Social media is the online meeting place of people and business the world over. No longer are platforms designated spaces for individuals; some brands social media pages are more trendy than the hottest influencer they seek to attract.
As a population that has just reached above 7.5 billion, we are more connected than ever before with 4.39 billion of us accessing the internet and 3.5 billion of us on social media.
With most of your customers able to be found somewhere online, social media should be one of the most important digital channels for businesses today.
Where to Socialise
Today there are several social media platforms on the market. We have the major players like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn, as well as a bunch of smaller platforms that attract a niche audience. So where should your business socialise?
Determining where to set up online should have nothing to do with which platforms you're familiar with and most comfortable on. This decision should be based on research.
A simple online search will quickly help you to uncover which platforms reach which demographics. Wherever your audience is, that is where you should be. It's not necessary to go crazy and spread yourself everywhere, but it is essential to be on the platform most widely used by your audience. Then you need to spend the time to become a pro on this platform.
If you don't know your audience demographics, this is your first step: analyse your customer base. If you don't have one, look at your direct competitors. Identify their personas and then find which platform is going to reach them.
Facebook is the most dominant of the social platforms. As of 2018, they have 2.23 billion people logging in each month. Fifty-three per cent are female, and 47 per cent are male. Of all the people on the internet, 83 per cent of women and 75 per cent of men are on Facebook, making it one of the most promising sites for businesses to be on.
The third-largest social media platform, after Facebook and YouTube, Instagram has captured one-eighth of the global population. They have 1 billion monthly users, with 500 million of those logging on every day. Perhaps the best platform for the younger market, 71 per cent of Instagram users are under 35.
Twitter boasts a monthly user base of 321 million, with 46 per cent of those users going on daily. Of all the platforms, the age demographics of Twitter are one of the most diverse. Their two largest age groups are 25-34-year-olds, making up 21 per cent of users, and 55-64-year-olds, also making up 21 per cent.
LinkedIn is a must for every B2B business and any organisation that wants to (or should be) appeal to potential employees. There are 630 million professionals on the platform; 100 million log-in every day and 63 million of them are decision-makers. What's more, LinkedIn is a perfect place for companies to distribute content directly to the professionals they’re targetting.
YouTube is the second most trafficked website and the second largest search engine in the world. They have more than 1.9 billion monthly users, and a staggering one billion hours of videos are watched on the platform every single day. In the US, more than half of internet users over 75 watch videos on YouTube and more than 90 per cent of 18-44-year-old internet users watch videos on YouTube.
If your target audience is on the young side, Snapchat is likely to be a platform for you. They have 310.7 million monthly users, 190 million daily users, and the average time spent on the platform is 30 minutes a day. Their demographic is 75 per cent under 34, and 90 per cent within the 13 to 24-year-old range.
Social Media KPIs That Matter
Figuring out your social media strategy is best done with your KPIs in mind. The critical KPIs that every business needs to monitor and work on are:
This includes clicks, likes, shares, comments, brand mentions, profile visits and active followers.
How many followers do you have? How many impressions are your posts or articles receiving? What percentage of traffic to your website comes from social media?
Leads and customers
How many of the people who engage with your brand become customers or move into the sales funnel? Comparing the above KPIs with your sales and your email list numbers is vital to keep a clear focus on where time needs to be spent. It's not always where you're getting the most likes; it should be where you're gaining the most prospects and customers.
To create a successful social strategy, all of these KPIs above need to be tracked, and content should be designed to drive these metrics up.
Setting up a Social Content Strategy
A good social media strategy should be a mix of passive and active marketing. Users follow brands and businesses on social media because they are interesting, not because they want to be sold to every day. Of course, your social strategy should have revenue as one of the number one goals, but the way to get there is by creating engaging, entertaining content.
These days it's common practice for people to post pictures or comments about the goings-on of their daily life. From their morning coffee stop to their new clothing purchase through to the cocktails or dinner they are enjoying at night. If brands set up online, users will find them, tag them and brag about their interaction. This is a content gold mine.
At the lowest level, businesses should invest in being on social media and creating hashtags that are specific to the company or a campaign being run. These should be regularly used and promoted so that users quickly learn how to tag you. Getting a hashtag to fill with content is an excellent way for other customers to see that people engage with and love your brand.
If you want to step it up a notch, consider running competitions to get more user-generated content. If you're a restaurant, for example, you could run a campaign that encourages users to post the best picture of their meal. They could compete for the chance to be featured in your blog, on your social channels or even be used as the new image on your menu.
Use Your Reviews
Reviews impact the purchasing decisions of 93 per cent of consumers, with some stats suggesting that consumers spend up to 31 per cent more with businesses that have excellent reviews. With so much power to sway, why would you leave your reviews sitting on review sites, or the review page on Facebook when you could put it front and centre on your feed?
Re-using reviews is a great way to promote your business without needing to self-promote. You can shout out to the user who has left the review. If they mention they loved your milkshakes, as an example, you can do a milkshake day where you encourage others to come in and see what user XYZ was on about.
Influencers are the celebrities of the modern world but with a much more targetted following. The niche nature of influencers makes their services particularly valuable for businesses on social media. If you're a retail brand, you can engage with a fashion influencer. If you're a restaurant, you can use a foodie influencer.
Influencers are typically specialists within their area. Be sure to have an idea of what you want to achieve, but also put them to work and try to learn what their experience is; what makes their audience move to purchase.
Get into Video
Whether it's on YouTube, Stories, Live or a general post, video is a great way to bring a bit more behind-the-scenes type of feel to your social content. Customers today prefer to feel like they have a relationship with the brands they engage with. Video is one way to bring them into the fold, showing off the character of your business and building relationships with your customers.
Stories and Live is a great place to start as it doesn't require any special camera equipment and can simply be footage of the venue fully packed, the staff joking around, a teaser about an upcoming event, tips related to your products and services. Whatever your customers are curious about should be turned into video content.
The options for creating innovative campaigns on social media are endless. The best advice is to always start with your audience. Figure out who they are, what they like to see and create content that gives them something of value or something they will enjoy. Think of out the box, use the data you collect from your users, as Spotify did, or develop an entertaining Twitter persona, as Wendy's has been mastering for years.
Social Media for Revenue Growth
If you're a business on social media, your ultimate goal should always be to increase revenue. While the content needs to be engaging and enjoyable for users to interact with, be sure to work to drive referrals, collect leads and direct people to your website where you can add them to the sales cycle.
For a quick boost to traffic and sales, you can look at paid social marketing, where you can set goals to attract new follows, collect leads, run promotions and more. Paid social campaigns can be great to run in parallel with your overall social strategy, giving you the boosts you need to bring in more customers.
6 Best Tools for Social Media Management
Scheduling content and keeping up with competitors is easier than ever with a bunch of great social media management tools currently on the market. Here are some of the favourites:
- Social Sprout - for managing all of your social media accounts.
- Brandwatch - for keeping up to date on what others are up to.
- Buffer - to manage your social accounts and track the success of campaigns.
- Hootsuite - to schedule posts and manage multiple social media accounts.
- Social Pilot - for a clear view of all of your social media activities.
- CoSchedule - the social media editorial calendar for WordPress.
We personally use HubSpot because it integrates everything under one roof including social media, email marketing, landing pages, reporting etc.
Social media success can be simple. All you need is a clear strategy, the right KPIs in place, the best tools to optimise your efforts, and the creative bravery to try new things. Then you simply listen to what your audience likes.
If you don't have the time or resources to do all that, you could always outsource it to professionals 😉