Most small businesses know they should be using social media as part of their toolkit to win new business but a lot don’t know where to start.
So, where do you get started if you’re looking to start winning business with social media?
Social media has been proven to help businesses:
- Grow website traffic
- Increase sales conversions
- Build brand awareness
- Create a following of brand fans
- Increase understanding of key stakeholders
- Build a brand
Getting the basics right is essential for success, without strong foundations and a plan to succeed you’re on course for a poor performing marketing channel.
Set clear objectives
Being clear about your goals for social media is the best place to start.
Do you want to grow sales? Do you want to increase traffic to your website? As with any objective try to make it SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely). That way you’ll be able to measure how effective your strategy is at achieving your objectives.
Have a plan
Once you’ve set objectives, you need a plan to execute them.
Looking at competitor social accounts could help you see what sort of content they’re sharing but the most important part of your plan should be your social media content calendar. You should use a balance of informative, educational and entertaining content to build an engaged audience. That doesn’t mean you can’t post promotional content, just try to keep it 20% of your content.
Your plan should include how many times you will post on each of your chosen social platforms, the themes you will talk about and the content you’ll be posting out.
A lot of businesses make the mistake of being overly promotional on social media.
The clue is in the name. Social. Media. Your audience won’t stay around for long if you’re bombarding them with products and sales promotions 24/7. Open the doors to behind the scenes of your business, let people know the real brand. People follow brand accounts because they love the brand or love their content. You can do this by spending time building relationships and posting content your audience loves.
Social media algorithms are based around engagement.
When a fan shares or likes your content, your posts are prioritised by the social platforms – giving you more exposure to your audience. If someone comments on your posts, comment back. Two way conversations are great for building trust and relationships.
Balance inform/entertain/educate with selling
The 80-20 rule is commonly used in marketing and social media is no different.
Try to inform, entertain and educate your audience 80% of your time. You can then promote 20% of the time. Find unique ways to stand out amongst your competitors by mixing in different content formats – could you use video to create informative content? Could you use imagery to entertain your followers?
Don’t bombard people
Adapt your posting schedule to different platforms. While posting 3 – 6 tweets a day is a good amount to post on Twitter, post too often on Instagram and Facebook and you’re going to be bombarding your audience. Try to keep posts on these two platforms to 1 per day.
Don’t hope and pray
Starting social media accounts can seem pretty exciting and it can be tempting to jump straight into posting. Don’t. Hold off and plan. Having a consistent content calendar and posting schedule is essential. When you have some posts under your belt, use them to adapt and alter your strategy. Do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.
Don’t use poor imagery
Focus on quality over quantity. If you have brand owned content, brilliant. Original content tends to perform better in social media algorithms. But if you don’t have a library of visual content, don’t worry. Sites like Unsplash are a good point of call for quality stock content for your social media channels.
Know your audience
What works for one business doesn’t necessarily mean success for another, your industry and audience are big factors that need to be considered when you’re launching a new social media strategy.
You know your audience and where they hang out, meet them there. If you’re a B2B brand your customers will most likely be on LinkedIn. If you’re a B2C brand Instagram & Tiktok might be platforms to prioritise, especially if you’re an ecommerce business focused on using social media for social commerce.
The key to social media success is having your audience in mind at every stage of your planning and implementation. What would they like to see? You could start by looking at your existing customer base, what do they have in common? What accounts do they already follow on social media? Why do they follow those accounts? These are all good questions to start asking yourself to build a picture of the type of content you should be sharing.
Adapt your content for different platforms
One size does not fit all for platforms.
Content that works on Twitter might not work on Instagram. Adapting your content, message and visual assets is important. Resizing imagery for different platforms is an important thing to think about too when you’re planning and scheduling your social posts. Tools like Canva or Adobe Photoshop make resizing your images for each platform easier.
Video content performs well across platforms and brands are increasing their marketing spend on video content year on year. It’s easy to see why, with higher engagement rates for video content than static imagery. Whether you’re in the B2B or B2C space using video content can boost social media engagement and help with buyers’ decision making process.
Organic vs paid
Platforms like LinkedIn still have great organic reach (people seeing your posts without paying for ads) but it’s well known that Facebook & Instagram limit the reach of your posts meaning most brands invest in paid advertising on these platforms.
Whilst it may seem frustrating, it’s the way of the world and the value of your audience seeing your content needs to be weighed up against the cost of advertising to determine if there is a likely return on investment.
Paid social media also allows you to reach new audiences, with tools like Facebook’s Lookalike Audiences you can reach new people with the same characteristics and demographic profile of your existing audience – making it much easier to identify potential new customers.
Organic reach on social media is likely to decrease even further over time as the amount of information and content increase on platforms. Paid media will become a necessary investment for most businesses but for now it’s still possible to reach your audience organically with great content and a consistent social media strategy.
Hopefully from this brief introduction to winning business with social media you have seen how social media can be a new sales channel for you, but it’s not like other more traditional marketing tools. Social media is a slow burn, it’s there as a tool to engage with and build relationships with your audience. Those relationships can then be in time turned into new business whilst moving existing prospects through their buying process more quickly by building trust and creating brand preference.
If you’re going to win at social media marketing, use it to add value and connect with your audience more closely. The interactions and the data you can collect about your audience and their behaviour are invaluable to your business.
Once you’ve set up your social strategy, don’t forget to track your performance and adjust as you go. Your objective to win business with social media will remain but the methods you use to get there will adapt and change as you learn more about what’s working and what isn’t. Being responsive and adaptive are key.
If you need help growing your business with social media, get in touch with our team of social media marketing experts.