Over the last 10 years, social media marketing has demonstrated an almost limitless ability to grow new audiences, capture new client markets and increase revenue – sometimes dramatically – for small and medium businesses.
According to Statista, 4.2 billion people globally used social media in January 2021.
If you are not currently focused on building a solid presence on social media, you are likely losing potential customers to your more socially savvy competitors.
Many brands do realize the importance of social media in promoting their companies. However, they are not sure of the best methods and strategies to implement and are often overwhelmed with information overload.
With the plethora of online platforms available today, it can be challenging to identify the most effective use of your time and resources to:
- Increase brand awareness.
- Build and nurture consumer relationships.
- Close more sales on social media platforms.
So, how can you grow your new business through social media marketing?
Create a Social Media Marketing Plan and Follow it
Unfortunately, it is not difficult to get caught up in the social media rat race trying to be everywhere simultaneously with no clear direction.
Keep in mind that any effective business strategy requires careful planning, setting goals, and measuring outcomes.
Beginning from the starting gate, point yourself towards your goal, decide how you will get there, and regularly ensure you are tracking in the right direction.
It is essential to understand the distinction between gaining a massive number of social media followers and growing your business.
Large numbers do not necessarily translate into more revenue. It takes time and effort to attract and engage a loyal following of potential customers who will eventually buy from you.
Know Your Objectives
What is it that you want to accomplish from spending time, energy, and resources on social media? Are you looking to:
- Generate more leads?
- Increase brand awareness?
- Improve engagement and build relationships with your brand?
- Drive more sales by converting leads?
Identifying your social media goals will help direct your strategy. For example, if you are looking to generate qualified leads, use lead magnets as incentives to compel users to give you their contact information in exchange for something they value.
Example #1: Digital Marketer
Examples of lead magnets include free tools, valuable research reports, and relevant whitepapers. Below is an example from Digital Marketer.
Digital Marketer is a membership site that offers several products and a private area with more valuable information for paying customers.
Their home page is a landing page that is also a lead magnet. In exchange for your signing up for their newsletter with your email address, they offer you timely, tactical, and actionable marketing tips.
Example #2: TimeCamp
Another example of a lead magnet to increase leads is the project management tool from TimeCamp.
The lead magnet on their homepage offers access to the free version of their software in exchange for a user’s email address.
The goal for the brands above on their homepage is to grow their email list and increase leads by offering value in return for the website visitor’s contact information. The more valuable the lead magnet to the user, the higher the likelihood they will sign up.
Decide Which Social Media Platforms on Which to Focus
Each social network is unique, has its own style, best practices, and audiences. Rather than trying to be active on all platforms, choose how many and which networks best fit your overall marketing strategy and desired goals.
You do not want to waste time focusing on platforms that are not well-suited to your business. Consider the following when deciding which networks on which to focus your time and resources:
- Realistically, how much time do you have to spend on social media daily? Each network will require approximately an hour a day for manual posting.
- What are the demographics of your target market? Which social networks correspond to where your potential clients are hanging out?
- Are your resources more visually oriented or content-oriented? For example, Pinterest and Instagram are better for images and videos. Whereas Facebook and LinkedIn require more quality written content.
However, all social networks show positive results when written content is paired with engaging and compelling visual assets.
The Pew research image below breaks down social media channels by demographics, including age, education level, and income bracket.
Compare your ideal customer’s demographics or persona to the data from Pew Research above to get insights into which social media platforms you should focus on to grow your business.
Fill Out Your Social Media Profiles Completely
After identifying which social media platforms are most relevant to your target audience, be sure to fill out your profile completely and include all relevant information permitted on the site.
Keep in mind that your social media pages and profiles are an extension of your brand. Be sure to:
- Provide complete information about your company.
- Optimize your profile images and headers.
- Customize your social media page URLs.
The header image clarifies that their solutions are customized for your needs. The description lets followers know precisely what Monday.com offers. And a link in the profile drives social media followers directly to their website.
It is also essential to maintain consistency across platforms by following your brand guidelines and messaging.
Although each platform varies in image sizes, amount of text permitted, and the number of links, the majority of them include profile images, cover photos, website links, as well as descriptive text.
Another critical area of your social media profile is the text area for your bio and other relevant information. Some best practices include:
- Use the keywords relevant to your brand and audience.
- Show or link to examples (if links are permitted) to what your brand does rather than talking about who you are. No one cares. Consumers only care about what you can do for them.
- Avoid slang or buzzwords that can be annoying. Instead, be clear and concise.
Make sure you keep up with the changes and most up-to-date social media image sizes, as they often change their requirements.
Remember that your social media profile is not supposed to be a novel. You are limited to the number of characters you can use, so choose them wisely.
Use your social media profiles as a selling tool. You want to inform and impress others enough to get them to follow you, engage, and eventually buy from you.
Interact and Engage with Your Social Followers
For social media to be effective, communication must be a two-way street. Consumers today do not want to be spoken to and not heard.
