Why is social media important for your business?
Love it or hate it, understand it or not, social media is a vital element to a successful marketing strategy. But why is it so important? Does it really increase sales? And how much time should you invest in it?
In this introduction to social media, we aim to answer all those questions. We also want to cover how to plan a successful strategy that you can implement today that will make the time you invest in social media much more productive.
If you already know the importance of social media and want to skip to the practical advice bit, click here.
What is social media marketing?
Social media marketing is the means of promoting your brand, product or services through various social media platforms. The most common platforms being Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Snapchat. The aim is to increase brand awareness and conversions.
Why is social media important?
Social media is perhaps one of the greatest marketing tools available. There are lots of benefits to using social media, and when used correctly, it can help:
- Build brand awareness
- Engage with your target audience
- Share your success and promote events
- Increase traffic to your website
- Increase conversions and sales
Essentially, social media is free advertising and a fantastic means of communicating with your target audience.
Is social media appropriate for your business?
There are many businesses out there that believe social media isn’t relevant for their business. There are often several reasons given; these can include:
- My target audience isn’t on social media
- We’re only small and don’t have the resources
- There’s no clear ROI
- We don’t want to open ourselves up to negative comments
While these are all valid concerns to have, they are easily overcome and are outweighed by the benefits of using social media. Here are some answers to those questions:
My target audience isn’t on social media
You may not be using social media yourself, and could reasonably assume that you are an a-typical representation of your target audience. Please don’t fall into this trap.
3.48 billion people now use social media (2019), and that number continues to grow, up 9% from last year – that’s 45% of the total world population.
Social media influences everyone – yes, even you. If your target audience isn’t using it directly, they are surrounded by influencers that are. It shapes media, trends and news.
Social media for small businesses
Honestly, social media is appropriate for most businesses, products and services – now, that’s not to say every business should expect the same results, use the same platforms or spend the same amount of investment on it.
Online retail businesses that sell fashion items should frequently be posting on most platforms, and should typically expect a high level of followers, post engagement and click-throughs to their website. A more niche business, such as a metal fabricator, might expect to post less frequently on a few platforms, have a smaller following and a reasonable level of engagement from a smaller audience. Click-throughs to the site are probably going to be lower.
I’m going to quote my old swimming instructor here: “stop looking at how far ahead everyone else is and concentrate on your own lane! “ – This isn’t just great advice for swimming, it also applies to various aspects of life and definitely social media.
Further down, we’ve outlined some practical advice that any small business can follow to boost their social media productivity. Click here if you want to skip all this great advice and go straight to that bit.
Also, if you want some help managing your social media platforms: (cough, cough) Hello, we’re WONDROUS, we can help! Contact us.
Measuring social media return on investment – does it increase sales?
As for ROI, avoid looking at social media in a silo and see it as another communication channel. Nobody is suggesting you spend all of your marketing time on social media; it should be incorporated into your integrated digital marketing strategy – find out more about this by reading our guide to digital marketing.
Think about it this way: do you make a direct sale with every phone call or leaflet? Probably not. Social media is a communication platform that you can sell through; it is not a dedicated sales platform.
There are measurement tools available that can help you track how social media has influenced conversions. We use a combination of Google Analytics to monitor web traffic and our sales pipeline software to monitor social media influence, as these can lead to face-to-face meetings and commissions.
Is social media a waste of time?
You shouldn’t dismiss social media because you don’t have thousands of followers. Social media is another means to talk to your audience. You may only have a low number of followers, but if they’re the right followers, you should see the results.
Also, don’t forget that social media is a ‘social’ platform. If you only post your own content, then yes, it may be a waste of time. It’s like turning up to a party and only talking about yourself. Soon people are going to start switching off and ignoring you.
TOP TIP: If you want to expand your reach beyond people who already know you, follow other brands and comment on their posts. This can help get your brand noticed and will increase your reach. However, if you do this, please don’t sell your brand or offer suggestions on how to improve other’s posts, this will turn people against you. Also, please, please, think beyond posting a single emoji – write a meaningful message of support!
Opening yourself up to negative comments
This is a common concern when it comes to social media. The internet seems to endow people with confidence and make them type things they would never say to a person if they were face-to-face.
Unfortunately, this is part of the process. However, how you respond to negativity online can actually increase your brand’s reputation.
It’s always advisable to respond to bad comments as calmly and rationally as possible. Don’t be afraid to stand your ground if you think the criticism is unjustified, but always offer a means to rectify the problem – this is usually best done by supplying a more private means of consultation such as an email or direct message.
Online comments are for the individual as much as the masses, so remember to explain the situation to any strangers reading the comment. Responding this way will demonstrate to others that you care about feedback, actively respond to messages, and if there is a problem, you will try and solve it.
TOP TIP: Responding to positive feedback is always good too. People took the time to write you a message; I’m sure they’d appreciate some recognition. Also, as a consequential bonus, it boosts the number of comments.
How to plan a successful social media marketing strategy?
Social media can be daunting, especially for small business owners who don’t have dedicated marketing teams. Where do you start?
Step one: Start with a strategic plan
Every successful strategy starts with a plan. It’s so easy to set up an account and post. The problem is, after a while, either you will run out of things to say, or your feeds will be an inconsistent mess that’s harming your brand.
Your plans don’t have to be complicated. Start by answering three questions:
- What am I trying to achieve as a business?
- Who is my target audience, and what do they want?
- What are my business goals for the next three months?
Step two: Decide which platforms to use
There are various platforms available. The most popular being Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest and Snapchat.
If you answered: Who is my target audience, and what do they want? you should know where to start.
