Today, 97% of consumers turn to the Internet before making contact with a business. Social media is likely the first point of contact your potential and existing customers will have with your business. With nearly 1.5 billion users on Facebook and 300 million active users on Twitter, the visibility that social media offers is unlike any other marketing medium. Social media helps attract new employees, customers and influencers by strengthening relationships and increasing brand awareness and stickiness. Social media is valuable in any industry because it helps audiences form impressions about your brand, judge the reliability of products and services, make purchasing decisions, and influence the decisions of their peers. Many brands are on social media because they know they have to be – in fact, 94% of B2B marketers use social media marketing to market their business – but few understand how to use it correctly. Here is what to consider when adding social media to your marketing strategy.
Define Your Objectives
The first step to implementing social media into your marketing strategy is to define your objectives. Before jumping into social media, determine what you expect to gain from social media – both short and long-term – and how social media will fit into your broader marketing goals. Remember that everything you put out on social media should reflect these goals. Social media has the capacity to increase your website traffic, improve search engine ranking, build brand loyalty and awareness, attract new customers and retain current customers. Recently, Facebook came out with Call to Action buttons that are designed to bring a business’s most important objective to the forefront of its Facebook presence. These actions include: Book Now, Contact Us, Use App, Play Game, Shop Now, Sign Up, and Watch Video.
Decide What Social Media Channels to Pursue and Optimize
Doing social media successfully does not mean being on every social media platform. The social media platforms that will perform well is unique to every business. For example, a retail store would likely perform well on Instagram because of the focus on visual content. Defining your objectives will help determine which social media platforms to utilize and how to use them. It is crucial to identify which social media sites are popular with your prospects and customers. To identify your target audience, ask yourself: Who are they? Where do they live online? Which social platforms do they use? Once you have determined this, focus your energy and investments where your audience is.
Listen and Respond
It is imperative to listen to what people are saying online about your business, your competitors, and your industry in general. Social media allows businesses the opportunity to conduct market research and improve customer service by monitoring the conversations surrounding your business, product or industry. It is also crucial to respond to positive and negative feedback in a timely, friendly, and authentic manner. This allows you the opportunity to repair negative situations and turn customers into influencers. Responding is an important part of interacting and engaging with your audience, it also helps to humanize your brand and improve brand loyalty.
Deliver Relevant and Valuable Content
With Google’s most recent algorithm update, social shares now have a big influence on your page rank on search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo. This means promoting your content on social media helps increase your page’s search engine rankings. The more engaging and relevant your content is to your audience, the more valuable it will appear in search engine rankings. Content like blog posts, infographics, videos, images and white papers, feed social media marketing. Give your customers the content they want by listening to their questions related to your product or industry. It is important when creating content to abide by the 80-20 rule – 80% engaging content, 20% promotional. By educating your customer rather than selling to your customer, you will gain their trust and be viewed as a thought-leader in the industry.
Promote Your Brand Through Targeted Advertising
There is a myth that a high number of followers is the most important thing on social media. The truth is that engagement is much more important. The problem, however, is that engagement is hard – especially now that Facebook has changed their algorithm to more of a “pay to play” format. Now that organic reach is diminishing, paid advertising and campaigns are better options for building your brand on social media. Facebook gives businesses the ability to reach potential customers through highly-targeted advertising. With Facebook Advertising, you can target people based on demographics such as: geographical area, gender, age, occupation, educational level, behaviors and interests. Facebook also allows you the opportunity to customize your audiences by creating Custom Audiences from email lists or creating Lookalike Audiences.
Create a Consistent Social Media Brand
Consistency is the key to a cohesive brand on social media. A consistent brand builds authority and aids brand reputation. When setting up social media accounts, make sure your logo, color scheme, graphics, page names, and brand voice is consistent. Your social media presence should be identifiable across all platforms and everything you post should support your overall brand image. Do so by developing graphics that showcase your brand, and content that supports your business goals. Videos are encouraged to be included in your social media efforts. In fact, according to a report by Software Advice, video was the content that generated the most leads for surveyed B2B marketers in 2014.
Track Your Social Media Analytics
Tracking your social media analytics is essential because it provides valuable insights that enable your organization to see what is and isn’t working. These analytics help identify patterns and trends, and can provide insights into your audience and competitors. Social media analytics give your organization an edge over competitors through advanced knowledge about how your products and services are perceived by your clients or potential clients. You can track reach, engagement, likes, and shares through the analytics that most social media platforms offer. You can also use tools like Google Analytics, Hootsuite, or Sprout Social to simplify data from across all social media platforms and see more in-depth analytics.