Social media. Nothing has grown in so much power and influence, or become so ubiquitous in the past decade, to the point where it is actually now an essential element for any business trying to successfully market their product.
If you are a business owner who is of the opinion that it might help with a little advertising but cannot have any significant effect to grow your business, then it’s a good thing you’re here because nothing could be further from the truth. Social media marketing is one of the fastest ways to grow your business.
If you don’t utilize SMM as part of your marketing strategy, then you’re neglecting a large group of people who want to connect with you and become new customers through these channels. Whether you are already active and knowledgeable with social media, or you have no idea whatsoever how to navigate it, this post will give you a crash-course in how you can leverage it to grow your business—no matter what size or type of business you have.
You don’t need an online business for this to work. Once you finish reading this article, you should have all the information you need to step up your social media game and to start making it work for you.
You’re Probably Not Active Enough on Social Media
Business owners are not known to be so infatuated with social media trends the way that an average consumer would be. As an owner, you have a lot on your plate and probably don’t have time to stay on top of everyone’s Facebook and Instagram posts, unless of course you’re just the kind of person who gets really sucked into it.
The difference here, though, is that it’s not a personal activity, but a professional one that you have to get involved with because it’s so useful to promote your business. Putting up one Facebook post when you release a new product or feature isn’t going to cut it, and throwing up a post now and then, telling people to buy your products doesn’t come close, either, to what you need to have any real effect.
The point is that you have to stay consistently active, very active, on social media to start seeing results from it. It definitely takes more than just posting a lot of content, too, which we’re going to explore in this post, but posting more often, every day, is half the battle. One of the main ideas behind this is getting your content in front of as many people as possible. Then, once you begin to better understand how it works, you can carefully target it so that it gets in front of not only more people, but the right people.
Include Images or Video in Every Post
There is a commonly-held belief regarding social media posts of which you should disabuse yourself right away, and that is the idea that you don’t need to post images or video to go along with your written posts. You will find, as you start doing this, that there is a massive difference in response and engagement when a post includes an image, or especially a video. It’s just the environment that we live in today.
You can call it laziness or evolution, but either way, we prefer to consume content visually whenever possible. In fact, you can prove this by putting it to a simple A/B test. Run a test for a Facebook post with all things remaining constant, including the text content, except for the fact that one post includes an image and the other has text only.
You’ll see for yourself how well the one with an image performs vs. the one without it. For some random Tweets that you’re sending throughout the day, maybe you can allow those to go out with no image attached, but for anything that’s promoting the business, every single post should honestly have some sort of visual to go along with it.
Adding video will obviously be a little more time-consuming. Whenever you have a chance, though, make an effort to add video to your content because that is what users are more likely to click on. People will actually read some posts as long as they are particularly interesting and have that certain “wow” factor; however, most people would much rather just watch a video for whatever the content is that you’re posting. But don’t make it too long!
A good rule of thumb is to keep the video under around 15 seconds, unless it’s just an awesome video. What you’re basically doing with this is making it easier for people to get involved and invested in your content.
Engagement is Key
This is another point where even business owners who have marketed through social media for a while can get it wrong, as it can be a little confusing at first. Earning likes and followers is great, but contrary to what it seems, that isn’t as important as you think. While you definitely want more people to click that like button because it means that a lot of people saw it, what you really want to pay attention to is engagement.
The thing is, someone can use one click to follow you on Twitter and then forget about your company forever. It takes no investment or interest to do that. If you get a ton of likes for a specific post, that’s an indicator that you might want to post more content like that one, but a bunch of likes doesn’t translate to conversions. When people are sharing and commenting on your posts, it means that there is real interest there.
It means that those users will be more likely to keep you in mind and spread the content to even more users. Not only that, but the algorithms for the platform tend to rank you higher in feeds if you have greater engagement. The bottom line is that high levels of engagement with your social content is far more likely to eventually lead to conversions.
