Social media sites have become a hugely important part of our day-to-day lives in recent years, and possibly even more so in the coronavirus era in which social distancing is more important than ever.
Our social media accounts provide us with a way to stay in touch with our friends and family without putting us at risk of infection or exacerbating the spread of the disease.
It’s been obvious for a while now that social media sites are a vital part of our 21st century lifestyle, and social channels show no signs of waning in popularity any time soon.
That means that you can expect them to remain an important part of the puzzle if you plan to grow your business in the months and years to come.
That’s why today, we’re going to help you out by teaching you how to use social media for business, from setting up your first Instagram account to tapping into the power of LinkedIn and influencer marketing. Here’s what you need to know.
How To Identify The Right Platforms For You
Different people use different social media channels for different reasons, and so an important part of learning how to use social media for business is identifying which platforms are right for you and the reasons why your target audience is present on them.
If you get this wrong, you risk wasting all of that hard work by effectively shouting into the void. Marketing is all about reaching people in the right place with the right message at the right time, and if you get your choice of platform wrong you can end up reaching the wrong people in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Spend some time revisiting your buyer personas (if you have them) and figuring out which social media channels they’re likely to be active on.
Then work out why they’re there. If you provide executive coaching, for example, then your audience might be using Facebook to keep up with their family, Twitter to keep up with breaking news and LinkedIn to network with clients and business leads.
By understanding why different people use different social media channels, you can better tailor the content that you’re posting to increase the odds of your brand receiving engagement and ultimately generating tangible results from its time spent on its social media presence.
Just a few of the main social channels to consider include:
Facebook is arguably the most obvious of all of the social media channels, purely because it’s the biggest with over 2.6 billion monthly active users.
Facebook is perfect for more engagement-based content and softer sells. Photos and videos work well, as does showing behind-the-scenes updates and the names and faces of the real people behind your brand.
Facebook Messenger is of course a subsection of Facebook, but it deserves its own mention here because it has some interesting unique use cases.
Perhaps the most obvious is that it can be used to power automated, AI-based bots that can answer customers’ questions for them and potentially even build sales for you while you and your team are asleep.
As an image-based social networking site, Instagram is another great place to grow your business through engagement and brand awareness as opposed to outright sales.
To make the most of the network, tap into everything that it has to offer including live videos and Instagram stories. You can also raise your profile by interacting with other users and even by tapping into the phenomenon of influencer marketing.
As the world’s foremost business social networking site, LinkedIn is the perfect place for you to get a little more salesy while still providing high quality content.
It’s ideally suited to lead generation techniques such as setting up webinars or offering free downloadable whitepapers and ebooks. Remember too that LinkedIn’s advertising tools allow you to target people based upon their job title, seniority and more.
Pinterest users tend to be made up of a specific demographic, mostly women. It’s particularly popular amongst arts and crafts communities, wedding planners and fashion, so if your brand falls into any of those categories then marketing to Pinterest users could be a good idea.
Twitter is a little bit like a mix of Facebook and Instagram with LinkedIn thrown in for good measure.
It’s a great place to share and to comment on breaking news and it can also be useful for live-tweeting events or providing customer service.
YouTube is one of the most difficult social networks for brands to be successful on because it tends to be built around personalities and communities.
One of the best ways to raise brand awareness and to generate results from a YouTube marketing strategy is to work with influencers to sponsor videos.
How To Use Social Media For Business
1. Work With Influencers
Influencers exist in every industry, whether you’re a B2C fashion brand or whether you’re a specialist B2B company making bespoke widgets for farmyard machinery. The real challenge is figuring out who those influencers are and then establishing relationships with them.
A good place to start is by liking and commenting on their posts so that your name starts to become familiar to them. Engagement builds relationships, and relationships are key if you want to work with influencers to build your own brand and its social media accounts.
2. Develop Affiliate Partners
Affiliate schemes take all sorts of different forms, and so it’s up to you to find something that you can make work for you.
Perhaps you want to turn your audience into a street team to sell your products on your behalf, or perhaps you’ll use referral codes to give your followers a reward if they encourage their own followers to make a purchase.
You can also work this the other way round.
For example, if your business is a web development company, you could buddy up with writers, film-makers and other providers to cross-promote each other on social networks and to provide finders fees for any new customers who come in.
3. Run Competitions
Competitions are a sure-fire way to drum up some engagement on social networks, although be warned that you should wait until your brand is already established before you run one.
That will help to make sure that you have plenty of existing followers to get the ball rolling and to spread the word about your competition. It will also make sure that your brand looks legit and not like some sort of scam.
If you can, run competitions with tools like Rafflecopter that encourage engagement and social sharing to add a little fuel to the fire. And of course, be sure to promote it on social networks using popular hashtags like #win and #competition.
4. Go Live
You can go live on most social networks, ranging from Facebook and Instagram to YouTube and even specialist platforms like Twitch.
The important thing is to identify where your audience is spending time and to make that platform work for you – and remember that not everyone is interested in live content to begin with.
Different ways to make live video work for you include hosting Q&A sessions or live performances, or even hosting webinars and other educational virtual events.
Experiment with different approaches and content types to find out what works for your audience and what leads to the most engagement.
5. Use Stories
There’s a reason why Facebook and Instagram pinched the idea of self-destructing stories from Snapchat: people use them.
Accordingly, if you’re not posting stories to your Instagram account, you’re essentially ignoring one of the most powerful features that social networks have to offer.
