(Updated April 2023) We all know the power of social media as a marketing tool. Businesses of all sizes utilize it every day to increase their brand awareness and sales. But it’s not as simple as it looks. You can’t just post random stories and videos and expect to gain followers that have the potential to turn into customers. Using social media effectively takes a good amount of planning, dedication, and knowledge of what actually works.
Today we are going to discuss just that and by the end of this article, you will learn the essence of social media marketing and also learn practical tips that’ll help you move the needle on brand awareness and lead generation.
Setting up your social media for success
Just like real life, success doesn’t happen by accident when it comes to social media. One must lay a strong foundation upon which it’s easier to build something impactful. The following points will enable you to build a better social presence from the very beginning:
- Define your goals and objectives
Before you go on a social media posting spree, take some time to plan things in advance. Define what you want to achieve and what strategies you will use to reach your goals. Take the help of the SMART goal setting framework, an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely to increase your chances of success. An example of a SMART social media goal can be: acquiring ten new clients in the next 3 months.
After defining a clear goal you also need to plan what steps you will take every week. This is where a social media calendar comes in handy. You can find many social calendar templates online that are compatible with popular spreadsheet programs like Google Sheets, Microsoft Office Excel, etc.
- Pick the right social media platform
Every social media platform has a different set of audiences. You need to research where your target audience spends most of their time and if that platform is suited for your business needs. Learn as much as possible about your audience by using your own analytics data and looking into the followers of your competitors. Once you’re done, carefully pick one or two platforms.
According to data, an average person has 8.6 social media accounts, so you can decide to use different platforms for different purposes. For example, you can use Instagram to showcase your products and post behind the scenes in the stories and use Twitter to provide news updates and instant customer support. Tip: don’t be tempted to cross-post the same content on all your social sites. People will soon figure out what’s going on may stop following you altogether.
- Execute, Track and Optimize
After setting clear objectives and picking the right platform, start executing your plan. Find what’s working and stick to it and tweak things that are not working as intended, even after patiently waiting for days. Social media marketing is an ongoing and evolving process. You will discover new insights into the analytics every week, the condition being you’re posting content on a consistent basis.
Now that you know what a good social media presence looks like, let’s dive deeper into some of the tips and strategies that have proven to drive results for small and medium businesses, no matter their industry.
How to improve your social media presence:
- Produce Good Content
The key difference between good content and bad content is: Good content evokes an emotional response in the viewer or serves a specific purpose while bad content leaves the viewer confused and unfulfilled. So, focus on creating good content that will connect with your audience on an emotional level.
One way you can do this is by telling your story. Let everyone know why you started the business and what is the mission that you are on. Create a short video about this as it always works better than any other form of content when it comes to storytelling. After setting up your social accounts around your “why”, start publishing other types of content like educational content (product guides, FAQs, etc.), behind-the-scenes, user-generated content (product reviews, testimonials), product updates, your contribution to the community, etc.
This step alone, if done right, will put you ahead of your competition on social media.
- Build Relationships
The fundamentals of social network websites are the same as socializing offline. You need to interact with others and engage in discussions to make your presence known. Connect with people, build relationships, interact in the comments of your own accounts and on other accounts that your target audience follows. Also, connect with influencers and build meaningful relationships.
If you want to skip this step, you can consider pay-to-play models available on all major social media platforms, wherein you pay to run ads to your target audience. Even there you will have to interact with people who comment to increase the effectiveness of paid ad campaign. It is preferred by business owners that don’t have time to interact with the target audience and it is also preferred by people who want to see results quicker.
- Take it Offline
Make sure to use your social media handles in your offline promotional materials like banners, product catalogs, menus, etc. People need to know about the social presence of your business before they can start interacting with you there.
- Host Giveaways
This is an effective technique used by many to get a surge of new traffic to their social accounts and also generate. You can use easy to use tools like Raffle Press to accomplish this. You can choose from various goals like brand awareness, increase newsletter signups, generate sales, etc.
- Utilize Hashtags and Geotags
Most of the top social network sites provide two types of tags that help in increasing the reach of your content, viz. Hashtags and Location Tags. Utilize both of them to reach more people. Use a mix of trending and relevant hashtags. For location tags use the actual location of your business as this will attract more eyeballs from people living in the same area.
This works very well for Instagram stories as a lot of people search stories by location. For other platforms like Snapchat and Youtube, just plays a small part in helping the algorithm by giving a geolocation reference where the post may be pushed to a newer audience.
- Display Social Links
Many business owners make the mistake of not displaying social media links of their business in relevant places. Two main spots where you need to add your social links are email signature and business website. It will make it easier for existing as well as new customers to follow your business and reach out for quick help when needed.
- Build Social Proof
According to a study done by GlobalWebIndex, 54% of users research a product or service on social media before making a buying decision. What they are looking for is social proof. A good way to build social proof is by asking existing customers for testimonials, reviews, and recommendations.
Some people incentivize this process by planting a tree for every review through services like Review Forest. It’s a great way to get your customers to leave a review and at the same time, help the environment.
Bonus Tip: We meet business owners that work in an industry that doesn’t have anything interesting to talk about. These are their words and not ours. We believe every business can create a unique piece of content that customers will find interesting and drive more sales.
For example, a company called hippobag that sells high quality skip bags decided to put a car in the bag to demonstrate how strong their product is. Another example is the famous Will It Blend challenge created by BlendTec to showcase the strength of their blenders. There are many such examples you can find online for inspiration. The key point here is to think outside the box and you will definitely find ways to market even the most boring products.
We have helped many local businesses grow online using the power of social media marketing and can help you do the same. Reach out to us through our contact page to set up a free consultation and learn more about other online marketing strategies as well that your business can benefit from.