Unless you’re just waking up from a 12-year coma, you probably know that the social media’s role in the average person’s day rivals those of the sun and moon. Successful social media marketing is not optional for your business.
For most people, social media is a platform for communication with family, friends, and long-lost college roommates. It’s where you learned that your cousin is expecting another baby and that kid who only ate cheese in 3rd grade is a chef now. You might use it to plan get-togethers with friends, argue about politics, or share photos of your new puppy.
But for businesses, it is a wide open and far-reaching canvas, just waiting for your marketing brush. Consider this: 3.03 billion people use social media worldwide. In the US, 68 percent of adults use Facebook, and 81 percent of millennials check Twitter at least once per day. What’s more, YouTube reaches more 18-49 year olds than any cable network. That’s a lot of potential customers!
Considering all these statistics, we shouldn’t have to tell you that your business absolutely must have a social media marketing strategy. But which platform should you use? How do you find an audience? And which strategies work best to engage with followers and close sales?
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In this article we will cover tips for:
- Finding your audience on social media;
- Creating engaging and eye-catching social media content;
- Engaging with followers and other users;
- Taking advantage of content trends;
- Timing your posts effectively; and
- Analyzing your social media marketing data
1. Find your ideal audience
Who makes up your ideal social media audience? They are the same people who buy your products and services. If you’re doing any kind of marketing at all, you’ve probably already done an “ideal customer” profile, so you should know the basics: age, sex, gender, race, habits, income level, pain points, and solutions.
Those are the demographics of your ideal social media audience as well. So where do you find these people online? Let’s look at some data for each of the most popular social media marketing platforms:
Do you see your ideal audience on this list? Perhaps you see more than one social platform where your potential customers are hanging out. You need accounts on every network where your people are.
The next social media marketing task is getting those folks to follow you. Here’s how:
- Put links to all of your social media accounts on your website, email signature, and any other place your potential customers might see it.
- Write a professional bio that describes what you do in language that will appeal to your audience.
- Post great, eye-catching content.
- Research and use trending hashtags.
- Engage with people.
The first two items on this list should be fairly self-explanatory. But let’s talk about the others, starting with…
2. Use gorgeous visuals for eye-catching posts
Nearly everyone uses social media, and many people post multiple times a day. The average Facebook user has 338 friends, Instagrammers share 95 million posts per day, and a day’s worth of Tweets could take up a 10 million page book. That’s a lot of saturation!
If you want your social media marketing campaign to get attention, you’ll need eye-catching posts. One of the best ways to make that happen is by using gorgeous photos and videos.
People love to look at pictures and watch videos. In fact, four times as many people say they’d prefer to watch a video about a product rather than read about it. Among social media content, Facebook posts with images get 2.3 times the engagement of text-only posts, and Tweets with images earn 150% more retweets than those without.
Speaking of engagement, infographics are liked and shared more often than any other type of content. In social media marketing lingo, this is known as “viral sharing.” It means that your audience can expand exponentially because your followers are sharing your content with their followers, and so on.
However, if your visual content is of poor quality, it might actually hurt your business. What makes a photo bad? Obviously, you want to stay away from overly-filtered, blurry, or grainy images. But be sure to avoid shooting boring, unappealing subjects, like a plate of food that could’ve come from any old kitchen, a messy desk, or people who don’t seem to be doing anything interesting.
If you’re taking your own photos, you can find some good advice for shooting insta-worthy shots here.
When you upload to social media, be sure that you are using the highest-resolution version of the photo. Many people have complained that Facebook regularly uploads low-res photos from their phones. Here are some instructions that can fix that problem.
3. Engage with your followers
Social media marketing experts know that it is much more important to have an engaged audience than a large number of followers. Even a million followers will do you no good if none of them see your posts.
We’ve already talked about the massive quantity of posts that go through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If a Facebook user has 338 friends posting multiple times a day, they obviously can’t read every one of their status updates. Social media networks do their best to fill their users’ feeds with relevant posts that they want to see. So if you interact with a particular friend’s posts every day, there’s a pretty good chance that everything they post will show up in your feed. But if you haven’t liked, shared, or commented on anything of theirs in months? You might never hear from their social accounts again.
