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social media

Did you know 22% of the world’s population uses Facebook? Or that Instagram has 1 billion active users?

That’s why social media is an awesome place to promote your business; everyone uses it.

Facebook has been the gold standard for social media promotion because of its low cost and high number of users. But Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn also provide great opportunities to win customers.

Today, we’re going to talk about social media promotions in general, specifically the elements of a good promotion, and describe 10 in detail for you to swipe for your own marketing.

Let’s get started with one of the most common questions we hear when businesses are thinking of getting social…

Which Social Media Site Should My Business Use?

One of the biggest mistakes businesses make is trying to be everywhere at once. It’s foolish to promote yourself on every social media site in existence.

Even if you have profiles on multiple social media sites, start with one or two until you get the hang of promoting your business. Today’s customers are less attracted to advertising and blatant sales pitches. It will take practice to win their trust, and that’s hard to do if you spread yourself too thin.

You also need to understand the nuances of each platform. People come to Facebook for different reasons than Twitter. Take some time to learn about the purpose of each one.

The best way to determine where to concentrate your attention is to look to your customers. If you don’t have any customers yet, come up with an ideal customer profile and do some research.

Ask the following questions to current and prospective customers:

  •     What social media sites do you use the most?
  •     When researching a new product or service online, where do you look for reviews and recommendations?
  •     What influencers do you follow and where do you follow them (Instagram, Facebook, etc.)?
  •     What social media sites do you view as the most trustworthy?
  •     Have you bought anything by clicking on an ad? If so, where was the ad posted?

After you decide where to focus, it’s time to start crafting some clever campaigns, which leads us to another consideration for your social marketing campaign…

Free vs. Paid Social Promotions

Back in the day, businesses treated social media like free advertising. The early adopters enjoyed less competition and a bigger share of attention. Once other businesses started seeing the results these early adopters got, they jumped on the social media bandwagon.

What once was just a way for friends to stay in touch turned into big business. Social media sites started adjusting their algorithms. This meant businesses no longer had the undivided attention of social media users. Paid advertising was introduced, and businesses that wanted to stay relevant had to pay to play.

If you want to find new customers on social media, you will need to invest in some paid promotions. However, if you have a very active and engaged community, you can do a little of both paid and unpaid promotions and still experience great results.

Now that you have a basic understanding of social media promotions, we want to share 10 social media promo ideas you can use in your own marketing.


1. Targeted Advertising

Facebook advertising is extremely popular because of the low cost and ease of use, making the barrier to get in extremely low. You can hire a marketing agency to set up a campaign or start with a DIY version.

One thing that small businesses don’t take advantage of is Facebook’s audience targeting features. It allows you to customize the places your ad will appear based on a variety of demographics. You can combine demographics like age, interests, and income to make a super-targeted Facebook ad that will appeal to your ideal customer.

Financial services company LearnVest took advantage of this by creating three different money guides for Facebook users: two were for specific age groups, and the third was generic but showed each of the three guides in the graphic.

Key Takeaway: Invest in ads that are relevant to your best customers to maximize your return on investment (ROI).

2. Facebook Giveaways

Everyone loves something for free, right? Giveaways are a great way to get your product or service in front of potential customers. If they win, they are likely to tell all their friends, bringing even more attention to your business.

Before getting started, make sure you understand the Facebook giveaway rules as they change frequently. What seems harmless to you may violate their terms of service.

What should you give away? Something directly related to your business. For service businesses, gift your service and attach a dollar value to it. Don’t make prospects guess the value.

If you have an active and engaged Facebook community, you can post your giveaway on your business page without paying for advertising. But, if you want potential customers to see it, you can boost the post to extend your reach.

Before digging into our example, another word of advice is to use software designed for this purpose. It’s inexpensive and can help you avoid breaking any of the rules. These contests are promoted on Facebook and link to a landing page, where the customer can enter their information. A couple of popular ones to try are Woobox and Wishpond.

Cocoon Medical Spa ran a great promotion for a free two-night holiday in Bali. They used a simple black and white graphic with an orange call to action. The landing page detailed exactly what was included in the prize and how long it was valid for.

social media

Key Takeaway: Give relevant prizes and be sure to follow all the rules when creating social media giveaways.


3. Tweet Chats

Tweet chats are a classic form of social media promotion. The idea is simple: your brand hosts a discussion on topics of interest to your audience. Tweet chat hosts often advertise prizes as an incentive to get people to join, but this isn’t necessary.

Tweet chats do double-duty as a promotion vehicle and a way to learn more about your customers. Discussions that go well often turn into regularly scheduled events and can attract a large audience.

The image below shows a scheduled chat hosted by social media management software company Sprout Social and moderated by Brooke Sellas. Note that this chat is focused on starting a social media agency and includes the hashtag to join as well as date and time.

social media

Key Takeaway: Create a chat that would interest your best customers and promote it with a catchy graphic that includes all the info they need to join.

4. Twitter Polls

Like tweet chats, Twitter polls are a great way to promote your products and service, get your Twitter community engaged, and learn about your customers at the same time.

Polls can be entertaining, silly, or serious. Use emojis to get people’s attention and make it relevant. Many polls revolve around the time of the year, a current news topic, or a relevant holiday like National Donut Day.

