The Ultimate Guide to Social Media for Businesses
Social media, whether you believe it’s the best thing since sliced bread or the worst thing to ever exist, is here to stay. When Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter first began, the intention was that friends and family would use the platforms to stay connected. Since then, social media and its uses have grown and it is now a powerful tool for businesses.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a large, national brand or a small, local business – social media has the power to grow your business. When used correctly you can make genuine connections with your customers, build brand awareness, and create an online community that is loyal and supportive.
In this post, we’ll provide an all-encompassing rundown of social media, including why your business should be using it, 5 tips if you’re just getting started, and how to analyze your social media efforts.
Why Social Media Matters
There an overwhelming amount of options when it comes to marketing your business. There’s email marketing, PPC, traditional media, blogging, online listings, and the list goes on. Social media may seem like one more task you simply don’t have time for. While it’s true that social media is not a “set it and forget it” strategy, the benefits far outweigh the negatives.
42% of the world’s population uses social media with the average person spending 2.2 hours per day on various platforms. Neglecting to have a presence on the various social media platforms can cost you in both acquiring new customers and retaining existing ones. Social media allows you to build relationships with customers, which in turn will make them remember you the next time they’re in the market for what you sell or offer.
People are going to talk about your business whether you’re on social media or not. If you do have a presence you can read what’s being said about you and control the conversation. If the reviews and comments are good, then that’s awesome! Turn the reviews into social posts and share them with your followers. If the comments are bad, then you have an opportunity to control the situation. Listen to the issue and offer to fix the problem. The angry customer may just turn in to your biggest fan!
8 reasons your business needs to be on social media
- Increase brand awareness
- Stay top of mind
- Increase website traffic
- Boost sales
- Customer and audience engagement
- Customer service and support
- Learn more about your customers
- Keep an eye on your competition
Getting Started on Social Media
Before you create an account for your business on every platform possible, stop and think about your objectives.
- Do you want to build brand awareness?
- Are you hoping to connect with other businesses?
- Do you have video content to share?
- Do you want to use social media to boost sales?
- Will users be able to contact your business on social media for customer service?
There are a lot of different uses and strategies for social media so it’s important to know what you’re hoping to accomplish. Depending on your goals, not every social media platform will be right for you.
Let’s take a look at the different social media platforms and what their ideal use is.
With about 1.65 million monthly active users, Facebook is one of the most popular and well-known platforms. For businesses, Facebook is a place to share photos, videos, updates, company news, and any upcoming events. Many users are on Facebook to keep up with friends and family so don’t make your content solely about pushing products. It needs to feel organic amongst family photos and funny videos of cats.
Instagram has come a long way in recent years and is now a powerhouse for businesses hoping to reach a new audience. With tools like Instagram Live, IG TV, Instagram Stories, and Instagram Shopping, businesses can find new and creative ways to sell their products and services. It’s important to note that unless you use a social media management platform, Instagram is almost entirely a mobile app.
Twitter has 330 million users per month and provides users with a steady stream of information. Each Tweet is limited to 280 characters, so the platform is best used for quick bursts of information. Within a Tweet, you can link to articles to provide more information to your audience. Many find that Twitter is best for building brand awareness and being a source of entertainment. A Twitter account is also a great way to provide quick and convenient customer service to your customers. Companies that do this include Warby Parker, Evernote, and even Amazon.
If you’re operating a B2B business, you need to be on LinkedIn. The platform attracts a community of workers and professionals and is meant to provide educational and professional content. Connect with others in your field, attract future employees, and reach out to potential clients and customers. LinkedIn also has a great feature that allows you to publish your articles and blogs directly on the social media network. You can then share your article as a LinkedIn post and establish yourself as an authority in your field.
Pinterest is technically a search engine, but we still wanted to touch on it here. The platform is a place to share (or “pin”) visual content, whether it be static images or short videos. There isn’t much text associated with each image and each pin must link to a website. If you’re a visual business, i.e. graphic design company, furniture manufacturer, interior designer, or in the fashion industry, you may want to consider starting a Pinterest account. With the right strategy, Pinterest can drive a large amount of traffic to your website.
Companies Who Use Social Media Well
As previously mentioned, there are countless businesses utilizing social media, many of which do an excellent job engaging users and being a helpful source of information. Here are three company’s we think are performing well on social media.
Target can be found on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and even YouTube. However, where the retail giant really excels is on Instagram. Their content is a mix of lifestyle photos displaying their products, user-generated content, and relatable graphics and memes. Their account has over 4 million followers and each post receives thousands of likes.
One of the biggest reasons so many people enjoy following Target on Instagram is because their content is relatable. Target has become a favorite store for many shoppers, and the company knows this. Posts about spending hours wandering the aisles of Target and showing how shoppers can decorate their homes are relatable and inspiring. At the time of this article, their Instagram bio even reads, “Your happy place on Instagram.” Target is all about curating a happy and aesthetically pleasing life, and its Instagram feed reflects this.
View this post on Instagram
On the surface, office supplies are not nearly as fun as the products you can find at Target. However, Staples manages to bring pens, notepads, and staplers to life with bright colors and eye-catching gifs. Their Twitter feed promotes their magazine, Worklife, with engaging videos and succinct copy. On Instagram, their feed is colorful and makes their audience want to purchase new supplies to liven up the office. While posts vary from platform to platform, Staple’s message is that they make and sell products to make life at work easier.
