Social media is one of the most powerful marketing tools available to businesses today. Not only do social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram make it possible for your organization to reach a massive target audience, but they allow you to do so free of charge. According to Forbes, the vast majority of today’s businesses use social media, but plenty of them don’t understand how to achieve optimal results. This handy cheat sheet should help you to make informed decisions moving forward.
Create a Social Media Marketing Plan
Your first step should be to determine your company’s goals. Are you planning on using social media to increase sales? Or, is your focus on growing your audience and driving brand recognition? Perhaps your goal is to drive visitors to your website? Once you acknowledge exactly what you’re trying to accomplish, it will be much easier to implement an effective strategy to accomplish those goals.
Be Friendly and Accessible
As Los Angeles SEO company Coalition Technologies says, “Building a social media presence allows your business to open direct conversations with your customers and partners.” One of the main advantages of social media is that it gives your company a voice and a personality. It’s important that you carefully analyze how your brand sounds to your audience.
Your social media presence should be balanced and cohesive. Be personable and friendly, without compromising your authority. At the same time, you must be accessible without getting overwhelmed by feedback. If you’re not confident in your abilities to find an appropriate voice on social media, hire an expert. There’s a very fine line between good and bad social media advertising, and sometimes hiring a professional is critical to the success of your social media pages.
Cater Your Content to Individual Platforms
While your content may overlap at times, it’s important that you recognize what works and is allowed on each individual platform. Each platform also has a different feel, so take that into account as you plan your content. Here’s a brief overview on the major social media outlets:
Facebook is where friends connect, so make sure you keep your content casual, light, and easy. Create a fan page for your business, and spend some time working on the layout before you go live. Facebook facilitates a wide range of content, so populate your page with videos, images, articles, and other shareable content. If you have a lot of followers, you may not be able to respond to all comments, but try to at least respond to important comments or those with many likes.
Twitter’s 140 character limit ensures that your primary content will be brief, but you can also link to outside pages if you want to expand on a tweet. Start by following relevant pages in your industry, and you should see your followers growing soon enough. While promotions, updates, and other business-related content is important, don’t forget to include tweets that are still relevant but unrelated to sales. Nobody wants to be bombarded by constant advertising. Less is more.
Instagram is great for giving your followers a look at the inner-workings of your organization. Employee photos, videos of manufacturing processes, product photos, and more all contribute to the elevation of your brand. Instagram is also the perfect platform for contests. Don’t forget to use hashtags to gain new followers boost exposure to a relevant audience.
Video content is huge and growing. YouTube is the largest video hosting site, and there is plenty of organic traffic that will find your videos via search alone. Share your YouTube videos on Facebook and Twitter to boost your views.
Google+ fosters a similar atmosphere to Facebook, but circles tend to be more tight-knit. You may want to consider offering exclusive promotions reserved just for your inner circles.
This professional social media website isn’t ideal for promoting your product or service, but it’s a great place to connect with potential business partners or employees.
Depending on your organization’s niche, other social media sites such as Pinterest, Reddit, Foursquare, Flickr, or Tumblr may be worth looking into. Just remember, quality social media should feel natural, so don’t force it.
Quality Content Leads to Natural Growth
Your primary focus should be on creating and sharing quality content. The rest will come with time. As Entrepreneur said, “It’s better to have 1,000 online connections who read, share and talk about your content with their own audiences than 10,000 connections who disappear after connecting with you the first time.” Spend time creating videos, images, blog posts, and other high-quality content, and don’t share anything you’re not proud of. Remember, every post represents your organization and either elevates or weakens your brand.
When in Doubt, Hire a Professional
This biggest social media mistake that small and medium-sized businesses commonly make is refusing to hire a professional to handle their accounts. Social media requires a certain nuance that not all marketing professionals understand, and many of today’s businesses overlook just how important social media is to how the company is viewed. Social media is not just a valid advertising outlet; it’s one of your most important marketing tools.