An astonishing "73% of consumers claim that they have been influenced by a brand’s social media presence when making a purchasing decision." If you give that statistic just a moment to sink in, it becomes readily apparent how important it is that your business establishes a strong social media presence. After all, if you lack a strong footing on social media, one of your competitors will surely use that as a leg-up as they target your audience. Of course, being a business on social media is much easier said than done. Having the right information is key to your success.
As if having3.84 billion active users isn't reason enough to get on social media, study after study continues to back the effectiveness and importance of using it in your business. With roughly 45% of people around the world using it, it gives your business an immense opportunity to reach your target audience in a way that's considered highly engaging and efficient. Undoubtedly, that's why 90% of businesses already report using social media.
In addition to organic usage, paid social advertising spend is continuously increasing--and so is the return businesses are seeing. However, regardless of whether you're planning on running paid campaigns, having a strong social media presence should be your first priority.
Getting your business setup on social media takes time, but it's not particularly difficult so long as you follow the right steps. It all starts with knowing who you want to target and then clearly establishing how your company should represent itself.
Entering a platform blindly is the simplest mistake a business can make. Just as you wouldn't try to sell something without first knowing who you're going to sell to, you shouldn't get on social media until you can clearly define who you are after. You should know your target audience inside and out, familiarizing yourself with the customer persona(s) interested in your product.
This information will prove critical as you go forth in defining your brand image, identifying the right platforms, and--of course--creating your content. Therefore, it's important that you don't skip this step or try to figure it out as you go along. Start here and put in the research ahead of time to set your business and its social media presence up for success.
Whether you're a young business, new to the digital world, or simply never took the time to define your brand's image, now is the time to do it. Your brand image goes beyond your name and logo. The colors, fonts, and wording you use all impact how a customer perceives your brand and, therefore, fall under your brand image.
Building a strong brand relies on your company establishing a unique and consistent image that speaks to your target audience. Once you know your audience (and your competitors), you can best define who your brand is. People want brands with personality, so choose colors, stylings, and characteristics that your audience can engage with.
It's worth creating a brand book, which defines all aspects of your brand. A brand book will help to get everyone who works at or with your company on the same page regarding design and content. Having a brand book also helps you take your business strategy to the next level by guiding your marketing and advertising practices on social media and elsewhere.
Many businesses make the mistake of spreading themselves too thin. When they decide to start building a social media presence, they jump in full-force and don't get far. There are dozens of social media platforms out there, but contrary to popular belief, your business doesn't need to be on all of them.
By knowing your target audience, you can identify the platforms they most often utilize. Pick one to three where a large segment of your audience is active and go from there. You can extend to other platforms down the road, if needed, but starting small is critical to establishing a strong, high-quality representation of your brand.
After choosing the platforms you will focus on, spend a day or two to get the profiles setup. You should add your logo as a profile image and customize cover photos, usernames, and all other information to match your brand's image. This includes adding a website link, about us info, and filling in every empty slot. This tends to be quite time consuming, but it's a must. You shouldn't worry about posting until you have each profile setup with a strong foundation.
It truly is quality over quantity when it comes to social media posts. It doesn't matter if you're posting twice a day or twenty times a day. Unless people are engaging with your content and it's truly making an impact, it's a waste of everyone's time. Likewise, posting redundant content again and again that people find boring will only drive your audience away. You should strive to post consistently, but you also need to post creatively.
To balance this difficult task, establishing a content calendar is certainly worthwhile. According to Content Marketing Institute, "53 percent of marketers in organizations where content marketing was most effective had a documented content marketing plan." A content calendar is a critical component of any content marketing strategy as it allows you to brainstorm and plan in advance, up to a year ahead of time.
In your content calendar calendar, you'll lay out the "slots" that you need to fill with content and then write in ideas for what you will post and where. This process will ensure diversity and creativity in your content while avoiding redundancy or running out of ideas. You'll never have to come up with something "last minute" and that will help you achieve the quality your audience desires.
