A strong social media presence is one of the best ways to be heard, and companies are no exception to this rule. Forget the doorstep; there's a whole world of potential customers and fans at your fingertips who are actively searching for brands that they can recognize and interact with on a personal level. However, social media skills have to be learned, and a lot of companies struggle to find an audience and connect with them online. If yours is one of them, what can you do to make the best use of social media and all its benefits? How can you create content that gets people to stop scrolling and start reading, liking and sharing?
These 7 social media strategies will help your business establish a presence and a following in the most crowded spaces online by creating content that entertains, educates, influences as well as connects.
1. Make a strategy
Before you reconsider your whole social strategy, ask the tough questions. What are your objectives as a company, and how will a strong social media presence help you to accomplish them? What actions are you going to take to establish presence, and how will you gauge your success? Establish achievable and quantifiable objectives that are informed by your marketing and business goals, and place a time-frame on how long they should take to reach. Find the right KPIs and tools to gauge your progress, and don't hesitate to adjust your plans if something isn't working.
And keep in mind: don't throw the baby out with the bathwater! If you've done something in the past that worked well, think about how and why it worked, and let it inform your strategy as you move forward. Similarly, look at previous failures and learn from them: how have your past social efforts missed the mark, and how can you avoid these problems moving forward?
With a road map to social success in place, your company can start to make guided adjustments to its social strategy that work toward precise goals.
2. Know your audience
There are so many eyes and ears out there on the internet, but do you know who is going to listen to your brand's voice? Determining and empathizing with your demographic and how they spend their time online makes a significant difference in making your voice heard. Imagine your ideal customer. What interests them? What are they passionate about? What do they read, watch, and discuss with their friends? What are their goals, and how can the things you do help to achieve them? The better an understanding you have of your perfect customer, the easier it will be to find individuals like them online and speak to them with your content.
Pay attention to your audience and their conversations online about your industry as a whole and your brand in particular. Look for the keywords and phrases in these conversations, know how they're used, and put them into practice in your own content. These keywords, which can include anything from industry jargon to misspellings of your business's name, comprise the language that your customers speak-- to walk the walk, your company has to talk the talk.
Finally, knowing the social media influencers your audience follows and interacting with the things that interest them can put you right into your audience's line of vision. Learn from what influencers do to engage your audience, and put it into practice in your own social media plan.
3. Tell your story
Just like every person, every business has a story; no two are alike. Use your social media channels to create a story around your business that shows how it got to where it is today. Invite your audience to consider where they enter into that narrative: how are your followers involved and invested in your success? How can the things your company does change a person's day, or change the way they live their lives?
One way to nail a story is to identify your niche and own it. If your service or product fits into a certain lifestyle, create a story around it, and highlight your place in it. You understand the special value of your business-- tell the world about it, and attract an audience that will benefit from it.
4. Get conversational
Social media is a two-way street, and driving engagement with your brand means grabbing the reins and interacting with your audience. Make your business part of the conversation online by asking and answering questions, making friends, and following back. Things don't always have to be about sales: sharing holiday greetings, discussing local events, and starting a conversation about current news stories are all ways a company can drive engagement from their audience and learn more about their demographic.
Most importantly, share with your audience and encourage them to share with you! Ask your audience about what they would like to see, take the feedback and deliver on it. If you see someone doing something cool with your product or sharing a success story, like it, retweet it, or give a shout out! When your audience is engaged with your brand, you become a part of their network, and everybody gets to see how your company fits into the lives of consumers just like them. This grows your audience and improves your chances of generating engagement.
5. Go live!
Facebook Live has quickly become a giant marketing tool for the largest brands. Your followers are notified the moment you go live, and can join at any moment to watch you show the things that matter to the both of you. Is your business reaching a milestone, or releasing a brand new product? Has your warehouse just received a long-awaited and much anticipated shipment? Go live, and share the occasion with your fans! Hold a live Q&A session, give followers a preview at exciting things in the works, or simply broadcast a day in the life of an employee. When your fans see the actual people behind your products or services and share in their successes, it lays the foundation for a fan-base that is connected, loyal, and eager to see more!
6. Call to action
Make your statements concise, and provide a way for your audience to follow up and learn more. Succinctness is a virtue and brevity is the soul of wit, particularly in the hectic world of social media, and a lot of social media platforms have accepted this approach to the point of incorporating it into the very nature of user interaction. Twitter's 140-character limit is an obvious example, but Snapchat's ephemeral photos and videos and Instagram's bite-sized Boomerang and Stories features are more recent examples. These restrictions allow you to generate exciting content and striking visuals that inspire interest and are digested at a glance. Once you have their attention, encourage users to follow up by clicking a link, signing up for an email newsletter, or looking through a complete product line to get more of the content that hooked them!
7. Testing, testing, 1, 2, 3 ...
Finally, always be improving. Do not focus on a single effective formula and stick to it. Variety is the spice of life, so keep an eye out for new trends, new discussions, and new mediums to get your message across-- but be scientific about it. Keep your eyes on the KPIs, put your strategies to the test by comparing their results, and learn from your failures and your successes to evolve along with your audience and your social media networks as they expand.
To wrap things up
The world of social media is always changing, and with these techniques your company will find its place in the world beyond a brick and mortar store or a domain name. Take stock of how far you've come, and establish clear and quantifiable objectives that correspond to your company goals. Get to know your audience, tell them your story, and get involved by paying attention to what they have to say. Go live, give your followers a taste of what you have to offer, and provide the means for them to learn more about what you can do for them. Always pay attention to what works, learn from what doesn't, and test out new strategies to keep improving your reach. Most importantly, remember the point of social media: to connect people! Use your social media networks as a platform to connect to and expand your audience, not just as a megaphone to talk at them. Now get out there and give the people something to talk about!