It is estimated that around three-quarters of American adults are active on at least one social media channel, so it stands to reason that social media should be a vital component of your business and marketing strategy.
It is one of the easiest, cheapest, and most effective ways of connecting with people who are already familiar with your brand. Or if they aren’t, it is a great way of reaching out to those who are yet to hear from you.
Despite this, many small businesses are still not using social media to its full potential. They are either rushing through it, using it purely to promote themselves, or avoiding it like the plague, believing it to be too difficult and just another chore. However, when used correctly, it can be one of the best tools in your marketing toolbox.
Here, we look at some of the best social media hacks to help you drive sales, reach new markets, and build brand awareness.
Have a social media strategy in place.
Social media is so easy and inexpensive that it can be tempting to dive straight in. However, without a strategy in place, you have no real focus or goals to measure your success against. Before you post anything, sit down and build a plan to support your specific business goals.
Make sure that your set goals are SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely. Base them on metrics that will have a direct impact on your business.
Have a look at what your competitors are doing. What are they doing that works well? While we advise against copying them, looking at the success of their platforms to create ideas on how to build yours.
If you already have a social media presence, you may want to carry out an audit of it at this point. Look at the insights provided by most channels to find out more about your followers’ behavior. If you have lots of spam or inactive followers, remove them – while high follower numbers look good, if they are not engaging with your content, this can harm your visibility.
Consider your content.
Once you have decided what you want to achieve from your social media and know which social media platforms you want to focus on, it is time to create a content calendar. As a general rule of thumb, you should aim for an 80:20 ratio – 80% sharing content from other sources, such as industry information, interviews with experts in the field, news, funny stories, and other forms of engaging content. The additional 20% should be promoting your own content and sales. Any more than that, and you can risk pushing customers away.
It is also important to remember that visual content is much more appealing to viewers. BuzzSumo found that, on average, Facebook posts that included images had 2.3x more engagement than those without. As they say – a picture says a thousand words!
The visual elements of your post need to be compelling, especially on Instagram and Pinterest, which rely on visuals. If the images are poor, people won’t stop scrolling to see what you have to say. Think about how you can tell a story through your pictures – perhaps show the company culture through behind the scenes shots, or teasers of new products to be launched in the future.
If your photography is not up to scratch and hiring a professional is out of budget, you can use stock images. Make sure you find some that are royalty-free – using random images saved from Google is a big no-no unless you want to be hit with a copyright infringement notice!
Take advantage of the reporting tools.
Most social media channels, particularly if you have a business account, have some form of reporting tools, and it is vital that you use these to your advantage. You can find a lot of useful information about your followers’ behavior and the best time to post them. If you are not available to post at those times, make use of one of the many social media scheduling tools available.
Alternatively, there’s no better way to ask what customers want to see from you than simply by asking them! Sometimes, posting content on social media can be a hit-and-miss – you may not know what your customers want. Why not send out a customer survey asking what kind of content they find appealing and engaging? The easiest way to do this is through your email marketing software (e.g. SendinBlue) This way you can better meet your customers’ needs and build a positive relationship with them. A form builder like Paperform can be useful for this, creating a responsive survey that interacts with your customers in real-time and collects insights for you – so you don’t have to.
As you work through your social media strategy, it is important to take note of what works and what doesn’t, so you can adapt accordingly. Digital consumption changes all the time, so keep up to date and relevant, and be prepared to be flexible. Before you know it, your social media will be driving big traffic to your site.
Vlad Shvets is a growth marketer and content writer at Paperform. He loves writing about product marketing, technology, and workplace productivity.