Your audience is on social media. Period.
Whether you run an executive recruitment firm, an eCommerce site, or a University, your audience is on social media, and the numbers are there to prove it:
- Facebook has reached 2.5 billion monthly active users, up 2%, from 2.45 billion in Q3 2019.
- Twitter’s active monthly users have declined in recent years but the platform still claimed 321 million monthly users as of February 2019.
- Instagram has 1 billion monthly active users.
- SnapChat reported 100 million monthly active users in North America.
- TikTok reached over 500 million monthly active users in the second half of 2019
One of the best ways to grow your business is to leverage this ever-growing audience on social media, sharing valuable content that encourages engagement with your brand, keeping your brand top of mind.
When done right, social media content marketing is hugely effective, creating extensive competitive advantage for businesses. The problem is, most businesses don’t know how to do it right and their brand is swallowed up in a sea of competition. This is increasingly true as social algorithms change to make it harder for brands to be seen.
To help get you started, here are a few tips to help you leverage social media content marketing effectively:
1. Be Selective About the Social Networks You Post On
There are many different social media platforms and unfortunately businesses make the mistake of thinking they must be present on each and every platform, jumping on the bandwagon of any new platform that launches. The truth is, each platform appeals to a different audience so there isn’t any need for a business to be present on each. Plus, if you try to be everywhere at once, you’ll only end up spreading yourself too thin. The trick is finding where your audience hangs out, and being present on only those platforms, maximizing the impact of the time you have to spend on social media. Investing time and resources into creating an active presence on a platform that doesn’t align with your business will not generate an ROI.
Research the demographics of each of the social media platforms and see if it aligns with your customer personas. If your target audience is CEOs, you’ll have more luck on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn where the average age is between 30 to 49 than you would on SnapChat, Instagram or TikTok. But if you’re trying to get engagement from the youth of today, those platforms would be ideal—90% of Instagram users are below 35 years old, and more than six out of 10 Snapchat users are in the 18-to-24 age group.
Know your audience. Know where they spend their time online. Invest your time there.
2. When It Comes to Social Media Content, One Size Doesn’t Fit All
Once you’ve narrowed down the social media networks that you want to focus on, the next step is determining what you’re going to post. Again, many businesses make one big mistake—they think they can post the same content on each platform, and hope for similar results across the board.
That won’t work.
To be successful with social media marketing, businesses must post the right kind of content that is best suited for each platform. Each platform’s audience has an expectation of what they want to see—even if the audience is the same from platform to platform.
The recent “Dolly Parton Meme” is a great example of how the same content (in this case a profile picture) must be adapted for the platform it is posted on. The same applies for businesses—how you present yourself on the various platforms differs.
LinkedIn is best for company news, job-related content, and professional content. Facebook works well for clean, family-friendly content. Instagram is for photos and stories that represent your creative side. And Tinder….well, we will skip over Tinder for business.
3. Consistency is Key
What you post on social media is a reflection of your brand which means your messages, imagery, tone, colours, filter etc. should be consistent across all your marketing platforms, including your website. This helps to build your brand identity and increase brand awareness, and is something that must be established prior to posting on social media platforms.
Social media has always been a great means of showcasing brands’ personalities and due to the visual nature of social media it is easy for brands to create stories about their products and themselves. Marketing isn’t just about focusing on a product or highlighting a service, it’s about building a lifestyle or a belief that defines the products you’re selling.
WestJet is a household name among Canadians that has nailed all of the above in their social media branding. Almost every picture includes the WestJet brand colours, ans is focused firmly on creating desire to travel. WestJet uses social media to share a lifestyle that’s built around their business, making it so that their followers aspire to be part of the brand. Rather than focusing solely on their product, they focus on the journey, the destination, and the people who are going to help you get there, eliciting an emotional response from social media users.
Consistency in your posting frequency is also important. If you post three times a week for one week, then nothing the next week, your brand won’t be effectively increasing engagement and reach. Frequency will differ between social networks. For example, brands tend to publish less frequently on Facebook and LinkedIn than they do on Instagram and Twitter.
It’s important to determine the frequency of posting that works for your audience. This might be three times a day for one brand, or three times a week for another. Create a posting schedule to help you maintain consistency, and use a tool such as Hootsuite, Buffer or Sprout Social to automate and schedule posting across multiple platforms with ease.
More importantly, don’t post content simply for the sake of posting. Make sure it serves a purpose.
Coca-Cola leverages social media content marketing successfully to grow their brand and maintain brand awareness. Their content can be recognized easily across different social media platforms through the consistent use of colours, even though their content is vastly different
between platforms. While both Facebook and Instagram focus on positioning Coca Cola as a lifestyle brand and bringing about emotional connection to their product, the imagery between the platforms is very different.
Coca Cola’s Instagram Account A common style of Coca Cola Facebook post
4. First Comes Content, Then Comes Engagement
Once you’re consistently posting to your chosen social networks, the next step is to experiment with what types of posts get the most engagement from your network. There’s simply no point in posting to social media if there is little to no engagement with your brand as a result.
Followers highly value images, videos, and customer reviews from brands on social media, and according to Social Media Examiner 58% of marketers say original written content is their most important form of social content. Ultimately, you must understand your niche, see what your competitors are doing, conduct an inventory of original content you have to post (e.g. infographics, photos, case studies, reviews etc), and experiment with what works for your business.
