Social media is too important a tool for businesses to ignore.
Companies who have yet to tread into the waters of social media may find the idea daunting, but having a robust social media presence can generate big rewards. The following are four reasons why your company should jump on board.
1- Social media is your company’s first impression: Make it count.
Your social media profile is often the first impression a potential customer or client will have of you or your business. An inactive profile or nonexistent presence can give users the impression that your business is poorly managed or out of touch with technology.
2- Social media reaches your audience where they spend their time: online.
The average person uses social media nearly two hours each day, which means 28 percent of their time is spent online. That number increases dramatically for millennials and Generation Z. By using social media, you can eliminate the friction of taking your audience away from the platforms they love by reaching them where they spend a large chunk of their time.
3- Social media helps your online reputation and search engine optimization (SEO).
While experts still debate as to exactly how social media profiles affect SEO rankings, they agree that having an active social presence helps keep your website at the top of results in browser searches, such as those powered by Google. It is also an important component of your online reputation and gives you more clout in the eyes of consumers.
4- Social media provides you with valuable information on your audience.
Social platforms like Facebook offer a suite of analytics for businesses to understand their audiences on a deeper level. By not using social media, you miss out on key data about your audience that can help generate more leads, develop better content and give you a deeper understanding of what content and messages resonate with your audience.
Social media has gone from a “nice to have” to an essential part of doing business in the 21st century.
How to get started:
Think about your audience and your message.
Not all social media platforms are created equal. You won’t reach many baby boomers on Snapchat, but 63 percent of Facebook users are over the age of 50. Think about the demographics of your audience when selecting a platform. The social media management tool Sprout Social has a great guide to demographics broken down by platform (SproutSocial.com).
Don’t spread yourself too thin.
A common mistake is taking on too many social profiles. Once you know your audience, pick a few channels to reach them and focus your attention there. Think quality, not quantity.
Create a content calendar.
A content calendar will help you deliver content on a consistent basis. Hubspot has an extensive guide to content planning and downloadable templates. Social content scheduling tools such as Hootsuite or Sprout Social can automate the posting process so you can focus on other tasks such as community management.
Use analytics to constantly improve.
Social media provides a wealth of information on what resonates with your audience. Using data insights is key to success.
Visual content such as photos and videos result in 94 percent more total views on average, making visual content a must-have for your social posts.
Social media has become an integral part of everyday life for consumers, and that means brands and businesses must keep up with these communications channels. Creating a social media presence can take some time, but the rewards for businesses are too big to ignore. A little effort can go a long way toward producing real-world results.
How to Build and Leverage Your Social Media Audience
Garnering a sizeable social media following can be an incredibly powerful way to promote your business or brand. It’s important to remember that behind every username, Facebook profile and Instagram photo is a real person and a potential client or customer. Here are a few tips for building and leveraging your audience online:
Share useful, engaging content.
When it comes to content, it’s all about quality, not quantity. But how will you know what is resonating with your audience and what’s not? This is where analytics come into play. By monitoring your Facebook Insights or Twitter analytics, you can start to see what types of content are most engaging to your audience.
One of the easiest ways to increase engagement and shares is to provide more visual content. Infographics, high quality photos and video are among the top performing types of content on the web. Visual content is more than 40 times more likely to be shared versus other types of content, making visuals an essential part of any social media strategy.
Social media is not a one-sided conversation.
Social media users want on-demand support. The immediacy of social media makes it a great customer service tool, allowing customers and clients to reach out directly to a brand or business in an instant. Despite this, many overlook the power of a simple interaction with a user. In fact, 42 percent of customers complaining on social media expect a response within an hour. Strive to respond to all legitimate requests, comments and questions. This will help you gain more followers and may even create some brand advocates in the process.
Take part in the conversation. Above all else, social media is a dialogue. The more you interact with your audience in an organic, authentic way, the more engagement you are likely to see on your social profiles.
Interact with Influencers.
Influencers—people whose opinions and habits are highly influential within their personal and professional networks—are a powerful way to gain word-of-mouth marketing on a large scale. Studies show that influencers’ recommendations are regarded just as highly as those from a friend or family member. Influencer marketing pays nearly $6.50 for each dollar spent and up to $11 depending on the industry. That’s a huge return on investment that brands cannot ignore.
But how do you identify potential influencers in your network? Analytics services such as NUVI, Hootsuite and Sprout Social all can help you identify the most influential people in your network. Alternately, influencer-marketing matchmaking services like TapInfluence, Upfluence and Linqia can tap directly into an existing network of influencers for your particular industry.
Reward your audience with social-only incentives.
A great way to encourage people to connect with your page is to offer exclusives through one of your social channels. Looking to increase your Instagram follower count? Let your users know that your Instagram profile has content they won’t find anywhere else, such as sneak-peeks or promotions. This will encourage your current and potential followers to stay engaged with your presences online and shows you care about your audience online.
Not every post needs to be about you. If you talk too much about yourself or your business, you may lose followers. A little personality goes a long way in maintaining a healthy, active following. Sharing the process behind a project, the people involved, even sharing a little bit of your office culture all make for highly engaging posts that make your brand more relatable.
Allison Staub is a digital media manager with Bond Public Relations & Brand Strategy, a New Orleans agency specializing in public relations, marketing and branding that delivers breakthrough results. Photo Elizabeth Dondis