Social media is something we all use nowadays. Whether it’s uploading your holiday pictures, chatting with your friends or just procrastinating, social media have become an inherent part of our lives.
Social media are, however useful for one more thing – marketing! With a massive and constantly growing user base, various social networks can be used as great platforms to do marketing!
In this article, I will show you what to pay attention to with your social media marketing as well as familiarise you with useful tools!
Know your channels
Every social media platform serves a different purpose and although you need consistency between all your channels, you can’t post the same things on Facebook and on Instagram.
Each of social media platforms has something we can call a ‘mission statement’, something they are meant for. Below, I will briefly describe the ‘mission statements’ for the most popular channels: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.
With its limit of 280 characters (previously 140), Twitter became the go-to place for everyone from big news agencies, celebrities, startups to ordinary people who wanted to share quick updates.
The actual Facebook’s mission statement is to “bring the world closer together”. It is the biggest social network and not surprisingly so. It caters to everyone’s needs with its varied features like groups, chat, ads, sales and many, many more!
Instagram is meant to be used on a mobile device. That might seem a bit of a risky move in 2010 when it launched, but the enormous number of users signing up every day proved that the risk paid off.
Instagram is a photo-sharing platform. Recently, they’ve added more amazing features such as Stories, Boomerang or polls placing them at the forefront of an interactive content revolution.
LinkedIn is like Facebook for professionals. But, while the latter gets you friends, the former can get you valuable B2B leads!
Know your audience
Who are your customers? What are their preferences? How can you approach them in the most effective way and which channels should you use? You don’t go on LinkedIn to search for people who may like your hip streetwear brand – Instagram would be a better place for that!
Before you start targeting your customers, you need to come up with a profile. That means, a set of features that your clients are most likely to have. When creating a profile, make sure it’s as specific as possible.
A customer profile for a hip streetwear brand would look like that:
A person between 20 and 23 years living in a shared accommodation. Studies such courses as Marketing, Design or Management. Has a Netflix subscription and enjoys modern pop and rap music. Spends approximately 3 hours a day on social media and browsing the Internet (75% of that on a mobile device).
Take a look at a second example – this time, a real estate company based in London:
A couple between 40-45 years old with high-income managerial positions looking to upgrade their current flat (which they own). Enjoy cooking after work as well as weekend getaways with their car (not pre-owned). Hobbies include: discovering new places to eat. They treat their home as their asylum and appreciate a quiet neighborhood. Both drive cars to work.
Now, what sort of language would you use to communicate the first customer? Probably lots of slang, flashy colors and memes showcasing your cool side. You may use not only Instagram for promotion, but also Snapchat and, obviously – Facebook!
With the second example, however, memes won’t do! People looking for real estate want reliability and trustworthiness, therefore you should aim at being sophisticated! Facebook and LinkedIn should be your go-to!
You could go much deeper into preferences, future plans and so on with your customer profile. The point, however, is to know who you’re talking to on social media! A customer profile helps you define your language and adjust it to your audience better.
Social media marketing can be a hassle. It can take a lot of your time. And as a business owner, you probably don’t have a lot of it! Especially if you have a smaller company, it might be hard to balance maintaining your Facebook, Instagram and what not with doing everything else that having a business requires of you. Hiring a social media specialist may also be too expensive.
Social media scheduling tools will come in handy in such cases. They allow you to plan ahead and schedule posts for the future using a single interface. So, if you’ve got a spare hour or two, you can easily plan your social media for a whole week, or even more!
Here are some examples of scheduling tools you might want to have a look at:
Buffer is the most basic scheduling tool. Its clear interface and intuitive mechanics will make it easy for you to get started with social media. You can post among the most popular platforms: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google +, Twitter or Pinterest. Buffer also offers some analytics that allow you to see which posts on which platforms get the most attention.
Most importantly though, the most basic Buffer plan is free!
If you need a more sophisticated tool than Buffer, Sendible should be a perfect solution for you. It’s a content-oriented platform that recognizes your best-performing pieces and suggests similar ones. It also allows for content recycling and provides a great content scheduling calendar, similar to Buffer’s one. It also offers detailed and customizable reports.
Sendible will cost you €49 per month for its Lite version, €179 for Advanced and €449 for Pro. Each of these offers a free trial.