The same can be said for your followers. So if you want to be sure that they see your posts, you have to get them engaged. One of the best ways to do that is to engage with them. Respond to comments. Thank people for following you. Share some of their posts, if they’re relevant to your business.
One final note on engagement: the quality of your followers matters a lot. Many businesses have been tempted to buy “followers” in the form of bots to beef up their numbers and make their accounts look impressive. Don’t do this. Ever. If you have 100K followers and no likes, comments, or shares, people will know that your followers aren’t real and it will hurt your business.
4. Pay attention to trends
Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus all advertise their current trending topics and hashtags. Companies can capitalize on these trends with related posts. For example, during the Super Bowl, a beer or snack food company could tweet “Hope you’re enjoying (our product) with the game! #SuperBowl #GameDay” The same company could also post Super Bowl party recipes on Facebook and share photos of a well-decorated table full of food and beer.
But be careful. A number of companies have experienced a PR crisis when they tried to capitalize on a trending topic in a way that was perceived as insensitive or tone deaf. After the mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado, a clothing company that makes a dress called “the Aurora” noticed that #Aurora was trending, but failed to investigate the reason.
Even worse than the #Aurora fiasco, The Gap knowingly tried to capitalize on Hurricane Sandy in a way that offended a lot of people.
The bottom line: follow trends and try to share related posts. Use popular hashtags and post about the topics people want to see. But be sure you are doing so in a relevant, unforced way, and never try to capitalize on a tragedy.
5. Use a scheduler to choose the optimal time to post
There are certain times of day and days of the week that your fans are most likely to see your social media marketing posts. They vary for the different social networks. Here’s a basic breakdown:
- Facebook: 9:00 AM, 1:00 PM, and 3:00 PM on Sunday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
- Twitter: B2B performs better during the workday, and B2C performs better on the weekends. Wednesday is their peak day, and users are most likely to be on Twitter during their lunch break or commute.
- LinkedIn: The best time to post is on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at noon or 5:00-6:00 PM. There is also a slight peak in engagement from 7:00-8:00 AM.
- Pinterest: The best times to pin are on weekends from 8:00-11:00 PM.
- Instagram: The best days of the week to share Insta photos and videos are on Monday and Thursday. 8:00-9:00 AM and after 5:00 PM are the ideal times.
- Google Plus: The best time to post is 9:00-11:00 AM, especially on Wednesdays.
So these are the ideal times to share your social media marketing content on these social networks. But that doesn’t mean you have to be sitting at your computer right at these times. Many social media marketing professionals use a scheduler to ensure optimal timing. Coschedule, Hootsuite, PostPlanner, and Crowdfire all have easy to use schedulers. For most of them, there is a free option and content ideas. Check one of them out, or Google “social media scheduler” to see other options.
6. Learn from the data
To be successful with social media marketing, you’ll have to pay attention to the data. Most social networks offer tools for analyzing your campaign’s performance. You’ll want to look at factors such as:
- Which posts and forms of media earn the most engagement?
- Which days and times work best for your audience?
- Is there a particular word count or tone of voice that your audience seems to prefer?
- Are people clicking your links? Responding to your calls for action?
Use this information to plan future posts, then reanalyze. Rinse. Repeat.
No business ever created a successful social media marketing campaign without a lot of planning. Because of its ubiquity and low barriers to entry, nearly everyone is on social media. That means that newsfeeds are pretty congested, and it might be a little tough to cut through the noise.
But that also means that anyone has a shot at success on this platform, including you. With solid planning and the right tools, your social media marketing strategy has the potential to bring you a lot of business.
Still confused about social media marketing? Give us a call! The pros at White Peak have the expertise to make your social media marketing campaign a huge success!
Tim Woda is the CEO and founder of White Peak Marketing. He has been on the founding team of five successful start-ups and his digital marketing campaigns have acquired more than 800 million customers for his start-ups and White Peak’s client companies. Tim has been featured by The New York Times, Fox News, Forbes, The Huffington Post, and more. Under Tim’s direction, White Peak was selected as one of America’s Top Digital Marketing Agencies for 2021 by MarTech Outlook magazine.