Love it or hate it, social media now commands the attention of over 3 billion people on a daily basis. It’s something even the smallest business needs to embrace.
Regardless of the size of your business or the sector you operate in, social media channels provide you with an opportunity to gain valuable insights that may inform how your business markets, adapts and engages, as well as opportunities to promote it to a wider audience.
There are a number of ways in which social media can help drive business success, whether for lead generation to direct more traffic to your website, growing general brand awareness, delighting customers with speedy responses to customer service queries, or for marketing, sales and business development.
The following five practical steps can help you take advantage of the many benefits of social media:
Before you sign up for accounts and start creating, scheduling and sharing content, it’s critical to understand what you want to achieve. Start with the end in mind. For example, if you are looking to increase your customer base by 20 new clients in the next quarter, you can figure out what you need to do, and which channel to use, to help you achieve success. This also helps with determining some clear ROI metrics. Likes, engagement and shares are all good signals, but don’t lose sight of the fundamental objectives.
Focus on where your relevant audience is. If your focus is on lead generation and your target audience is HR managers aged 35-55, then it is likely that LinkedIn and Twitter would be good starting points. If your business is selling T-shirts to 16-24-year-olds, you’d be looking at Instagram and Snapchat. It’s far better to be targeted and focused than to spread yourself too thinly.
Listening is a key activity on social media, and Twitter is a great resource for curating a tailored newsfeed. Create an account and follow influencers, customers, journalists, trade press, relevant news and topics, and hashtags (a way of grouping topics of conversation). Review your competitors to see who they follow and who follows them. Do the same for other channels, too. Listening in is like doing market research – get a feel for the landscape before you dive in.
Get a content pipeline in place to compel followers to engage with and share your content. Video is the most consumed content, so consider how you can incorporate short-form video into your mix. There are a number of video apps out there, such as Animoto, Videoleap, Canva and Videoshop, and some enterprise ones too, such as Play Play. Blogs, articles, white papers, presentations, FAQs, interviews, speaking engagements and email responses also allow you to repurpose and share content.
While it’s necessary to keep a consistent flow, you need to find a pace that works for you and your audiences. On LinkedIn, you may be posting a thought leadership blog to Pulse or sharing a link from your latest blog each week or month. On Twitter, you may be sharing something topical a few times a week, while on Facebook or Instagram you may be posting daily. Don’t become a one-way stream of promotional spam – 80 per cent of your content should be listening, communicating, conversing and being useful, and just 20 per cent should be promotion.