- Facebook: 35-40 million monthly active users. Of these, 52% identify as women, and 48% men (18+).
- YouTube: 37.1 million adults are using the platform in the UK. The average viewing session is 40 minutes.
- Instagram: 24 million users in the UK (42% of the population) Of these, 54% identify as women and 46% men. According to Instagram, 80% of users follow a business or a brand.
- LinkedIn: There are 27 million profiles in the UK, with 60% male and 40% female, with more than 610 million professionals worldwide.
- Twitter: There are 13.6 million people in the UK.
- Pinterest: 250 million monthly active users, with 81% identifying as women.
- Snapchat: 300 million active users, of which 90% are between the ages of 13-24
Make sure you set up the right type of account. Most social media platforms ban users who actively promote a business using a personal profile. Set up business profiles and pages (these usually come with added insights and tools to help you develop your account).
TOP TIP: Now if all that has made it harder to determine which platform to use, I suggest you start with Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn if you’re a business. These are the most accessible platforms to use as a new starter. Twitter is great if you have a lot of things to say, but it does require considerable attention. If your market is younger focus on Snapchat and Instagram.
Once you get to grips with 2-3 of these, then expand into the others. You’ll find that a quality content plan will help you tweak the same content for distribution across a variety of platforms.
Step three: Create a content plan
Simplicity is the best. Using a spreadsheet, Word Document or old fashioned pen and paper, create a calendar for the next three months and fill it with an outline of content – don’t worry about finding the images and words just yet, just get a rough structure together.
Map out what you want to say over the next three months, finding a balance between:
- Brand awareness – reminding people of your values
- Strong Call to Action – promotion or product
- Created content – content you made
- Curated content – content others made
- Human interest – show the people behind the company
As a guide, try this (4 weeks x 3 months):
- Monday – Brand awareness – Image of the latest project progress
- Wednesday – Call to Action – New product launch with link to the sales page
- Thursday – Created content – New blog post
- Friday – Human interest – Team meeting photo
- Saturday – Curated content – Article supporting the latest project
This will allow you to have an overview of your entire campaign. You’ll see how much work you’re giving yourself over the next three months. If it’s too much, scale it back and make it achievable. After the first time, you can set aside one day (yes, that’s all it will take) each month to build upon it.
TOP TIP: Looking for inspiration? You’ve probably already spent time and resources, creating a brilliant leaflet, banner or presentation for a client. Why not squeeze every last drop out of these and share those messages?
BONUS TIP: To help spark inspiration, keep you focused, and your content consistent for your audience, pick a topic to concentrate on each month. For example, we tailor 80-90% of our monthly content towards a specific campaign, such as #challengeemily (July 2019). Each post helps build awareness and works towards achieving that campaign’s particular goals. This makes it much easier to think about content. At each stage, we add in a question: can we talk about this stage on social media? – killing two birds with one stone.
Step four: Create engaging content
With the billions of social media users around the globe, you do have to make an effort if you want to stand out. It’s crucial that you have engaging content that gives people a reason to follow.
Consider what competitors are posting and decide how you will differentiate yourself: make your USPs stand out.
There are plenty of tools and templates available that can help you. If you’re just starting and budget is tight, check out Canva (even if it’s just for inspiration for your PowerPoint designs – this bit was added after our designers read this article) or speak to your current design agency, they can probably convert some of your existing materials for a reduced fee – or you know, speak to us.
Step five: Schedule content
Finally, the time-saving part! Now that you’ve got all your content mapped out. Pick a scheduling tool, and copy and paste your content (assuming you used something digital to plan).
There are plenty of tools out there, some free, some requiring a monthly fee. Hootsuite is considered one of the best free platforms for both scheduling and monitoring posts. Then there is Later for Instagram and Facebook and Tailwind for Instagram and Pinterest. You can also schedule content directly through Facebook.
As you’ve already planned your content, the scheduling part should be incredibly quick and easy. Then, once you’ve done this, you can sit back, and you’ll be consistently posting each month.
Step six: Be social
As you’ve planned everything you’re going to say over the next three months, you can spend a few hours each week engaging with others.
Actively engaging with other people’s content will propel your brand and expand your reach. Let the scheduled content do its thing in the background and focus on what social media was designed for: being social!
Step seven: Analyze
Just before you sit down to plan your next months content. Have a look to see what performed well the previous month. Compare these metrics against your business goals. This will help you ensure you’re not doing things that will waste your time.
Here are some things to look out for:
- Engagement: This includes clicks, comments, likes, and replies on your social media posts.
- Reach: The number of people who have seen your content.
- Followers: The number of people who have clicked your “Follow” button and see your content in their feeds regularly.
- Impressions: The total number of times a post is seen.
- Video Views: The total number of times a video is seen.
- Profile Visits: The number of people who have opened your social media page.
- Mentions: The number of times your profile has been mentioned by someone in their posts.
- Tags: When your audience adds the name of your company’s profile to another post.
- Reposts: When a member of your audience posts a piece of your content on their profile.
- Shares: When followers share your content with their network.
This information can be found in each social media platform, or sometimes in the scheduling tool you’re using (usually the paid ones),
How WONDROUS can help?
If all this still hasn’t convinced you how great a successful social media campaign is, or even with these tips you still don’t have the time to make it work, why not let us do the work for you?
Our clients are brilliant at what they do, and some of them don’t find design, marketing or social media interesting – we love it! So, why don’t we make a deal? You concentrate on why you got into business in the first place and we’ll help make your brand, product or service stand out from the crowd.
Give us your challenge. Call us.