The term growth hacking began as a largely misunderstood concept, and most believed that it was just a buzzword used by highly paid professionals in the marketing industry, or that it was yet another shady, hacking technique.
On the contrary, growth hacking has completely changed the face of marketing for all kinds of businesses – be it large or small. It has revolutionized the way people market their services and products, and has given birth to the new role of a “growth hacker” – a phrase coined by Sean Ellis in 2010. Growth hacking focuses on driving growth rather than just relying on conventional marketing strategies to promote a business. Growth hackers take traditional marketing techniques, blend them with innovative ideas and also incorporate social media in the whole equation.
So, how do you mesh social media and growth hacking to furnish a solid marketing plan? We asked professionals in the social media marketing industry to share their top tips on how social media can be utilized for growth hacking. Here’s what they had to say along with some additional cool tips from us.
1. Aim for a loyal following
Having genuine followers and fans on your social media pages is a definite must. It means that you are getting real engagement – be it on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ etc,. Your loyal followers are the ones who will like, share, comment, and retweet your updates giving you more exposure on your own, as well as on other people’s networks.
“Thank your followers for following, but don’t automate it. Find something in their profile or feed that is relatable and start a conversation. Most people will retweet what you tweet back at them, and you’ll gain a loyal follower rather than a passive one.” – Carolyn Shaffer, Social Media Coordinator at C. T. Bauer College of Business, University of Houston
Keep your newly gained followers engaged, and when replying to them, create replies that are personalized. This shows that you have taken the effort to read and comment on what they had to say. Most importantly, don’t follow users for the sake of increasing the number of followers on your profile. Only follow users who will be interested in what you have to provide, and will also circulate your brand’s message to other connections.
2. Encourage sharing by keeping it simple
You can have your content go viral by making it simpler to share it. If your readers like the content you publish, they probably also want to share it. However, most users require the sharing process to be very simple – something that can be achieved with a few clicks instead of going through an entire process of registering or signing in. Adding a few social media sharing buttons can simplify sharing, and might also encourage your audience to share posts that they enjoyed reading.
“Give people an incentive to share and make it easy to do so. Referring back to the Kickstarter again, I used (a social payment platform) to let people share about the campaign and get the $1 backer level automatically. Other Kickstarters in my area have done similar things, but as far as I know, it wasn’t automated, which makes it really hard to implement well and scale. I also included a click to tweet button without the extra incentive of getting a download. Both have been used, and as a result of tactics one and two, most of my pledges have come from social media. The “direct referral” is probably redirects coming from SocialPay or Click to Tweet, though it could be email marketing as well. Either way, the amount coming from social media isn’t shabby.” – Michelle Nickolaisen, Freelance Writer/Content Marketer with Bombchelle
Another tactic that works well, is giving people something in return for sharing your posts. There are a number of businesses out there that offer free material such as eBooks, promotional codes, discount coupons to users who share the post with their friends and other connections on their social media pages.
3. Leverage the power of influencer marketing
Influencer marketing has tons of potential and it can really help put your business in a good light on social media – our recent experience with influencer marketing received some amazing response.
Identify people in your industry who are making a big impact on your target audience, and approach them by sending them a personalized email or by giving them a phone call. You can also mention them on Twitter, and engage them in a conversation.
“One of my favorites is very basic but is to include influencers in relevant conversations. The key is to mention how their brand can solve the problem you are talking about, which is great ego bait and could possibly get your face/brand in front of theirs. We only have a split second, we have to take what we can get.” – Patrick Coombe, CEO & Founder of Elite Strategies
Small businesses especially can benefit hugely from this tactic, because it gets them the exposure they need in order to start getting noticed. You can request influencers in your industry to create content (eBooks, guest posts, podcasts) for you or even give you a few quotes for an eBook that you might be launching.
To get the most out of this experience, it helps to make the process easier for your influencer. Respect the fact that they are taking time out for you and don’t expect them to write something entirely from scratch. If you are asking them to write a guest post for your blog, provide them with a structure, or a completed draft which they can edit as they please. Don’t forget to send across an email thanking them for the content, and asking them to share the content with people in their networks.
4. Increase audience engagement on social media
Social media is all about give and take. You cannot expect people to constantly like and share your content without any involvement from your end. Try to keep up with what is trending and comment on or share posts that are relevant to your business. You can widen your reach by targeting not just your consumers, but also other businesses, organizations and influencers.
“I have seen the biggest growth in our organic reach by interacting with other social media accounts. This could mean customers, partner companies, or even competitors. By reaching out to other accounts and liking or sharing their content I have seen the largest increase in organic reach. I also encourage everyone in the company to like and share our posts as well. This increases impressions and reaches a different audience than what we mostly target.” – Morgan O’Mara, Digital Content Coordinator at Shred Nations
There are a number of ways of engaging with your audience including giving advice, starting discussions, asking or answering questions. By contributing something regularly you will soon establish a good reputation on your social media channels, and people will start to keep an eye out for content that you post.
5. Take advantage of Facebook advertising
Facebook advertising often doesn’t get its due credit. It is an amazing way to target your audience and expand your marketing efforts. Facebook advertising allows you to duplicate data from your customer relationship management records and use it to target a similar consumer base on Facebook. This means you can tap a whole new set of people who are also interested in your services or products.
“Using Facebook specifically, you can test campaign ideas to very granular demographics and receive rapid feedback, which in turn can help you optimize your campaign (better demographic targeting, new promotion angle) – ultimately resulting in lower spend per user acquired and more effective advertising (conversion rates). The learnings gained from Facebook advertising (about audience demographics and campaign angles) can also help inform subsequent media buy and PPC advertising.” – Amanda Orson, Director of Marketing at EngineerJobs.com
With Facebook advertising you can even run A/B testing and try out your advertising campaigns to see which ones perform better. This way you can tweak and improve your ad campaigns to reach a better set of consumers. It offers an inexpensive way of marketing your business effectively, and also provides an insight into how well your campaigns are performing.
