We’re now long past the time where social media was considered to be some kind of fad that the kids were into. That being said, you certainly don’t have to be on social media, and you almost certainly shouldn’t be on every social media platform.
What’s important now is understanding whether social media is a good traction channel for your business, and if so, how to use it effectively.
There is a lot of competition on social media and yes, users are becoming saturated with information, however, it is still possible to cut through the noise and carve out a strong position for your business.
The advantages of social media
There are a number of advantages that come from using social media effectively. First of all, you have the potential to grow your reach across virtually any demographic. If Facebook were a country, it would hold the biggest population in the world, while other social platforms also command a huge user base.
Secondly, social media is not just about pushing out information, it’s about engagement. The idea is to build an audience within your niche of people that are interested in what you are talking about. If you can do this successfully, you can create a community of followers who not only interact with you but share on your behalf. Seth Godin put it like this:
“Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell.”
As Erik Qualman points out in the video below, the classic “4 P’s” of marketing are rapidly giving way to the “4 C’s,” which are the hallmarks of our social, digital culture; creating, curating, connecting and culture.
As a quick refresher on the “4 P’s”, these are product (the good or service), price, promotion (the ways in which you disseminate information about the product) and place (the locations where buyers can find the product). Together these are known as the “marketing mix” and have been in use for decades now.
Watch the video below to see just a few facts contributing to the power of social media, especially when combined with mobile use.
Another advantage of social media for businesses is that it gives you the chance to build trust through engagement, even on smaller scales. For example, you might have one-on-one conversations with people or chat to a small group. It’s about relationship-building – social media should be social!
Let’s run through a few more advantages of using social media:
- Gain valuable customer insights – Social media channels generate huge amounts of customer data, which can provide you with valuable insights. You’ll find demographics, sentiment and what interests your customers.
- Targeted advertising – Advertising platforms on social media allow you to be very specific about audience targeting.
- Conversions – Engaging and building trust, combined with targeted advertising can lead to excellent conversion rates for your business.
- Brand recognition – Create interesting content, be original and engage with your audience and it will help to build recognition for your brand.
- Boost website traffic – Active social media accounts can help to direct more traffic to your website.
All of these advantages depend upon your ability to use your chosen channels effectively. It’s not enough to just have a presence, you have to be active and strategic.
Using social media effectively
If you have used social media previously, you’ve probably dealt with the same issues that every business comes across – there is so much “noise” and it’s difficult to gauge if you’re really getting ROI from your social media activities.
You have to be strategic if you’re to use social media effectively, so here are a few steps to create a good strategy:
“If we want our social media marketing efforts to have the biggest impact, it’s super important that they’re aligned with our overall company goals and values.” – Buffer
You’ve got to know why you’re doing social media and what you want to get out of it. Don’t use it just for engagement – everyone else does this too. Use it for customer loyalty, sales, lead generation, communicating with potential customers and other marketing or sales-related goals your company might have.
“People don’t notice announcements they notice consistency.” – seanwes
Consistency is a very important part of using social media. If you don’t post often enough, people won’t notice when you finally do post and have something important to say. The way to be effective and get noticed is to show up every day.
A frequently asked question is “how often should I post to social media?” You’ll find varying answers depending on who gives it, but the conclusion is that there is such a thing as posting too often and coming across as being spammy.
Coschedule recently looked across a number of studies and created an infographic (at the bottom of this post) showing how often and when to post for each platform. You may like to test what works for your own business by varying how many posts you make each day and when you post them. Just be consistent overall.
Another important point is being consistent with the type of content and voice used in posts. Your social media content should always be on-brand and your followers shouldn’t be surprised by any posts that aren’t consistent with your usual voice.
Mix up your content
While the voice and the nature of your content should be consistent, mixing up the mediums you use is a great strategy for keeping things interesting.
For example, you might share written content with an image, video content, GIFs, infographics or just a high-quality image. Simply Measured looked into tactics for creating better content and noted (among other points) that people tend to respond better to visual content because it’s easier for them to connect with.
How to implement a social media strategy
Implementing your social media strategy can be broken down into six key areas:
- Channel Choice
- Automated Posting
- Manual Posting and Engagement
- Brand Monitoring
#1. Channel Choice
A prediction Michael Stelzner of Social Media Examiner made a few years ago has proven to be very true:
“The old mantra of ‘be everywhere’ will quickly be replaced with ‘be where it matters to our business.’ …It will be essential to focus on where you’ll see results.”
