People who use social media personally often think using it professionally is no different. But your business’s needs go beyond posting memes of minions and tweeting about the wicked!!!!! #party you went to last night. Social media is an important part of your digital strategy. If you treat it right, it can make all your dreams comes true.*
*help you reach your business goals.
If you want your social media to start working for you, you need to understand why it’s important. People searching for services or products are going to do their research (aka Google). If you have a successful organic search strategy, you will win the eyes and clicks of the searcher (yay), and this potential customer will go to your website to see if you look legit. Of course, you do (double yay), and being the savvy business owner that you are, you have links to your social media on your site. Your potential customer is happy with what they see until…
Twitter is a barren wasteland. Facebook sounds like six different people took posting into their own hands. Not even going to bother with Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Tumblr, YouTube, and Google+…
Your competitor just gained a new customer. All because their social media matched their brand.
Too often, people pay someone to manage their social media only to discover that person had no actual experience doing it. They started selling a service based on the belief that social media was easy (they use it every day, so how hard could it be?). The results you get aren’t more sales or better website traffic. Your audience isn’t more engaged. You see no returns on the investment. And sometimes, you have to spend twice as much time (and money) reversing the damage.
As a small business owner with no marketing team, you’re not going to be trained in the dos and don’ts of social media — and that’s where we come in. Before you throw money at a sinking ship, consider these five strategies you can use to make your social media work for you.
If your brand voice isn’t speaking for you, who is?
Think about your business as a person: what would they say? How would they say it? Every business owner should know their brand voice — it’s what guides everything that is posted. At least, it should. Your audience should be able to tell that everything posted on your social media is coming from your business (not a random employee of your business). When your brand voice doesn’t speak loud and clear for you, it confuses your audience and makes you look less trustworthy.
Develop a brand voice guide if you haven’t already. Without a solid understanding of who your brand is, your content will sound disconnected and unprofessional. Consistency in how you post content or speak to your audience will help you gain authority and make your audience want to read what you have to say.
Pro tip: Don’t talk about your business as an outside entity (or @yourself on Twitter) — this is the social media equivalent of talking about yourself in the third person...and it’s kind of weird.
If you don’t make time for social media, your audience won’t make time for you.
One of the biggest mistakes business owners make on social media is twofold: they try to have ALL THE PLATFORMS, and then they don’t plan content (so it only happens when they remember it should). Without a plan, content lacks purpose, and one or more of your platforms gets forgotten like a jar of olives that you bought on a whim and buried in the back of your fridge when you remembered you don’t even like olives.
Your audience can tell that you slapped something together without a second thought — and they’re not impressed. Or they’ve given up on you because you’ve neglected your Twitter feed for too long.
Focus on two or three social media platforms where your target audience is most active. Check out your competitors and see where they live on social media. If they have good engagement on Facebook and Twitter, it’s probably safe to say your target audience is active there. Focusing on fewer platforms gives you more time to create content that really speaks to your audience. Thoughtful content = happy users.
Not all social media platforms were created equal.
Social media sites have graciously banded together to “help” users link content directly from one platform to another. As a business owner, you might think, “Easy! Helpful! Post one thing to all the places!” But you’re wrong. Auto-posting from one platform to another frustrates your audience — and frankly, it’s lazy. Picture posts on Instagram appear only as links on Twitter, and your audience doesn’t want to click a link to another social platform — they want the picture and a short caption.
Posting from Twitter to Facebook also results in @twitterhandles and #hashtags creeping in where they don’t belong.
Users on one platform will behave differently than users on another, and they’ll want to see content in different ways. You might have audience groups strictly on Facebook who will never see you on Instagram — but you also might have people who will follow you everywhere. Varying the content slightly will show users who do follow you everywhere that you are taking time to tailor your content.
Vary your content, or the wee Millennials will get bored.
This is true of anyone, but Millennials seem to elude marketers at the best of times. If your content is the same old, same old all the time, your audience will get bored. They will move to greener pastures where the content is fresh and new. This is a fact. If you’re only ever posting links to your latest blog post with a, “Check out our latest blog post!” caption, your audience is going to hard pass on that. They want pictures, videos, thought-provoking content — not a link to something that, from what they can tell, is no different than the thing they read last week.
If your content is the same old, same old all the time, your audience will get bored. They will move to greener pastures where the content is fresh and new.
Find content that interests you and is relevant to your brand and then share it, instead of just sharing links to your own site. Keeping up with what’s going on in your industry helps position you as an expert and shows your audience that you’re not mindlessly posting links to your site to fill the social media void. If you’re a small local business, posting interesting content about things going on locally will also help engage your audience. Be mindful that you’re not posting content that speaks to only one of your audience groups. Not sure? Check out our blog post on building personas to give your content purpose.
Loner links look like super spam.
When it comes to content, nobody likes a lonely link. When you post a link to a web page or video without adding context, your audience will assume it’s spam and won’t bother clicking it — even if it’s the most interesting thing on the internet. If you consistently post loner links, your audience will get used to ignoring you, and then you’ll be just as lonely as your links.
Add your perspective on what you’re sharing, especially if it’s a link to someone else’s content. Your audience is following you because they care what you have to say. They value your why you’re sharing it and why you find it valuable. Relating content to your business and your audience will help them feel more connected to you.
You don’t have to be an expert to handle social media yourself, but successful social doesn’t happen overnight. Consider your business goals and whether or not you have the resources on hand to figure it out yourself. If not, consider working with someone who does.
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