It’s clear that social media is here to stay. A recent survey from research firm eMarketer estimated that about three-quarters of all U.S. companies have some presence on social media. So, if your company hasn’t developed a social sharing strategy, it’s likely to be outpaced rather quickly today.
“Customers conduct their research online,” says Jason Parks, owner of Columbus, OH-based digital marketing firm The Media Captain. “We live in a digital age, and if you’re not on social, you’re not taking any steps to increase your brand voice or visibility.”
Getting started can be frustrating. How do you make your message stand out amid the cacophony of the digital world? How do you attract followers and convert them into customers? Here are five strategies to help you create effective online marketing with social media.
1-Choose the right platform. There aren’t enough hours in the day to maintain a presence on every social media site out there. The best option is to experiment with a few and maintain the ones that give you the best return on your time investment. Business-to-business salespeople often have good luck prospecting on LinkedIn, the social network designed for professionals. Visual platforms like Instagram, Pinterest and even Facebook are a great way to show off custom-decorated apparel. “The key is to know your customers and know what platform shows your business off the best,” says Ann Marie van den Hurk, a principal at Tarboro, NC, public relations firm Mind The Gap.
2-Share, don’t sell. One of the quickest ways to turn off potential customers is to post a steady stream of self-promotion. Unabashedly sales-related posts have their place, but they should be mixed in with entertaining and educational content. You can share your own blog posts or interesting articles related to the industry, anything that provides value to your intended audience. And remember, quality matters more than quantity, though it’s important to post consistently. One amazing post is better than five mediocre ones, Parks says.
3-Be conversational. This means answering comments – and not just with a robotic auto-reply message. Many people go directly to social media for answers, rather than picking up the phone. Companies like American Airlines, for example, handle a lot of their customer service via Twitter, van den Hurk notes. Being conversational also means following other notable social media accounts and commenting on interesting things they share. Think of social media like a cocktail party or networking event: you won’t have much luck if you spend the whole evening watching from a quiet corner. You need to engage.
4-Create a posting schedule. If you have time to post to social media only once a week, consider investing in a social sharing tool like Sprout Social, Bufferapp or Hootsuite. Do some research to find out when your customers are online by experimenting with different posting times and tracking engagement, says van den Hurk. Then, schedule subsequent posts based on your findings.
5-Let your customers know. If you’re new to social media, consider adding links to your website, your email correspondence and even the boxes you use to ship orders. Parks suggests adding a “PS” message to the bottom of emails, linking to your most recent Facebook post or tweet. “We’ve seen a massive uptick in interaction when implementing this, and it doesn’t cost a penny,” he adds.