No matter what you sell, using social media for business is an essential part of any smart marketing strategy. You can engage with customers, increase traffic to your site and boost name recognition. Unfortunately, your profiles can’t run themselves and maintaining a steady stream of content can feel like just another task on a never-ending to-do list. Instead of ignoring the opportunity or making a half-hearted attempt, leverage tools and techniques that make the most of your time and resources. Here are eight tips for getting started.
As new social media platforms are launched and others continue to evolve, don’t make the mistake of thinking you have to be on every single one. Each network speaks to a different demographic, and you should choose where you invest your time based on your business and customers.
A natural place to start is LinkedIn, which 63% of marketers rate as the most effective platform for B2B companies. This platform lets you connect with other businesses and professionals, and 50% of Americans with a college degree are using it. LinkedIn is a good way to start promoting your services by sharing information and establishing your expertise. It’s also easy to join in on conversations that are relevant to your business and grow your network.
Twitter is the next most effective platform, with millennials making up its largest user demographic. Here you can engage in conversations with customers and connect your industry to the news of the day. The third most effective platform for B2B companies is YouTube — 45% of users visit the site daily and 91% of adults aged 18-29 use the platform. Use it to create and share video tutorials about your products and services.
Facebook is the largest and most popular social media network, with 74% of Americans logging in every day. While just 32% of marketers rank it as the most effective platform, you might still want to include a business presence here.
Instead of wasting time checking individual platforms, use a tool like Hootsuite or Buffer that monitors and manages them all on a single dashboard. You can also schedule posts in advance and post to more than one platform to save yourself time.
To get the most engagement from your efforts, leverage social media for business advertising tools that target your market. Facebook and Instagram have options that match your ads to user profiles by pulling segmented data on user activity, and Twitter and LinkedIn can reach users based on keywords and hashtags used in posts. Advertising can also help you reach your audience faster than regular posts — the average organic Facebook post reaches eight percent of followers, while a paid ad reaches nearly 27%.
One of the best ways to get started on social media is with industry news. Start by sharing interesting, relevant facts or new developments, and progress to adding your own commentary. You can stay on top of the most talked-about news with a solution like Buzzsumo — just enter keywords related to your industry and the tool will identify which articles are the most liked, shared and talked about.
One of the most important features of social media for business is the ability to engage with others. This can be difficult when your social media feeds seem random or crowded. Hootsuite and Buffer allow you to organize posts by creating lists of people, such as customers or industry thought leaders. Social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn also allow you to create segmented lists within your profile that make it easy to quickly reply, interact or share posts without wading through your feed.
Hashtags help your audience find your posts, and they also allow you to participate in conversations about trending topics. Tweets with hashtags receive twice as much engagement as those without, including 55% more retweets. Hootsuite and Buffer allow you to track keywords or hashtags within your dashboard, and if you aren’t sure which ones to use, a tool like RiteTag will provide suggestions on top-performing hashtags.
Posts with images get more engagement than posts that are strictly text. In fact, tweets that include a graphic are 150% more likely to be retweeted than tweets without. If you don’t have a graphic designer, don’t worry. You can create images by using a tool like Canva, which includes templates, pictures and fonts to easily mirror your brand.
Social media shouldn’t be a one-way street. Brands can build better customer relationships by listening to the conversations that they’re a part of and responding positively. Quickly resolving support issues goes a long way, and it’s easy to chime in with some appreciation when customers are signing your praises. Responses to negative feedback or a mishap should be handled with utmost care, as it can quickly turn a PR crisis into a viral social media sensation that can damage a brand’s image and degrade customer relationships. Take, for example, the way the internet responded when United Airlines’ CEO Oscar Munoz tweeted about the infamous video showing a passenger being forcibly removed from one of their flights. Rather than diffusing the situation, his lackluster apology elicited outrage and triggered a snowball effect. Instead, take note from companies that use social media effectively to engage with their customers and deepen those relationships.
If you’re not using social media for business, you could be leaving money on the table. Create a social media plan, carve out time to implement best practices and then measure your return on investment. The great thing about social media is that it’s quick and easy and you can quickly learn what works and change up what doesn’t, refining your strategy as you go.
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