Social media: the “be all, end all” of 2017 marketing strategies, and for good reason. Businesses operating in both B2B and B2C contexts use social media to start conversations with consumers, increase brand recognition, generate leads and, of course, generate loyalty. In short, social media marketing is good for business. The issue is that it is in a constant state of change, rapidly evolving and expanding at a pace that most businesses are finding challenging to keep up with. Amidst the confusion, some businesses (both big and small) are opting out.

Are you one of those businesses? If so, we’re here to help convince you otherwise. A report released by WeAreSocial.com found that there are currently 2.56 billion global mobile social media users (34% global penetration), with 1 million new active mobile social users added every day. This is a MASSIVE market that your business can and should capitalize on, despite the challenges that the fluidity of the social world presents.

How can you take advantage of social media, you ask? First, let’s dive into the WHY.
WHY SOCIAL MEDIA

Are you looking to grow quickly? Reach a wider target audience? Or, perhaps, just connect with your consumers? Not only does a strong social media presence encourage two-way dialogue between you and your target audience, but social media allows you to develop targeted grassroots campaigns, engage with your audience, and build brand equity. Just to name a few other reasons, social media allows your business to:

  • Build on your current marketing efforts and drive traffic to your website
  • Tell your brand story
  • Increase awareness of your products and services
  • Share current, relevant and targeted content
  • Build credibility, both in the digital and physical sphere
  • Improve your SEO
  • Generate more leads
  • Establish your brand as an industry expert
  • Managing your online reputation
  • Direct conversations to your target audience, no matter how niche they are
  • Evaluate how good you’re doing by monitoring your competitors, and using that knowledge to stay one step ahead of them
  • Be approachable, engage, and respond to praise and criticism

If your business is looking to grow, expand into new markets, attract new customers, or just be successful in general, you need to be present (and active) on social media. Based on experience, here are our top 5 social media best practices for businesses of all sizes.

Tip 1: Choose the right platforms. Don’t senselessly try and be present on every social platform. It’s not realistic. Choose what’s right for your business – analyze your target audience, and base what platforms you use off their activity on those platforms. In other words, understand the strengths of each platform. Are you a photographer attracting millennials? Instagram is the way to go. Are you a recruiter hiring for a variety of positions? LinkedIn is your best bet. Based on your marketing and social media strategy, create and share content that is relevant to that platform, and to the audience using it.

Tip 2: Get visual. Let’s look at the stats: Posts which have appealing images increase a person’s willingness to click that post by 80%, and 51% of marketing professionals agree that video content produces the best ROI (Meetsoci.com). HubSpot similarly found that visual content is more than 40X more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content. This includes videos, photos, infographics, memes, snaps… the list is endless. The more visual your content, the better.

Tip 3: Keep the “social” in social media. Social media is the perfect setting to have two-way conversations with your audience. It’s an opportunity to listen, see what’s being said about your brand (both directly and indirectly) and respond. Interact, be present, and be an accurate representation of your brand. This is also a good opportunity to look at your competition and see how they are managing their online brand, who they are targeting and what content they are publishing. Free analytic sites such as Fanpage Karma and LikeAlyzer for Facebook, which allows you to copy the URL of any Facebook account, gives basic metrics and a general analysis of how a page is performing. Use them to learn from your competition, what they are doing right and wrong, and plan to be a step ahead.

Tip 4: Don’t stray from your brand, but don’t be afraid so break some rules either. Staying true to Tip 3, you need to identify your brand’s voice and tone across all of your accounts. While you will receive positive feedback, it’s equally important to pay attention to the negative feedback, and address it. Don’t lie to make your business or services sound better than what they are. Be authentic, be human, and build trust by being honest with your audience. Consider Wendy’s, for example, and their combination of honesty and humour across social accounts to communicate and relate to their audience. When being challenged on their products or services, or when consumers argue that Wendy’s competition is better, they counter the negative feedback with a positive answer:

Tip 5: Have a social media strategy. The importance of this step cannot be overstated. According to smartinsights.com, social media strategy “defines how your organization will use social media to achieve its communications aims and the supporting platform and tools it will use to achieve this.” A well thought-out social media strategy will help define your target audience, identify key messaging, determine which platforms should be used (as per Tip 1) and determine which content should be used for those platforms. The strategy will also house a schedule for your posts, allowing for you to pre-plan your content and schedule posts using Hootsuite or a similar platform. With social media, consistency is key, and a well-defined strategy will help you ensure you are being consistent.