In 2021, social media has gone way beyond digitally connecting friends online and providing a place for them to socialize.
Social media platforms are in large part providing businesses with secondary, virtual, operational hubs.
Take Facebook for example. Within this single social media platform, a company can promote products, maintain an eCommerce store, and handle customer service inquiries, all while posting regularly and engaging with followers.
If you’re a business owner who isn’t using social media as an extension of your everyday operations, you’re missing out on a major business opportunity that has the potential to expand your customer base and increase overall revenue.
Integrating social media into your business strategy will afford your brand countless benefits, including:
● Social media can spread brand awareness
● Social media can expand your customer base
● Social media can encourage online engagement
● Social media can increase the virality of your brand
Social media is such a powerful tool for business growth, in fact, that you don’t have to use every platform under the sun. Simply maintaining accounts on one or two social platforms will be enough to support your business needs and social media goals.
If you need help determining the best social platforms for your company, we recommend that you take a moment to read our prior article, Which Social Media Platforms Are Right For Your Business?
If you’re already clear on which social platforms will best serve your business needs, it’s time to get even clearer on how you can use those social platforms to grow your business, which will be the focus of this article.
Before you can really get started utilizing social media for your business, be sure to complete the following actions so that your social accounts are ready for action:
● Fill out your social profile(s) with your company’s telephone number, email address, and other contact information, and be sure to include a concise description of your business.
● For your Instagram account, add to the description box any affiliated IG account handles your company has, such as your customer service and help desk accounts; and be sure to add your branded hashtags as well, if applicable.
● For your Twitter account, keep your bio short and personable, and don’t forget to include your website and the Twitter handles of your affiliated accounts, if applicable.
● For your LinkedIn account, connect your business profile page to your website blog, if applicable, so that published blogs automatically post to your page.
Once you have all of your social media accounts set up, the next critical step is to add social media icons to your website, email signature, newsletter footer, and any other digital marketing tool your company uses. These social media icons should have clickable links that will direct users to your social media account.
Are your bases covered? If so, let’s dive into the specifics of what you can do to make the most out of your social media accounts.
You will experience far more engagement and social success if you regularly and consistently publish posts on your social media accounts, as opposed to only publishing posts ad hoc when the mood strikes you. Business profiles that consistently post twice a week end up generating more valuable social interactions than businesses that post three times during a single day and then fail to post for eight consecutive days. Adhering to a realistic posting schedule should be your first step towards effectively utilizing social media for your business. We recommend that you specifically integrate the following types of social posts into your organic posting schedule:
● Products & Services Posts that Use “Tags”—1x per week
● Contest or Giveaway Promotions—2x per year
● Posts with Hashtags that Target Your Audience & Location—1x per week
In addition to these specialized posts, be sure to develop a consistent posting schedule that features the kind of content and conversation starters that best represent your brand.
This social posting idea only relates to Facebook & Instagram, or any social platform that offers an in-app eCommerce store. Assuming you have set up your business’s social accounts as well as in-app eCommerce, the biggest benefit of using product tagging in your posts is that the click-through rates of your posts will increase, which will help you gain visibility and increase direct sales.
When a social media contest or giveaway is executed properly, it’s a powerful way to build immediate social engagement and long-term followers. Social users might not automatically know that your brand exists, but by including the right hashtags in your social contest, social users will quickly find out exactly who you are!
Did you know that every social media post has the potential to target your audience? By including specific hashtags you can help to target the audience you want. Location tagging can also help draw in the right audience, especially if your business has a brick-and-mortar location.
Businesses that use social media to the fullest provide their social visitors and followers with the option to shop directly on their platforms, ask questions, and leave comments. In other words, these savvy businesses provide customer service to their social visitors. Directly within the platforms, customer service representatives can respond to questions and concerns, as well as shift public customer service conversations into private DMs when it will best serve the customer. By providing social media users with customer service avenues on social platforms, businesses are able to meet customers where they are, which ultimately results in better customer satisfaction. Here are three tips you can use when integrating customer service into your social accounts:
● Amp Up the Human Connection by Being Personable & Humble
● Carefully Compose Any Auto Replies You Set Up
● Use Direct Message CTAs at the Bottom of Your Social Responses
The most important tip we can give you when it comes to integrating customer service avenues into your social accounts is to designate a real-life employee to manage the interactions and responses in a timely fashion.
The days of generic auto-replies are long gone, but unfortunately, a lot of businesses still use these canned, antiquated responses when it comes to social media. Yes, Facebook, Instagram, and other social platforms provide you with auto-reply templates that can be used in your DMs and Chat Messages, but unless a real-life person is overseeing them, it could backfire badly.
If your staff is really pressed for time, then compose FAQ responses that they can choose from, and remember, as time-consuming as it may be to personally respond to every social question, comment, and DM, replying with personality and humility will get you a lot further in terms of building customer relationships than letting a chatbot spew out nonsense replies.
As your customer service representatives monitor your social accounts for the purposes of responding to user questions, comments, and concerns, they will need the option of shifting the conversation from the public feed to a private DM, or Direct Message. This option is now available. Your customer service reps can include a DM link to the bottom of their responding comments when interacting with users on social.
For as little as $20 per day, you can run sponsored content on Facebook & Instagram for a fixed duration of time and see a massive ROI. “Sponsored content” is a type of native advertising that is available to marketers on Facebook & Instagram. Chances are, you’ve seen more than your fair share of sponsored content on these joined platforms, and you may have even formed opinions about why they work. By placing sponsored content ads, you can target your niche demographic within a location radius, which means that your promotional advertisement will definitely reach your ideal customers. There’s really no downside to running sponsored content on the social media platforms Facebook & Instagram, especially if you run your ad for a limited time and with a specific business goal in mind. We recommend using sponsored content to promote “social only” discounts and to collect email addresses for your loyalty program, newsletter, and other marketing needs. But above all else, respect Facebook’s new “Personal Attributes” policy or your ad will never see the light of day.
