns, then you don’t need to create new ones for social media. But if you haven’t created them yet, then it’s important to do so before promoting your brand on social channels.
Developing buyer personas helps you:
- Define your target audience
- Align efforts across all teams within your organization
- Avoid the temptation to build popularity instead of targeting personas who are likely to become customers.
Buyer personas are used at every stage of marketing: Content creation, advertising, SEO, and social media. For social media, they help you:
- Choose the best social platform(s) for your brand.
- Program content that serves your target audience.
- Build a highly engaged audience.
- Drive quality traffic to your website, which in turn lowers your bounce rate, raises conversion rates, and improves SEO.
How to Create Buyer Personas for Your Brand or Product
To begin, choose a reasonable number of model customer profiles to create.
You can make 5 or 6, but unless you’ve got a team of people working on it, you should start with 2 or 3. This lets you target specific buyers more efficiently.
Include the following for each persona you create:
- A fictional image: Draw or download an image of a person who is not an actual customer but might represent one.
- A fictional name: You can have fun with this and name the persona after a personality trait to make it memorable, like “Bobbuys Alot” or “Picky Patty.”
- A career: What do they do for work? Or, are they a stay-at-home mom, student, or something else?
- Social networks: What networks do they spend time on at home and which ones do they use for work?
- An age group: Millennials, Gen X’ers, and Boomers all have different online habits, especially when it comes to social media. Including the age group of your persona is important to effective marketing.
The more detail you include in your personas, the better you’ll be able to tailor marketing and content to your customers.
This will save you money in the long run, so try to include details like:
- Industry: What industry does the person work in? Or, if she doesn’t work outside the home, what is her passion?
- Family status: Is your persona married with children, happily single, or somewhere in the middle?
- Income: Consider how much the buyer earns, how high the family income is, and how much luxury spending they can afford.
- What tools do they need to do their job?
- Education: What level of education did they complete? Where?
- Shopping preferences: Do they like to shop online or in-person? Amazon or boutique?
Below is an example of a buyer persona created by HubSpot using their free buyer persona template.
Hubspot offers advanced training, templates, and detailed instructions for creating buyer personas for companies who who need more guidance. The free support and tools are especially helpful for for medium-to-large size businesses working with multiple complex customer profiles.
2. Position Yourself as an Expert
The phrase “expert” takes on a different meaning in inbound marketing than it does for social media. Social media platforms have slowly redefined the meaning of “expert” to imply a person that’s read a few articles and is now posting and sharing related content.
True expertise, however, inspires and compels readers.
When we use the word “expert” in inbound, we’re referring to someone who is a true master of his subject or someone who is working toward becoming one.
An expert, or master-in-training, is a person who strives for intentional improvement and deeper understanding at every step. This means you have a commitment to your industry and are dedicated to learning, experiencing, experimenting, and questioning.
Before you begin sharing your expertise, be sure you’re an expert in your subject. If you’re a genuine expert in your field, your content will spark an interest and motivation in your readers that compels them to keep coming back for more.
Strive to Help People by Serving Them
Successful inbound marketers have a genuine desire to help people, and their social media posts reflect that.
Content, promotions, and postings aren’t created for the purpose of misleading people into clicks. Keyword spamming and other shady techniques are never acceptable.
Here are some ways you can genuinely help your audience:
- Publish articles, tips lists, and ebooks that will genuinely help your readers.
- Consider answering questions on sites like Quora or at industry-related groups and forums.
- Produce a course or class on the topic and offer it on your website or at a popular lesson site like Udemy or Lynda.
- Listen to your followers and answer their most pressing questions with videos or content.
These types of activities will help you to serve your customers and position you as an expert in your field – both of which can improve your inbound marketing.
3. Create Content Tailored to the Awareness Stage of the Buyer's Journey
Inbound marketing divides customers into 3 stages, called “The Buyer’s Journey.” These stages are:
Social media is often used to cater to customers in the “awareness” stage of the buyer’s journey. So, if your purpose is to attract and engage potential customers, then you’ll want to create posts and content that are attractive to people in this stage of the journey.
