Often labeled as the “necessary evil” of marketing and advertising in the digital age, social media has proven itself as a time-consuming game-changer for small businesses. As necessary as social media platforms have become to our lives and marketing tactics, just how malicious is this tool to its core? With 2.3 billion active users on the rise, it has become clear that social media is more than just a fleeting fad. Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat have crept into our personal and professional lives with no plans of packing their bags.
Rather than looking at social media as the unconquerable villain, it is imperative for your business’ marketing plan to adopt it as an irreplaceable sidekick (think the Robin to your Batman, or even T-Mobile’s pre-smartphone). If used properly, social media has the potential to maintain ongoing trust with your loyal customers and even generate new leads. The following tips will help reframe and re-flame your relationship with social media marketing:
No. 1: Use visuals. Modern humans process pictures 60,000 times faster than words. This means it takes a whopping 30 milliseconds for visuals to create an impression on our brains. Posting branded imagery and telling a visual story is essential to grabbing users’ attentions on social media. Photos get the most shares on Facebook and retweets on Twitter!
No. 2: Think outside the timeline. The days of conventional television-watching are over (thank you, Netflix!). With smartphones, people can consume content at any minute or hour of the day. It’s important that your social media strategy includes content that will remain relevant much longer than our modern attention spans.
No. 3: Encourage engagement. Captivating posts give users the opportunity to interact with your brand and get to know your business on a personal level. This can be accomplished by creating immersive, multimedia content or using the tactics of narrative and storytelling. Social media is the modern means of socializing with and building trust among the most important people to your business: consumers.
No. 4: Offer value. In addition to visual elements, social media posts should be informational, relevant, and/or entertaining. This will establish your business’ reputation as the go-to guru for your industry and niche. When creating value-packed content, it is important to think about useful information your target audience is looking for that will give them desired results.
No. 5: Keep it consistent. Social media presence has the potential to expose your brand to your target audience 24/7. To stay relevant, it is important to post frequently without burning out. This can be done by enlisting the help of scheduling tools such as Hootsuite, Buffer, or Sprout Social. This will automate and maintain the consistency of your posts while saving your precious time.
No. 6: Plan content for each social media platform. First, you should create a general plan by identifying what your business seeks to accomplish with social media as well as who your business hopes to reach. The next step is to craft a strategy for each social media platform your business intends to use. What story does your brand want to tell? How can you tell your brand’s story on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.? For small businesses, 3 is the magic number for active social media platforms. This keeps the content manageable and ensures quality.
No. 7: Use the A/B Test. This method involves posting the same content multiple times on different platforms, changing the headline each time. This will allow you to track which headlines have the best engagement, so you can learn how to better capture your target audience’s attention with future posts.
No. 8: Measure and analyze the results of your social media marketing efforts. Over 40% of businesses do not track their social media ROI. Like anything else related to your business, you will need to track the performance of your social media presence for it to be successful. Regularly tracking metrics such as reach and engagement on Facebook, impressions/visits/mentions on Twitter, and likes/comments/mentions on Instagram will help you know how to update your social media strategy when necessary.
No. 9: Consider using paid social media advertising. Organic visibility ought to be the top priority, but as platforms continue to grow, boosting or promoting posts can give your social media presence the extra push it needs. Social media advertising is cheaper than Google AdWords and media buying, making it perfect for small businesses. This tool also allows you to target user interests and detailed demographics.
No. 10: Interact with your audience. Rather than just posting a link with a headline, your social media posts should encourage conversation. Start off by asking for feedback and opinions, or even mentioning another relevant user. To better engage with followers, reply to other users’ posts (even when you aren’t mentioned), retweet content related to your industry, and like posts that are relevant to your business.
No. 11: Keep an eye on your competitors. When your competition exhibits a more dynamic social media presence, it’s time to think critically about the following: their content, who they follow, who follows them, their post frequency, when they post, their headlines, and their most popular posts. Then ask yourself what strategies your competitors are using that you aren’t. While you don’t want to completely rip them off, it’s important to learn from and play with the competition.
No. 12: Create a LinkedIn profile for your business. Whether you are a small business or large corporation, this platform should be a requirement for your social media presence. LinkedIn will give your brand credibility, connect your business to an ever-growing network of professionals, and open up sales opportunities!
No. 13: Use keywords. You might be tired of hearing about SEO by now, but because of the volume of content, social media platforms are starting to use features that are similar to search engines. Using keywords and phrases in your posts and profiles will make your business more searchable to your potential audience.
No. 14: Use hashtags to your advantage. Another simple tactic that will help you reach more users organically is tacking hashtags to the end of your social media posts. A strategic approach to hashtagging will include researching popular hashtags in your industry as well as using the more generic, widely used ones. You can also keep an eye on your hashtag analytics to find out which hashtags cause the most engagement!
No. 15: Promote your product/service, but not too much. Of course, you want your social media presence to benefit your business in the dollar department. However, the majority of your business’ content should be non-promotional. Accounts that promote too much are deemed as “spam” by users and followers. A healthy balance is 3 promotional posts out of every 10 posts.
No. 17: Expand your audience with contests. If you’re trying to build a following on your social media accounts from scratch, consider launching a contest that’s unique to these platforms. It’s important for these giveaways to be brand specific, so they will increase your business’ visibility and encourage loyalty from newfound followers.
No. 18: Give users a reason to follow you. Your business will need to stand out to consumers. This can be achieved by posting varying types of content on each social media platform such as: live webinars, behind-the-scenes images, special discount codes, and real-time customer service support. There should be value attached to this content. For example, don’t offer the same discount codes in your email newsletter; make coupons and offers that are exclusive to one social media platform!
No. 19: Get your team members involved. Social media marketing should not fall on one person’s shoulders, nor does it have to be limited to your marketing team. The more people who are involved with your business’ social media efforts, the more diverse your content will naturally be. With this method, generating content will also become less time-consuming!
No. 20: Determine if you need to outsource your social media management. Social media and marketing are not breaking up anytime soon. For your business’ long-term success, it will be crucial for your business to cultivate an impactful social media presence. If your business does not have the time or labor to sustain a social media marketing strategy internally, it might be time to consider outsourcing this type of work. The result will only expand your brand’s following and enhance your business’ image in the eyes of your target audience.
Written by Melissa McElhose, NALA Blog Writer