Whether you’re chatting with old friends on Facebook, sharing photos of your latest adventure on Instagram, following breaking news on Twitter, or finding interior design inspiration on Pinterest, social media is a part of your life. It is also part of your customer’s life too.
In this article, we’re going to show you how to make those same tools a part of your business and show you how to get many more customers every month.
Social media really is a fun way to connect, explore, and entertain your target customers. However, it can be so much more. It’s helpful. It’s useful. It’s powerful. And it’s a vital part of any business or brand’s marketing strategy.
If you want your business to succeed, social media marketing isn’t an option. It’s a necessity.
Social media marketing includes all efforts to create content tailored for social media platforms in order to attract the attention of and engage with your target audience. This enhances brand awareness, allows you to connect with your customers and users, and builds links that can strengthen SEO and help your business reach the first page of Google search results.
If all of this sounds daunting, don’t worry. This article is full of tips, tricks, and tools that will help your business survive and thrive in 2016 and beyond. Follow our tips and you’ll be a social media star in no time.
1. Don’t Forget Your #Hashtags
A hashtag is a word or phrase, preceded by the # symbol, which helps users on social media to find your posts and images.
Hashtags immediately increase your post’s organic reach, help target your desired audience, and helps promote your brand’s exposure on social media.
They are very effective on Twitter, and nearly essential on Instagram.
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Before you dive in, there are a few tricks that you need to know in order to use hashtags effectively.
Begin by figuring out which ones are popular in your industry or area, and limit yourself to two or three in each tweet (you only have 140 characters total, so choose carefully!) and as many as you like on Instagram (on this image-based platform, hashtags are less noticeable and as a result are less annoying).
A great way to find relevant hashtags is by being an active user. If you need a shortcut, try the website Hashtagify, which can help you find relevant, popular hashtags.
The secret is to pay attention to trending topics, such as holidays, movie releases, and fun themes, like “Throwback Thursday” (known as #TBT) and “FlashbackFriday” (known as #FBF). You can also click on hashtags that look interesting or relevant, and join the conversation others are having by replying to questions, offering advice, and showing off your expertise.
2. A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
We humans are visual creatures, which is why a post with an image is nearly 40% more effective than one without.
On Facebook and Twitter, images can boost engagement and get your post noticed; on Instagram and Pinterest especially, visual imagery is what the platforms are built on. What does all this mean? Simply put: image is everything.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you can Google any old stock image and slap it on your feed. If you really want to set yourself apart and capture the attention of your audience, you absolutely must post good quality images that are interesting, beautiful, and unique. As a business, it’s also important to ensure that every photo you post on any platform fits your brand’s look and personality.
Variety is the spice of life, so feel free to post a mix of lifestyle photos, product images, and even some quotes.
Never use clip art or post a flyer. Instead, feature a product image and then promote a sale or event in the caption. The Internet has high standards and users are very discerning, so it is important that you don’t let your audience down by just posting any old image. Take the time to find or create the kind of images that will entertain and delight your community.
3. Timing is Everything
There is a well known conundrum which asks the question: If a tree falls in a forest and no one was there to hear it, did the tree really fall? Using the same logic, if you post something to social media and no one is there to see it, did you say anything at all?
To maximize the impact of your marketing efforts, think about when your target audience will most likely be online and make sure to time your posts appropriately.
Test different times and watch your stats to see which content had the farthest reach.
You can also use different analytic tools (Facebook’s Insights tab and Twitter’s analytics are both free) to see when your posts received engagement and fine-tune your strategy as needed.
To help you figure out when to post, it’s helpful to think about who your audience is and how they spend their day.
For example, are you targeting stay-at-home moms? If so you need to schedule your posts for nap time or after the kids are in bed. If you want professionals to see your posts, lunch breaks and commutes are a great time to share, not slap bang In the middle of their workday when they are unlikely to see your posts.
If you’re worried about posting when you should be relaxing, don’t worry—social media is 24/7, but that doesn’t mean you have to chain yourself to your smartphone or tablet. There are many great tools that will allow you to schedule posts for certain times, so your business can tweet even while you’re having dinner with your family or enjoying the game. Clever!