Do not post only promotional content. Social media content marketing is about creating content that users will find helpful so that when they’re ready to make a purchase decision, they will come to you. Reward your loyal followers with offers, discounts, advanced access to content, and more. Posting valuable, interesting, honest content will earn your brand a reputation for being a trustworthy authority in the industry. That’s not to say you must never post self-promoting content, but it should make up no more than 20% of your content posted.
Some brands make the mistake of keeping all of their online conversations one-sided. They talkat their followers, rather than conversing with them. As much as possible, especially in the beginning, new brands should seek to respond to each and every online comment made, whether positive or negative. Destination British Columbia does a great job of engaging with its followers, asking questions, building connections, and forging lasting relationships—all actions that establish brand loyalty. Brand loyalty is defined as the partiality of a consumer towards one business or product over another, and it can truly make or break a company.
Interacting with your followers and influencers, from responding to comments on your page to liking and commenting on their posts is the best way to organically grow your social media reach. Featuring the content they create—for example, a selfie of your product that they just purchased and tagged your brand in—on your platform makes your brand supporters feel like they are appreciated by your brand.
5. Use Social Media as a Tool to Treat Your Customers Better
Social media can be an excellent tool for any brand or business to keep their customers happy, and happy customers means brand loyalty, and even brand ambassadors.
In today’s omni-channel digital world, there is much less of a distinction between the different channels for customer service. It used to be that the only way to reach a brand was by calling a customer service number. Now, consumers expect to be able to reach the company by any means they choose, whether that’s a phone call, email and yes, even social media. Even more so, they expect an almost immediate response. Consumers are more likely to buy from a brand when they know that any concerns or issues will be handled immediately. Unlike a phone call or email, however, some social platforms—Twitter especially—are a very public way for customers to express themselves. It’s also presents a very public way for the brand to respond, so getting it right is critical.
Take the time to train your employees on social media. Create clear brand standards and expectations for the individual or team that will be handling social media engagement so that when you do have a negative customer—because it will happen!—a positive customer service experience on social can completely turn that around
When you use social media to provide and handle customer service, and you get it right, it shows other potential customers that your business and brand supports its products and will go the extra mile to service its customers. To truly use social to build brand loyalty, you need to be willing to respond to those who take the time to engage with your company, for better or worse.
If your business is not on social media, responding to customer comments, it doesn’t mean your customers aren’t doing it, it just means you’re not seeing it. You’re letting your customers dictate your brands position, rather than your brand itself. The worst thing you can do is ignore social media.
6. Your Employees Could be Your Biggest Influencers
Did you know, your biggest brand influencers might be right under your nose? According to global PR firm Weber Shandwick, 50% of employees talk about their company on social media.
The problem? Most businesses are not aware of what their employees are saying about them.
This is a great opportunity to steer employees in the right direction when it comes to posting online. Most companies today have social media policies as part of the employee contract, and in many cases, posting negatively about the company online can prove a dismissable offence.
Just this year, a Toronto-resident says he was fired from a job he held for six years because he complained on Twitter about receiving a $6 bottle of barbecue sauce as a holiday gift.
Employees complaining about a problem at work via social media is becoming an increasingly common issue in employment law. Instead, by investing in your employees, providing training and guidance on safe content, and what is and is not acceptable to your company, you can help turn your employees into ambassadors of your brand, empowering them to be influencers in their own right, and to take part in your company-wide marketing strategy.
7. Pay to Promote Your Posts
Organic reach of social posts only goes so far. To really build your brand, increase conversions, and earn new customers you must consider investing in paid advertising on social platforms. Paid advertisements are particularly effective because of the targeting capabilities of the
platforms. You can target specific audience groups to share your content with, increasing reach, visibility, and brand awareness to the people most likely to convert.
Getting paid advertising on social media right can be a game changer. But, like everything on social media, getting it right isn’t easy. Identifying where to get the most bang for your buck, whether that’s from sponsored content placements, brand partnerships, working with social media influencers, or creating paid ads, is more often than not a case of trial and error. Check out what your competitors are doing as it’s a good indication of what works, especially if they’ve been doing it for some time.
Whatever ads you choose to test, make sure to track audience responses and engagement rates so that you can quickly see what isn’t working and optimize the campaigns that are working for even better performance. With a data-driven and strategic paid advertising campaign, you get a bigger chance that your content reaches your target market in the most cost-efficient way possible. Remember, what works on one platform might not work on another and vice versa. Customize your advertising strategy for each platform.
8. Don’t Just Set It and Forget It
Finally, social media content marketing is not a set-it-and-forget-it program. It requires constant monitoring and optimizing to ensure you’re getting the most out of your efforts. Regularly analyze metrics to derive useful insights about your social media activity. Social media success is different from company to company. While an eCommerce brand might measure conversions and sales, a non-profit would measure brand reach and engagement more closely. Decide before you start what’s important to you.
Social media is an incredibly powerful tool and can be leveraged to grow your brand, engage with your customers, and create loyal followers. To do it right takes an investment in resources. It must be treated like any other important business activity, and not seen as an afterthought, or something for the intern to work on. Optimized content marketing paired with a strategic social media approach will maximize your digital marketing ROI. When you really care about your audience, share great content, and communicate in a way that aligns with your culture, you will start to see the positive impact on your business and your brand.
Ultimately, social media might just be one of the best investments your company makes.