When it comes to business, reaching your target audience(s) is key to gaining top-of-mind positioning. With the world of digital taking over old school methods such as telephone conversations and face-to-face meetings, social media is a popular platform to compel consumers into buying and recommending your products and/or services.
While Gen Y and Z view social media as more of a way of life, Gen X is also using sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to connect with friends, potential customers and the community. But with so many social media channels out there—LinkedIn, YouTube, Snapchat, Pinterest, Vine, Reddit, Tumblr, Google +, Flickr, just to name a few—how do you know which ones are right for your business?
Before we get into all of that, let’s share some facts about how impactful social media has become. According to Statista, nearly 2 billion (and growing) internet users are using social networks through a diverse range of platforms. eBizMBA’s June 2016 rank shows that Facebook has 1.59 billion monthly active users—the first social network to surpass the 1 billion mark for registered accounts, followed by YouTube (1,000,000,000), Twitter (310,000,000) and LinkedIn (255,000,000).
So how do you determine what social networks to use?
Know your audience.
By defining your target audience, you can determine what social networks they are on and reach out to them there. If you own a photography business, for instance, Instagram could be a great forum to showcase your work.
Weigh your options.
Know your niche, and how each social network relates to your business and its objectives, plus the specific purpose each network offers. Some popular networks to consider:
- Facebook is a great platform many people use to gather information—company details, specials and promotions, hours, locations, contact—and also offers a chance to create ads to drive more traffic to your company website.
- Twitter enables people to access info quickly, and is a useful platform to share company news and provide quick responses to questions your audience may have about your products or services.
- Instagram is used mainly from a mobile device, and can really showcase your brand through photos of your company, employees, products and community initiatives.
- Pinterest also focuses on visuals, and can help your business showcase its products and brand through boards, while also enabling you to micro-target your search with distinct categories.
- YouTube is a wonderful option if your business can effectively market itself through video, and is also an effective advertising and search engine tool.
Consider your time commitment.
The time you have available to dedicate to your social networks should steer you in the direction of which ones might be best for you. Most companies spend a few hours a week on social media posting blurbs, comments, articles, videos and other relevant stuff. But it doesn’t end there. A good social media strategy also requires audience interaction, plus time to respond to comments and messages. Looking through other social network pages—including your competitors’—is a good idea too, as it can show you what you may or may not be doing well. It’s best to start with 1-2 social networks that align with your target audiences and will be easy to manage. Starting small is better than taking on too much, too soon.
You may have a bit of trial and error along the way, but that’s okay (and totally normal). The main priority is starting. From there, you’ll be able to see what the engagement is and whether the selected social network is working or not. If it is, great! You’ve found a platform that will help increase brand awareness and appeal to a larger portion of your target audience. If not, evaluate the reasons why (i.e. You rarely rarely and never follow up) to see if it’s something you can improve upon. If not, cut your losses and explore another social network.
So now that you’ve chosen your social media networks, created your accounts and set aside some time to post, what’s next?
1. Give it time.
As with most things, the response you are looking for won’t happen overnight. We suggest six months to a year, so you can properly assess your level of engagement and whether it’s helping you attain new business.
If you’re noticing an immediate response to your social media page, however, focus your attention there, and then slowly explore another social network. When you discover one isn’t worth the time, call it a day and make sure to close the account so it doesn’t appear as a ghost town for anyone who finds your page after you’ve abandoned ship.
2. Mix it up.
Incorporate images and videos into your posts so there are more than just words. 30% of millennials prefer social media to communicate with a brand, and respond to things they can interact with and see immediate results from. Showcasing a visual element will help achieve this. Consider working with a graphic designer to help with photo editing for a consistent brand image.
3. Put someone in charge.
Social media is so popular these days, it needs to be managed carefully and by the right team. Many companies hire professional social media (SM) strategists to handle their social networks, including posts, incoming messages and responses. Your business may not be large enough to warrant a SM team, but having someone who can put in the time—and who has SM knowledge—is essential to achieving your desired results.
4. Stay active.
To keep your audience coming back for more, regular posts are a must. This doesn’t mean you have to post something every hour on the hour—just enough to keep them engaged and interactive. Suggested amounts of posts:
- Facebook: Once a day or approx. 5-6 times a week
- Twitter: 1-3 times a day or approx. 10-20 times a week
- Instagram: Once a day or approx. 4-6 times a week
- Pinterest: Once a day or approx. 5-7 times a week
Keep in mind other factors as well, such as time zones—especially if you have an international audience.
5. Always respond.
When your audience engages with your posts, make sure to reply to their comments every single time. Acknowledging them is important, as it reflects how others will view your business.
6. Monitor the analytics.
By reviewing your social networks’ built-in analytic tools, you’ll be able to determine what’s working and what isn’t. These tools can provide some basic information about user engagement, interactions, likes, shares and more. Use the results to see what areas you’re excelling in and what areas you may need to work on.
7. Enhance your posts with ads.
This really applies to sites such as Facebook, which can highly target specific audiences and help your content stand out.
There are lots of social media options out there, which is why it’s okay to be picky about which ones you want to use. At the end of the day, Canadian businesses know that posting to social media can enhance your brand, increase your social network and reach a larger scope of your target audience. It can also drive more traffic to your website and help increase sales. So make a plan and take advantage of the plethora of social networks. It’s better to take a chance than do nothing, and lose the potential of a strong social media presence.
For help with your social media, contact us today. We’ll help create a social media plan that works with your business, time and team, and helps you develop a stronger online presence.