In the first post in this series, we looked at why social media should be an important part of your marketing strategy, as well as a few of the (bad) reasons that so many cigar companies have ignored utilizing social media to engage their customers and boost sales.
In this post, we’ll look at a few of the important platforms to utilize, as well as some basic principles for use.
But first, for business owners who have set up their Facebook and Twitter accounts, linked the two, and called it a day, a word of caution: presence alone won’t cut it. No matter how similar some social platforms might seem on first glance, they each cater to different audiences, and also have different standards for content.
An Abrams Research Luxury Social Media Guide puts it this way:
“Pinterest and Fancy, for example, might seem similar because both rely on visual collage boards. However, 97% of all U.S. Pinterest users are women using it primarily as a source of inspiration, while 60% of all Fancy members are males interested in learning about new products. These differences are crucial, and they illustrate the importance of creating unique campaigns for different platforms.”
Like any public speaker would tell you: know your audience. Only then can you cater to it.
To use social media effectively, cigar companies should have a compelling brand presence on these platforms:
By virtue of its over 1 billion users, Facebook is still the dominant force in social media marketing. Advertising is effective and relatively cheap, and word of mouth referrals through user interaction can be very helpful.
Brands represent themselves on Facebook using company pages. They work very similarly to a Facebook profile, but with a few key differences, including:
- Pages can advertise to unconnected users. Personal profiles cannot.
- Pages are by default open to the public.
- Pages offer administrators key information in the “insights” panel.
A good Facebook page will tell a company story to using pictures, videos, and other unique content. Do not simply repost marketing materials or content from Twitter. Many brands are in the habit of this, and as a result have low interaction and actually lose followers over time. Your Facebook content should be unique, carry a strong personality, and present a cohesive image of your brand to your followers. To do this, be sure to present content exclusive to Facebook, instead of just borrowing text, images, and links from your website.
Use Facebook to:
- Broadcast company announcements (new products, etc) to fans.
- Announce special sales.
- Post behind-the-scenes content (pictures of the factory, office, parties, etc) to increase interaction and spread via word of mouth.
- Create engagement to fuel referrals.
Twitter is all about conversation. Because it is an open platform, any user can contact another user simply by tweeting at him using the @ mention. Similarly, users can send direct messages to each other, which can be particularly useful for connecting with customers, building relationships, and bringing them into your retail location.
Twitter is also incredibly fast moving. On Facebook, some estimates suggest that while a Facebook post might have an average life span of 5 or more hours, a single tweet clocks in at about 45 minutes before it is buried. With so many tweets, it is important to post more often on Twitter to stay a part of the conversation.
The structural differences between Twitter and Facebook make for huge differences in strategy, and are why reposting Facebook content on Twitter (or vice versa) is harmful to your brand. We’ll talk more about Twitter in a later post.
Use Twitter to:
- Interact one on one with customers and potential customers – greatly increases referrals and brand loyalty.
- Answer customer service complaints – increases brand loyalty and limits damage done by unhappy customer.
- Share important company news announcements – keeps your Twitter audience in the know
- Make new business connections – no need for an introduction, just join the conversation and watch the relationships grow.
Available only on mobile phones, Instagram is a community of photographers, hobbyists, and life-lovers that share the best moments of their lives. Since cigars are all about the good life, it makes intuitive sense that Instagram would have a large cigar community. And it does. Every day, thousands of cigar smokers post pictures on Instagram. By reaching out to this community and posting unique, beautiful, or behind the scenes cigar related photos, you will build an audience that is very aware of your product and (if your product is good) very likely to buy your product in the future.
When I work with cigar companies, Instagram is a platform that I really focus on because it is so easy to convert an Instagram follower to a customer. Often times all it takes is for me to ask a smoker that commented on my photo if he has ever tried my brand for him to express enthusiasm for buying my cigars. But the real magic isn’t in the resulting business transaction—the magic is when that same user posts a photo of my cigars a few days later, and I see his friends asking him where they can buy some for themselves! That’s the power of social referrals.
Use Instagram to:
- Entice followers to buy your product.
- Follow up with customers after they visit or purchase.
- Proactively engage your customers and followers.
Relatively speaking, Google+ doesn’t have a large user base. Your customers, in fact, probably aren’t using Google+ consistently.
So what makes it so important? Simple: your Google+ page is almost guaranteed a top search result on Google searches, which provides a great opportunity to put your best foot forward in a top Google search result. If you load your Google+ page with links to your business website, you’ll also get a significant SEO boost for your website.
Google+ is now also integrated in to other important Google tools like Google Maps and Google Places. When someone finds your business on Google Maps and clicks “More Info,” that user is now sent to your Places page, which pulls its information from your Google+ business page. So, no Google+ page means:
- Lower SEO score (less traffic to website).
- Probable blank page on Google Places.
- A big opportunity missed to make a good first impression on a Google search.
By the way, this applies to everyone, not just cigar companies. If you are an actor, a freelancer, or a big company, you need to set up your Google+ page… now. If you still aren’t convinced that you need to utilize this great, free online boost, read this and this.
Use Google+ to:
- Get an immediate SEO boost for your company website.
- Inform casual searchers about your company, location, products, etc.
- Place a positive, relevant link on the top of a search result for your company.
- Interact with customers on Google+.
That is a basic overview of the importance and uses of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Google+. Of course, it is important here to note that to manage social media successfully, you must identify upcoming trends in social media and be prepared to expand to new platforms. Platforms like LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr, and YouTube are all important and can serve luxury brands well. But small and even midsized businesses rarely have a full time social media team that can suit the needs of posting across five or ten platforms. In my experience it is best to choose only the platforms that will best serve business, and then build brand equity from there.
Now that you have a general idea of the uses of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Google+, our next post will look at some specific strategies to a) build a large audience, b) increase engagement, and c) make sales.
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