HubPost is the most advanced tool out of the three. Apart from a great scheduling platform, you can get really deep into data to determine, which posts are doing the best when it comes to engagement, lead generation and conversions.
HubPost merges a typical social media scheduling tool with a marketing campaign planner. It’s a great tool if you’re planning to really target your audience with, not only social media, but a whole multi-channeled marketing strategy.
HubPost offers a free CRM plan as well as a marketing and sales plans, whose prices rise as you add more features.
Imagine what the social media marketing world would look like without the scheduling tools. Think of going back and forth through a couple of cards in your browser with different social media platforms opened, posting everything by hand. Sounds like a confusing mess, doesn’t it?
There’s one more crucial thing when it comes to scheduling tools. They may be convenient and all, but make sure that you don’t lose touch with your actual social networks. Make a habit of visiting each of them daily. Peep into the comments, see if there are any DMs you need to reply to, check how your posts are doing – all this can take as little as 5-10 minutes, but can make a lot of difference when it comes to adjusting your social media marketing. There are some things scheduling tools simply won’t do for you and that includes being out there “in the field”.
Why are posting times so important? To be honest, it doesn’t really matter if you post great content on your social media channels if there’s no one to see it! Publishing posts at the right time can make all the difference in the world for your views, likes and CTR.
The general principle is that you should post during the working days and working hours. There’s no denying that we all find ourselves scrolling through Facebook on a slower day!
If you want more details on the most popular social networks: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn, have a look at my article on this topic.
Create a posting schedule
Once you know your way around the scheduling tools and the best posting times, you need to create a schedule. This will help you with being regular, which is one of the most important aspects of social media marketing.
The daily recommended number of posts
Keep in mind that different social networks require a different amount of daily posts. For example, on Facebook and LinkedIn, you are fine with one or two a day. On Instagram, however, it’s between one and three. Twitter audiences, because of the character limit, can handle many more posts – even 10 per day is fine!
If you’ve had a rough night and woke up at 2 pm missing most of your time slots for posting, the first thing on your mind would probably be to dump all of the planned posts within an hour. That is, however, not a good option. Stuffing your followers’ feeds with your late posts will only get you a “spammer” patch and that’s not something you want!
Bulk-posting can be fine on Twitter though. For example, if you have something important to say that 280 characters are not enough for, you can post several updates one after another.
It’s okay. But only on Twitter!
Here’s also where planning ahead really shines through. It doesn’t matter if you schedule posts for an entire week in advance or just sit in front of your computer in the evening to set up posting for the next day. The point is that waking up with the first thought of the day being like “oh crap, I need to schedule some posts, like, right now!!!” is likely to mess up your own daily schedule!
Hashtags are the backbone of social media marketing
You might consider them cringey tokens of attention-hungry people. But you will be better-off if you think of them as the little words that can help new audiences find your business!
But how do hashtags work?
Let’s suppose you have an organic farming business. You run an Instagram account where you post pictures of your produce. Now, if you only put a short description, like “great radish harvest this year”, the only people who will see this photo in their feeds are going to be your followers. However, if you add “#organicfood #healthyfood #organicfarm” then your radish post will be automatically catalogued. From now on, every time someone checks out #organicfood, they will be able to see your posts.
Same goes for Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Using hashtags can expose you to audiences that are interested in the things you provide.
How to find perfect hashtags for your social media
If you want your hashtag campaign to be truly effective, you need to ensure that you’re using the right ones. Hashtags are a bit like keywords in a sense that they indicate to your followers what you are about and what they might expect from your business.
To find the perfect hashtags you can use similar techniques you would normally use for keyword research or coming up with a business name. The only difference is that you can put a lot of hashtags into a single post, while a content page usually gets one focus keyword.
List out the words that describe your business. What kind of products do you offer? What’s unique about you? How do you want your followers to remember you? Then, narrow these down until you end up with a couple of phrases. Run them through a hashtag search tool like keyhole and pick the best ones!
Keep in mind that you can get the most out of your hashtags only if, from time to time, you update them. Replace some, pick some new ones and see which combination works best for you.
