Social media marketing – everyone knows they have to do it; nobody knows how. (Or at least it seems that way to a lot of us.)
The opportunity is obvious. Basically all your customers are on at least a couple of social networks. Heck, your grandma is on Facebook! (Love you, Grandma! Please stop posting about your toenail fungus, though!)
But while the barriers to reaching your customers are very low on social media, rising above the cacophony (Cat videos! Politics! Baby photos!) and actually getting noticed…that’s a lot harder.
Using social media to market your business effectively is hard work. It takes daily dedication. It takes understanding your audience, understanding your platform, and understanding what types of content generate the most attention.
Not only do you have to know how to do it right, but you have to keep doing it right again and again, day after day.
But how do you do it correctly? We have a few golden guidelines to get you started:
Choose Your Platforms
Some are stronger or weaker than others depending on your industry and brand, but these networks generally tend to separate themselves from the pack in terms of having large, active user bases and providing obvious value for businesses and brands.
If you have a solid social media strategy in place, all of them can be effective in their own ways.
Of course, your available time to spend on social media marketing isn’t infinite. The old saying “the more the better” doesn’t always perfectly apply.
Some smaller businesses are wise to be a bit more tactical about which networks to start with and which to eventually expand to over time, depending on their target customers.
The Anatomy of a Great Social Media Post
So now you know what networks to be on. But that’s sort of like getting invited to the prom and realizing you can only do the “Truffle Shuffle.” You might be in the gym, but you still need to know how to dance!
The perfect social media post will, of course, depend on your target audience and the network you choose. But here are some common attributes that tend to work well in almost any circumstances:
For the most part, keep it short and sweet—easily digestible in just a few words. Longer content can work, but your “hook” or teaser up front had better be great.
You’re going to want to be linking to you own content (your newest blogs, videos, guides, etc.) regularly in your social posts to promote them. But also link to other relevant, engaging content that your customers would enjoy or find valuable. A wide variety of high quality links from multiple sources keeps users engaged without looking spammy.
If your post doesn’t have some kind of visual component, it going anywhere. Attached photos or graphics are the absolute minimum requirement. Videos and especially livestreams are even better.
Tag people, places, and other businesses and brands whenever relevant. This increases your post’s reach and gets more people talking and sharing.
Adding a hashtag to your post makes it easily searchable by others looking for conversations on key topics or events. Two or three well-chosen hashtags can help you attract specific customers, or take advantage of developing trends.
Maybe you’re a night owl (or just plain crazy) and like to do most of your tweeting at 2 a.m. But you’re going to get much more traction if you time your posts for when your customers are most active on the network.
Connecting With Your Target Audience Through Social Media
Who are your customers? Let’s say you sell hardware. The demographics, preferences, and tastes of your best customers might be very different from those of, say, a music publishing company or a high-end spa.
When crafting your social media post, always be thinking about your audience:
Who are your best customers?
What do they like?
What are their pain points?
Not sure? Ask them! Surveys of your top customers is a great way to mine that data. You could even make it part of your e-mail and database marketing efforts (we help with that too, wink wink.
Another outstanding way to get to know your audience? Most social media networks feature in-depth customer insights where you can review the demographics of your fans and followers:
How many are women?
What's the average age?
When do they visit most frequently?
It’s all there, right at your fingertips.
Engage With Your Followers
Say it with me. Social media is supposed to be social.
Obvious point, right? Then why do so many companies seem to treat their social media posts like digital billboards—static and lifeless?
Social media gives you a way to engage with your customers (and potential customers) and forge real relationships like no other medium can. It’s social media’s greatest advantage—and one that’s far too often ignored by brands!
Ask your followers questions. Answer theirs. Respond naturally and conversationally. Be social!
Engaging with your customers in this way, making yourself real and accessible, can build brand affinity and loyalty like nothing else.
(Oh, and it goes without saying, but responding weeks or months after the fact isn’t going to cut it.)
Practice What You Preach
You have a great company, staffed with great employees. You all love working there, right?
Of course you do!
So practice what you preach. How do you expect to convince strangers to follow your brand if your own people won’t even do it?
But you can, and should, encourage. If your “social media guy” is doing all the work on his or her own, your reach stays small. But any and all of your team members can follow, “like,” and once in a while re-share something that really speaks to them.
The greater the buy-in you can get from your team at large, the greater your reach expands, and the greater your return on investment. And that ought to make everyone happy!
But without a strategy, you’re just posting into the void. If you need a hand, check out CP Solutions for all things digital, including social media marketing. You can fill out a contact form or give us a call any time.