Many businesses have tried to be everywhere, but found that their efforts are mediocre at best, particularly where their resources are spread too thin. The fact is, it won’t make sense for you to be on every social media channel because your customers aren’t on all of them.
It comes back to knowing your buyer personas – where do your people spend their time? Look at your demographics and try to choose one or two channels you can cover well. Pew Research or Smart Insights are great resources for finding the demographics of specific social media channels.
#2. Automated Posting
Admittedly, being consistent, sharing quality content, interacting on social media and mixing up the type of content you share all take time. Even a devoted social media manager can run short on the time needed to manage social media well.
Let’s face it, while you’re manually sharing posts or searching for new content to share, you could also be spending that time actually engaging on the social platform, which is why it makes sense to use automated posting for a portion of your social media posts.
A sad fact of social media usage is that organic reach has been declining, such as shown in a recent Hubspot post. Between 1% and 10% of your followers will see any given post, so you do need to be spending more time on strategizing to reach a wider audience.
Automated posting through a tool such as Buffer or Hootsuite helps to free up some more time for important activities. They allow you to bulk-import content and share across multiple social media accounts using one dashboard. A good tip to help maximise your time is to build out a content library, this way you can find content in a pinch and it can be reshared, seeing as it won’t have been seen by everyone the first time it was posted.
Check out the video below around how Edgar helps builds your content library and automatically publishes social updates for you:
This does come with a warning though – you shouldn’t rely on automated posting for all of your social content and it certainly shouldn’t be “set and forget.” To be successful on social media, you need to be monitoring and engaging, responding to those who engage with you. Engagements will soon die down if you’re not responsive.
A mix of automated and manual posting is a good idea to be consistent and to get found.
#3. Manual posting and engagement
Your interaction still needs to be personal in order to encourage engagement. Even if you have used automatic posting, you should have alerts set up so that you can respond to comments or messages.
People notice when you either a) don’t respond or b) seem too wooden in your response. Being personable and genuine is always the best policy, as well as responding consistently and within a reasonable timeframe. Social media users do expect a quick response, in fact a Hubspot article revealed that 72% of people who complain on Twitter expect a response within an hour.
While all interaction should be personal and tailored to the specific conversation, there are some specialist social media companies who do a good job of handling this manual side of social activity, too.
Following others is still a very valid way to garner engagement on social media. It’s still common for people to follow you back, which is a great way to connect with others in your industry and build your own following.
Here are a few tips we follow:
- Look at your competitors and follow those who are following them.
- Look for specific keywords in bios or profiles and automatically follow those people.
- Automatically follow and engage with people who are using specific hashtags or talking about specific topics.
- Use the tools you have available, such as filtering on Twitter and @ mention or message people directly.
- Engage with people who are within your target demographic.
- Try automatically building your audience with a tool such as TribeBoost. This one is good because it is actively monitored by human operators.
#5. Brand monitoring
You should be on the lookout for any mentions of your business or key topics that are related. For this, we suggest setting up some alerts or pre-set filters for certain search queries. This allows you to be proactive. Engage with people who are talking about your niche area and help to drive up your own audience.
There are tools to help you with monitoring and receiving alerts, such as Mention, which covers millions of sources online or Followerwonk, which is specifically for Twitter. Google Alerts is another tool to try.
How will you know if you’re achieving what you need and getting an ROI from social media? Setting up analytics is a must.
Most social platforms come with some analytics, although these tend to be fairly basic. If your business wants more, there are various tools available for advanced analytics, such as Sprout Social or Simply Measured.
If it’s your job to create a report and prove the effectiveness of social media, this piece from Buffer on creating a social media report is an excellent resource. You have to really hone in on the stats that matter to your audience.
Consider metrics in the following areas:
- Reach – Number of posts, retweets, retweets per post, and total reach.
- Reach Analysis – Top posts from last 7 days, top posts from last 30 days.
- Engagement (click, retweet, favourite, mention) – Total engagement for each of these 4 types, average engagement per post, top 5 posts.
- Clicks – Clicks per post, top 3 posts for clicks.
Social media can work well if it is executed following a good strategy. You have the potential to reach a very wide audience and drive engagement with your brand.
Devising and following a good strategy is not easy though. It takes research, testing, and engaging with your target audience.
Would you like to understand more about social media strategy, social media competitive analysis or social media automation? Contact us today.
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