Cracking the Code to Social Media
In the digital age, people rely on social media as a source of news, connection, and content sharing. Social media is not just for the consumer. Businesses have joined the playing field to take advantage of the wide popularity and low barrier of entry.
Though most social media platforms have existed for years, some companies have yet to fully leverage their potential.
Not all types of social media are a perfect fit for every business and sometimes a company should not be represented on every platform. Some businesses should not be represented on social at all. Every company is different.
Social media presences should be strategized using clear company objectives and defined target audiences.
Ask these questions:
Is your brand joining social with a driven purpose or just for the sake of being “socially active?”
What is the goal behind every platform? Every post?
Is the goal to build brand awareness or generate leads? Is the purpose for your brand’s presence on social media to increase sales, leverage the advertising capabilities, or to share content?
Who is the target audience? Which social platforms can reach them?
Follow this step-by-step guide to better align the company’s goals with the social presence:
Outline Company Objectives
Evaluate the company’s mission and analyze each social site to determine which best represents the brand. No matter what, always be authentic to the brand. Use social to facilitate a two-way conversation to educate and communicate with consumers.
Discuss the company mission and brand voice and how it should be represented on social media. Depending on the channel and the situation, the brand can develop different tones.
Social allows companies to transform and nurture weak connections into loyal followers. If the goal of social media is to increase subscriptions, interactions, and engagement, then content creation and conversation can lead to awareness which increases engagement.
Be purposeful by outlining objectives from the very beginning. This ensures that time and efforts are not wasted.
Define the Target Audience
Platform tools allow social media managers to narrow their target audience into specific demographics from simple characteristics like age, gender, or income to interests, values, and even fears.
Notable advances help marketers empathize and cater desirable content to the consumer. This builds relationships with consumers which, in turn, form brand loyalty. The more relatable the content, the more likely consumers will share on their own profiles with friends.
After clearly defining the audience, be sure to build the brand’s social platforms around them. Creating content for people who are not interested is a waste of time and will not advance the brand. Know where the target market exists and only advertise in those networks.
Cross Check Competition
If the competition already has a competitive advantage on a platform, there are tools that analyze their activity, search engine optimization (SEO), keywords, and content. Leverage what is “working” for the competitor in order to modify your brands approach to the current strategy.
Monitor and Measure Continuously
Focus on leveraging the platforms that provide direct return on investment (ROI). If time, money, and effort is poured into an underperforming platform or the audience does not exist there, it is time to refocus.
Choosing not to spend any money on social media platforms is tempting. Just because a platform is cheap or free, does not mean it will work well for a brand without any investment. Today, it is impossible to achieve much reach without boosting posts with money.
Become familiar with the following social media platforms. Not everyone is the same, but capitalize on ones that highlight your brand's strengths, audience, and goals.
With over 2 billion monthly active users, Facebook is by far the largest social media platform. Facebook’s mission is to connect people around the world.
Facebook’s features can be beneficial to businesses everywhere. The site offers video (including live streaming), photos, and text without limits. Creating a company page can build community and brand-consumer relationships by catering to the needs/desires of consumers.
Facebook favors live streaming videos over all other content which increases impressions and engagement.
Without investment, it is difficult for a brand to be seen by the right audiences. Spending on ads for a specific demographic through the ad manager will increase global and local reach and enable retargeting.
In addition to paid reach, companies gain better organic reach when they post consistently, produce quality content, and target passionate audiences.
Use Facebook when:
Targeting to an older crowd. According to Strategic Content Marketing:
The largest user demographic is aged 25–34
Facebook users are 53% female and 47% male
56% of online seniors aged 65+ are on Facebook and 63% are between age 50–60
The strategy requires varied content.
The brand needs in depth analytical reports.
Have the funds to invest in advantageous ads.
Twitter is the best platform to spread the word quickly or go viral. The benefit and difficulty with Twitter is that it relies on real time communication and an immediate response. Content is shared endlessly and pushed down into the feed.