4. SEO Basics
SEO, which stands for Search Engine Optimization, is the process of increasing or improving the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s unpaid results so that it ranks high in the search engines.
The traffic you receive as a result of good SEO is also referred to as “natural” or “organic.” Since you don’t pay for this traffic, you might be tempted to consider this traffic as being easy or free. In reality, good SEO takes time, and as business owners, we know that time is money.
Fortunately, there are many ways to build SEO, and one of them is through social media marketing.
When you link back to your website through your social media posts, you help improve SEO and ensure your business remains where it belongs—at the top of Google’s search results.
Here are three steps you can take right now to improve SEO.
01 Grow your number of followers.
The more followers you have, the more Google sees you as an expert in your field, and the more they prioritize your posts in their search results. Just like high school, the Internet is one big popularity contest. The best way to grow your communities organically is by posting unique, quality content regularly. If you have a budget, you can create like campaigns and promoted posts to speed up the process.
02 Link to your website in your posts.
If you promote yourself 100% of the time, you’ll sound like a commercial, and you’ll be treated like one, too. On the other hand, linking to your own website is a fantastic way to build external links – another one of Google’s favorite things. Strike a good balance of sharing and promoting, and remember to use hashtags and images to make your posts stand out and get noticed.
03 Create your own long form content.
Google is an effective machine, and it prioritizes new and fresh content under the assumption that something published last week will be more helpful and relevant than something published way back in 2009.
In order to improve SEO, it’s a great idea to publish new content on your website regularly, and a company blog is a perfect way to do this. Write articles about your products, your brand, and your business, and then promote these posts across your social media channels.
5. Target The Movers And The Shakers
The movers and the shakers would include all of the key influencers and the stars in your industry or community. These are the people with huge followings, tons of fans, and good reputations.
They are also the people who can help you the most.
In order to do that, you must develop strategic partnerships with these key influencers. This will help you get in front of new customers and stay informed about what’s happening in your industry.
Start by creating a list of top influencers you’d like to target, then build a relationship with them first by listening.
This is key! Everyone likes a good listener. So before you attempt to contribute, first figure out what’s happening in the conversation. Once you have a handle on that, start sharing their images and promoting their content – chances are, if it’s interesting to you, it’ll be interesting to your audience, too.
6. Give People What They Want
If you use social media (and we hope you do!) consider who you follow and why.
What do you get out of the different platforms you use?
Whether you’re hoping to see beautiful images on Instagram, helpful articles on Twitter, witty Facebook updates, or professional connections on LinkedIn, you follow and share with the people who offer you something valuable.
And you unfollow the accounts that don’t add anything interesting, important, or fun to your life.
The same rules apply to businesses and brands. The only reason people will like your page or follow your account is if you give them an incentive. In addition to great content, you can also treat your friends, fans, and followers to other perks, such as giveaways, exclusive sales, VIP access, or a behind the- scenes look at your business.
7. Stay Organized and Plan Ahead
If your social media presence looks and sounds like a hot mess, it will reflect poorly on your business.
Think about it this way – you would never abandon your brick and mortar establishment, or let it fall into disrepair. While social media platforms are virtual, they should be viewed in the same way.
Your online activity is a reflection of your business. It should be fun yet professional, while always staying on brand.
At the start of each month, create a content calendar. This will give you a chance to think about your goals for the month, and then craft posts, updates, and images that support those goals.
Creating a calendar will also help you keep in mind upcoming sales, local events, holidays, and anything else that might be relevant to your business, your services, and your community?
8. Have Fun
This last tip might seem like a cop out, but we promise that it’s sincere.
Have fun. Really.
The reason people join social media networks is because they like them. Don’t look at your social media strategy as a chore or just another thing to check off your list. Trust us – your audience will hear your weary sigh every time you sign on.
Instead, approach social media with curiosity, interest, and enthusiasm. See it for what it is – a free way to promote your products, share your business, and find your tribe. Make jokes. Look at pretty pictures. Offer your expertise. Think about the people behind the screen and reach out to them.
Remember, social media is an opportunity, not a burden. We repeat: have fun.
Now Go Forth, and Be Social!
You now have the tools you need to begin your business’s digital adventure.