Everyone is on social media nowadays, possibly even that annoying Aunt of yours who you really wish weren’t. Your business definitely can’t afford to miss out! Using social media for marketing purposes is an opportunity-filled strategy to showcase your business’ personality, reach a wider portion of your target audience, retain it, and generate more sales.
While the importance of social media for businesses can’t be overlooked, it doesn’t mean that you should just open a few accounts and hope for the best. You first need a meticulously-planned strategy.
Why and how to use social media for businesses
A social media plan is a versatile and cost-effective marketing strategy. Sure, you can do paid ads on most of those platforms, but you’ll mainly be dealing with organic posts.
That’s exactly what we are going to focus on… (for todays blog anyway!).
How is social media used for marketing?
Brands, companies and entrepreneurs use social media for marketing purposes to reach the right audience, increase brand awareness, engage with leads in order to retain them, drive more traffic to their website, and, consequently, increase their sales.
Social media marketing revolves around the creation of multimedia content, from text-only posts to pictures and videos. Like any marketing strategy, it must be carefully planned and constantly analysed to know what works with what.
How important is social media for businesses?
So, you know when we say “prove it”, well in the case of social media, this could translate as “does your business really exist if you haven’t got social media pages for it?”
Whatever your personal approach to documenting your life online, you must accept the fact that social media are vital for your business. Avoiding these social platforms basically tells your customers that you’re not interested in having a conversation with them.
Some smaller businesses might feel that social media is not for them. Yes, larger companies are likely to have a bigger advertising budget, but small businesses do have a massive advantage over them when it comes to using social media for marketing. Engagement. Social media is the best place for small businesses to shine!
It’s not a coincidence that 53% of customers prefer shopping from them: smaller companies are more community-focused, usually have a story to tell, and some inspiring ethos behind them. Most customers love feeling that they’re supporting these independent gems: they’re far more relatable and approachable than a massive multinational company with a billionaire founder who’s no longer even involved with the business.
Which platform is right for your business?
You can easily get hung up on the fact there are so many social media platforms.
Let’s say that you’re looking for your friends. Would you pop to the sticky pub down the road when you know that they’re all obsessed with the new cocktail bar? No. You’d go where you know that you’d find them hanging out, right? That’s the same with your social media strategy.
There’s no point in focusing all your efforts on Facebook if your target audience spends half of their day on Instagram (or vice versa).
Before you start using social media for marketing, it’s essential to research your target audience’s demographics and habits to identify where they like to hang out. You can—and should—still be active on more than one platform, but wasting your efforts on a channel that your specific audience doesn’t actually use would be pointless and time-consuming.
How to promote your business on social media?
The best way to promote your business on social media is actually to… not promote it.
Not all the time, at least.
If the reason why you’re interested in using social media for marketing is that you’re planning on spamming your followers’ feed with two or three hard promotions a day, you might as well not bother.
Here’s what you should do instead…
1. Have a clear social media strategy
If you already have some social media accounts for your business, start by running an audit to see what’s working and what isn’t. It might sound cheeky, but it’s actually handy to look at what your competitors are doing too (it’s called market research, its fine, honestly!).
Once you have a few good ideas as to what you should and shouldn’t post, set yourself some SMART goals.
2. Be consistent
Your social media channels should look and feel aligned with your business, your website, your in-store experience (if you have a physical location), and the rest of your marketing strategy.
This doesn’t mean that you must post the exact same captions on all platforms, but you should maintain a consistent brand tone, as well as the same photography or video-editing style. Your followers should immediately recognise that it’s you even without looking at your handle or page name.
Many posts a day will come across as spammy. At the same time, you shouldn’t disappear for weeks. It’s always better to give yourself a realistic posting schedule that you can actually maintain rather than kickstart your new social media strategy by posting every day and then realise that it’s not sustainable for you.
3. Engage with your audience
They’re called social media and not all-about-me media for a reason.
Engage with your followers by replying to their comments, answering their DMs, and thanking them for tagging you in that picture with your product or in your restaurant. Even better: try and actively start a dialogue with them by asking questions in your posts and stories.
4. Check your analytics
At the end of the day, social media is still marketing: you must analyse it regularly to see what works, what type of posts get the most engagement, what doesn’t really seem to resonate with your target audience, where your followers are from, at what time they’re most active, etc.
No matter what some gurus tell you, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all formula when it comes to social media: it’s all about trial and error.
Remember: using social media for marketing is about making connections and bringing value to your audience, rather than just sales, sales, sales. Those will come naturally when you focus on the rest.
Did you know that we’re social media experts? Let us take care of your accounts and create the right social media strategy for you while you focus on less time-consuming aspects of your business! Contact ie instinct to get started.
Callie James, Managing Director, ie instinct