In order to be heard, share relevant, thoughtful posts that will resonate with the target audience. Twitter offers analytics and target audience features, but they are not as in-depth as Facebook. Remain on top of trending hashtags and industry news to build momentum for posts.
Use Twitter to stay visible to active users. Answer concerns directly and inform consumers about new products or releases within the company in addition to industry trends and resources. Follow thought leaders and ideal audiences for networking opportunities and keep an eye on competitors.
Twitter helps build brand awareness and can improve a brand’s SEO ranking. Links, photos,GIFs, videos, and text can be shared but characters are restricted to 140 (though they are testing 280 in some markets). Images and video perform the best, showing the highest levels of engagement. Hashtags attract followers if they are relevant and not excessive.
Use Twitter when:
Providing real-time customer assistance.
Sharing informative, yet concise content.
Targeting a young audience. Accorsing to Strategic Content Marketing:
32% of 18 to 29 year olds use Twitter
49% girls and 34% of boys between 15-17 use Twitter
Instagram is a photo/video social platform owned by Facebook and existing primarily on mobile. Instagram immerses audience members into a brand’s story so much so that ThriveHive stated that users are “58 times more likely to share an Instagram post than one from Facebook and 120 time more likely than a Twitter post.”
Instagram is somewhat unique because a brand can communicate a story or showcase a product visually. Artistic brands typically excel. Brands can also increase followers through trending hashtags and build relationships by following and interacting with their followers. This is a helpful platform because studies show that people retain 55% more information from a visual photo than from a text source.
Because Instagram is tied to Facebook, it offers similar analytics and insights. Instagram is challenging because the algorithm does not show posts in chronological order, making it difficult to analyze who sees the content. Attracting customers to the company site is also challenging because links are not clickable on Instagram.
Use Instagram to connect emotionally with the audience. Post high quality photos, utilize the “Story” feature to take followers behind the scenes, and engage followers.
Use Instagram when:
Focusing on brand building - emphasize a company’s culture, events offered, or raffle giveaways
Offering a specific look, lifestyle, or activity
Approach is picture/artistic intensive
Targeting a young audience. According to Strategic Content Marketing:
Instagram users are 49% female and 51% male
55% of 18 to 29 year olds in the U.S. are using Instagram
28% of users are from 30 to 49 years old
LinkedIn helps professionals network and connect. Research done by DMR shows, “59% of LinkedIn users don’t visit Twitter and 13% don’t use Facebook,” meaning, LinkedIn users are a huge, untapped market.
LinkedIn is a great place to form a company page for brand awareness. People typically have a business mentality while using LinkedIn and share promotions or career opportunities. Users are usually engaged and, to the marketer’s benefit, expect advertisements. The cost for advertising is pricey because it relies on conversions.
Utilize LinkedIn by frequently publishing content, sharing whitepapers and ebooks, posting videos and case studies, and interacting with groups.
Use LinkedIn with:
The following is a list of social media management tools that may give your brand a competitive advantage.
SimilarWeb - This tool analyzes areas of competitors online marketing strategies to find opportunities, uncover weaknesses, and gain insights for the user.
AgoraPulse - This tool combines social media channels into one platform - allowing businesses to easily share content, engage with followers, track campaign success, and monitor posts on the web.
Sprout Social - This tool optimizes social media tools and combines them into one platform. Most of the social statistics in this post are from Sprout Social.
Buffer - This tool has a simple dashboard and makes crafting a message and selecting the channels easy.
Shakr - This tool enables quick and easy video production. It hosts a library of professionally designed video templates available for the user to drag and drop photos and videos into it.
BeLive - This tool allows streaming through Facebook live while adding the ability to show onscreen text and graphics.
Scoop.it - This tool minimizes the time spent curating and sifting through blogs.
MeetEdgar - This tool helps organize and schedule new and old content.
Ultimately, there is no one size fits all strategy when it comes to social. Continue to measure, be creative, act authentically, provide value, and form connections.