How to Use Social Media to Promote Your Business Effectively
We can’t escape it. Social media is now a critical part of business. Everyone and their mum are on it, and even their dog. Seriously.
If you’re unsure about going social for your business, or if you need a reminder of just how important it is, here are some stats to put it all into perspective.
- 3.196 billion monthly social media users in the world (We Are Social, 2018)
- 11 new social media users every second (We Are Social, 2018)
- 71% of customers who have a positive service experience via social media more likely to recommend that company (Ambassador, 2013)
- 1.45 billion daily active Facebook users on average for March 2018 (Facebook Newsroom)
- 2.20 billion monthly active Facebook users as of March 2018 (Facebook Newsroom)
- 80 million small business pages on Facebook as of May 2018 (Facebook Newsroom)
- 800 million monthly active Instagram users (Instagram, 2017)
- 25 million+ business profiles on Instagram worldwide (Instagram)
Great. Now that you know just how impactful it is to our lives, let’s move onto how we can use social media to promote your business effectively.
Understand what you’re trying to achieve.
First and foremost, you need to understand why you’re on social media. Everything you do for your business needs to have a precise goal. And that includes using social media to promote your business.
Your goal isn’t to “get a lot of likes”. Instead, it’s more like what you’re actually trying to achieve by getting those likes. Is it website views? Downloads? In-person store visits? To gain leads? Increase number of purchases?
Without a specific goal, it’s difficult to set out a plan for your social media strategy. But it’s not just about having a plan. Without a goal, you’re not clear about what social media metrics you should be measuring. If your goal is to increase website visits, then a retweet isn’t as important as link clicks. Be clear and concise about exactly what you’re trying to achieve to ensure you’re measuring the right thing from the start.
Choose the right platforms.
Once you know your goal, it becomes easier to select the right social media platform that can help you achieve that goal. There is no shortage of ways to use social media to promote your business, and for small businesses, it does get quite difficult to be on top of all social media accounts at all times.
When deciding on the platform, it’s important to consider where your energy will be best spent. And the most important question to ask is where your target market is. If your target audience isn’t on Twitter, they aren’t going to interact with your account, let alone see your Tweets in the first place.
Your products and service matter, too. If you’re an animator, it makes sense to showcase your work on YouTube and connect with potential clients there. If you’re a photographer, Instagram is probably a great place to get your work discovered.
Provide value. Don’t obsess with likes.
Social proof is not only enticing, but also important. It’s a phenomenon where people’s behaviours are influenced by others’ behaviour, kind of like herd behaviour. It’s at the core of viral marketing, product endorsements and testimonials.
So, it’s only understandable that all business owners would want to focus on building social proof for their own businesses. And that means lots of social media following and engagement.
But not everything is about whoever has the most shares and likes. You know those Instagram accounts that so obviously have bought their followers? Even if their account has 50k+ followers, it means nothing without real human engagement on their posts.
Accordingly, your biggest focus should be on providing valuable content to your (potential) followers. People follow value, and if people find value in what you say, they’ll do the rest of the work for you by following, liking and sharing.
Use visual content.
According to Social Media Examiner, 60% of marketers use video in their marketing. And 74% of social media marketers use visual assets in their social media marketing.
Visual content can help your posts stand out as people scroll through their feeds. It increases the likelihood of your audience viewing and engaging with your content, as well as remembering the information contained in it. Moreover, videos (and live videos) are becoming more and more widely used on social media by businesses.
With the added advantage of technology, it’s now easier than ever to use social media to promote your business more effectively. Don’t do a sloppy job of it, though. Take time to make original and creative visuals, and let them stand out!
Whenever you get confused about what to post on social media, remember this: Your social media posts aren’t promotional posters. Blatant advertising gets old real quick. And as mentioned above, if you’re not providing value, you won’t gain the social media popularity that you desire.
Promotions are OK, of course. But do so sparingly and when there are special events happening (e.g., “50% off all shoes – this weekend only!”).
It’s not about pretending like your brand doesn’t exist. It’s about understanding what your audience wants to see. No-one likes to feel like they’re being sold at.
Don’t be annoying or try too hard to be funny.
Similarly, don’t annoy your followers if you want to use social media to promote your business the right way. People feel irritated by out-of-touch brands that don’t understand their demographic.
According to SproutSocial, over-promotion is the number one way brands annoy their followers. Trying to be “cool” is also a quick way to lose your fans. Brands that use too many slang words and jargon, or try too hard to be funny, are considered to be annoying.
And the brands that have made it work by using memes and teenage slang (see: Wendy’s Twitter account) are very, very rare. So, stick to being yourself and using words that you would normally use. But don’t forget to mix in a bit of your personality, either. Boring accounts are just as bad as annoying accounts!
Create a social media calendar.
So now you know the basics of social media marketing. From the platforms to use to the content and language, there are plenty of things to think about. All this knowledge will still be useless, though, if you don’t post on the right platform at the right time.
In order to use social media to promote your business effectively, you need to understand the popular times that your audience is using social media. There are plenty of studies showing you the best times to post on different platforms, including this informational post by CoSchedule.
According to their compilation of 23 social media studies, the best times to post for different types of social media platforms are as follows:
- Instagram: 8AM, 1PM, 9PM
- Facebook: 9-10AM, 12-1PM, 4-5PM
- Twitter: 8-10AM, 12PM, 7-9PM
- Pinterest: 8-11PM, 2-4AM, 2-4PM
- LinkedIn (B2B): 8AM, 10AM-12PM, 6PM
Do some research first before planning out your social media content release timeline. Then, sign up with a platform like HootSuite to schedule your posts to publish automatically.
Listen and engage.
It’s not over once you have some social media following and engagement. It’s also critical to be presenton your accounts and actively participate in conversations with your audience.
According to SproutSocial, 1 in 4 people are annoyed when you don’t respond to them. And remembering that 71% of customers who have a positive service experience via social media are likely to recommend that company (Ambassador, 2013), it’s easy to understand why you need to be watching your audience interaction and respond as quickly and effectively as possible.
People use social media for all sorts of reasons, including information gathering, giving feedback and complaining. So, be active on your chosen social media platform and engage with your audience as much as possible.
Last but not least, use social media to promote your business effectively by being consistent. Not all businesses are lucky enough to have viral content, and that’s OK. This is because consistency matters more than a one-off viral post.
Do all the above things consistently by having a proper social media strategy in place. Consistently provide valuable content, creative visuals, high-quality photos and videos, and communication.
Without consistent effort, social media marketing can easily become a distraction for your business, instead of being an effective way to increase awareness for your brand.
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