THE RISE OF EFFECTIVE SOCIAL MEDIA FOR BUSINESS
Love it or hate it Social Media has become one of the most effective and popular mediums for connecting with targeted audiences worldwide. The digital age has well and truly begun and with the likes of Facebook pulling in audiences of 2.13 billion active monthly users, it's not difficult to believe that in order to stay ahead you need to get your digital game face on.
Of course, there are various and many platforms to try if Facebook isn't your thing, different platforms will work better for different business types and different audiences. The trick is to know where 'your people' are and go there. Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook, LinkedIn, Yelp, Twitter all have their strengths to the right audiences. There is no shortage of platforms to engage with and you cant be everywhere at once so it's important to engage with which ones work with your customer wants.
92% of marketers say that Social Media has increased business exposure, if you're not using it you’re missing out.
WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS?
The first step is to decide what you want from Social Media. More clients? Sales? Readership? Contacts? Whatever it is you need to go into digital marketing with an idea of what you hope to get out of it. You have to know why you're there. Make it measurable.
WHO ARE MY PEOPLE?
Who are you looking to reach? What demographic best suits what you are looking for? Gender, age, location, interests are all important to identify before you start. Who's buying your products? Who's reading your blogs? Once you know you can start to look at where they are likely to be hanging out.
By far the simplest way to do this is by putting out a short customer survey. Ask them which platforms they prefer, where they pick up online info and who they are listening to online, this should give you a feel for where to start and focus your energy. Another good place to look is the Pew Research Centre for Internet & Technology where you can see the demographics of the top five platforms in their survey.
*Point to note* even if you're already rocking Social Media it's always a good idea to re-visit these points. I tend to review my strategies every 3-6 months, your business will evolve and so should your marketing to keep it current and effective.
WHAT CONTENT DO YOU PUT OUT THERE?
Another big consideration when choosing a platform to showcase your business is what content do you create? Instagram, for example, is all photo-based so if you're putting out long blog posts without images or lots of documentation then this might not be the place for you. Similarly if you're looking to make contacts, then a platform such as LinkedIn where you can search specifically for people by industry and location would be ideal. It's all about knowing what you create and where it will perform to its best advantage for you.
OK, SO I KNOW WHO I WANT TO TALK TO AND WHAT TYPE OF CONTENT I WANT TO PUT OUT, NOW WHAT?
Now its time to put it all together. You know what your goals are, who you want to reach and what you offer its time to choose the right platform for you. Which one will best suit your needs or most closely matches what you are looking for? To assist I've created a short download for you covering seven of the popular platforms and a little bit about what makes them good at what they do. This in no way a comprehensive list but it should give you enough oversight to at least begin to choose where to spend your valuable time (and marketing budget). I hope you find it useful.
DON'T GET OVERWHELMED
If you're new to Social Media marketing or you're a small business just starting out I would recommend keeping your social platforms down to a maximum of three or less. The more you try to overstretch yourself the less likely you are to see real results so choose your top one or two and start there. You'll need to post consistently too, remember your followers will likely also follow hundreds of other accounts so you don't want to get lost in the mainstream. Twitter and Facebook particularly move fast so you'll need to post more on these platforms to stay ahead of the game.
Don't have time to be plugged in, logged on all day posting? The secret is that no one else does either. Shocker. I have successfully used HootSuite, a multi-platform publishing tool to handle my social posts for a couple of years now and it has made my life so much easier. There are loads of companies who offer free services to small business so its worth doing your research (I just personally use HootSuite) and so I tend to spend a few hours a week sitting down and scheduling posts on my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts meaning that they are consistently posted and without me having to keep logging on and remembering. Most will offer optimised posting too so that it will put out your content when it thinks it's most likely to be seen and received - Magic!
PAY TO PLAY?
Lots of social platforms now are significantly reducing the organic reach of business pages, Facebook being the most noteworthy. It can be frustrating but paying to boost some of your social posts or promoting a tweet isn't always a bad thing. You can get very specific with targeting of your customer this way and exploring paid for advertising is something I would suggest to all businesses. It doesn't have to be expensive and in my experience it tends to be relatively effective making it appealing to start ups and smaller companies.
Remember, Social Media is not just for connecting you with people in your local area, it's easier than ever now to create a global reach, raise brand awareness, generate traffic to your website, gain sales leads and of course improve customer relations. You can also learn a lot about your audience by keeping stats of your customer's buying habits and amend your marketing to suit where your best opportunities to sell are. We have an invaluable tool at our fingertips, it's up to us how we handle it and what we make of it in relation to our lives.
Its time to get Social Media sassy! Have some fun with it, connect with your audience and let them see that you're around, people buy from people! Enjoy the process and let us know how you get on. If you have any top tips for your fellow members or have a question then you can always drop a message onThe Community facebook page!