A content calendar also has you researching and planning posts ahead of time, meaning you will always have time to vet ideas and ensure they will interest your target audience. Planning also means you'll be able to schedule timely content that aligns with sales, holidays, and other specialty events throughout each period.
The analytics that social media platforms like Facebook give you access to aren't just for bragging purposes. They are a crucial part of any social media strategy and they should get treated as such. Continuously monitoring these analytics and reports is key to seeing improvement in your engagement and conversion rates overtime.
You can use these analytics in countless ways, but above all you need to look at what actions equal engagement. For instance, think about the type of post that sees the most clicks. Does including a photo boost likes or comments? Do infographics see more shares? These are the questions that analytics can answer and utilizing these reports will give you great insight into what your target audience wants.
Overtime, using these analytics will allow you to achieve consistently high engagement. They can even help you navigate more complex points of interest, like what time of day or day of the week your audience is most active.
If you think a smart message is all it takes to get people to click, comment, or like, think again. Animoto and countless other surveys have identified video as consumers' favorite form of content across all platforms, which demonstrates that it's not just what you say, it's how you say it. As a brand, there are many best practices that you have to follow in order to achieve the performance you desire.
Beyond video, photos, and text, your brand can utilize user-generated content and hashtag campaigns in order to populate your social media channels while also working to build a strong relationship with your audience. For online stores, the most popular way to encourage user-generated content is to ask them to tag you when they post a photo of the product.
Some brands use this as a basis for friendly competition, offering a gift card or other incentive for those incredible photos that they re-post. However, an incentive isn't particularly necessary and will become even less so as your brand grows. Most people get excited to post content just for the chance of getting featured on your page. Urban Outfitters is a great example of this concept, regularly re-posting and tagging the content of customers on Instagram.
Interesting statistics from Sprout Social identify the things consumers find most annoying from brands on social media. The top of the list is "posting too many promotions," with nearly 60% of consumers pinpointing this uncreative, one-sided form of content as the thing they find most irritating.
However, the second most irritating things consumers identified is much more surprising. Nearly 40% of consumers said brands using slang or jargon is annoying. Almost 30% also said they'd unfollow a brand who did so. Other agitating things consumers cited included profiles without personality and trying to hard to be funny.
These numbers showcase the importance of finding a unique approach that your brand can take that will help you connect with your audience. They also highlight the fact that, while your brand should keep up with the times, you should remain cautious of jumping on the latest trends. Sprout Social concluded, "Unless you manage social for companies like MTV or Teen Vogue, your brand really has no business using trendy slang or internet terms. This makes you seem out of touch and hurts engagement."
Whether you're working to establish a playful image for your brand or a sophisticated vibe, you must take some time to interact with your audience. Depending on the size of your audience, this interaction could range from replying to comments to tweeting back at those that tag you. The fast food chain Wendy's is a fantastic example, always engaging with consumers in a childish, humorous way that reflects their strong branding.
You can also spark engagement by asking questions directly through social media posts. These questions are usually thoughtful and fun to encourage a large response, but you can also ask questions to help guide your company's strategy. For instance, the activewear brand POPFLEX regular uses social polls so customers can give their input on the design of each piece. As founder Cassey Ho says, "We design with our audience for our audience."
Perhaps most importantly, when it comes to interacting with your audience, always make time to respond to direct messages. The same study from Sprout Social found that nearly 25% of consumers identify "not replying to my message" as a major source of agitation when connecting with brands on social media.
Eniture Technology specializes in helping e-Commerce merchants grow by providing useful information, digital marketing services, off-the-shelf apps that solve common problems, and custom programming services. Please contact us if you need help growing your online business or implementing the concepts presented in this blog post.
Interested in learning more? Start with our free guide on how to increase online sales, and subscribe to our blog!
© 2015 Eniture LLC. All rights reserved.