How Businesses Can Create a Successful Social Media Strategy

Whether you’re a “solopreneur” or work in the marketing department of a large corporation, social media is an essential tool for promoting your business. With more than 3.4 billion global users across various platforms in 2019, social media offers a powerful way to connect with your current customers while attracting new ones. However, it’s not enough to simply start a Facebook or Twitter account and post about your business once in a while. The social media marketing landscape is competitive, and ensuring that your efforts yield strong results will require a comprehensive strategy tailored for your goals and the unique characteristics of your business.

Benefits of social media for businesses

When used effectively, social media may offer the following main benefits for companies in both the business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) sectors:

  • Increased brand awareness. Many people use social media to not only interact with their favorite brands, but also to discover new companies that interest them. By allowing you to reach a virtually unlimited base of potential new customers, social media can help you significantly grow your brand visibility.
  • Shape your brand image. Whether you want to come across as fun and inspirational or position your business as a thought leader in your industry, social media is a great place to showcase your brand’s personality and convey the image that you want customers to have.
  • Drive traffic to your website. When you have a new blog post or something else that you want to share on your website, your social media accounts are the perfect place to do so. This will boost your site traffic, help customers learn about your business, and attract new leads.
  • Engage with existing and potential customers. One of the most valuable uses for social media is that it allows you to interact with your audience—answering their questions, gaining insight into what they like and don’t like about your products or services, monitoring your reputation, and shaping the experience that you want people to have with your brand.
  • Boost sales. Whether you are selling products directly through your accounts or just using them to provide customers with the information they need to move closer to a buying decision, social media can play an important role in driving sales

With these benefits and many others available, how can businesses create a social media strategy that will maximize results? The following steps may help.

Choose the right platforms

While you’re probably familiar with Facebook, LinkedIn, and other popular platforms, there are dozens that could be beneficial for your business. One of the first steps in making sure that you are yielding a maximum return on your social media efforts is to think strategically about which platforms you should use. Here are a few key questions to ask as you choose your channels:

  • What are your top goals for your social media efforts??Consider the potential benefits listed above and determine which are most important for your business.
  • What types of content do you plan to post??For example, would you prefer to post images, videos, or links to your blogs?
  • Who is your target audience, and which platforms are they most likely to use??Research where your competitors are focusing their efforts, as well as the demographic groups most likely to use each platform.
  • What is your budget for social media, and how many channels will you be able to manage??Whether you are outsourcing your efforts to an agency or handling them in-house, managing your social media presence will require time and/or money. Determine how much you have available and start by focusing on the top 2-4 social media platforms that would be most valuable for your business.

As you consider the answers to these questions, here is a brief overview of some of the leading social media platforms:

  • As the most popular social media platform (with more than 2.7 billion active users as of 2020!),?Facebook?offers countless opportunities for B2B and B2C businesses alike, making it a fundamental part of most social media strategies. While it can be challenging to grow your audience organically on Facebook, the platform allows you to post various types of content—including images, videos, polls, slideshows, links to your website, and more—and engage with your audience through comments, likes, and shares. In addition, paid advertising on Facebook allows you to hyper-target a specific audience based on their demographics and interests.
  • Most popular among Gen Z and younger Millennial audiences,?Instagram?is essential for restaurants, venues, retailers, and other businesses that can showcase their products or services through appealing pictures. The platform has even added an eCommerce feature that allows users to purchase your products directly. While Instagram is primarily used by B2C businesses, those in the B2B space may also find it effective for certain purposes, such as providing a behind-the-scenes look at their company culture or sharing inspiring graphics.
  • As the leading social media site for professional networking, having a presence on?LinkedIn?is a must for many B2B companies. By publishing informative content on LinkedIn, you can boost your brand’s reputation and position yourself as a thought leader in your industry.
  • Ideal for quick communication and concise messages, many companies have found?Twitter?to be a useful platform for providing customer service, keeping their audiences engaged, and generating buzz before or after an event or exciting announcement through the use of hashtag campaigns.
  • With approximately 1.5 billion users worldwide,?YouTube?is the most popular online video platform. Creating videos that inform or entertain viewers—such as how-to videos, commercial-type ads, video blogs, and more—and posting them on YouTube can help audiences become familiar with your brand and boost your reputation as a trusted resource.
  • Particularly popular among Millennial and female audiences,?Pinterest?is an often-overlooked way to catch users’ attention with visually appealing, readily shareable graphics and drive traffic to your site. If your business revolves around food, home décor, travel, fashion, or a similar category, consider making Pinterest a part of your social media strategy.

Plan your content strategically

Once you’ve chosen the platforms you will focus on, the next step is to launch a plan for creating content. The following tips will help your posts stand out and move your business closer to achieving your social media marketing goals:

  • Focus on your audience’s needs and interests. While the end goal of your social media strategy is to drive sales, audiences will quickly tune out if all of the content you post is promotional. Instead, keep the “80-20 rule” in mind: 80 percent of your posts should educate or entertain your audience, while 20 percent should be designed to sell your products or services. As you create content, think about your audience’s needs—what are their interests? How do they enjoy spending their free time (because, after all, most people use social media in their free time)? How can you offer solutions for problems they might have?
  • Visit your competitors’ social media pages. While you obviously don’t want to copy content or post anything too similar to what your competitors are posting, visiting the social media pages of the most successful companies in your industry can provide insight into the types of content that resonate with your target audience and inspire you as you craft your own posts.
  • When posting images, think beyond stock photos. While stock photos are convenient and you will probably use them often on social media, mix it up with other types of images, such as GIFs, infographics, custom branded graphics, behind-the-scenes photos from your workplace, or photos of your products in use.
  • Have fun. Don’t be afraid to incorporate humor or a lighthearted tone into your content—again, one of the main purposes of social media is to give users a place to disconnect from the daily grind and be entertained. For example, consider posting funny or inspirational quotes or images, or share photos of your employees having fun at work in order to showcase your brand’s human side. However, be sure that everything you post is appropriate for your audience and consistent with the brand image you want to convey.

Engage with your audience

Most social media platforms—and particularly Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter—offer powerful opportunities to directly interact with your potential and existing customers. The key to making the most of these opportunities is to have a designated person or team who can promptly answer questions and respond to comments or concerns. In addition to enhancing your customers’ experiences with your business by allowing them to contact you via social media and responding to them quickly, inviting engagement on your posts—such as likes, shares, and comments—will help boost your organic reach.

Here are a few creative ideas for spurring social media engagement:

  • Host contests. For example, invite your audience to share stories, testimonials, or pictures of how they’re using your product, and offer a gift or other reward to the winner.
  • Run polls?on a topic relevant to your business or something else that may be of interest to your audience.
  • Use hashtags, particularly on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Try to come up with a short and catchy hashtag that includes your brand name, and start using it in your posts and encouraging your audience to do the same when they post about your company. This will help build a community around your business and spread brand awareness. Other opportunities for using hashtags include when you are launching an exciting new product or service, hosting an event, or running a contest.

Is your social media strategy optimized to deliver results for your business? At SP Marketing, we can help you manage your social media accounts to ensure that you are producing engaging, valuable content that improves the perception that both new and existing customers have of your brand. We stay on top of the latest trends and changes to social media platforms, and can help your business stand out in the noisy digital world.?Contact us today?to schedule a consultation!

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