Entering the realm of social media can be a rather daunting prospect for businesses. Firstly, there’s the question of where to start and then there’s the worry of wasting money without results.
But with social media usage at an all time high, these platforms should feature as a key part of every company’s marketing mix. And if they’re leveraged correctly, they can be beneficial to your business in several ways. They help to grow your audience, drive engagement and secure your brand’s reputation which leads to more traffic to your website, more leads and ultimately, more sales.
How you set up your social media campaigns will depend entirely on your business, your audience and your goals. But here are some tips to help you start thinking about your options with social media and how you could use these platforms to make a difference for your business.
6 Tips for Getting Started on Social Media
1. Choosing Platforms
There are hundreds of social media platforms online but only a select few have a huge population of users. Facebook is the most popular with over 1.23 billion monthly users and Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest follow closely behind.
Every social platform is different, with a different audience. So even though setting up on all the most popular networks may seem like a good idea, it often isn’t. For example, Pinterest is an image-based platform where the majority of the audience are women between the age of 19-29. If you were to set up on the platform as a B2B business selling industrial machine parts, how effective would this actually be?
Do your research before you choose your social media channels to ensure that your time and effort on the platforms has the potential to pay off.
Remember that every effort you put in to your social media is to please your audience. So without an audience, why put any effort in at all? The point is, building an audience should be your first port of all when you set up. Start by connecting with your work colleagues, friends and family and encourage them to share your content with their social media friends. Then, regularly search for and follow people who fall within your target market to continue growing your fan base.
Bear in mind that a large audience doesn’t necessarily mean better results. An audience that falls within your target market will be more engaged and more lucrative for your business.
Type ‘content marketing’ into Google and you’ll come across piles of articles littered with the phrase, ‘content is king’. And although this statement is drastically overused, it still stands true. The only content that sells on social media is content that doesn’t sell. This means cheesy facts about your ‘brilliant’ business and calls to action to buy your new products won’t go down well.
Social media is for sharing quality content that will engage and interest your audience – content that provides value and expects nothing in return. And the best content is unique, highly visual and varied. Don’t slack on what you share as your content will make or break your success on social media.
Once you’ve got to grips with your content, your next step is to ensure it’s seen. The best times to post on social media differ per platform but in general, more people are active in the morning and evening during commuting times.
And besides sharing your content across social media platforms, post in communities and groups to reach an even wider audience. On Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ you can search for groups that fall within your target market and make regular contributions. Not only will your content get seen by more people but you could grow your fan base in the process.
If your audience engages with your content then make sure you engage back, within an appropriate timescale. And when you reply, take the opportunity to encourage their further engagement by asking a question, inviting them to follow you on other platforms or directing them to your website. Just remember to speak as a human and not a robot – a comment on your latest post isn’t your opportunity to put on your sales cap and leap straight in.
Just like your website, videos and print marketing, your social media platforms are a direct reflection of your brand. And more so than these platforms, they are exposed to reputation crisis. It isn’t uncommon for users to turn to these channels to express their opinions about brands – both positive and negative.
Managing your negative engagement on social media is vitally important to your brand’s reputation. So before you go ahead with any social media campaigns, make sure you have a crisis management technique in place. And remember that no matter how negative the comment, responding is ALWAYS more effective than ignoring. Use crisis situations to show the human personality behind your brand.
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