A key part to any marketing plan is not just a presence on social media channels, but also a well-rounded social strategy to accompany it. Social media has made communication between you and your customers more fluid than ever before. It’s time you leveraged this free and functional outlet to improve your business. Not sure where to start? Uncover the secret to social media marketing now with these six tips.
1. Audit Yourself
Before you can initiate any new social strategy, audit your current profiles. You can create your own template or find a free one online. Auditing your current profiles will create a benchmark that you can later compare new results, helping you determine whether or not the strategy you tested succeeded or failed. Additionally, it will give you a chance to revisit some of the fundamentals of your profile, update any of your basic information and clear up any inconsistencies that could confuse customers. Lastly, taking the time to thoroughly comb through your profiles could expose issues you never noticed before, or areas of improvement that you may have overlooked.
Take it a step further and audit your top three competitors. What are they doing well? What are they missing out on? Use this second step as a way to identify the type of content you’d like to provide for your customer base.
2. Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin
One of the biggest mistakes businesses make is trying to cover too many bases at once. Instead of having a dedicated presence on a few platforms, some business choose to post a little here, a little there, never making enough of an impact on any of them to justify the effort at all. Instead, consider your business and your customers, and what might appeal most to them. LinkedIn, a professional networking tool, probably shouldn’t be a priority for a small bakery or a clothing store. Those two businesses, however, have products that depend a lot on how enticing they look — a perfect scenario for a photo-based platform like Instagram. The secret is to devote yourself wholeheartedly to the social platforms that:
- Are relevant to your business.
- You can manage, and manage well — enough to post regularly and respond quickly to customers.
3. Work Smart, Not Hard
With the rise of social media marketing came the tools to help get it done in a much more efficient manner. For some business owners, it’s feasible to brainstorm a post and add it to your page on a daily basis. However, for most business owners and for those that need to delegate that task to an employee, that sort of posting strategy would not be feasible. Enter the social scheduling tool. Social media marketing platforms like Hootsuite or Sprout Social allow you to schedule posts ahead of time and send them out at your specified date and time. That means instead of setting aside each day to post — which could turn into you skipping it altogether on busy days — you can set aside a larger window of time on one day and schedule out posts for the next week or more. Many social media marketing platforms also are able to notify you immediately if someone mentions your or contacts you. They even have reporting tools to see if you are growing or losing engagement over time. The secret to maintaining a high frequency of posting is to plan ahead and schedule out, using your time the most efficiently.
4. Talk Back
Social media is unique to most other forms of marketing. Billboards, direct mail, television, email, etc. are all one-way conversations, guessing what the customer will respond best to. Social media is a conversation, and as such, you should put some serious thought into how you respond to customers. When you respond to tweets and posts, you are not only talking to the person who reached out, but you’re showcasing your response for any potential customer to see. Even if you don’t have a big following, the people that do interact with you can have a major impact on your business. In fact, 72% of people are more likely to make a future purchase from a small business after they interact with them on Twitter.1 Facebook actually notes how fast your response times are on average and notes them on your page to see how quickly you’ll engage with them via chat. Set up a system where if you are unable to respond, another responsible member of your staff can reply quickly and professionally.
5. Engage and Inform
As we’ve discussed, social media is a way to converse with your customer base at large — how do create an engaging conversation? By discussing a common interest. In this case, it’s your product. Think about a conversation you’ve had with a friend or colleague about a topic where the other person knew more about it than you. Did you feel like they were talking with you or at you? The mistake a lot of businesses make is getting too salesy and making the conversation all about themselves, their benefits, etc. While that is an important part of the conversation, it can isolate your customer and make you seem disingenuous. Instead, write posts that encourage the customers to engage without being fake. For example, let’s say you posted a photo of this morning’s croissants on your bakery’s Facebook page. Which of these posts are you more likely to respond to?
- Mmmmm! Our croissants are fresh out of the oven and fresh — buy one today!
- Our homemade croissants, fresh from the oven. Which flavor is your favorite?
While the first post option has a clear call to action, it doesn’t feel genuine to me. It feels like you’re pushing and product and talking at me rather than with me. The second post sells the product, but in a way that isn’t distracting. It has another call to action, but it’s not sales based — it’s interest-based and personal.
Are there other businesses you work with on a regular basis? Are you friends with any local business owners? If so, engage with them! When appropriate, share their posts or tag them in relevant comments. Let’s go back to our bakery example. Let’s say you posted a follow-up picture of that croissant with a book you purchased at a small shop around the corner. Tag them in the post and give credit where credit is due. This also helps connect you with their customer base, which probably overlaps in some capacity. With one simple tag, you’ve expanded your reach significantly. Plus, sharing other’s posts will encourage them to share yours and minimizes the amount of original content you have to build for yourself. Don’t get too share-crazy though! Share when it makes sense and feels organic. Going out of your way makes you appear sales-focused and won’t encourage engagement.
1Cisnero, K. (November 21, 2014). 6 tips on social media marketing for small business. Retrieved September 21, 2016, from https://blog.hootsuite.com/social-media-marketing-for-small-business/