Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know the impact social media has on everyday life. In fact, chances are that the rock you’ve been living under has WiFi and a ton of Instagram followers, too.
Social media has become a phenomenon. In 2016, 68% of all U.S. adults are Facebook users, while 28% use Instagram, 26% use Pinterest, 25% use LinkedIn and 21% use Twitter.
As of July 2015, the worldwide population was 7.3 billion. The internet has 3.17 billion users, and there are 2.3 billion active social media users.
In summary: almost half of the entire world population use the internet, and 30% of the world are active on social media. As my little cousin would say: that’s a “crap-ton of people”.
So it makes sense that if you own a business, you would need to be active on social media as well, right? What if I told you that even though 90% of businesses already use social, the number with an actual social media strategy is dramatically lower?
Just like anything in business, you can’t thrive without a plan. When it comes to social media, there is a lot to think about: what is my unique offer? Which platform best fits my business? Who is my target audience? Am I trying to sell my product, or do I just want to gain followers and drive website traffic?
Answering these questions are just the tip of the iceberg. That’s why marketing consultants (like myself 🙂 ) get hired: developing a social media strategy takes a lot of time and effort. It takes a lot of trial and error, testing and analytics to get right. But once you do, the growth of your business becomes limitless.
If you are not on social media, or you are but you don’t use it effectively, this article is for you. Or if you just want to know some best practices. Here are 8 things you can implement today to gain more traction and build a stronger presence on social media:
Create a unified, cohesive brand across all social platforms
Part of your social strategy should be deciding which platforms to use. There’s Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Linkedin, Snapchat, Google+…… you get the picture. But depending on your industry and audience, not all platforms are beneficial to you and would be a waste of time. I’m a fan of using no more than three of the platforms, because it’s less for you to manage and you can focus on creating outstanding content specifically to those three audiences.
Once you pick your platforms, you need to create the same brand across all three. Profile pictures should be the same. Company logos, colors, descriptions, addresses, contact info, should all be the EXACT same.
URLs to your website should be the same. This creates brand recognition across channels and makes it easy for your audience to find you on each platform.
Your social media brand also includes your company’s voice: your company’s personality, values, strengths, etc. Staying on-brand is ultra important and serves the unification we spoke to earlier. If your company’s tone is more professional, serious and informative, it would freak your audience out to post a funny cat video. Make sure you identify your brand persona and stick to it across all social media platforms you choose to use.
Listen more than you speak
One of the most important things I learned in sales is to talk less and listen more. Your audience will literally tell you what they want if you ask the right questions and let them answer. But if you are constantly going on and on about your product, your service, your pricing, etc., you’re going to turn them off.
Social media works the exact same way. It is very important to create great content. But the most effective way to build and audience and sell on social media is to LISTEN to your audience. Find out their likes, dislikes, and behaviors. They will tell you what they want, and then you can provide it.
People take to social media to voice their displeasure with certain products and services. They also share positive experiences as well. When you take the time to listen, they will tell you what they like and/or dislike about your product. Then you can cater specific content and marketing to that feedback.
The most successful brands listen to their audience, and the proof is in the pudding.
For once, don’t ABC
This pains me to write. As you’ll see elsewhere on this blog, I am a HUGE advocate for ABC- Always Be Closing. I think you need to market and sell at every given opportunity. EXCEPT when it comes to social media.
Don’t get me wrong; you should still be marketing on social, that’s the whole point. But the easiest way to turn off your audience is to constantly push product on them. Social media strategy isn’t effective if all you want to do is talk about how awesome your product is, or all the current specials that are going on, or the AMAZING end-of-year pricing.
Your goal with social should be to bring VALUE. Post relevant articles, create videos and multimedia that actually HELP your audience when it comes to your industry. Only then can you build an audience that trusts you and looks forward to purchasing from your company.
Good social strategy isn’t constant advertising; it’s about consistently bringing value to your audience and expecting nothing in return.
Content is King
To piggyback off of the above point, you need to realize that content is King. Social media has changed the way people advertise, and it really has revolutionized online business as we know it.
In the past, you would create an ad to sell your product on TV, radio, or newspapers and magazines. People knew to expect it, and they purchased based on best price, best ad, or brand.
That was before the internet and social media.
People nowadays are apt to ignore advertisements. Don’t get me wrong, sponsored ads online still work and work pretty well. But as much time as people spend on the internet now, they are CONSTANTLY being fed ads. So what do they do? They look for VALUE in the form of relevant, helpful content.
If your brand can consistently deliver content (blog posts, videos, articles, podcasts, images, live streams, etc.) that engages and helps the audience, you will win. This increases consumer trust, and people that trust you, buy from you. It’s that simple.
Interact, interact, interact
All social media platforms encourage interaction. Facebook allows comments, Twitter allows favorites and retweets, Instagram allows comments and reposts. One of the biggest misses for businesses in the social media world is that they don’t interact with their audience.
The best brands don’t just post content. They read and respond to any comments, shares, or messages they receive about that content. This gives a more personable, interactive feel for your brand that brings your big company down to a human level. This creates trust and engages your readers/viewers even further.
There have been a lot of content gone viral because a customer posted a negative review or comment about a specific product they received. The brand responds, and not only is the customer happy that their problem gets rectified, but they feel great that the big bad brand actually listened to them. They then share that with their social media following, and that brand is looked at more favorably. This is taken customer service to the next level.
Don’t just post content for the sake of posting it. Read the comments, respond to messages, and not only will you gain insight into the behavior and interests of your audience, but you will be helping your brand’s reputation as well.
Cater to your platform
This is another big miss I see when consulting with businesses on social. Not all platforms are equal as they all cater to different targets.
Instagram is all about multimedia (videos/ images), and it has a relatively young user-base. Twitter requires posts that are 140-characters or less. Linkedin caters to content that has an informational, professional tone. One-size does not fit all when it comes to the content you post on social media, so when deciding on content to post, be sure to think long and hard about the platform you are posting to.
If you don’t heed any of my other advice, PLEASE takeaway this one: be real. Social media is all about building trust with your audience through valuable content. People follow accounts that help them and engage them. If you are not being authentic, it will ooze through your posts and your audience will dissipate.
In order to win on social media, you MUST care about your followers AND your content. People can tell when you are posting just for the sake of posting. There needs to be thought behind each and every post, and you should constantly be asking yourself if what you are posting either a) helps people, b) engages people, or c) elicits emotion or a reaction. Authenticity is key.