When you create an Instagram post, the content that you share will sit on your profile for people to see forever. It can also come across as spammy if you post too many updates in too short a period of time. Stories provide a decent alternative to that and allow you to reach your target audience more frequently without overwhelming them.
6. Run Ads To Your Ideal Audience
Because social networks possess so much information on their users, they make it possible for you to set up super targeted advertisements that allow you to specify a target audience at a granular level.
Sure, you’ll have to set a little budget aside, but it’s 100% worth it.
Think about it this way: If you’ve spent time and money developing content to share with people on social networks, why wouldn’t you invest that little bit of extra budget that will make sure that people actually see it?
Get used to spending at least 10% of your social media marketing budget on advertisements, even if funds are tight.
7. Learn From Your Analytics
Almost all social networks provide some level of analytical data for brands to access and to learn from. Be sure to take advantage of that information to fine tune your social media marketing strategy and to do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.
Remember that analytics allow you to track a variety of different data points, from engagement rates to growth in followers, reach and whether your target audience is turning into paying customers or whether they’re just checking out your content but with no real intention of buying.
Be sure to keep an eye on how your analytics change over time in response to your marketing campaigns, too.
8. Make Social Media An Essential Part Of Your Business
Finding success on social networks requires so much more than simply running a few marketing campaigns. Used well, social media can become a core part of your overall business, impacting everything from recruitment through to customer service.
In the same way that social networks are becoming more and more integral to our overall lives, the same thing is happening to our professional lives.
That’s why if you want to have an edge over the competition and to be able to future-proof your brand against the change that’s coming, it’s vital to integrate social networking across the entirety of your business.
9. Use The Gig Economy
The gig economy is the term used for the new approach to working in which people are increasingly turning to freelancing sites to make a living, often while working on the move and living the lifestyle of a digital nomad.
This is good news for you and your brand, because it means you can take on skilled copywriters, graphic designers, film-makers and other creatives to provide high-quality content for your brand and its social media presence without having to hire full-time staff.
This is typically cheaper and more efficient and doesn’t leave you with salaried employees sitting around and doing nothing.
10. Always Experiment And Evolve
The last and most important thing for your brand to remember is that it can’t afford to remain static. You have to constantly find ways to innovate, whether that’s through the content that you’re creating or whether that’s by becoming an early adopter of promising new technologies and social media platforms.
As a general rule, it’s a good idea to spend 10-20% of your time at any given point experimenting with new approaches.
Keep an eye on your metrics to see what impact your experiments are having, and be sure to do more of what works and less of what doesn’t. It’s all about a slow but steady rate of evolution.
5 Pro Tips To Go The Extra Mile
If you want to go above and beyond the tips that we’ve shared so far, here are a few more things that you can do to make sure that you’re doing everything you can to make the most of your social media profiles.
1. Build Honest Business Relationships
The idea here is pretty similar to when a local business owner gets to know his customers and starts to address them by name and to remember their orders. It makes people more likely to want to return.
You’ve probably seen this in action if you’ve ever found yourself going back to a coffee shop because the barista always greeted you with a smile.
Relationships are what any good social media strategy is all about.
The idea is that instead of trying to sell to people straight away, you need to drum up engagement over time, building relationships with people by creating content. Get started by reaching out to 3-5 new people every single day, and before you know it you’ll have an established audience hanging on to your every word.
2. Know Your Audience
Building on from the last point, you need to know your audience if you hope to be successful with your social media strategy. You need to understand who you’re talking to, what their interests are, the types of content that they’re interested in and how your brand can best help them.
By knowing your audience, you can better create content to serve them.
It all comes down to the #R3MAT Method, which essentially requires marketers to show the right message to the right person at the right time.
3. Grow Your Audience Every Single Day
Growing your audience takes time, but it’s a vital part of social media marketing that will pay dividends the more you work on it.
The more your audience grows, the more engagement you can expect to receive on your posts, and this will set up a snowball effect where your content reaches more people and your audience continues to grow and grow because of it.
One of the best ways to grow your audience is to focus on creating high quality content and continuing to work on those relationships that we talked about.
4. Share What You Can When You Can
We’re not saying you should share absolutely every piece of content that you come across, because you should double check before you post things that they’re relevant to your target audience and that they’re adding some form of value, even if that’s just entertainment.
With that said, it’s a good idea to share content as often and as consistently as you can. If you set up Facebook and Instagram profiles but then never post to them, you can end up doing more harm than good.
It’ll look like your brand is no longer in business and your audience will get bored and go elsewhere.
5. Invest In Tools To Help You Get Streamlined
One final tip is to avoid trying to manage everything yourself. Investing in tools is vital if you want to build a successful social media strategy, whether we’re talking about Facebook ads managers or whether you’re talking about popular hashtags analysis tools or tools like Hootsuite and Sprout Social.
Most tools like Hootsuite and Sprout Social will allow you to take out a free trial with limited functionality so that you can see whether they work for you.
Don’t be afraid to spend some money, whether we’re talking about tools or Facebook ads. You have to spend money to make money.
To Sum It Up
Now you know everything you need to know about developing and deploying a social media marketing strategy, it’s up to you to put what you’ve learned into practice.
Spend some time revisiting your marketing strategy and make sure that your social media presence is being put to good use.
Remember, if you’re struggling to take advantage of a social media marketing strategy, you can always work with an agency to help out, and the gig economy provides a great opportunity for you to hire specialist content creators such as graphic designers and film-makers for one-off jobs instead of adding them to your payroll permanently.
How are you using social media profiles for your business? And have you witnessed a return on investment from your social media strategy? Be sure to let us know what you think with a comment.
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