Are you using the 'right' social network for your business?
Social media can be complex and challenging at the best of times - planning activity, creating content, connecting and engaging.
Recent research shows that nearly 85% of small business owners encounter challenges when using social media to market their business.
Many have experienced poor results and don't apply the necessary time and resources to dedicate to their social media marketing.
From Facebook to Twitter, LinkedIn to Instagram, there are currently over 225+ social media networks globally, making it virtually impossible to subscribe to all. Each has its own merit and values therefore you need to choose your networks carefully based on your strategy.
However, the real power of social media is the way that it can help you to grow a community of fans and followers, who engage and communicate with you, and who (crucially) share what you post with their own network of followers.
Online communities also provide the opportunity to acquire pertinent information and insights from your followers, which ultimately could help inform and shape your next product or service.
So, how do you know if you're using the most appropriate social network?
How do you know if the platform you're using to promote your brand, products or services is the 'right' social channel for your business?
Here are my 5 tips for helping you to decide which are the best social channels for your business.
1. TARGET AUDIENCE – does your target audience use the network?
Pointless creating great content if your target audience won’t see it.
However, in order to create an effective social media campaign, you absolutely need to know who your audience is first.
Simply put, who are your target consumers (those who use your product / service but don't buy from you yet) and customers (those who buy from you already) your products or services?
Utilise key data effectively - look deeply at the profiles of some of your followers, doing this will give you a much-needed insight into the mind of your customers.
You can then begin profiling your audience, the target market, and find similarities between them which you can use to your advantage.
- What are their interests?
- What are their needs, wants, and desires?
- What are they looking for?
- What can you garner from the information they provide?
- How can your product add value to their lives?
Once you have this essential information, you can then start to think about which networks suit your brand strategy best.
Remember also... your target audience doesn't necessary hang out one platform only...
As you can see from the research by We Are Social / Hootsuite below, people tend to use 3-4 networks for different reasons.
2. POPULARITY - does the network have many 'active users'
Popularity is important - you don't want to be spending time, resources and cash creating amazing content if no one is going to experience it!
Based on your target audience research, you should already have an idea of where your consumers and customers hang out.
But, it can also be assumed they they will use at least 1-2 of the most popular platforms whether for their business or leisure time.
Unless it’s truly niche to your offering, be mindful of marketing your business to a smaller, unknown social network.
As a guide, recent research by We Are Social / Hootsuite shows the world's most used social platforms, with Facebook still being the most popular with a staggering 2.7 billion active users in January 2021.
3. COMPETITORS – do your competitors use the network?
This may come as a surprise to some people but...
Competitors can be good for your business!
Especially when planning our social media strategy.
They can be an invaluable source of information and inspiration.
If we take a closer look at which competitors pose a threat to us and how they use social media to promote their business and brand, we can learn so much.
- What makes their brand different to yours and how do they define their social USP?
- What types of content (images, videos, blogs, infographics, etc.) are they publishing on their social media channels and is it ‘working’ for them?
- What engagement are they receiving - how many likes, comments, shares? Frequency and quality are really important metrics to monitor.
- What types of people are following / connected to them - could they be part of our target audience too?
4. INDUSTRY PRESENCE – how is your industry represented on the network
Next, you need to investigate how your industry sector is represented on your chosen networks.
Remember – it’s not just about promoting to your customers; it’s also about brand awareness and positioning within your industry sector.
General rule of thumb is that Linkedin is better suited to a more corporate, business-to-business environment, whereas Facebook is more informal, laid back platform. Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest and Tik Tok, fall in the middle - potentially serving both markets.
However, this can no longer be taken too literal, and again, really depends on the type of customer you're trying to engage with. What works for one industry may not work for another, so experimentation is key to success!
5. CONTENT – what type of content is shared on the network?
For any successful social media campaign, there is one core mantra –
Content is the fuel which drives the social media engagement engine!
Because great content is like a boomerang – it keeps people coming back. Which in turn, encourages loyalty and trust in your brand.
As you can see from recent research below by We Are Social / Hootsuite, people use social media for different reasons.
Whether you’re posting blogs, images, and Infographics or broadcasting videos and podcasts - make sure your content provides true value!
Consider the most appropriate and engaging content to use and how it will be distributed effectively and coherently your various target audiences.
Use it to educate your customers on how your product or service will benefit their needs and desires first, rather than bombarding them with sales messages.
How to use social media for business
Now you've chosen your networks, here's my 5 golden rules for launching and growing a social media community:
1. Be authentic
People buy from authentic people!
Be true to yourself and your personal brand by being open, honest and transparent.
Consider sharing your experiences, useful anecdotes and examples of best practice.
2. Be consistent
Keep showing up for your community, your followers need to see that you are present. Plan your content accordingly, and post regularly.
Repetition is key, but always do so in a different and creative way.
Also, keep focused on your brand positioning, brand image and tone of voice.
3. Be grateful
Your community want to feel appreciated and respected.
Encourage engagement at any opportunity and always thank people if they like, comment or share your content.
4. Quality over quantity
Always consider the ‘value’ you are providing; educate your target audience and make it beneficial to their needs.
Less is more when you’re providing true value and your followers will love and respect for it!
5. Keep listening
Social media shouldn’t be a one-way communication street; you need to listen to the conversation.
This will help you learn what types of content your followers want to consume, what matter to them, and how you can support them when needed.
Also consider using ‘listening tools’ such as polls, questionnaires and surveys.
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