What is the Awareness Stage of the Buyer’s Journey?
During the awareness stage, people are beginning to realize they have a problem. They haven’t fully defined it yet, so they’re not seeking solutions. But they are attracted to information that informs them about the problem they’re becoming aware of.
For example, imagine that a popular soft drink just changed its recipe but hasn’t told their customers about the change. Let’s say they replaced white sugar with artificial sugar.
The customer takes a drink of soda and knows it doesn’t taste right, but he’s not sure why. He wonders if he got a bad batch or if it was left sitting open too long. Maybe his taste buds are changing?
The customer is aware there is a problem and is in the process of figuring out what it is. This is the “awareness” stage. He hasn’t begun seeking out a solution to his problem yet.
Align your comments and shared content to match this stage if you’re seeking to attract new customers.
If you’re a competitor of the product that changed its soda recipe, you might post content about:
- How fake sugars make drinks taste funny
- The danger of artificial sugars
- Why artificial sugars don’t help you lose weight
- Why your favorite drink suddenly tastes funny
- News stories about your competitor changing their recipe
The type of content that works best at this stage is tip sheets, how-to videos, and lead-generating content like ebooks.
If you have different social media goals, you should learn more about how to map content to the buyer’s journey. Then you can move one step closer to creating effective social media posts, contests, and other content that informs and engages your target audience.
4. Pair Valuable Giveaways with Calls to Action (CTA’s)
Now that you’ve got some ideas about what type of content will attract your buyer personas, you’re ready to learn how to guide your customers though the rest of the funnel, toward the evaluation and purchase stages.
The Importance of Leads
If your goal is to attract new customers to your social media channels, then your next step will be to generate leads so you can further nurture a relationship with them.
A customer becomes a lead when they subscribe to your email list. Leads are then nurtured into customers through email marketing.
Leads Require an Irresistible Offer
Typically, customers won’t give you their contact information for free. You must offer something valuable in exchange for their willingness to allow you to market to them through email.
In inbound marketing, the “something of value” is typically a piece of high-quality content like a free ebook or tip sheet.
On social media, you can get creative with this step and go beyond free content. Perhaps you’ll give them an entry into your sweepstakes, a free trial, or a coupon for a free product.
While you’re mulling over your options, keep these important rules in mind:
- The giveaway must be of value to your buyer personas
- It must be something they can get absolutely free
- You will ask for their email address and name in return - nothing more. Asking people for personal information like phone numbers, business type, or opinions is too big a step for people you haven’t built trust with yet. Keep it simple.
Use Calls To Action (CTA) When Possible
Calls to action are another effective method of generating leads.
Don’t spam CTA’s, but do include them when appropriate.
Check your social channels to see if they offer the chance to put a CTA on your profile, and use it to send people to your lead generation page, which is usually your website's homepage.
Include CTA’s inside the content your share to social media. For example, add a CTA at the bottom of each article, post, tipsheet, or ebook - and at the end of your videos.
5. Test and Measure
No inbound plan would be complete without a constant cycle of testing, measuring, and adjusting your content over and over again. The same strategy applies to social media.
Take advantage of your social platforms’ insights and analytics to discover what type of posts and content your fans like to engage with and share.
When you’re serious about launching a social media campaign or growing your audience more aggressively, then you’ll be ready for a social media management program. Apps like Sprout Social and Hootsuite can help by pre-scheduling posts, but they also have sophisticated social media analytics built in.
Social management software can make your marketing efforts quicker and more effective by analyzing the data for you and presenting it in colorful visuals.
Get Social With Inbound Techniques
Now that you understand how inbound marketing can be applied to social media, you’re ready to get started. Remember to create buyer personas, position yourself as an expert, create a smart content strategy, incorporate CTA’s and lead generation content, and measure your results.
The beauty of inbound is that when you get it working, you create loyal customers who aren't dependent on any social platform for interaction with your brand. So when algorithms and policies change, it won’t mean an upset to your loyal following.