Over recent times, the popularity of social networking sites has fundamentally altered the way businesses interact with customers. In fact, according to statistics published by Hootsuite, there are now more than three billion active social media users, with more than 2.9 billion of those using social media platforms on their mobile.
For companies using social media platforms, there are a number of important opportunities to capitalise on, including the ability to target specific demographics more easily, whether through paid advertising or more organic interactions.
However, it is also crucial to understand that the practice of using a site like Facebook for business purposes is dramatically different from using the same social network for personal reasons.
In this article, we offer some basic tips that can help you to optimise your use of social media for business.
1. Be Clear on Your Social Marketing Objectives
For those using social media platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook for business purposes, getting the most from a social media strategy requires you to set some clear objectives. Wherever possible, the objectives you choose should be strategic, realistic and measurable, so that success or failure can be determined.
A very common social media marketing objective is to increase brand awareness, which can be measured by the number of social media followers and interactions your business obtains. You might also wish to increase actual engagement on social media, which can be measured through 'likes', shares, comments and video viewing figures.
Many businesses have lead generation and sales as key targets, while you might also have some broader, or slightly less tangible aims, like establishing yourself or your business as an industry thought leader.
2. Choose the Right Social Media Platforms
Another key part of a social media strategy involves using the right platforms to achieve your objectives. It is important to remember that each platform has its own unique qualities - Instagram is excellent for visual marketing, Twitter can be great for customer service marketing, and LinkedIn is great for business relationships.
It is also crucial to think about which platforms each demographic uses, so that you can target the right people on the right platforms. For instance, the presence of the 'boomer' generation grew rapidly on Facebook from 2012 to 2018. By contrast, Instagram has a comparatively young average age, and Snapchat is dominated by millennials.
"Does this mean you should build a presence on every social media site? Absolutely not," explains Rebekah Radice, in an article written for Post Planner. "You should become laser-focused about who your target audience is. Instead of focusing on the demographic of the customers you have, consider focusing on the customers you want."
3. Use a Diverse Range of Marketing Techniques
A significant proportion of the social media marketing content you create should be designed to encourage people to follow your brand on those platforms. After all, 57.5 percent of people say they are more likely to buy from a brand they follow on social networking sites. Fortunately, there are a diverse range of techniques available to you.
Facebook, for instance, is an excellent social media platform for paid advertising, because there is an abundance of options for targeting specific users, based on location, gender, interests and other factors. Meanwhile, Instagram can be excellent for short video campaigns, or image-based promotional content.
Video content performs extremely well on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, because the videos can be easily played and commented on. Traditional content marketing can be effective on LinkedIn, while competitions are effective across numerous platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Maximising your reach and optimising results means employing a variety of different approaches simultaneously. Do not be afraid to experiment with new techniques, or to try out different content types.
4. Create Campaigns from Long-Form Content
Long-form content - e-books, research papers, white papers, etc. - is often viewed as being separate from social media marketing. Yet, a social media manager can easily use some of this content to inform the material they post on social networking sites and can even use those platforms to draw eyes to the long-form content.
In many cases, the long-form content can actually be broken down into smaller chunks, which can form the basis of social media posts, or marketing content that is linked to via social media. In other instances, you may be able to take small snippets of information that is relevant to your audience, in order to encourage downloads.
"Develop a short campaign where you share multiple data points, inspiring quotes, and insightful analytic soundbites from a presentation or infographic," says Liz Alton, in a blog post for Twitter Business. "Include a link to the long-form asset. In the process, you'll share valuable content to your audience and drive traffic to your content."
5. Measure Success and Re-Purpose Content
Finally, a good social media manager will also take steps to measure the success of social media marketing content, across all platforms, in order to understand the campaigns that are most effective, and those that are least effective. The precise metrics you select will, of course, depend on the initial objectives that you identified.
This information can then be used to inform future social media campaigns, and to provide evidence of the type of content that is most effective for achieving your specific company aims.
When a piece of content or a campaign is successful, do not be afraid to re-purpose it. Information from popular text-based posts can be included within video content, while popular images posted on Instagram can be used within Facebook or Twitter content. A popular Twitter thread, meanwhile, could be turned into content shared on LinkedIn.
Occasionally, it may even be appropriate to re-post previous content from a social media platform on the same platform, in the exact same form, in order to expand reach. You should try to avoid being too repetitive, but there is also no reason to limit content that has proven to be effective to a single one-time use.
By Rebecca Hamano Cabot
I have been consulting on Social Media Strategy for a number of years now, providing management solutions as well as running social media campaigns for a diverse client base. I spent the previous decade of my career working as a specialist in the tech industry which, combined with my passion for social media, has put me in a unique position to exploit social media platforms to their best. I maintain a vigorous program of professional development, allowing me to stay at the forefront of my industry. Follow me on LinkedIn @ Rebecca Hamano Cabot to keep abreast of my latest findings and industry news.