View this post on Instagram
Yes, the nostalgic childhood treat has made our list. The latest Sprout Social Index found that 67% of consumers surveyed stated that they are most willing to like entertaining social media content, and 55% of consumers stated that they are most likely to share entertaining content. MoonPie has taken the humorous approach to its social media strategy and it’s working.
They tweet and engage consistently, post about relevant holidays, and repurpose trending topics and memes to incorporate MoonPie. They’ve even been known to take a jab at a fellow snack food company or two.
Since joining Twitter in 2009, MoonPie has made a name for itself as a brand that isn’t afraid to have some fun. They poke fun at their own product in a way that is entertaining and in turn, makes people want to eat a MoonPie. It’s a genius marketing strategy that has put the 100+-year-old company back on the map.
New years resolutions are great but remember that MoonPies haven’t changed in like 100 years and everyone still loves them just remember that
— MoonPie (@MoonPie) January 1, 2020
Tips and Reminders for Starting out on Social Media
A blank Twitter feed or empty Instagram grid can be daunting, but it’s also a blank slate. Your business can be whatever you’d like it to be on social media! Whether you want to be a source of humor like MoonPie, or promote your products with aesthetically pleasing images, there are several tips you can implement to succeed on social media.
- Make a Commitment to Social Media
It takes time to grow an audience, increase engagement, and cultivate a loyal following. Give yourself eight months to a year to get a hang of social media and find a direction for your brand. It can be easy to feel discouraged, but if you switch strategies too often, or give up too soon, your audience won’t have an opportunity to form a relationship with your business.
- Show Off Your Personality
Take a moment and think about what your brand voice is. It is light-hearted, authoritative, or informative? Or maybe it’s something else entirely. Brand voice is part of your overall branding and creates a personality. Keep your voice consistent and don’t be afraid to show some personality.
- Focus on Select Networks
As we mentioned earlier, don’t spread yourself too thin by trying to be present on every social media platform. Evaluate your goals and pick 2 or 3 platforms that will help you achieve them. Craft content that is unique to each platform and take time to engage with each audience. Being present on only a few platforms means you’ll have more time to devote to the ones you do want to focus on.
- Keep an Eye on What’s Trending
New trends, memes, and internet jokes arise every day. Keep an eye on what’s trending and jump on board if something pertains to your business. Don’t jump on every trend, though. Your overall message should still align with your brand voice and resonate with your target audience. Don’t create a piece of content just because someone else did.
- Make the Most of Your Content
Social media will quickly consume all of your time if you don’t make the most of your content. If you have a blog on your website, use a portion of that blog as your Instagram caption. Gain people’s attention with an eye-catching photo and then point them to the full blog post to learn more. Create infographics that can be shared on Pinterest and on Instagram Stories. Or you could create a short video summarizing a recent blog for those who like to watch content rather than read it.
If every piece of content you create has 2-3 shareable assets for social media, you’ll save time crafting posts, increase engagement, and create a memorable presence for your brand.
Analyzing Your Social Media Efforts
Once you’ve been present on social media for a few months you should take the time to analyze your performance. Data will inform you as to what’s working and what’s not so you can shift gears and try something new if necessary.
Some of the key metrics you want to look for include:
- The social platform(s) that is generating the most referral traffic to your website
- The time and day that your posts get the most engagement on each platform
- Reach and engagement on Facebook
- Impressions, retweets, and mentions on Twitter
- Clicks, impressions, and interactions on LinkedIn
- Likes, comments, and mentions on Instagram
- Engagement and impressions on Pinterest
Another metric you’ll want to track across all platforms is Return on Investment, or ROI. Reporting on the ROI of social media can be difficult, as some of the metrics are more abstract compared to those involved in reporting ROI for paid advertising. Measuring social media ROI is important as it can show where your efforts and resources are being used most effectively. It can also help you better understand your audience and shift focus if need be.
If you spend a lot of effort crafting witty Tweets but most of your engagement comes from Facebook, it may be a good idea to spend more of your time there. You want to be where your audience is so you can interact with them and build a sense of community.
After you initially analyze these metrics you should continue to track them on a monthly or quarterly basis.
Tools to Analyze Social Media Performance
Having to look at each social media platform individually to analyze performance is tedious and time-consuming. Thankfully, there are numerous social media management and reporting platforms to make the task easier.
- Google Data Studio
- Google Analytics
- Sprout Social
- Zoho Social
Social Media Learning Resources
Want to learn more? We’ve scoured the Internet for some of the best resources to help you conquer social media and grow your business.
- Social Media Examiner
- Sprout Social Blog
- Buffer Blog
- Instagram Business Blog
- Agorapulse Blog
- Marketing Land
- Social Media Today
Time to Put Your Business Out There
Creating an account on any of the mentioned platforms is free, so you’re only hurting your business by not having a social media presence. When asked by Statista about the benefits of using social media for marketing purposes, 93% of respondents said it increased exposure, 87% said it increased traffic, and 74% said is generated leads. With these stats, it’s hard to ignore the impact social media can have on your business.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, try creating a profile on just one account and go from there. Explore different content ideas and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Creating content doesn’t come naturally to everyone, and that’s okay. A team of experts can offer creative content and a strategy to make your social media channels work for you.