6 Subtle Social Media Marketing Tactics

by Steven Graham

Social media is a hugely valuable source of traffic, but tapping into it to grow your online business takes a slightly different approach than more traditional forms of digital marketing. As the name implies, people use social media to gather and converse, and outright commercialism isn’t often a good fit for this type of environment. However, marketers with nous know that with the right approach, lucrative traffic is there for the taking; it just means employing methods with a little more subtlety than in other fields. Here are six examples of approaches that can generate excellent results.

Use Influencers

Establishing users’ trust is vital in social media marketing if you don’t want them to see you as the soulless corporate who’s only interested in sales. One excellent way of building this trust is to leverage the existing reputation of influencers, social media personalities who have following thanks to the high-quality, apparently uncommercial nature of their postings. For a fee, many of these influencers will gently work mentions of your products or services into their content, which is highly effective in passing on some of their hard-won trust to your brand.

Influencer marketing is a new twist on the venerable technique of celebrity endorsements, but with one crucial difference: as a marketer, you’re not interested in raw numbers of followers, but in the credibility and non-commercial status of an influencer within their niche. Because of this, using many individual influencers each with a small but dedicated following often generates the best results for the cost, compared to big-bucks endorsements with greater reaches.

Use Humor Wisely

Deploying humor is a tricky tactic to pull off, but when done well it’ll go a long way toward building a positive brand image, especially if it’s a slightly self-deprecating form. First, there’s the chance of one particularly amusing joke being widely shared, even to the point of “going viral.” Second, it’s a low-key method of bringing your brand to people’s attention, without raising hackles by being overtly commercial. Lastly, it helps to humanize your image, showing that as a brand you don’t take yourself too seriously, and are interested in more than the simple bottom line.

However, you need to take care that your attempts at humor don’t backfire. If the joke falls flat and is obviously a cynical ploy to attract attention, your brand can appear needy and out of touch with the social media culture. Avoid this by hiring the help of an expert with a proven track record of having a finger on the social pulse.

Make Social Proof a Priority

From testimonials to brand advocates, marketers have long understood the power of recommendation. It’s also a perfect fit for the sharing nature of social media. Make it a vital part of your strategy to develop high-quality, believable user-generated content (UGC) of one kind or another, and integrate it well into your social feeds. Blasting your followers with nothing but incredible, glowing reports will probably be counterproductive, but bringing your customers into your content mix helps develop a human face while building valuable social proof.

Tell Staff Stories

Although happy customers make the best brand advocates, your staff can play their part too. Instead of creating purely promotional content, develop videos and so on featuring staff members who are photogenic, have vibrant personalities, can tell an interesting back-story, or have any other distinguishing characteristics. Once again, if you can produce non-commercial, engaging content with a human face, the benefits to your brand perception can be enormous.

Involve Your Audience

Social is all about interaction and sharing, and it’s a mistake to fight this by treating your feed as a broadcast channel. Instead, actively work to get your customers involved, whether it’s in simple conversational threads, caption competitions, or something more deeply involved such as product suggestions and discussion. Doing this will provide the activity for your feed while spreading brand awareness, and there’s every chance you’ll turn engaged customers into brand advocates, too.

The Good Old Giveaway

This last tactic is perhaps the least subtle of all but is still useful and highly suited to the sharing aspect of social. The basic idea is to launch a contest or giveaway with genuinely useful prizes, making it easy for anyone to enter with no particular skill or knowledge required. The twist is that for an entry to be counted, it needs to be accompanied by a share, like, retweet, or another method of engagement on your chosen social platform. If you make your giveaway attractive enough, and focus on its benefits rather than promoting your brand, you’ll quickly receive broad exposure without looking unappealingly commercial.

Social media now accounts for well over half of online referrals to businesses with well-balanced traffic profiles, but harnessing this flow means playing a better social game than your competitors. When you use a little skill and subtlety to weave yourself into social’s fabric of interactions and sharing, the rewards are enormous.

I am a digital marketer that got my start marketing my restaurant businesses in Costa Rica and San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. I took my online marketing success and joined an elite online SEO Mastermind to learn SEO. These skills have allowed me to drive traffic and leads to my clients and other SEO's websites. Now I am a digital nomad based out of Chandler, Arizona but spend much of my time in the Tropics.