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Pet Business Marketing Guide - Step Three: Engaging on Social Media

This is the third step in a mini three-part series on creating a successful pet business marketing strategy. You can find all three parts in the eBook: The Complete Guide to Pet Business Marketing in 2017. 

Congratulations! If you’ve been following along our mini three-part series on pet business marketing, you should now have a marketing plan and a strategy for maintaining your website presence.

Now that you have content and a fantastic website, you’ll want to promote them in a space where you can communicate with your customers one-on-one: social media. Everyone’s on social networks these days, and if you’re not taking full advantage of it, you’re missing out on some real opportunities to create loyal customers for your brand.

1) Identify key social platforms

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The first step to being successful on social media as a pet business is identifying which social media platforms you should be on. There are many social networks these days, and it’s nearly impossible to fully engage on all of them. Therefore, picking just two or three platforms will ensure you have the bandwidth to properly engage with your customers online.

When choosing your social media presence, ask yourself where your customers are at. You should know who your target customer is from the work you’ve completed on your marketing plan. Use this knowledge to identify which platforms your customers are using the most, because that’s where you’ll want to be.

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To help you out, here’s some of the top social networks and what they’re primarily used for:

Facebook

Almost everyone is on it, so it’s one of the most popular platforms in the world. Keep in mind that because everyone’s on it, Facebook has made it nearly impossible to reach anyone, even those who like your page, without somewhat of a budget. Nevertheless, it’s a smart idea to have a Facebook page and keep it updated with the on-goings of your business so your customers can easily interact with you on the most-used platform. Recommended for pet retailers, manufacturers, and distributors.

Twitter

This platform is great for quick, real-time messages and chats you may want to have with your customers. If you’re looking to have a discussion with your customers, this would be a great place to do so. Additionally, if you have lots of little tidbits of news to share throughout the day (i.e. updates on what the company’s pet is up to), Twitter is the best place to share those. Recommended for pet retailers, manufacturers, and distributors.

Instagram

This highly-visual platform has become a key player in the B2C category, and it very much applies to the pet industry as well. Instagram is a great place to share your brand in a visual way - introduce new brands, partner with pet influencers, share pet stories, show product interaction (with people & pets), and more. It’s currently the place to be online, especially if you’ve got a visual story to tell. Recommended for pet retailers and manufacturers.

LinkedIn

This social media platform is still the best place to be present if your business is B2B. Not just for job searchers, LinkedIn can actually be a powerful platform for pet professionals looking to keep up on market trends and learn what’s new in the industry. If you’re keen on publishing about these topics and starting long, professional discussions, LinkedIn is where it’s at. Recommended for pet manufacturers and distributors.

Google+

Thought of as kind of the “failed” social media experiment by Google, this platform is surprisingly useful for increasing your website’s ranking. Being present on Google+ will allow your customers to more easily find your place of business (if location-based, like a pet specialty retailer) and may help boost your website’s rank on the search engine. Recommended for pet retailers.

Other social media platforms to consider include Pinterest, Medium, YouTube, and Flickr. Each network comes with its own pros and cons and may not relate to your business. Once you decide upon 2-3 networks to focus on, remember to set SMART goals and refer to them on a monthly, quarterly, and yearly basis to justify ROI. You’ll find that some networks will do better for your business than others, so be prepared to make changes accordingly.

2) Create a social media calendar

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The key to staying organized and on track with social media is by keeping a calendar of posts. The length of your social media calendar may vary based on what you’re comfortable with, but the most popular options tend to be monthly and quarterly calendars.

Here’s how to get started with creating a calendar:

  1. Start with a free template (we recommend this one from HubSpot) and customize it to fit your business
  2. Put together a list of content you want to promote during this time frame (future content is OK to plan for)
  3. Research any relevant holidays (including silly ones like National Pancake Day and, more importantly, National Dog Day) to keep in mind during this time frame
  4. Put together a list of relevant events (including Global Pet Expo and/or any store events you may be holding)
  5. Put everything on the calendar and plan for posts that are relevant to the events & “holidays” you identified are relevant to your business

There you go - now you have a full scope of what you’ll be posting on social media during this time frame! This will not only help you stay more organized, but will also alleviate stress when it comes to figuring out what to post at any given time.

3) Search relevant hashtags

Many brands make the mistake of creating a social media page, uploading their logo & mission statement, posting once a week (maybe), and calling it a day. Unfortunately for them, social media doesn’t quite work like that. What you get out of any platform will be equal to the amount of effort (or budget) you put in. If you’re only publishing your posts once a week and not engaging with your followers or conducting outreach, you’re missing out on many of the benefits social media provides.pet-business-marketing-guide-social-media-hashtags.png

Think about it this way, if you had a group of people {some who are new leads who haven’t heard of you and others who are loyal customers) gathered in a room for a period of time, you wouldn’t just walk in and say “Look how awesome I am, talk about me!” and then leave, would you?

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Imagine social media as that room full of people. You can find those who are interested in you by searching relevant hashtags such as #petfood and #catsofinstagram to find customers who fit in your target audience. If you want to drill down even further, you can even get more local and search things like #dogsofseattle to find customers near you.

Once you find these customers, engage with them. Like their photos, comment helpful messages (more than just “great photo!”), and even follow the ones you really like. Do this a couple times a day for just a few minutes and you’ll see your followers and engagement steadily increase.

4) Monitor social media to keep up on latest trends

Staying engaged with your customers starts with finding them, starting conversations with them, and publishing posts they care about. However, you can also monitor social media to keep up on the latest trends. Then, spread the word and participate in these discussions to gain a relevant audience of people who trust you, and therefore want to buy from you!

For example, Twitter lists their trending topics both on the app and in the desktop version. Monitoring and participating in trending topics relevant to your business will ensure you’re a part of the discussion and help people find your page. If #nationaldogday is trending, you’re probably going to want to participate so that others celebrating that day can find and celebrate with you.

You can apply these methods to other social media platforms as well. Do some research on what’s trending in your category, and make sure to post and engage with others on these trending topics. This is just another great way of establishing your presence online and ensuring you get the most ROI out of your pet business marketing strategies.

Learn More

This is the final step in a mini three-part series on creating a successful marketing strategy for your pet business. You can find all three parts in the eBook: The Complete Guide to Pet Business Marketing in 2017.  

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ashley Hoffman – E-Commerce & Digital Marketing Manager joined the All Points family in 2015 and adds a little bit of fun to the team with her creativity and dumb jokes. Ashley is always on the lookout for the latest trends in marketing and applying it to how All Points does business. She is the blogging guru, social media master, e-commerce account management expert, and brand builder all in one. The best part is that she’s the loving owner of two beautiful cats named Kitty and Chewbacca.

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