6. Seek out cross-promotion opportunities
You have probably already heard how important it is to promote your brand or business on as many social media channels as possible. It is equally important to keep your eye out for opportunities where you will be able to cross-promote your product. Facebook might just be the most useful channel when it comes to providing cross promotion opportunities because it has no dearth of pages and groups where there is a lot of audience interacting with each other.
“Using Facebook to reach out to groups/pages with large followings that tap into your demographic. Reach out to the people who manage those pages and see if there is any kind of opportunity for cross promotion. Many times if you’re willing to offer a discounted product or service to the followers of their group they’ll happily promote you. This turns into a great win/win situation for everyone.” – David Batchelor, President/Founder at DialMyCalls.com
Choose a social media platform that you think works best for your type of business model and take it from there. You can even put up links to all your social media profiles on your blog where they are easily visible. This will help direct your audience to your social media pages as well.
7. Start blogging because it matters
Whether you would like to believe it or not, growth hacking isn’t just about creating a strong presence on Facebook, Twitter and other popular social media networks. Growth hacking is much more than that, and content is something that acts as fuel for it. At the get go, blogging might seem like a mundane task where you are penning down a few posts every week, but aren’t seeing the expected results. But give it some time, and don’t lose heart just yet.
“Start small with a plan and build. If someone only has time for one thing, I suggest a regular blog post on their self-hosted website. It helps the search engines return to their website more frequently helping them to rank higher in search results. Those blog posts then become content for all of the other social media platforms that you add when you have more time or have hired someone to help you.” – Dee Reinhardt, Owner of Time2Mrkt.com
Regardless of the type of business you own, your audience will want to see and read regular content. So create unique content, promote it on the right platform, and maintain a steady flow of weekly posts.
8. Share valuable content
Sharing great content never grows old. Quite similar to blogging regularly, you also need to churn out engaging content – whether it be original or curated. Content marketing is all about putting out valuable information that your audience will quickly and gladly consume. You might think that curating or creating content is a wasted effort, but it is actually one of the best ways of getting your message across without being too aggressive.
“Find out what your target audience is talking about and share relevant articles, news, updates from influencers in the industry. Providing your audience with interesting, valuable insights via social media platforms is an easy way to attract new followers and keep them engaged over time. Websites like WeFollow can help you to discover what your audience is talking about simply by searching a hashtag.” – Jennifer Horowitz, Marketing Assistant at Life In Mobile
Plan out your content marketing strategy, and brainstorm ideas on how you can create an effective strategy that will benefit your business. Don’t do this haphazardly because that can have really adverse effects. Great content holds the potential to tell great stories and really connect with your consumer on a more personal level.
If you need a helping hand with content curation, there are some amazing content curation tools out there that you can check out:
– DrumUp: a nifty tool that discovers relevant content, and also allows you to schedule it to your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages.
– Feedly: allows you to add RSS feeds of your favourite blogs and websites, and lets you categorize the content according to topics.
– Flipboard: provides you with an awesome platform for news-reading, where you can find good sources, and read about topics that might be of interest to you. You can also share the content on Facebook and Twitter individually.
9. Collect email addresses through short forms on websites
Social media may be all the rage, but email marketing is still very much in business. Harvesting email addresses can lead to bulk contact information which can come in very handy when you want to let your consumers know about a new product or service launch. However, collecting these email addresses is where the challenge lies. Visitors who come to your website are generally looking for a smooth user experience, and are not probably not very open to filling out long forms with their details. To collect those precious email addresses you will need to tackle the issue smartly.
“A great way to use social media in growth hacks doesn’t even involve sending a single post – it relies on the data you can get from social media. We all know conversion rates go down as the number of fields on a landing page go up. So we all want to keep our forms as short as possible, even if that means having less data on our audience. But why does it have to be one or the other? We use a tool to get a ton of data while still keeping forms short. When you ask the user for their email on a landing page, its API pulls their social data for you, so you can get the info without sacrificing user experience.” – Brittany Berger, Content & PR Manager at Mention
Most growth hackers create email opt-in forms on their landing pages for visitors to quickly input their email addresses without a lot of hassle. You can collect email address through your website’s landing pages, and collect any additional data using social media platforms.
10. Keep your social media profiles up-to-date
If having a strong presence on social media channels is the key to success, then it is definitely no secret that your social media profiles need to be complete and up-to-date. Make sure you change your profile and cover photos from time to time. This is a great way of letting people know that you are paying attention to all your profiles, and are actually making an effort to spruce them up.
“Be protective of your social space. Claim all your profiles, add relevant imagery and content to your bios and connect with influencers on each channel. Be aware of what is attached to your name within the digital world, specifically on social media. Outdated or abandoned profiles are just ugly and I’ve seen many brands have a spike in followers and engagement once they cleaned up their spaces, ultimately boosting their clout.” – Christine Rochelle, Director of Digital Marketing & Operations at Lotus823
Abandoned or incomplete profiles are the last things you want to have. Keep searching for your name on Google every month to ensure that your name or your brand’s name hasn’t been associated with anything negative. After all, reputation is everything on social media.
It wouldn’t be true if we said that growth hacking is easier than traditional marketing methods. However, it cannot be denied that growth hacking techniques are definitely more effective in marketing your brand, especially start-ups.
We hope that these tips from industry professionals have helped you, and we would love to know about any other growth hacking strategies that you might have implemented in your business. Let us know in the comments section below.
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