● Obey Facebook’s “Personal Attributes” Policy or Perish!
● Offer “Social Only” Promotions
● Use Lead Generation CTAs
Let’s take a look at the specifics of these three pointers:
The Facebook Personal Attributes Policy was recently added to the list of “prohibited content” that Facebook restricts. If you’re going to run any kind of ad on Facebook, we strongly recommend that you become intimate with this policy. In essence, Facebook’s advertising policy prohibits the use of mentioning the “personal attributes” of the viewer, including but not limited to their ethnicity, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, and the list goes on. Think you can type the words “you,” “your,” “you’re,” and “other” in your ads? Think again… and read the policy.
A great way to generate, track, and analyze social engagement is to run a sponsored ad that features a discount or deal that’s only available to social users on social media. Exclusivity has long remained a strong promoting factor when it comes to successful sales campaigns, so by making an upcoming sale exclusively available on social media, you can gain followers, increase engagement, and boost sales, all in one fell swoop.
One of the easiest ways to organically grow your social media followers and get the word out about your brand is to occasionally remind your followers that they can find your brand on other social media platforms. An effective way to cross-pollinate your audiences is to highlight the variety of content your other channels provide. For example, if you primarily manage Twitter and YouTube accounts, you can interest your Twitter followers in checking out your YouTube channel by highlighting the long-form video content you’re offering exclusively on YouTube. By providing different content on different platforms, which will be the focus of the next section of this article, you will give your followers a reason to follow you on every platform you use for your business. Apply the following tips to your cross-promotional goals:
● Use a Content Scheduling Calendar
● Expand Your Online Presence
● Make Trending Topics the Focus of Certain Posts
In addition to applying the specific tips we just listed, be sure to use social media to network with non-competing businesses and brands. By building your own professional network on social media, you can cross-promote with other brands to reach their audiences and vice versa.
Planning the publication of daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly social media marketing posts can be daunting, which is why we strongly recommend you use a content scheduling calendar, like this one offered by FTx 360—2021 Content Schedule Calendar. By relying on a content calendar to organize your social posts, you can take the guesswork out of planning, which will bring you one step closer to reaching your marketing goals.
Using multiple social platforms has the power to expand the online presence of your brand, so long as you don’t spread yourself too thin in the process. As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, pick only one or two social platforms to focus on and be sure that you’re offering unique content on each one. The more you interact on social media and the more you include your social handles in your emails, newsletters, and other digital correspondence, the quicker you’ll get the word out about your brand online.
If you’re struggling with a bit of writer’s block in terms of trying to figure out what type of content to post, try incorporating topical, timely, trending conversations into your scheduled posts. Depending on what’s going on in the world, what’s popular in the media, and what’s recently gone viral on social media, make a post about it! There’s only one caveat: do your best to stay away from controversial topics such as politics and religion.
As we mentioned in the last section of this article, offering different content on different platforms is one of the smartest social media marketing moves you can make. One of the biggest mistakes that businesses make when managing accounts on multiple social platforms is repeating identical content on every channel. Think about it, if the content you present is the same across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn, why in the world would a single individual need to follow all of your accounts? They certainly won’t benefit from it if they do. Just because every Facebook post you publish could automatically post to Instagram, doesn’t mean you should actually use this function. Instead, tailor your content for each platform, or better yet, publish unique content on every platform account you manage. As you do, bear these rules of thumb in mind:
● Maximize the Visual & Minimize the Text
● Use Social Media Optimization Strategies
● Prioritize Building Relationships Over Gaining Followers
Before we take a closer look at each of these, we want to take a moment to emphasize that every social post you publish could and should feel like the start of a personal conversation with your followers. Inviting each follower into what feels like a personalized, one-on-one conversation will yield the greatest customer-relationship-building results.
Speaking in broad terms, all social media platforms are more visual than readable. Meaning, social posts that feature photos and videos perform much better than posts that only feature written text. Even Twitter, which has always been text-centric, has incorporated photos, GIFs, polls, surveys, and graphs to help users add visual elements. This is why we recommend that you amplify the visuals of your social posts and streamline your captions.
Social media optimization simply refers to using your social media networks to manage and grow your business’s online presence. There are specific ways you can accomplish this as part of your overall digital marketing strategy. Key optimization tactics include using social media to direct visitors to your website, promoting the eCommerce offerings of your social account to convert followers into customers, and integrating lead generation forms into your promos and ads to collect valuable customer information that you can leverage in your future email marketing and / or SMS text message campaigns.
The final piece of advice that we’ll leave you with is to not be so hard on yourself when it comes to growth on social media. Social media automatically places a very high premium on followers, and there’s a user perception that social accounts with millions of followers are “better” than social accounts with only hundreds. The reality, however, couldn’t be further from the truth. Rather than obsess over gaining followers and trying to attain thousands of followers as if doing so will give your brand clout, instead we recommend that you focus on building genuine relationships with your social followers, even if you only have one hundred. Remember, not every follower you have on social media will be your customer, but every relationship you build on social media with a follower will produce a customer for life.
Have you hesitated to look for a digital marketing agency to handle all of your social media and market your brand online? Have you assumed you wouldn’t be able to afford management services or a marketing specialist to develop your next social media marketing campaign? What if we told you that FTx 360 can work within any budget to create a stunning online campaign that influences people to love your brand? For more information about the social media marketing services at FTx 360 and how our team can benefit your bottom line without breaking the bank, contact us today.