Social Media has arguably become its own discipline of marketing in recent years. With the explosion of consumers owning mobile devices, the speed of both 3G and 4G mobile internet connection and the impact Facebook has had on the internet, approximately 1 in 3 people globally are on some form of social network.
It’s no secret to marketeers that social media hosts a treasure trove of data on consumers – it’s also no secret to businesses that having a social media presence is almost seen as a requirement by their customers, so how do you make it work for you?
Define your objectives first – go viral later
For many businesses starting out on social media, their dream is to go viral and gain masses of relevant followers overnight. The chances of this happening are more akin to playing the lottery and for the rest of us, you have to earn your success by playing the long-game.
“The first thing to do is set out what you want to achieve…”
The first thing to do is to set out what you want to achieve by using social media. This not only informs what networks are right for you, but also it can save you time and money in abundance.
More often than not, small to medium-sized businesses will set up a Facebook and Twitter account and think that’s the job done, whereas what they should be doing is identifying which social networking platform is most relevant to their business, and the content they plan to post. If you’re a retailer you may find more value in social media by using Pinterest and Instagram, flaunting your latest design and generating sales. Professional firms may find better success investing their time into LinkedIn and Medium to generate leads to their business; define your objectives and decide which networks will best help you to achieve them.
It’s no good being on a social network if you cannot commit to maintaining it and it’s no good being on a platform that won’t help you achieve your goals.
Build your following by value, not by numbers
Another mistake made by businesses using social media is focusing entirely on increasing the number of followers or likes they have. This is without a doubt one of the most important performance indicators to measure on your social media, but the key point to drill into is value – you should work hard to build a following where users engage and interact with you; a following of 200 people can be just as rewarding as a following of 1,000 if you’re investing the time to engage with relevant people who will help you to meet the objectives set out in your strategy.
“Work hard to build a following where users engage and interact with you…”
Building an audience of relevant people comes from listening rather than projecting. Users are rarely on social media to be sold to directly, so instead of using your social networking platforms to go for the hard sell, it’s better to do your research, find out what your audience wants to hear from you and build from there. It’s always recommended to follow the “2 in 10” rule – for every 10 posts you make on a social networking platform, only two of them should be sales-related.
Engagement is what makes social media worth your time
Social media is a great tool to interact with an audience relevant to your industry, communicate with your customers and increase your overall brand awareness. Earning engagement from other users takes time, and sometimes lots of it, but it has the best overall impact for your business and makes using social media worthwhile.
The fail-safe and best way to build your engagement is to listen to people. Find out what your target audience are saying, who they engage with, what they post and respond to. Then you can plan and strategise content for your website that is going to interest and help your target audience. It’s a win-win because your social media following will grow, there will be relevant traffic going to your website and the overall impact of this will help your SEO in the long-term.
“The fail-safe and best way to build your engagement is to listen to people”
Engagement is also one of the most important factors to understand in order to utilise social media to improve your SEO. Your social platforms are the best environments to flaunt all the great content you’ve spent so long creating for your website. There’s very little benefit in plastering this all over the internet without any engagement and if you have an interested audience who start sharing and linking to the content on your website… you’re onto a winner.
Don’t be afraid to use paid promotion
In order to monetise their social platforms, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn began developing paid promotion channels in order to encourage businesses to spend in order to reach their target audience. Facebook has perhaps been the sneakiest of the lot and many marketeers believe their feed algorithm changes are geared towards pushing business pages to pay to get their content seen.
With the amount of data that Facebook hold on their users, it has become a consumer data hub to rival Google and it’s become easier than ever before to target and bid on the exact audience you’re trying to reach. Paid promotion is a great way of building a social media platform from new because it allows you to make an impression on your target demographic, generate visitors to your website and potentially build your following.
“the amount of data that Facebook hold on their users, it has become a consumer data hub to rival Google”
It is very rare that we wouldn’t recommend trialling some form of paid promotion within a social media campaign. It’s often a brilliant way of building brand awareness and with the right post, you can generate very high levels of engagement from people who you could potentially turn into customers.
Focus on your strategy and refine it over time
The nature of today’s connected society means that social media never turns itself off and for many businesses there is always something else that could be done, more ideas to be tested and a wider audience to be reached. One of the biggest keys to success is to form your strategy early on and stick to it – focus on what you want to achieve and become an engaged member of a community – that will be what pays the reward in the long run.
The benefit of social media is 90% unmeasurable. The impact that social media can have on consumer perception is now so powerful that purchasing decisions can be heavily affected by what a consumer sees and interacts with on social networks.
As a business, you should build a brand voice, show potential customers that you’re worth their time and money and create great content that interests people. Oh, and go viral… easy peasy.
Written by Matthew Howman, Account Manager