While everyone and their grandmas tend to pay attention to one or multiple social media feeds, not all businesses are so comfortable taking the plunge into social media—for good reason. Social media can be tremendously fickle. Its success metrics don’t always lead to new business, and any appreciable results tend to require major time and resources. Even worse, if a business isn’t able to coordinate social media with other aspects of its marketing efforts, its use tends to fall flat on its face.
Part of the reason behind this is a unique misunderstanding of how to use social media. Setting up a Facebook account may be easy. Taking the time to pull business from more than a billion users tends to be something else entirely. In the following article, we’ve outlined some of the latest techniques in social media and how businesses can start to use this valuable tool for profit instead of failure.
1. Finding Your Audience and Your Swan Song
As with most marketing tips, the first aspect you must consider when pursuing social media is your audience. Who is interested in your products? What social media platforms are they using? What messaging would best pertain to their needs? You’ve probably heard all this before.
However, social media asks businesses to define something else—your style, or your brand identity. Social media is an extremely individualistic medium and being able to bring a unique viewpoint to the conversation is paramount. Even more important, how does that voice relate to your audience? Knowing the viewpoints of both sides and their perceptions goes a long way when pursuing social media success.
Tip: Don’t always assume you know your audience. With social media, you’ll be directly interfacing with millions of people who will give you feedback. If you don’t listen to it, you’re doing yourself a disservice.
2. Know Your Platform Well
If you plan on spending a lot of time sending messages through a certain platform, you better know how to use it. Do the research up front. Know the demographics of each platform. Understand the best times for posting. Know its limitations and the type of tone that works best. Don’t you dare just start up a Facebook feed because everyone is doing it. Define your reason, know Facebook’s rules and dive down into its advertising capabilities. Knowing what’s possible allows you to do things that no one else does and differentiate yourself from the masses.
3. Handles Are Names, and Messages Are Conversations
If you attended a networking event and someone asked you a question, would you ignore them? Of course not. So why do so many businesses do the same thing on social media? The standard etiquette between social media and face-to-face communication is different, but it’s not so different that you can afford to overlook when people are trying to talk to you. Whenever you start pursuing social media, you basically have just entered the doors of the largest networking event on the planet, and if you ignore those trying to talk or like or share or whatever, you’ve just become the awkward wallflower of the room who wonders why he or she is the only one not having any fun.
4. Set Goals for Use
Like almost every marketing tactic out there in use today, users should never start something without defined goals, metrics and timelines. The same applies for social media. Make a conscious decision of how you plan on using social media, follow it through and gauge the results. Luckily, social media can be used to obtain a lot of different results – increasing referral traffic, lead gen, increasing thought leadership, demonstrating company culture, increase quantity of feed, etc. etc.—and businesses have their pick.
5. Use Your Employees for Amplification
The idea of tying your employees into your social media network isn’t a new one, but it is something that few businesses are able to do successfully. Social media amplification tools are slowly emerging to make this easier, but it may be some time before it becomes norm. Today’s businesses can get a leg up by understanding how their own employees can add to their social media marketing efforts and make an eventual transition easier.
Tip: As you are sharing your latest content piece on social media, make it your standard practices to send a link to your employee distribution list and ask them to share.
6. Get SEO Juice Out of Your Social Media
As social media, SEO and content marketing efforts continue to integrate under the umbrella of “inbound marketing”, social media continues to add SEO relevance to search results. For example, Google’s algorithm now looks at social media engagement stats when considering page rank. If a company is trying to optimize its SEO, then it’s a good idea to consider social media as a way to get an extra boost.
The evolution and growth of social media will become more and more important to a business’s success as customers become increasingly comfortable with digital communications. Knowing when and how to use it will help define a business’s success in the years to come.