Social media was initially created with the idea of connecting people in the digital world. However, over the years, its purpose has diversified to a great extent. Today, it is one of the most powerful tools for businesses to connect and engage with their audiences. But, why is it so important to leverage social media for business?
Well, look at the numbers. A study by Sprout Social found that 60% of millennials are likely to purchase from a brand they follow online. The numbers are favorable even for other generations using social media. 67% of Gen X and 51% of baby boomers are likely to do the same.
Image via Sprout Social
This means that if you can get yourself noticed amidst all of the noise in the digital world, your business is bound to grow. In fact, leveraging social media for your business should be one of your top priorities.
By leveraging social media, you can also get more word-of-mouth recommendations and more traffic to your website. It can drive your profits too. However, the results will depend on how effective your social media marketing strategy is.
The good news is that leveraging social media for business is really not rocket science. You just need to know a few basic tricks. To help you with it, we’ve listed a few tips that will ensure you’re moving in the right direction. Be patient and follow these pointers consistently. The results will soon follow.
How to Leverage Social Media for Your Business
1. Figure Out Your Audience’s Preferences
Be it LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, your business needs to have a presence on one or more social channels. However, before you create your business accounts, think about where you are most likely to find your target audience.
If you are a B2B brand, you definitely need to be active on LinkedIn because it’s your best chance of engaging with decision makers. On the other hand, if your products are more visually-stimulating, Instagram is definitely a great option. In general, platforms like Instagram or Snapchat are frequented by younger audiences. And Facebook is preferred by older ones.
So get to know your audience. Google Analytics can help you with this. You can get insights into age groups, locations, and other demographic data about your audiences using it.
Once you know your target market well, choose a suitable social media platform. Opt for the one which your target market uses the most.
Once you start posting, analyze which groups in your target audiences are responding well. Also analyze which social media platforms are giving you the most engagement. Keep a tab on the kind of content you’re getting the most engagement from.
You can use Facebook and Instagram Insights, Twitter Analytics, and other such tools for this analysis. You’ll be able to see your users’ genders, locations, ages, interests, and a lot more. It’s a goldmine of information that you can use to your advantage.
Pictures and videos may do well on Instagram, while long blog posts may perform better on LinkedIn. Experiment a little and see what works.
Accordingly, tweak your content to suit the platform that you’re posting on. If you want to leverage social media for your business, you’ll need to get creative. Also, think of multiple ways of posting the same content in different formats.
2. Create Engaging Content
Of course, your goal is to sell. However, you can’t be blatant about it on social media. Show, don’t tell. Weave a visual story around your brand, but don’t aggressively sell your products or services. Good storytelling will help you connect better with your target audiences.
Take some inspiration from Airbnb’s Instagram posts. They have beautiful pictures, and each post is accompanied by an engaging caption. They describe the place and the experience it provides. They even capture the lives of locals.
Image via Airbnb
Each of their posts beautifully supports their core value - “Embrace the adventure.” Instead of directly selling their brand, they publish posts that resonate with their values. Their tone is natural, so it helps them connect better with their audiences.
When you leverage social media for business, make sure that your posts aren’t too pushy or promotional. Instead, create informative and engaging stories so that they resonate better with your audiences.
3. Be Responsive and Offer Rewards
Social media is a space where your audiences can directly get in touch with you. Encourage them to comment on and share your posts on social media.
Be open to their questions and make sure you are responding courteously to all of their comments. Try to respond to them as soon as possible. You need to build a two-way channel so that you can earn the trust of your customers.
Image via Sprout Social
You can leverage social media for your business to build an open channel of communication with your audience.
According to a study by Sprout Social, responsiveness on social media prompted consumers to make a purchase. And 83% of consumers said they wanted brands to respond to them on social media. Honesty, helpfulness, and friendliness were found to be traits that boost social media engagement for brands.
Even while tackling negative comments, be polite. Understand that each comment that you make represents your brand’s personality. You may keep the tone casual, but always make sure your manners are in place.
If you find out that there was a mistake on your part, you can try offering discounts. Coupons or freebies may work too.
If a consumer does not seem satisfied with your products or services, reach out to them. Tell them that you’d like to connect with them to learn more about your shortcomings.
This shows your consumers that you truly care for them. In the long run, it will help you build brand loyalty as well.
4. Use Influencer Marketing
Another great way of leveraging social media for business is to collaborate with relevant social media influencers. Not only can they help to create buzz about your brand but also build your credibility. This in turn, can actually help you get more conversions.
A study by Twitter in 2016 made some interesting revelations. 49% of Twitter users said that they relied on recommendations and reviews by influencers. Nearly 40% users also admitted to making a purchase as a direct result of an influencer’s tweets.
So find relevant influencers in your niche and get them to promote you. Ask them to share reviews of your products that include your website links and social media handles.
When Robby Ayala posted a tweet showcasing the salient features of HP laptops, it was retweeted 22,000 times. It was a simple, light-hearted tweet, but it gave HP a lot of mileage.
Influencers are role models to their followers and so they trust their choices completely. If an influencer likes a product, their followers might give it a try as well.
Influencers focus on engagement. They ask questions, respond to comments, and even conduct quizzes and contests sometimes. If they’re backing you, you should expect more engagement on your social media account too.
You’ve may have great content and interesting products to showcase. However, simply posting them on social media isn’t always good enough. You need to also make sure it reaches the right audiences and a number of them.
Organic reach has decreased considerably across all social media platforms in the last couple of years. In a survey by Buffer, 55% of marketers said that their Facebook organic reach had declined in one year.
So how do you expect more of your followers to find your content? Paid ads on social media are the way forward. Leveraging social media for your business may require you to shell out some money for paid promotions.
But throwing some money in, and expecting it to do wonders for you won’t work. You need to understand how ads work on social media.
Try to understand your audience demographics and target your ads to specific users. Only then can you expect some good results.
Once you have posted your ad, you will need to constantly keep a tab on how well it is doing. If you see a particular age group or gender not responding well, tweak your strategy. You can always re-target ads for more effective results.
Also, paid ads work differently on different social media platforms. So invest some time to understand them. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter - all of them have different strengths.
Choosing the right platform depends on what you expect from your advertisement campaigns. But in general, Instagram is the new domain that digital marketers are hailing for its success stories.
In 2017, Gymshark, a fitness apparel company, ran a Black Friday campaign on Instagram. During this period, 40% of their purchases came from Instagram.
Data from Instagram shows that they were able to reach 16.4 million people through targeted ads. That’s a lot, isn’t it?
Image via Gymshark
Paid ads can do your brand a lot of good if you use them wisely. Be creative, and don’t stick to just one format.
Also explore video ads, carousel ads, and Stories ads which are the latest additions to Instagram ads. Make sure you mix it up and see what works best for your brand.
Social media can drive brand awareness as well as sales. All you need to do is post engaging content consistently and promote it well. Social media can also give you insights into your audience’s preferences and tastes.
Leveraging social media for your business can be truly beneficial. However, to leverage its full potential, you need to invest some time into planning. If you are playing your cards right, the results will be sweet for sure.
Do you know any other ways of leveraging social media for business? Share your suggestions or experiences in the comments section below. We’d love to hear from you!
Brian Mechem is COO and Co-Founder of Grin, a software solution for companies who run influencer marketing programs. Grin's software powers some of the best influencer programs in the world, providing insights on ROI and adding efficiency to the influencer marketing process.