Take Advantage of All Social Media Platforms
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Google+. Those are the main social media platforms that you should take into consideration as you’re developing your social media strategy. Obviously, you don’t have to post actively on all of them, but at least Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram should be at the top of your to-do list.
A really good way to get started, though, is to try them all in the beginning, for a certain period of time. This is so you can test each platform out and see which ones gain the most traffic and engagement for your business, as Twitter may turn out to perform better for you, while Instagram does not, for example. There are a lot of factors which can come into play here because not everyone spends time on all of them, for one thing, and the people who are your potential customers might favor one platform over another.
When you figure out whose attention is where, you can start to shift more of your energy to the places where your customers are spending their time, and then develop the type of content that simultaneously targets those people and fits that particular platform the best.
Use a Social Media Management Service
If you don’t already have a social media marketing professional on the payroll, then this will save you a massive amount of time (and they would probably use this, anyway). Having a service that helps you manage all of your various posting for social media is a complete game-changer, especially for a business owner who is already running everything else by themselves.
If you’ve never heard of a service like this, check out Hootsuite; they’re one of the best. A service like Hootsuite cuts out a ton of time & energy because what it does is pretty much everything except for the creative part, taking care of all the tedious parts that take up the most time.
One of the greatest features of it is the ability to schedule posts ahead of time, so that you’re not constantly breaking away from work to put up a post, or forgetting to post entirely. Something else that you wouldn’t be able to do on your own is to automatically have access to analytics for your social media campaigns.
On Hootsuite’s platform, you can watch from your dashboard how your content is performing, or rather, you can see if engagement is up or down, as well as look at constant streams for each platform to see how it’s doing in real time. It’s also easy to add all of your various social media accounts into this one, central place, so you don’t have to keep jumping around between accounts.
You can see all of the user comments from this same dashboard, too, and then respond to them from the same spot instead of logging into each account to post a response. A social media management platform is an essential tool for running your content.
Interact with Users
Last, but not least, don’t forget to mix it up with the people who are engaging you on social media. It’s really easy to get so wrapped up in posting regularly, creating targeted content, and watching how many likes and followers your business gets, but then completely forget to engage with the users, themselves.
Remember that there are real people behind those likes and comments, people who can convert into customers and produce great value for your business. If someone posts a comment under one of your posts and you never respond back to that person, it can easily alienate them from your company.
Don’t be an absentee poster. Don’t be that guy. When you never respond to engagement from users, it sends a message that you’re just trying to get likes and comments but don’t really care about them. Furthermore, people will be more likely to repost or share your post with other people if you show some good faith by responding directly to them. It’s not just about hurting your customers’ feelings, though. The more you engage, the more they will engage back, and so on, and so on.
Probably one of the biggest keys to this is that your posts will start grabbing more attention from other people as the comments increase for a post. It’s not something you normally think about as you’re responding to what someone wrote, but that can greatly improve the strength of a post on any platform. The algorithms like it, too.
Hopefully, you have taken away some information here that you can put in your toolbelt as you grow your business through social media marketing. Social media, as we all know, is a massive and pervasive phenomenon that may not last forever but is very much essential to your efforts to promote your business through any kind of marketing.
It doesn’t matter if you like doing it or not; you need to be doing this. Don’t leave money on the table by staying out of the game simply because you aren’t really into it. If it seems a little daunting to you, then as a first step, you should definitely sign up for a management service like Hootsuite.
They also have an extensive blog for their service that will pretty much teach you everything you need to know about promoting your business with social media, not to mention tutorials for using their platform. It’s actually extremely user-friendly. You don’t have to go big right away, but make sure you at least start posting actively on your business social accounts because this can literally make a huge difference in your ability to find new customers.
Check out all of the articles in the series, Growing Your Home-Based Business:
Stephanie is the Marketing Director at Talkroute and has been featured in Forbes, Inc, and Entrepreneur as a leading authority on business and telecommunications.
Stephanie is also the chief editor and contributing author for the Talkroute blog helping more than 100k entrepreneurs to start, run, and grow their businesses.