The best Twitter polls incorporate hashtags or links and convey a brand’s personality. Since Twitter is notorious for users with short attention spans, keep the topic short and sweet.

Online auction giant eBay used a Twitter poll to get social followers to vote on their next deal. This takes the guesswork out of what interests your customers and makes it easy to create deals that do well.

social media

Key Takeaway: When creating Twitter polls, keep it relevant to your customers and use hashtags.


5. Instagram Stories

Instagram is the most popular visual social media platform on the internet. Now that the network has been acquired by Facebook, it’s easy to create campaigns that run on both platforms.

Instagram stories are different than traditional posts. You can find them in a bar above the feed. A user clicks on your profile to view your stories, which disappear after 24 hours. There are a ton of different ways to create Instagram stories, and you have a variety of editing options at your disposal.

Our post on marketing with Instagram stories covers the types, editing options, and third-party tools in more detail. When done correctly, these stories wow potential customers before they buy.

Italian shoe maker M. Gemi uses Instagram stories to show the care that goes into each pair of shoes. They created a video that gives a glimpse into their manufacturing process, showing that their shoes are made by hand, and offered a glance at the finished product in the image below. Since the amount of time the post is available for is limited, choose your images carefully.

social media

Key Takeaway: Combine images and text to quickly convey your message to Instagram followers who are often ready to buy.

6. Testimonials

Social proof is one of the most effective ways to show potential customers the benefits of your product or service. By providing real life examples of happy customers, it’s easy for them to put themselves in that person’s shoes.

The visual format of Instagram lends itself well to this particular type of promotion. Combine an intriguing post with a picture of your happy customer, and you’ve got a winning combination. Tagging the customer in the post shows all their friends how happy they are with their experience, providing an easy way to win referral business.

Fitness giant Orange Theory combines great branding with a before and after picture of one of their customers. The post includes quotes from Lucia, an Orange Theory client who experienced huge success after joining. The image below provides a perfect example of a successful Instagram testimonial.

social media

Key Takeaway: Combine images, branding, and relevant hashtags with a testimonial to get attention on Instagram.


7. Custom Filters and Lenses

Snapchat is a fun way to promote your business among millennials. There’s a variety of ways to create custom filters or lenses to promote your brand, a specific product, or an event.

Filters are overlays that appear on top of a photo taken by Snapchat users. Lenses use augmented reality to create interactive experiences, like changing yourself into a taco, or changing the frame when you perform a specific action like opening your mouth or raising your eyebrows.

Geofilters are a type of filter only available in a specific location. All filters have a time limit that specifies how long they are available. But geofilters also limit where a Snapchat user can access a filter.

Starbucks used geofilters to their advantage for a Frappuccino Happy Hour campaign. The filter below was only available to Snapchat users close to a local Starbucks during their Happy Hour (between the hours of 2 to 5pm, Monday through Friday). When users saw the filter, they were reminded about the promo and many flocked to their local Starbucks to pick up their favorite Frappuccino.

social media

Key Takeaway: Use geofilters to target local users and remind them of current promotions.

8. Snapchat Stories

Though Instagram Stories are insanely popular, Snapchat was the first to invent the story as a way to promote products and services.

Snapchat stories are a series of images that you string together to create a special offer for customers. You can add branded hashtags, links to landing pages, instructions, and more to show users how to take advantage of special deals.

These stories disappear after a certain amount of time, so remember to create compelling offers with attention-grabbing images and information.

Online food ordering service GrubHub combined text-only screens with images of a disappearing pizza to build suspense for a special offer code with a very limited amount of time to use it. The image below shows each screen in order as the offer builds up to reveal the code and give details on the very last screen.

social media

Key Takeaway: Use text and images to build suspense for your offer, and don’t forget to provide details like expiration date and time.

Multi-Channel Promotions

9. Contests

Not to be confused with a giveaway. Contests require people to do something more than enter an email address to win. Photo contests are popular, especially in the fall when vacation season is winding down and families have lots of great shots to share. The way you run the contest is up to you, just make sure you follow the rules of the social media platform.

These contests generate leads in two ways: first, through the people who enter the contest, and second, from the people who submit votes. By collecting the email addresses of both, you have a fresh list to send relevant emails to.

One of the most creative social media contests on the web comes from creative agency Havas Worldwide Chicago. Their #iamheretotakeyourjob Intern Draft spurred the creation of over 800 Instagram posts and, the company says, a 133% increase in the number of Instagram followers. (Plus, they got a fresh batch of summer interns to boot!)

10. User-Generated Content

According to a 2017 User-Generated Content study by TINT, 73% of respondents said this type of content makes brands appear more authentic.

User-generated content is defined as any type of content created about a company by someone outside of it (this includes reviews). While you cannot create user-generated content, you can collect it and use it on your Facebook page, website, or marketing materials as a form of social proof.

Online healthy grocery retailer Brandless does a great job of highlighting user-generated content from Instagram on its page. The image below shows their latest mentions with the Instagram profile name listed underneath.

social media

Wrapping It Up

Social media promotions are more than just traditional advertising. Every platform attracts different types of users and provides a variety of ways to get your message across.

In addition to promoting your marketing on social media, including a link in your email signature is a great way to get your offers noticed.

What other social media promotions do you use in your marketing efforts? Tell us in the comments!


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