Whatever your views on the pros and cons of Facebook and Twitter, there’s no denying the fact that business has become more social.
In many ways – and for an increasing number of businesses – social media marketing is taking over from more traditional marketing activities as savvy consumers become more cynical about advertising in general and hungrier for instant information. By utilising inbound marketing techniques, businesses can not only benefit from low-cost marketing opportunities but can also significantly increase their chances of getting ‘found’ online.
Social media enables companies to connect much more directly with their customers and to gain new business from valuable word-of-mouth recommendations in the form of ‘likes’ and ‘shares’. In a world awash with commercial messages, it makes sense for small businesses to take every opportunity to engage with existing customers – and recruit new ones in a social environment.
Plan your strategy
It’s helpful to create a strategy before you launch into a social media offensive. Do you want to use social media to consolidate your brand, connect with your audience, market products or drive traffic to your website? It’s a good idea to keep goals as precise as possible so that you can chart your success easily. For instance, ‘add 200 new Facebook followers by the end of Q1’ is better than ‘get more Facebook followers’. Also have a think about how you can translate the social media buzz into tangible business results; maybe you need to set up a landing page on your website – or even a microsite – that’s designed to convert visitors to customers.
Know your audience
If you already know chapter and verse about your target audience – their age, gender, marital status, leisure interests – you’ll need to think about which social media platforms best meet your needs. Check out the latest reports on social media demographics and match your proposition to the most appropriate channel. Most internet users visit Facebook, so that’s usually a safe bet but if your audience is in the over-40s bracket, you probably won’t get much mileage out of Instagram which has users primarily in the 18-34 age range.
Get the content right
The content you create will depend on the type of business you operate – and on your reasons for using social platforms. Keep content fresh and client-focused. Ask your audience questions and engage them on topics. Make a note of the things they like the most by tracking the performance of your posts. Don’t be tempted to go for the hard sell. If your posts are consistently promotional, you’ll soon lose your following. Instead, aim to educate, inform and share useful content on subjects you know will appeal. In short, add value and you’ll grow a loyal audience.
It doesn’t much matter whether you choose to post hourly, daily or weekly – consistency is the key. Random postings make it appear as if you don’t have a plan so try to keep a regular schedule. It’s worth considering creating an editorial calendar. Jot down your schedule on an editorial calendar – a simple Excel spreadsheet is all you need – and you can check you’re producing the right kind of content for each of your channels. If you have your goals written down, you’re more likely to stick to them.