Social media plays a large part in a company's digital marketing strategy whether they are B2B or B2C. Engaging with your customers online is as important as ever with the growing popularity of social media platforms. Here is a quick guide on how to get the best out of social media.
Choose your platform and be SMART
First you need to do some research to determine which platforms your customers are using and what is working well for your competitors. Don't spread yourself too thin, pick a few platforms you can really focus on. Once you have set up your accounts and connected with your customers, the next step is to create a marketing plan around social media. This is where SMART comes in.
Specific- What is your aim?
Measurable- How much/many? How are you going to track it?
Achievable- Is it realistic?
Relevant- Is it a worthwhile goal?
An example for Merlin could be 'We want to increase our Facebook page likes by 10% by the end of the year'. We have a clear aim, an achievable amount that is trackable, in a realistic timescale. Now how can your company use SMART? If you are planning to run adverts then it is crucial to have clear aims and objectives- if your audience is too broad, you will waste your money, too niche- you won't get much reach.
Now think about how you are going to do this. Research your customers, develop personas and think about their pain points and how your products and services can help them. It is also important to include links to your social media on your website, blogging platform and emails. This makes it easier for your customers to connect with you. Also don't feel obliged to follow everyone back in return, only follow relevant people and businesses.
The human touch!
Customers are much more likely to have a positive interaction with your company on social media if you show some personality. More and more businesses are using humour to generate engagement with their posts. A certain insect shaped chocolate log cake comes to mind! If you feel you can make a relevant contribution to a trending post and get in on the action then go ahead.
Another way to show your human side is to post pictures of staff behind the scenes. Show them enjoying their work or any charity work they might be involved in. People like to put faces to names and it can help build a stronger relationship. If you respond to questions quickly, mention your followers and comment on their posts this will help foster a deeper connection. Thus making them more likely to respond positively to your posts.
Frequency and automation
Knowing when to post on social media is crucial to engagement, unfortunately there is no definitive rule, each source you consult will tell you different times for each platform. The best way to determine when to post is to experiment and monitor the analytics or "insights" provided by each platform. I would recommend using a scheduling tool such as Hootsuite or Buffer so you can create posts to go out ahead of time. This is so much easier and less time consuming than posting on each individual profile everyday. This also helps you manage what time they go out and you can see them all in a calendar view. However, automated comments are not seen in a positive light. Take the time to respond to messages individually to give that personal touch and to keep it relevant. Scheduling your posts in advance also makes sure your accounts are active and posting regularly. This is important because people will be more inclined to follow an active account due to it being fresh and relevant.
Do your posts add value?
Social media is not the right place for giving the hard sell, you need to build relationships by providing high quality and useful content. This is where your earlier research comes in, ask yourself what posts do your followers want to see? Is it a how to video, a blog post on marketing tips or a thought provoking article? How to guides and informative e-books are very popular because they add value without being overtly salesy. Sure they might want your email address in return or promote their products within the content but they are giving you some educational content for FREE. This is where you can apply the 80/20 rule, 80% informative content and 20% promoting your products. If your content receives a negative response or an unhappy customer posts their grievances, use this opportunity to explain what you are doing to improve your services and what new measures you are putting in place to prevent the issue in the future. This restores faith in your company and shows you are listening to feedback.
Creating your posts
There is no denying the impact of visual images and videos, posts with images or videos continue to outdo pure text posts in reach and engagement. If creativity is not your strong suit then use tools like Canva to produce visually appealing graphics and videos. It is free to use and its drag and drop feature makes it very easy to produce beautiful designs. There is nothing wrong with repurposing old content, such as turning an old blog post into a series of Tweets. Not everyone will have seen it the first time around and it helps save time when creating posts for the next week or so. Another way to post relevant pieces of information is content curation, there are plenty of sites out there like Scoop.it, which are built for this purpose. Look for articles in your niche and share it with your connections. Adding your opinion or something you think they have missed out of the article will also add more value to your posts.
Another area to look at is hashtags, you want to aim for 2-3 per post to help reach a wider audience. Consider including topical, location based and your own company hashtags. If you are still struggling for ideas then how about posting customer testimonials, content around special days or events or User Generated Content. One thing you must not forget to do is include a call to action, what do you want your followers to do once they have read your post? This is key when it comes to digital marketing. Sharing the story behind your brand is another way to engage your audience and using emojis to convey context in a post is appropriate for social media.
Last but not least...analysis
Without making use of Facebook Insights or Google Analytics how else are you going to know what is working and what needs attention? Monitor best times to post, which posts got the most and least engagement and who your followers are (demographics, interests). Something else to consider, A/B testing headlines and post content to see what works best. Make sure to review your social media strategy, do you need to make any adjustments?
To get the best out of social media you must do your research, what platforms are your customers on, what content do they engage with most? Then you need to create an aim using SMART and monitor your progress using analytics. Make sure your personality shines through and share behind the scenes content with your followers. Add value and automate your posts to save time. Experiment with your content and don't forget to have fun!
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