Filling out your profiles
The first point of contact between you and your potential customers is, yea, you’ve guessed it – your social media pages (or your website!). And it’s disturbing to see how many businesses don’t use the potential for catching the attention of the visitors straight away.
The secret: fill out your profiles!
Provide all the information that you can.
Don’t just write your email address – put your telephone number as well and, if you have an office, your address. Make sure that you are easy to find and contact. Facebook and LinkedIn “About” pages are particularly important to fill out with contact info. When it comes to Twitter and Instagram, there’s a limited space for that so the best you can do is to only put the most important info.
What is your business about
Another thing you need to take care of is the description of what you actually do and what your business is all about. Again, Facebook and LinkedIn allow for a much bigger amount of text. Use it well! Avoid saying how great your business is or how you’re committed to providing the best customer service, products or whatever else. All it does is cause an eye roll. Instead, focus on how you can enrich the lives of your customers. Because ultimately, that’s what the customers are looking for in your “About” sections.
Another thing you need to accentuate when describing your business is your brand. What is your story? What are your values, mission and vision? What are you passionate about? Your “about” section on social media channels is a perfect place to give your brand an identity!
Instagram is exceptional in a way that you can only put a clickable link in the bio. A good Instagram bio would include a short description of your business (one sentence is enough) and a link. Now, you can either simply link to your website or change the links every couple of days, for example, when you post a new article.
Social media is a perfect place for engaging your customers and for encouraging your customers to engage you.
How to engage your social media audiences
Publish great content
This is absolutely crucial if you want to generate engagement. For that, you need to know your audience and really take some effort to create content that is relevant and valuable to your target customer base.
Whether these are blog articles, videos, podcasts or simply social media posts, each of them needs to be tailored to what your customers are expecting from you. That’s the way to spark their interest in what you post. And that, in return, is the best method to generate organic engagement!
“What do you think?”
This simple question (and its variations of course!) can do wonders for your engagement.
People like to share their opinions with Internet strangers. It’s just what we do!
You can use that and not only generate engagement, but also find out what your followers think on things like design changes or a new product being introduced.
A great way to ask questions is via Instagram Stories Polls, a brand new addition to the Stories. Apart from being really convenient, it also stands at the forefront of interactive content.
Don’t do politics
Yes, including politics won’t do good for your social media marketing. Although it can indeed generate a lot of engagement, it’s not the kind of engagement you want.
Yes, there will be people supporting you, but there will also be people bashing you and saying they will never do business with you again.
Is it worth it to lose around 50% of potential customers? The remaining 50% probably won’t suddenly increase their spending twofold so that the loss evens out.
Engage your customers
A great way to increase your customer engagement is to engage people yourself. Follow potential customers on Instagram, leave comments on their posts or reshare their content. This is a great way to increase your brand awareness, especially beneficial if you’re just starting out and don’t have a lot of followers or an established position.
What’s a better way to entice people to share your content than to offer them a chance to win? Well, there’s none!
Competitions and giveaways are particularly popular on Instagram, which enjoys the highest rates of customer engagement. Businesses usually upload a photo, which says:
“Double tap this photo, reshare it on your profile and follow us for a chance to win!”
It’s not only a great way to up the number of followers, it’s also free promotion!
Similarly to Google AdWords, Facebook has its own PPC tool – Facebook Ads. It allows you to target potential customers in a very detailed and narrowed-down way. This is where the customer profile, which I talked about earlier is so important!
Facebook collects various data on its users. The things you like and dislike, the things you search for, where you live, your age, education, job and much much more – Facebook knows it all. Whether you like it or not, this data vital for your social media marketing. It allows for such a huge degree of filtering and ensuring that your ads will be shown to people that may be really interested in what you offer.
Now you know how to do social media marketing for your business. It may seem like a lot of work, but it boils down to two things: taking care of your followers and increasing your brand awareness.
Let’s recap what you’ve learned from this article:
- Every social network serves a different purpose and has a different role,
- You need to create a customer profile to understand your target audience better,
- Scheduling tools may come in handy,
- It really matters when and how often you post,
- Hashtags can get you more followers and recognition,
- You need to provide all the info on your social media channels,
- I’ve shown you techniques to engage your customers and make them engage you,
- Facebook Ads can be really useful for really precise targeting!
Good luck with your social media marketing!