Facebook continues to be the most widely used social media platform, with 79% of American internet users. Based on total population (not just internet users), 68% of U.S. adults (you know, your customers) use it. Instagram receives the silver medal with 32% of users, and LinkedIn and Twitter at 29% and 24% respectively. 76% of Facebook users visited the site daily during 2016, with over 1.6 billion daily visitors, compared to 70% of daily usage in 2015. The average LinkedIn user spends 17 minutes on the site per month. 51% of Instagram users access the platform daily, and 35% say they look at the platform several times per day. Almost 80% of time spent on social media platforms happens on mobile.
For a lot of organizations—including business, nonprofits, and governmental agencies— use of social media very often begins in Marketing, Public Communications, or a similar office or department with a direct connection to customers and stakeholders. This makes sense given that a typical driver for getting involved with social media is a slew of negative comments, a need for virality, or a boost to overall awareness in the marketplace and especially in the minds and hearts of those customers increasingly out of reach of interruptive (a.k.a traditional) media. In a word, many organizations are looking for engagement and they see social media as the way to get it.
Here are a few tips to guide your social media marketing:
1. BE PREPARED TO SPEND
There’s a huge myth that social media marketing is 100% free. It’s true that social media levels the playing field for smaller companies bootstrapping on a shoestring budget, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t spend money. Running ads on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn can give your company an added boost and more visibility quickly.
Advertising on social networking sites gives you the advantage to target on a much deeper level than you’d get by paying for a banner on a single site or even using Google AdWords. For example, Facebook lets you narrow down your demographic according to age, education, location, Pages they have liked and a wide range of other criteria. You can get started on a minimal budget and get a great ROI.
2. BUILD RELATIONSHIPS
It is easy to neglect the social aspect of social media. But if you want to build your presence, you need to start interacting with customers, influencers and other people in your industry. The beauty of social media is that it allows you to build relationships with people all over the globe within a matter of minutes.
Instead of focusing on getting as many followers as possible, focus on getting engaged followers. The difference is that engaged followers with whom you have established relationships with are more likely to Retweet, Like and +1 your content than someone who only followed you because you followed them first.
Here are a few tips for relationship building through social media:
- Always, @mention people you reference in your social media posts
- Answer questions people ask.
- Reply when people @mention you or share your content.
- Don’t just Retweet and Like other people’s content; reply with a comment to start a conversation.
3. IDENTIFY YOUR AUDIENCE
“Every social media user cannot be a potential buyer of your product”. Using analytics, profiling is important for an effective marketing on social media. Who are you looking to reach on social media? There are millions of consumers on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest, so you have to narrow down your target customers to know where your focus will be. Identifying your audience is going to play a role in determining:
- Which social media sites you’re active on
- Your posting schedule
- The type of content you publish
- Your voice”
- The information in your profiles
Once you’ve segmented your audience, get to know what their challenges are, how they use social media and what other brands they engage with on social media. Looking at how your audience interacts with other brands they follow will give you an idea of what resonates the most with them. Then, it’s just a matter of mixing in those elements with your own style.
4. CREATE CONTENT TO SUIT YOUR AUDIENCE
Buying decision revolves around emotional connectivity. Hence, content should talk more about what a customer will gain rather than talking about features of the product.
5. BE HUMAN
One of the worst mistakes you can make on social media is coming off as the faceless corporation with zero personality. In today’s age of transparency, people want to get to know your company on a more personal level.
A lot of companies have gotten into the practice of creating separate Twitter accounts specifically for handling customer support issues. This is an amazing opportunity to humanize your brand. A great example is the Toronto Transit Commission’s TTCHelps Twitter account. Every response to a customer has the initials of the person who sent the Tweet. On top of that, it uses “I” when replying instead of “we”, which really makes customers feel like they are having a more personal interaction.
Be consistent in the entire process is important to maintain originality.Do not be here today and away tomorrow. Build a consistent presence that your audience can row to know, like and trust.
7. PROPER MONITORING AND EVALUATION.
Create post schedule and properly monitor their performance. Engagement metrics and analytics should provide data which will help to make informed choices in messages, etc.
8. HELP INSTEAD OF SELLING ALWAYS
Social media is one of the best platforms to use for content marketing. One of the main concepts behind content marketing is providing value to your audience without always expecting anything in return. Use that same approach when you are building your presence on social media.
Extend a helping hand or give out advice rather than your products each time you are engaged with an audience. Someone might tweet or post a question pertaining to a problem your product could solve; rather than always proposing your product, propose a link to a blog concerning that problem. This way, you are putting it out to your audience that you are not all about the money but to help.
By offering solutions to problems instead of just pitching your products all the time, you’re proving your company is an authority and potentially earning a lifelong customer.
9. GET VISUALS
Social media and visuals go together extremely well. In fact, images were rated as the most important tactic for optimizing content for social media. They also get more engagement. So if you want to make a big impact on social media, start posting more images.
What type of images should you post? Generic stock photos aren’t going to do the trick. Some of the most shared types of images for social media are:
- Team photos
- Photos of customers
- Photos of events
- Behind-the-scenes photos
- Quote photos
The one thing that these types of visuals all have in common is that they’re made by you. Don’t forget to brand custom graphics with your logo or website name so people can trace them back to your company. There is always the potential for a selfie to go viral or infographic to get shared by authorities in your industry. That is a quick way to add a boost to your social media presence.
10. CREATE AND SHARE AMAZING CONTENT
Above all else, you need to commit to creating and sharing the most high-quality content possible. That means creating share-worthy blog posts and curating the best content related to your industry. Where a lot of companies fall short is they’ll only share their own content to avoid sending traffic to other sites. That can end up doing more harm than good.
Your followers want great content regardless of what site it is on. By being the source on Twitter, Facebook or Google+ to find that content, you are giving consumers a reason to follow you. Not only that, but you will also have a much better chance of getting people to engage with you. An example of a company that does a great job of sharing not just their own content, but also curating other articles is HP. Its Google+ Page is a mixture of curated and original content.