If you’re a business owner, exec or manager, it’s understandable if you feel a little anxious when you hear the words “social media marketing.” You keep hearing about how great social media is for business, but you feel like you’re drowning in posts and tweets instead. Add this feeling of swimming upstream to the fact that there’s no one-size-fits-all pattern to social media success and you find yourself in a fast-moving whirlpool with no way out. “Stop the madness!” you scream.
It’s true that successful social media strategies for your business won’t be identical to those of other businesses. But it’s also true that there are secrets to social media success that, when customized to your business and its customers, will give you tremendous advantage and growth potential. Step out of the whirlpool and consider these insider secrets to getting more business out of your social media efforts.
Does Your Business Personality Fit the Platform?
The folks at BetterWorks realized their company page on LinkedIn had to be different from the company Facebook or Twitter page. What did they know that you don’t? Could it be that each social media channel caters to a different core group? LinkedIn is business-related. Content that focuses on industry trends, professional guidance, breaking news and relevant information is its heart and soul. To attract networking and business opportunities as well as top talent, your business LinkedIn page requires a professional “face.” On the other hand, your Facebook personality has to be more personable, personal and fun. Twitter combines business and fun but is particularly well-suited for breaking news, company announcements and new product releases.
Think about these differences as you craft a business page for each platform. One caveat, however: Make sure your branding is the same across all platforms. One of the biggest benefits of social media for business is building your brand recognition. Use the same contact details, business name (e.g., don’t use “Corp.” in one place and “Inc.” in another) and logo on every single platform as well as your website and blog. The platform focus may be different, but your company brand stays the same.
Who Are You Anyway? And What Do You Want?
Silly questions, you think? Actually, these not-so-silly questions require answers if you want to get more out of social media. The answers provide a roadmap to prepare effective strategies for each platform.
Begin with an honest company evaluation. What are your company’s strengths? Where does it fall short? Where do you want to take the business? What are your individual areas of expertise? Where do you fall short? The answers are important not just for social media, but for your business as a whole. Review and update your company’s mission. Remind yourself why you’re in business, what your company’s main purpose is, how your company performs now and what you expect from it in the future.
Who Are They Anyway? And What Do They Want?
More not-so-silly questions to think about. Social media platforms offer businesses a way to interact on a personal level with people around the world. Of course, most businesses don’t serve the entire world, but a small segment of the population. Maybe your business is a B2B or sells consumer services or products. Within that group, you probably target one or more smaller segments as well.
For example, if you sell children’s toys, your marketing campaigns likely include some advertising that targets parents, some that targets grandparents and some that appeals directly to children. Social media engagement is similar to marketing. You have to determine who your target customers are and use the most effective ways to reach them.
The Plan’s the Thing
You wouldn’t spend money willy-nilly on your business without first devising a plan, would you? Of course not. You have a structure in place with specified timelines, checkpoints and actions to keep your business afloat financially. Social media is no different. You know your business, you know your customers—it’s time to come up with a social media plan that’s worth all the time you put into it.
The plan you come up with should include the type of content you need to create, specific times to post, procedures for varying content types and formats, and a way to monitor engagement by means of an automated tool within the platform or spreadsheet. Over time, you’ll be able to clearly see which posts and formats are most popular and discover seemingly small but important facts about your audience.
I Mean It!
Social media is all about meaningful interaction. If your interactions so far have been simple thank you’s from time to time or worse, an angry statement in reply to a complaint, you’re missing the whole point of using social media.
You already know social media is not a direct sales type of marketing. Rather, it’s about building an online community. And that requires give and take. Your responses, particularly on Facebook, indicate to the online community at large what your business does, its unique place in the world and who you and other people behind the business are.
Respond readily to posts and comments. Post high-quality, informative and useful content. Share relevant content from industry leaders and experts along with your own comments. Remember details about those who post often. Ask about family members that followers have mentioned before. Don’t be creepy, but greet online followers the same way you would if you met them walking down the street in your neighborhood.
Beyond the Basics
Each platform offers additional features that can be effective in lengthening your online reach. Facebook groups are particularly valuable for businesses. Search through the listings to find related industry groups, join those that fit your field and get in on the discussions. If you can’t find a group that fits, create one. Other platform features to look into are Facebook ads and LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator.
And here’s one thing you won’t often see in social media platform how-to articles: Social media is fun when you do it right. You get to interact with people all over the world right from your office chair. Sure, it’s work too. But the human element of social media is often the most forgotten secret of all.
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