They expect the companies they purchase from to engage and communicate with them on social media. If customers ask a question, they expect an answer.
Comment on their posts to show appreciation for the positive comments they leave on your posts, and react professionally and promptly to problems or complaints.
Although it might be intimidating to respond to complaints publicly on social media, it will show your target audience that you provide stellar support, and your customers will appreciate it.
Approximately 65% of consumers ages 18-54 view brands more favorably who respond to customer service inquiries or concerns on social media.
Building relationships with your target audience shows them that you are a real business that cares about them.
Show Social Proof
Consumers today put more weight into and trust more what others say about your brand than what you tell them.
For this reason, testimonials, referrals, and recommendations play such a vital role in growing a company.
When satisfied customers showcase how they have benefited from your product or service, it demonstrates your brand’s value and provides social proof that will influence others’ purchase decisions.
Statistics show the impact of social proof and how consumers trust and rely on them when deciding what to buy.
- 92% of consumers will read testimonials and online reviews before making a purchase.
- Over 88% of consumers say customer reviews influence their purchase decisions.
- Testimonials on a sales page can increase conversions by 34%.
- Two out of three people are more likely to purchase after watching a video testimonial.
Prospective consumers can get a closer look at your offerings by hearing current real customers’ opinions and experiences.
This inspires trust and confidence while enabling potential buyers to decide whether your products and services are right for them.
Medical professionals often share patient video testimonials that can be quite effective. Choosing a doctor or dentist is a very personal decision.
It often helps to hear about others’ experiences, such as in the example below. Dr Thomas Boeger is a Consultant Orthopedic & Trauma Surgeon specializing in Hip and Knee Replacement.
Wouldn’t you be more likely to visit Dr Boerger after hearing the patients above describe their satisfaction with and appreciation of his services?
Take Advantage of User Generated Content
User-generated content on social media is on the rise, whether from celebrity endorsements, micro-influencers, or brand advocates.
Look for users on social media who are already using and sharing your products or services. The content they create is called user-generated content (UGC).
Be sure to highlight the fans you already have by sharing their posts or videos with your audience. Also, show your loyal customers that you appreciate them by responding, commenting on, or sharing what they post.
UGC campaigns are highly efficient in the digital marketing world for many reasons, including:
- Having as much power as word-of-mouth advertising as it is undeniable social proof.
- Giving consumers a voice while showing them that they matter to your brand.
- Boosting credibility and promoting authenticity.
- Having a higher-level impact on purchasing decisions.
- Being cost-effective.
- Helping you rank higher in the search engines and expanding your SEO.
The most common and engaging form of UGC is visual, either a photo or video, with Instagram being the most popular platform for this type of content.
Camping with Dogs started as an Instagram account showing images of adorable dogs spending quality time outside with their owners.
This outdoors-focused retailer sells products that highlight adventures, such as stickers, t-shirts, and bandanas.
Because it is common practice for customers to share a video or photo on their social media accounts, UGC can be a powerful method of growing your business through social media.
Create and Post Relevant Content
Do not just haphazardly post irrelevant content on social media. Instead, focus on creating content that your followers will want to see, read, or watch.
Social media marketing strategy is no different than any other marketing strategies in that you should ask yourself the following questions before embarking on any initiative:
- What is your target audience interested in?
- Where are there pain points?
- How can your products or services make their lives easier?
For example, if you provide link building services, do not post articles, images, and videos about the travel industry, great recipes, and how to train your pets.
Even though people interested in digital marketing services might like to travel, eat, and love pets, they are less likely to become customers if you are not primarily sharing posts about what your brand can do for them.
Use Automation Tools
Unless you have a large budget and resources to dedicate a team of professionals to handle your social media marketing, you will be running around in circles trying to keep up.
That is where automation tools play a vital role. Automation will save you tons of time and energy by enabling you to schedule your posts on multiple platforms in advance.
Social media automation and management tools generally include:
- Posting scheduling calendars.
- Templates to make creating posts, infographics, and images easier.
- Analytics tools to help you identify what type of content is getting the most engagement and at what time.
- Collaboration tools to help teams work together from anywhere with an Internet connection.
- Tracking software to see which social media platforms are driving customers to your website.
- URL shortening tools for links on platforms that limit the number of characters permitted in a post.
Are You Ready to Use Social Media to Grow Your Business?
No matter which social media you are using, remember to:
- Engage your followers by talking to them, asking questions, and responding to inquiries.
- Generate leads with PPC marketing through Facebook.
- Make your content stand out with engaging visuals, UGC, and relevant posts your target market will want to see.
- Be consistent in your branding across platforms and post regularly.
- Use automation and management tools to increase efficiency and productivity so you can focus on other areas of growing your business.
- Test and measure with analytic tools to see what is working best and what is not.
Potential customers are not the only audience you should be speaking to on social media, so speak to all of your potential audiences.
This can include potential employees, brand advocates, influencers, media, and potential investors. Build a strong brand on social media, be engaging and consistent, and continue to deliver value to help your business grow.