Social media marketing can be incredibly beneficial for businesses of any size. It can help you expand your reach, to personalise your brand experience, to improve your customer relationships, and to more closely target your market.
But while it might seem pretty straight-forward, it’s actually much harder than it looks to get right. Mastering social media actually requires a considerable amount of marketing expertise.
Here, we’ve put together seven essential tips for making the most of your social marketing presence.
1. Strategise first
It’s a good idea to lay out a sound social media marketing strategy before you actually run off into the sunset, Instagramming to your heart’s content. This will give your social media campaign direction and structure, and will help you adhere to a regular updating schedule.
Be clear and focused about what you plan to achieve through social media marketing, and create a plan, including a schedule outline.
Focus on engagement, growth, networking and relationship building.
It should also be noted that social media marketing is a double-edged sword. As noted earlier, you might think it’s all sunshine and pictures of baby sloths, but it’s harder than it looks. Inappropriate posts or an out-of-date account can actively work against you. Posting poorly worded content or conveying a message that’s discordant with your brand can cause considerable damage. If you use social media, make sure you use it properly. Unsure or don’t know how? Hire a professional who knows social media back to front.
2. Choose the right platform
One of the reasons why a lot of businesses are hesitant to tip their toes into the proverbial social media marketing pool in the first place is because there’s an overwhelming array of platform options – certainly too many to tackle all at once.
Don’t aim to be on all of them – even if they were all relevant, you wouldn’t find the time to manage them.
What you should do, however, is work out which platform is right for your industry, business type, objectives and audience.
Not all platforms will be suited to your particular business. For instance, image-based social network platforms like Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr would be relevant to you if your business’s products or services were highly visually oriented. Platforms like these would be suitable for, say, a tattoo parlour, fashion designer or pet store, but probably not an accounting firm.
Consider the following questions to work out which platforms you should be on:
- What is the unique purpose of the platform?
- Does the platform make sense for my content?
- What platforms does my target audience use? What types of audiences does this platform tend to serve?
- Does it make sense for my business type and industry? Do its attributes relate to my business needs?
- How much time on this network is necessary to have the most effective impact?
3. Pay attention to your audience
Audience may be the most important factor in social networking.
Identify what demographic you're trying to reach, and actually pay attention to what they're saying.
Social media marketing isn’t just about you. It would be detrimental to focus your campaign in a “Me! Me! Me!” direction. Listening is a key part of refining your marketing strategy, taking customer feedback on board, and working out what your clientele actually wants.
It’s also a very good idea to learn the basic of social metrics, or what to measure and why.
4. Images are everything
You’ve heard it all before: people on the internet are inherently visually oriented, and tend to have a limited attention span. This is nothing new, but it’s absolutely vital to remember.
In an information age where data can quickly become overwhelming and stimulation can easily go into overdrive, we have to pick and choose amongst a plethora of content options. As a result, we tend to skim through content to find what we’re looking for.
Research into the role of images in online consumption and interaction suggests that image-based content is highly effective in terms of customer engagement. A 37% increase in engagement levels is experienced when Facebook posts include images, and 94% more total views on average are driven by content containing images than image-free content.
Posting images on social media is clearly hugely effective. However, not all images are created equally. Share only high-quality images and ones that interest your target audience.
5. Encourage and value feedback
Reviews are a great way to receive public testimonials on social media. These provide an excellent channel in which your customers can spread the word about your products or services.
Strange though it may seem, negative or not-so-amazing reviews can also be useful here, too. By publically responding to an issue in a timely and transparent manner, you can potentially establish trust and credibility. Other customers (and prospective customers) will be able to see the way you resolve the situation in a public space, off the cuff.
Feedback is also valuable for refining and improving your business practices. Genuinely taking customer comments and reviews on board will enable you to objectively evaluate your business, customer service and products/services.
6. Add social media feeds or links to your website
Your website is the centralising force in your online presence. Social media should always reflect back to it. Actually, one of the benefits of using social media marketing in the first place is the way in which this can direct more traffic to your site.
This cycle of direction – website, social media, website – should be maximised by making these connections as explicit as possible.
Social media buttons, feeds or links on your site will help with this. It will also mean that your readers will be able to easily share your content.
7. Share interesting content
Engaging, genuinely valuable content is the underpinning foundation of a successful social media marketing campaign.
The premise is pretty basic: if you share interesting and useful content, this can result in more re-shares, more website traffic, and an increase in conversions.
Compelling content can include:
- Statistics or data
- Case studies
- Industry research
- Related quotes that might be inspirational or humorous
- Relevant memes
- “Behind the scenes” images
- Articles, stories, blog posts
- “A day in the life” posts
- Video testimonials
- “Caption this” posts
- Breaking industry news
- Employee profiles