Marketing with social media is fundamentally different from conventional marketing. The depth of connections that can be made with one’s audience is far greater than it can ever be with any other medium. The very nature of influence at this level requires that values and vision be in tune. Of course, with social media marketing, trial and error is not the only way to fail. Businesses fail by not being there at all. Learn the best practices of using social media for your business, and put them to work before your competition puts you out of work.
While this article does not provide in-depth strategies and processes for implementing social media marketing into your business, the following suggestions do provide a framework on which to build. Starting small and becoming familiar with certain channels before moving on to others is wise. Social media in all its various forms is an important force for communication, and your business will benefit from using it effectively.
Choose the Right Platforms
Don’t jump into whatever seems “hot” in social media at the time. Maximize your social media marketing by choosing platforms and practices that contribute to your core business strategy. For example, it may not be effective for your company to update its Twitter account every hour or provide how-to videos on YouTube. Every company is different in what they provide and how; what works for them may not have the same effects for you.
A wise beginning would be to determine which platforms your customers and target audience use, and then build your social media presence around those channels. Choose one or two of the top ones to begin and establish a respectable presence. Revenue impact is often hard to measure with social media marketing; however, putting some specific performance indicators in place will help you evaluate the effectiveness of your social media outreach. Measuring such data as likes, follows, comments, shares, and direct responses over time can help determine if these platforms are generating meaningful value for your company.
Choose the Right Practices
A primary objective of social media is to increase the reach and visibility of your company. Therefore, you should consider developing a social media presence on the major platforms to maximize reach results. For instance, while Facebook is the largest social media platform, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Instagram have the highest growth rates. Many businesses advertise and recruit talent on LinkedIn. Which social media channels are most likely to benefit your business, both in terms of reach and how you conduct your business?
Consider this: Twitter users often expect quick, almost immediate responses when they mention a company or service through that medium. If you do not have the resources to answer quickly, Twitter may not need to be part of your company’s social media strategy. Does your business lend itself well to images? Sharing images or short videos of your company in action, or valuable demonstrations, would fit perfectly into an Instagram or YouTube channel. If you value commenting and interaction, Facebook is a likely venue to generate the desired responses.
Choose the Right Goals
What do you wish to achieve through social media? Your business size, location, and purpose, will directly affect your social media goals. You must decide how your business can benefit best from social media and create a strategy to carry out your agenda. Many companies use social platforms to:
- Increase company credibility
- Drive traffic to their website
- Drive lead generation or purchases
- Demonstrate an attractive corporate identity and culture
- Increase the quantity of feedback from customers and leads
- Provide an additional avenue for customer service interactions
One survey discovered that 43% of customers are likely to recommend a product or service when the company responds in a timely manner on social media outlets. In fact, many prospective clients may find it more convenient to send a Tweet or compose a Facebook post or instant message than to connect by phone or email.
In the current culture, a social media presence lends credibility to your business. Companies without a social media presence are often viewed as small, backward, unprofessional, and even untrustworthy. A viable online presence can attract positive media coverage. Journalists and writers who are looking for interesting businesses to profile can find plenty of great leads if you are showcasing your company activities through various social media channels.
Choose the Right Content
Content is king on the internet and even more so on social media. After choosing what social media outlets best fit your business, develop a comprehensive plan for the content you wish to share. Using a systematic approach to content sharing will allow for easier organization and consistency across the various channels you use. Determine the frequency of your posts, the best times for posting on each channel, and what content best represents your company and resonates with your target audience.
You should always present engaging content on social media. Boring messages like, “Check out our latest deals,” will quickly scroll by without being noticed. And, such bland pronouncements also speak volumes about your brand. Instead, curate interesting posts that relate to your product or service. The best content causes your audience to interact with your brand. Content from other sources that provides value can also strengthen your voice as long as it is relevant to your business strategy.
Choose the Right Schedule
Social media management tools, such as Hootsuite and Buffer, can be incredibly helpful for planning posts in advance and selecting only specific channels through which you wish to share a particular message. This keeps your content sharing plan less erratic and can assist you in engaging your target audience at the times of highest potential reach on different channels.
Creating and maintaining an editorial calendar for your content allows for planning and producing quality content in advance. A calendar can provide a clear view of the week or month ahead, what is to be published and when, and on what channels. Sporadic, day-to-day social media sharing is tedious and difficult to maintain; moreover, such a short turnover time precludes producing or procuring quality content. Establishing and following a social media sharing calendar like the one offered by CoSchedule that covers a longer period of time is an effective strategy for curating quality, engaging content.
Effective social media marketing for business is not quick and easy. However, it has been proven by numerous businesses to be an effective way to generate traffic, leads, awareness, and ultimately, profit. Take the time to investigate the available channels and ascertain which ones best suit your business. Construct a social media marketing strategy and place your company’s products and services before an ever-increasing audience.