Feb 03, 2017

Top tips to build your business social media following

How to make social media work for your business

If you thought that social media had nothing of value to bring to your business, think again. Many small businesses don’t take sufficient advantage of this powerful sales tool and lose out on countless new customers as a consequence.

Used properly, social media can work wonders to attract a whole new clientele to your business, but it can seem overwhelming when you get started. If you were thinking about how to grow your social media following, here’s a simple guide to getting it right first time.

What Social Media Doesn’t Do
Before I get into the heart of social media marketing, it’s worth making one thing very clear. Social media success doesn’t automatically translate to higher profits. You may have thousands of Facebook ‘likes’ or Twitter followers, but if you don’t know how to convert those fans into cash paying customers, those figures are meaningless.

So before you get started, have a think about what you want your social media strategy to achieve. Build greater brand awareness? Attract more traffic to your website? Get more bookings? Once you’ve decided what your goals are, it’s easier to see what you need to do to convert your social media following into paying customers.

Which Social Media Network Should You Choose?
There are quite a few social media networks out there, but that doesn’t mean that you should be present on all of them. Before you decide to set up a business account on a particular platform, take the time to learn what it does, what people use it for and then decide whether it will be truly useful to your particular business.

If you’ve researched your target market, then you’ll have an idea of which social media platforms your ideal customer prefers. This is where you need to focus your attention so that you can connect with them.

So, which one is right for you? Here’s a brief profile of the current top four social networks.

Facebook
We all know that Facebook is the behemoth of social media, with an impressive 80% of all internet users a member of the platform. However, before you rush to sign up, think about the fact that the fastest growing demographic on the site is among older internet users. In fact, 62% of those aged 65 or over are on Facebook, so if your target market is approaching retirement age, Facebook is where you’ll find them.

Even if you’re targeting other businesses, it’s worth bearing in mind that even if your intended audience aren’t on Facebook for work, they may well be browsing it during work hours or using it for ideas and inspiration. Facebook ads designed to speak to them will attract their attention, even if they only use the site for social activities rather than business.

YouTube
YouTube is owned by Google and between them, they are the first and second largest search engines. With online videos becoming increasingly popular, more and more people are turning to YouTube for their information and having Google to promote YouTube videos makes it very easy for people to find you.

Twitter
Twitter has one of the largest online global followings. 79% of Twitter accounts are outside the USA, so if you’re trying to have a worldwide appeal, Twitter makes it very easy to reach a large number of people very quickly, no matter where you’re based.

LinkedIn
Most people view LinkedIn as the place to be if you’re a professional. If you’re a B2B marketer, it’s the ideal way to reach out to influencers in your target industries.

LinkedIn makes it easy to connect to specific companies you’d like to work with or even find new employees passionate about what you do. You’ll make a number of highly important business contacts if your company has a presence on LinkedIn.

Don’t neglect personal profiles either. Depending on which social media site you’re targeting, it is worth making sure that all your employees have completed LinkedIn profiles as well, giving you even more chances to spread the word about your business. If you have all your employees actively working to share content about your business, your potential reach will increase exponentially, as your employees connect with even more people than your business page alone.

That’s a brief overview of the four main social media platforms, but depending on the nature of your business, you might like to look at others as well, such as Pinterest or Instagram. Whichever social network you choose, make sure it’s where your ideal customer likes to be. Otherwise, you’re just wasting time, effort and money.

Set Up Your Profile
Once you’ve determined where you want to build your social media presence, you need to set up your profile. People expect to see a complete profile when they visit your social media platform, so make sure you fill the profile section out in full.

Most social media platforms include an ‘About’ section, as well as the chance to upload profile and cover photos. This is your chance to show off your business and make a strong first impression, so it’s vital that you get this part right if you want to attract a strong following. Make sure everything you upload is in line with your branding, making it easy for customers to learn what your business does and how you do it.

Check Out Your Competition
If you want to stay ahead of your competitors, you need to monitor what they’re doing. Which sites are they using? What kind of content do they post and how often?

If you know what your competitors are doing with social media, it will help you establish a baseline for your own activities.

Reach Out To Influencers
This is one of the most important ways in which social media can support your business aims. You should make contact with the companies or individuals who are major influencers in your industry so that you can take advantage of their reach to boost brand awareness.

Follow leading industry professionals and feel free to share their content with your followers – they are likely to be interested in it as well.

If you go to events or conferences, try connecting with the speakers beforehand. Talk to them about the event and what you’re most interested in hearing from them. This opens up the possibility of their opening up a dialogue with you, which could result in your being mentioned in a post that goes out to all their followers. Alternatively, tag an industry leader in one of your posts and ask your subscribers for input on who they view as people to watch. It’s a great way to get a conversation started across the board.

Share Quality Content
It goes without saying that you need to be putting out great content if you want to establish your business as an authority in your industry, but what exactly does that mean?

Although you should be putting out content about your business, you need to do more than simply write thought provoking pieces. People are visual creatures and if you include images, gifs or videos with your content, you can increase engagement by up to 200% on some platforms.

Don’t be afraid to share other people’s content as well. If all you’re doing is sending out sales material and self-promotion, you’ll turn away customers, not attract them. Who wants to listen to sales-talk all the time?
If you want to establish trust with your audience and really add value to them, follow the 70-20-10 rule. Only 10% of what you share should be promoting your services and/or products. 20% of your material should be posts from others, such as industry leaders, while 70% of your content should be aimed at building your brand and offering genuine value to your followers.

Determine The Best Time To Share Material
It might take a little trial and error, but you’ll soon realise that there are days of the week or hours of the day when you’ll get increased engagement. This is backed up by research. For example, according to Buffer, engagement rates on Facebook go up by 18% if you post on a Thursday or Friday.

Take advantage of your chosen platform’s analytics tools to monitor the reach of your posts. After a while, you’ll start to see trends that will allow you to figure out the best time and day to post as well as what kind of content your audience likes. The more you can grow your engagement levels, the better your chances of your content showing up in other newsfeeds, growing your reach even further.

Pay For Advertising
It’s no secret that it’s difficult to reach your audience by relying on organic views alone. Social media sites want you to pay to use their services and can actively hide content that you don’t pay for. However, if you get your advertising strategy right, the money you spend is an investment that will soon pay off.

Facebook Advertising
One of the most popular choices for social media advertising, Facebook gives you a high chance of targeting your chosen demographic, whoever they are. It provides you with a highly specialised capability to target specific groups, going beyond common options, such as age and location, to include things like life events and purchasing behaviours. If you’re a wedding venue, you could make sure your ad is only seen by couples who recently got engaged, guaranteeing that you’re reaching out to people who may be interested in your services.

After its acquisition of Instagram, Facebook allows you to advertise there as well, giving you an even broader reach.

LinkedIn Advertising
Although its services aren’t as sophisticated as Facebook’s, LinkedIn also allows for specific targeting to your target market. For example, you could use their Sponsored InMail service, which allows you to message prospects directly. The advantage of Sponsored InMail on top of sidebar and newsfeed ads is that it is only sent to those who are actively using the network, giving you a greater chance of engagement.

Continue To Interact With Your Audience
Once you’ve built a large following, don’t sit back and think your work is complete. Followers mean nothing if you can’t get them to convert.

Remember the social aspect of social media – you should always be interacting with your audience. Make sure you continue to engage with your audience, answering any queries or replying to comments.

If you can maintain interaction with your audience, not only will your following continue to grow, you’ll see the benefit in your customer base too!

If you need help or support with your social media marketing, contact me to discuss your needs. I can help you!

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