So, you’ve just launched your business – or maybe you’ve been live for a while now and you’re wondering how you can make the most of the social media phenomenon? Well, we can help…
The social age
It’s no secret that social media has taken the world by storm. With 2.22 billion active users worldwide, it may be a relatively modern trend, but it draws on the age-old human need for interaction and connection. But that’s something you already know. No doubt you already have your own frequently used personal social media accounts, but the million dollar question is: how can you use social media to benefit your business and not just your social life?
Before we get into the how, let’s first look at the why… According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, approximately one in two Australians uses Facebook on a daily basis; one in two uses YouTube; one in three uses Instagram and one in four uses Snapchat. Statistics like these mean that businesses can no longer afford to avoid getting on board with social media. But, rather than just encouraging conformance, social media offers a multitude of opportunities for your business that would previously have been costly, exclusive and timely to achieve.
Creating a quality, dynamic presence on social media can mean great outcomes for your business:
- Builds brand awareness and customer loyalty
- Increases sales and generates new leads
- Drives traffic to your website
- Diversifies your marketing efforts
- Humanises your brand
- Positions your business as an innovator/thought leader
- Creates a platform for customer service, support and engagement
- Reduces traditional marketing spend
- Provides insights into and direct lines of communication with your audience and customers.
So, how do you harness social media to achieve the above for your business?
Step #1: Choose your platforms
There are many social platforms available and the list is constantly growing and evolving. The important first step in maximising social media for your business is determining which platforms are most appropriate for your brand, audience and marketing objectives.
The ten platforms earmarked as the most suitable for business, based on functionality and user base are Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube/Vimeo, Facebook Messenger, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest, Yelp and Google Plus.
Less is more
This doesn’t mean your business should feature on all ten. But it does mean you should conduct an analysis to determine the most suitable three to four channels, as not every social media platform will be suited to your business. In most cases, when it comes to diversity of presence on social media, less is more. Choose the top channels that align best with what matters to your business and have the most potential to contribute to your objectives, then concentrate on those channels. Too often, businesses try to ensure they feature on every possible channel and, in the process, they lose or weaken their message, compromise their content and soon realise that they don’t have the resources or manpower to maintain such a diverse presence. That being said, it‘s highly recommended that two of any business’s chosen three to four channels should be Facebook and LinkedIn, due to their size and the nature of their content.
Some important questions to ask during your analysis are:
- What channels are your competitors using?
- Who is your target market and what are their most predominant platforms?
- What is the primary aim you wish to achieve through your social presence? (This could be sales, feedback, numbers, promotion, community, etc.)
- Do you have the resources to produce content for your chosen platforms?
Step #2: Connect your social media and business strategies
Once you’ve selected your channels, you’re ready to write your social media strategy. Your strategy will be the base from which you plan, prioritise, execute, measure and optimise your social-business interaction. It should be a document that management becomes very familiar with and should feed into your business strategy. This way, you can better analyse the effectiveness of your presence and its return on investment (ROI). Remember, social media is not just about likes and shares. Determine exactly what your goals are so that you can regularly evaluate whether you’re on the right channels and whether your content is helping to achieve your business objectives.
Some points to consider when formulating your strategy include:
- Set your social media goals and align with your business strategy and goals
- Break down goals into specific tactics
- Determine tone, style and expectations
- Develop a content plan
- Identify key success metrics
- Assign tasks and set timeframes
- Analyse and adapt your plan as you go.
Congratulations, you are now live on social media! Your business exists on the most targeted channels and you have a clear and documented strategy to guide your future presence. But, so do many other businesses competing for your customers and fighting to drown you out. Innovation is key in the success of social media and your business. It’s vitally important to constantly learn and renew your approach to social media and how you’re engaging with your audience. Constantly look for new ways to differentiate yourself. Look for novelty, surprises and areas to break the rules and avoid monotony. Create a unique voice in your space and commit to disseminating content that is of value to your social community. Reward them for their loyalty to your channel and give them every reason to engage. Further to that, constantly review the metrics so that you know exactly what is working and what isn’t. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn all have great analytics capabilities that are free to access. Make use of this and let it inform and guide your innovation endeavours.
Show the money
Once you are set up and comfortable on social media, be sure to investigate the paid marketing elements of your chosen platforms. Most often, it takes minimal effort on top of your existing content and can be a case of simply ‘boosting’ a post for a predetermined, capped amount to a targeted audience. This is a great, cost and time effective way to market to your audience once you have built a relationship with them. It’s recommended that you don’t try to ‘sell’ to your audience too much – social media users are very aware of these tactics and often become disengaged when they spot them in play. In terms of engagement and trust building, users respond best to content of value and respect businesses who don’t just want to sell to them. There is lots of information on paid advertising and promotion opportunities on the top social channels, namely Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn.
There’s no doubt that social media can rocket launch your business and help you achieve all the goals you’ve been formulating since the inception of your business. So, be sure to harness all of the opportunities that social media has to offer and give your business every chance of success!
Author: Caitlin Willis
For more information or assistance on how to use social media for your business contact the Ipswich City Council Office of Economic Development at firstname.lastname@example.org.