If you’re looking for a simple, inexpensive, and effective way to reach nearly half of the world’s population, then consider using social media for business.

According to the Digital 2020 Global Overview Report published in January 2020, there are now more than 3.8 billion social media users worldwide, and that number will only get bigger. Social media has completely changed the way that small and large businesses interact with their audience and now, more than ever, it’s vital to have a robust social media presence. Social channels can never replace a high quality website, but they can seamlessly complement it.

In this post we’ll explore why you should be using social media marketing, how to develop an all-star social media presence, and some ways to up your game if you’re already using social media for business.

What is social media marketing and why should I be doing it?

So glad you asked. Social media marketing is the use of one or more of the major online social platforms to increase brand awareness, connect with current and potential customers, house and promote your content marketing, drive traffic to your website, and ultimately boost sales.

A huge reason to use social media for business has already been mentioned. 3.8 billion people spending an average of 2.5 hours per day on social media should give you all the motivation you need to open that Instagram account, but here are a few other key reasons to consider.

1. Establishes credibility with your audience.

How many times have you heard about a product, company, or restaurant and searched Instagram or Facebook before searching for their website? More and more, consumers are turning to social channels to see brands up close, what real customers are saying, and if they seem legit. If they don’t find an account, or worse, they find one with three photos from four years ago, they are more likely to question a company’s credibility.

2. Provides almost constant access to your audience.

If you want to reach your audience quickly and often, social media is the way to go. Most social media users are checking their accounts multiple times a day which gives you the opportunity to interact with them every time they log in.

This is why social media channels are ideal platforms to notify your audience about company news, product launches, and other noteworthy announcements. Your audience is much more likely to hear about important updates via your social media profiles than on your website alone. Reach the people where they’re at.

3. Humanizes your brand.

Decades ago, it would have been unfathomable to think we could interact with our favorite celebrities, musicians, sports figures, or brands, but now, we feel slighted if we don’t receive a personalized response to our direct messages. That’s because social media has added a personal dimension to what was previously a strictly professional relationship. It’s human nature to trust someone or something we are familiar with, so if you can use social media to bring a real-life, down-to-earth tone to your brand, you are much more likely to attract and retain loyal fans.

4. Gives you the chance to analyze consumer insights.

While social media marketing is primarily about reaching your audience with quality content, it can also be an invaluable source of intelligence related to consumer behavior, industry trends, and your competition. Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter all have complimentary analytics features anyone can utilize to better leverage the platform. Beyond that, manual monitoring of your comments, mentions, and other forms of audience engagement can profit you greatly.

Now that we’ve discussed why you should utilize social media for business, let’s take a look at some ways to do it effectively.

The first thing to do is make a game plan. Once you decide to develop a social media presence, it will be tempting to just start posting away, but this could set you up for disorganization down the road. First, take the time to sit down and sketch out a social media marketing strategy. This is a high level summary of your goals, objectives, and plan of attack. It gives you a baseline off which to measure your success. Some of the goals will be objective like “post 2-3 times per week,” and others will be more subjective like “increase brand awareness.” A social media marketing strategy is something you should keep handy and reference often. Don’t make one and then put it in a drawer to collect dust.

After you iron out a workable strategy, it’s all about choosing the right content. Social media marketing and content marketing go hand in hand. It’s all about posting the most relevant content for your audience. That’s why it’s important to understand how content marketing works if you want to be successful at social media marketing.

Determining what content you should prioritize depends on your target demographic, the platform you are using, and how past content has performed. Take a look back at our post about content marketing to learn more about how to decide what kinds of content work best for your audience.

While you’re figuring out what content to post, avoid the common mistake of only talking about your brand and business on your social media pages. This can come across too salesy. You’re obviously using your page to promote your business but you run the risk of sounding like a broken record if that’s all you do. Think outside the box and post content related to other things such as causes, current events, or helpful industry-adjacent content. Every post doesn’t have to be a thinly veiled sales pitch. You should include plenty of other content to keep your page diverse and interesting.

Next, create an editorial calendar, but don’t marry it. Meaning, think (and plan) ahead, but don’t miss in-the-moment opportunities. It’s generally best practice to schedule your posts out a couple of weeks. Creating a content calendar keeps you faithful to your social media strategy and keeps you on pace. It takes the burden off of you to come up with new and engaging content every single day. But scheduling too far out can be detrimental. As you know, the social landscape can change overnight. Check in with your content calendar regularly to avoid sounding out of touch or tone deaf. Be willing to make last minute adjustments if necessary.

Once you get rolling with great content, stay active; posting often and on a consistent schedule. Social media users value predictability and this keeps you top of mind every time they log in. Posting sporadically or with long gaps in between makes you look unprofessional and disorganized. Pick a frequency that works for you and stick to it. Schedule out posts to help keep you on track.

After a few months, you’ll have enough data to start thinking about investing in paid advertising. Many business owners are attracted to social media marketing because it can be used even if your marketing budget is zero. But some well-placed, well-timed promoted posts can return dividends for your business. Use the insights available to you on your social channels to identify top performing content and boost it using the paid advertisement feature. By throwing a little money at an already great post, you’ll get even more out of it.

Are you already using social media marketing but want to strengthen your overall presence online? The best way to do that is to first perform an audit.

To help you get a clear picture of how you’re doing, take some time to audit your current social media marketing efforts. Much like a social media strategy, an audit can help bring some clarity to your overall objectives and how well you are meeting your goals.

There are several components to a social media audit:

  • Check for brand consistency across platforms. Do all of your social media profiles reflect your current tone, branding, and voice? Are your logos and bios updated? If social media responsibilities are shared by multiple people, it might be a good idea to centralize the role to one or two people in order to ensure consistent tone.
  • Identify your top performing content. Your audience may change and fluctuate so it’s a good idea to keep tabs on what content works and what doesn’t. Content that used to perform well with your audience might not quite hit the mark any more. By reviewing the data available to you via insights, you’ll get a good idea of what’s working and where you can shift your focus.
  • Reevaluate your target audience. Keep in mind that your target audience may differ from one channel to the next. It’s a common practice to blast out the same exact content onto all of your different social channels, but a simple copy and paste might not be the best way to effectively reach all demographics.

Once you’ve gathered your findings, revisit your social media strategy and compare notes. How are you doing? Where can you improve? Don’t be afraid to do some pruning if one or more of your social channels isn’t fitting in with your overall strategy. Perform routine in-depth audits going forward, every 12-18 months or so, but keep a regular pulse on how you’re doing.

Having a killer social media presence takes time and energy but it’s well worth the effort. It can serve as a stand alone arm of your marketing strategy as well as be a natural medium for content marketing and digital advertising. Speaking of digital advertising, check out this post to learn more.