Social media remains one of the best ways for new businesses to get exposure to a wide or even localized audience. Even then, the proliferation of social sites, the narrow attention spans among consumers and the information overload can make it a tad bit overwhelming for new businesses making a foray into the world of social.
As a new business owner, it is really important to understand from the onset what to expect from social media; keep your expectations realistic so you will not give up mid-way when you feel like the results are a little bit slow.
With that out of the way, here is a guide to acing social media like a pro even if you are just getting started.
To successfully launch your first social campaign, you want to be very clear about who you want to target, what their needs are, and what message you want to communicate. Marketing on social media is less about trying to sell your product to everyone and more about engaging with a very specific target audience.
You could profile your audience based on several different factors such as age, gender, geographical location, lifestyle, and their needs. Then, create messages that take these attributes into consideration with the end goal being to offer your audience solutions that meets their needs.
While there are numerous social platforms available, a best practice is to work with those used by your target audience. It is a good idea to work with the big two i.e. Facebook and Twitter and then select other platforms such as Google Plus, LinkedIn, SnapChat, Instagram or YouTube depending on where your target audience hangs out the most.
To save time, use apps such as Sprout Social, Buffer or SocialOomph among others to make it easy to post content across all your social profiles. But you also want to be careful about the content formats suitable for each site— long posts are not suitable for the photo-sharing platform, Instagram, and YouTube is best reserved for video content and so on.
Your social profiles should all link to your website. You want to drive traffic to your site where people can learn more about your brand and buy your products.
At the same time, your website, including blog posts, articles and embedded videos should link back to your profile. Optimize your site by including social sharing buttons to allow site visitors to share your content and your brand with their own network.
Do not forget to link social and email. In your emails, remind current customers and leads to check out your social pages and to engage by liking, commenting and sharing.
Your goals here are visibility and engagement; the more people know about your brand, the better for your bottom line. At the same time, the more engagement opportunities you create, the more people you will have as word-of-mouth brand ambassadors, which means more exposure for your business.
Content creation may be resource intensive but social media success requires you to commit to creating top quality and compelling content. Whether you outsource or you do it in house, the content you create for social marketing must be platform-sensitive but most importantly, it must engage your target audience.
You will not see any impressive results without a consistent content strategy. Making a foray into social largely means being prepared to churn out content across all your profiles on a very regular basis—this is the best way to keep your brand visible and to retain your audiences’ attention amidst all the online noise.
Another valuable way to cut through the online noise is investing in social advertising. Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter all have straightforward advertising options to choose from.
Generally, these social platforms will allow you to boost your content so that it is more visible to a specified target audience. Sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook will also let you advertise your brand and products to help you pull in more users into the sales funnel.
A best practice for social advertising is selecting a suitable budget and the right audience to target for the best return on investment.
Sustained social marketing success comes from knowing what works and letting go or improving on what does not work.
Use tools such as Google Analytics to track the performance of your social campaigns based on metrics such as engagement, sharing, traffic, and number of fans and followers.
Based on these metrics, adjust the different aspects of your social efforts to obtain optimum results that align with your marketing goals.
Marketing your brand on social can offer big pay offs in terms of brand awareness, website traffic and sales. The secret is to start small and remain consistent. Frankly, the best way to lose fans and followers is to have ‘dead’ social profiles that lack engaging content. It will not be smooth sailing but strategic and consistent effort will certainly make social marketing worthwhile for your new business.