Within the last decade, social media has become a valuable (and many would argue, essential) tool for businesses. To get an idea of how expansive social media is, check out this website that shows social media and internet stats in real time.
As you scroll through your social media feeds, you probably see content from restaurants, tech companies, clothing stores, coffee shops and everything in between. Most of these businesses have come to understand the importance of utilizing social media as they connect and interact with their customers. This is why marketers spend upwards of $8.3 billion each year on social media marketing (social media strategies can also be effectively executed at little to no cost).
Why use social media?
If used correctly, social media can provide your business with many advantages and opportunities, including:
Valuable customer insights
Social media can provide your business with valuable information about your customers. Through daily engagement and social listening, you can get an idea of what kind of content your followers are interested in. You can also follow industry thought leaders and specific trends to make sure you know what kinds of online conversations and commentary are taking place about your brand or industry.
Some social media platforms will provide demographic information about your audience. For example, Facebook Insights® will show you the gender, age group and other information about the people who are engaging with your Facebook® page. This can give you a better idea of who your audience is and the kind of content that can help you engage with them.
Increase brand awareness and loyalty
By having a strong social media presence your audience is more likely see you when they are online. This can help keep your brand on their mind, and as you engage with them, help increase their loyalty to your brand.
Customer service opportunities
Many businesses will use social media as a customer-service channel. Customers can send you direct messages, “tag” you in comments, or write posts on your page with questions, comments, or to bring issues to your attention.
Is your business going to be unexpectedly closed for maintenance? Are you offering a last-minute deal on items? Do you have a company blog? Were you mentioned in a news story that you would like to share with your customers? Social media is a great way to share important news and messages with your customers in an easy, free and timely manner.
What can I do to improve my social media presence?
As it has evolved, social media has become a vast, extensive and in-depth tool. In fact, many colleges and universities around the world are now offering a variety of degrees in social media. Fortunately, you don’t have to have a master’s degree in social media to utilize it as a valuable and effective tool for your business. Here are some basic, time-proven ideas to help make social media work for you.
It’s important to make sure your social media pages are consistently maintained. Having a dormant social media page can actually be a detriment to your business. Be sure to check for notifications on a daily basis, respond to comments and posts in a timely manner, and regularly make posts from your account. Consistency in all things – timing, voice, branding and message – will help your followers know what to expect and have a desire to follow your page.
As you interact with your audience on social media, act like a real person and not a faceless company. Don’t make it all about you. If you’re only sharing your own content, your audience may feel like you’re just advertising at them instead of trying to engage with them.
Interact with your audience on a regular basis and don’t be afraid to mix in fun stuff with your business-oriented posts. You can humanize your brand and remain authentic by posting fun photos and personally responding to all the comments on your page. This strategy can help make your fans feel more connected to your brand.
Format your content for each platform
Just because you have an account on more than one social media platform doesn’t mean you should post the same thing from each of these accounts. It’s important to format your content specifically for each platform. Instagram® is primarily a photo-based platform, so focus on strong graphics and images. LinkedIn® is great for networking and conversing with contacts. Facebook® can be a great place to post all kinds of content – photos, videos, blog articles, etc. Twitter® limits your posts to 140 characters, which is a great place to share quick thoughts, news and announcements about your brand or industry.
Host games and giveaways
One way to help boost your social media presence is by hosting an event or giveaway. Photo contests, community treasure hunts and trivia contests are great ideas for hosting an event and driving engagement with your audience. Because people love free stuff, consider hosting a giveaway where you’re giving away something of value to the participants. The brand awareness and audience engagement generated from hosting games and giveaways are usually well worth any costs.
The use of visuals on social media has grown over the years. Many of today’s most popular social media platforms are not based on the written word, but they are based on visuals (Snapchat®, Instagram®, YouTube®, Pinterest®). Consider using visually appealing photos, creating and sharing infographics, and taking advantage of the recent trend in live video (Facebook Live®, Periscope®, Instagram Live®). Including some kind of visual with each of your social media posts can really help increase engagement with your audience.
Social media has become an essential tool in today’s world. Regardless of the size of your business or your personal feelings towards social media, chances are that a large portion of your audience is active on social media and that your business can benefit from smart social media use.
What are some creative ways your business uses social media?
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