Many people approach social media marketing expecting viral videos, hundreds of new leads and increased profitability.
Unfortunately, they’re setting themselves up for disappointment.
True, social media marketing can help you reach new customers and grow your bottom line. But it’s not a magical quick fix.
Social media marketing tends to be a softer sell. It includes the process of creating content, posting that content, optimizing your social media profiles, responding to customers and proactively engaging with industry leaders or influencers.
And with an estimated 2.77 billion users on social media, it remains one of the most efficient ways to reach your customers. Here are five tips and tricks to help you get the most from your social media marketing.
1. Approach each platform with a plan.
No, you don’t need a 30,000-word treatise on what you’ll be doing on each platform. But you do need to consider:
What platforms are my customers on?
You know who your customers are. So before you get started on a platform, take a look at its demographic breakdown. Make sure the platform you’re planning to be on actually has engaged members from your target audience.
For example, if your typical customer is between the ages of 13 and 29, Instagram would likely be a better choice than Facebook. You’ll reap greater rewards because more of your audience is using that platform for hours every day.
How often will I post?
Consistency is a must for social media marketing. But the ideal number of posts will vary depending on your audience. Try different posting frequencies every week for 1-3 months. Then take a look at the analytics to determine the average reach and engagement per post each week. This will help you determine the magic number that’s best for your audience.
Above all, make sure your posting schedule allows you enough time to create quality content while still keeping your feed fresh. A low-quality “something” is not better than nothing.
What message will my content convey?
All of your content should support your company’s mission statement. For example, if you’re a local bank, that mission statement might be, “We want to make our community a better place through education, information and practical assistance.”
To connect messaging to its mission, you could showcase behind-the-scenes photos of staff members teaching a money management class at the local high school. A short, humorous video of employees telling pun-filled jokes about finances could also fit that mission statement.
What types of content will my customer like most?
Every piece of content posted should be packaged in a way that resonates with your customers.
If you’re sharing news about a product, consider that 79% of people would rather watch a video about the product than read about it. With that in mind, your content should include a video rather than a post with an embedded link to your website.
If you’re hoping to get people to share your posts on Facebook, dig into what motivates people to share content. In one recent survey, 84% of people said they share content because it’s a way to support issues and causes that matter to them; 78% said they like to share information online because it helps them stay connected to people they love.
But don’t rely on stats alone. Always look to your audience to see if what they’re doing agrees with the latest study. Watch how people engage with the different types of content you share. This is the best way to create what your audience wants.
2. Create a profile that makes a good first impression.
Make sure your profile or cover photos don’t look grainy and unprofessional, and that your profile isn’t incomplete.
Poor imagery, inconsistent posts or an empty profile all communicates to customers that you aren’t present and you don’t care to be.
Take the time to fill out your social media profiles with your business hours, address, phone number, website, company history and any other relevant information. Then find a high-quality version of your logo and create a simple cover photo to help make the best first impression possible.
After all, if a customer called and asked for your hours, would you hang up without answering them? A Facebook or Instagram page with no information is the same thing because you’re failing to help a customer reaching out for information.
3. Stop ignoring your customers.
About 89% of all social media messages from customers are going unanswered by brands. Being in the 11% of businesses who respond can position your social media marketing efforts for success.
This means responding to negative and positive reviews. However, it also means replying to customer comments on your posts, answering the messages sent to you, and responding to tags or mentions of your brand.
When you don’t respond, you’re shutting the door to a conversation with the very person whose heart you are trying to win.
But don’t stop there. Go one step farther by proactively engaging on social media with industry leaders, influencers, nearby businesses and even your individual customers. Create polls on Instagram and Twitter, and direct message them to a few of your most-engaged followers. Respond to the Instagram and Facebook Stories posted by other people as well.
After all, social media is meant to be relational. So make it just that! Use your platforms as a channel to foster deeper relationships and friendly conversations. Create an atmosphere that positions your brand as a warm, trusted friend rather than a disembodied corporate machine.
Remember, though, engaging on social has to be genuine. Treat people as you would a friend, not as if they’re your next mark on a sales lead list.
4. Keep a close eye on your analytics.
Not looking at your analytics is like taking a test but never finding out if your answers are right or wrong. Your analytics are what provides real-time insights into how customers respond to your content, and whether or not anything has changed in those responses.
That’s why it’s so important to set time aside at least once a month to look at your analytics on the platform and in Google Analytics. By measuring the reach, comments and click throughs to your website, you’ll start to gain a better understanding of what posts resonate with your audience.
Additionally, you may be able to pinpoint where your social media followers are in their customer journey. If they’re often tuned in to tips and tricks about how to use your product, that could be a signal they are already your fans.
However, if you notice comments on a new product post asking about pricing or availability, that signals customers are in the consideration or evaluation part of the funnel.
One word of caution: Don’t rely heavily on vanity metrics, like follower count or impressions, to inform your strategy. Engagements like website clicks, comments, shares or saves are a better reflection of what your audience thinks of your content.
5. Put some money into it.
Employing the above steps for social media marketing can yield success. But you’ll see greater success by wisely incorporating paid social into your marketing strategy.
That’s because social media platforms and feeds are structured in a way that limits the number of followers who see your content unless you’re willing to put a few dollars behind the posts.
The good news is that you don’t have to break the bank for paid social ads. In fact, they’re often more economical than placing an ad in your local newspaper or running a spot on a radio station.
Social media marketing without paid ads is like trying to lose weight by exercising while continuing to eat junk food. Yes, you’ll probably trim off some pounds after spending hours at the gym or on the track. However, if you also change your diet, weight loss will occur faster and be more dramatic.
It’s the same way with social media marketing without paid social. You’ll keep plugging away, but the results will be minimal.
Solid social media marketing isn’t only for Fortune 500 companies.
Too many people approach social media marketing with expectations that leave them disappointed.
But while it’s not a magical solution, it can yield positive results for companies when a strategy is employed, profiles are completed and optimized, customers are being responded to, analytics are used to inform content, and paid social campaigns are utilized.
Don’t fall for the lie that you need to be a big brand with a big budget to reach and engage customers through social media marketing.
It’s right for your business, whatever the size. What are you waiting for to get started?