Using social media for business is very different to using your personal accounts. Social media for business can be a useful tool to promote your products or services, connect with your customer base, and build up the public profile of your business.
Building a successful social media strategy takes time and work but it’s definitely worth all the hard work.
We know how overwhelming it can be to even know where to begin with social media. So to make it easier, here’s what you need to know so you can put together a plan for using social media for your business.
Before you can begin to put together a social media strategy, it’s important to understand the differences between platforms.
There are many social networks out there that you could take advantage of, but a little bit of research can help you to understand which is best suited to your business.
To get you started, here’s some information on the most popular social networks.
Founded in 2004, Facebook is the most popular social media platform with the biggest market share.
In terms of what you can post, Facebook is an all-rounder. Users can post photos, videos, their thoughts, join groups with people with similar interests, chat one-on-one in Facebook Messenger, watch TV shows, and even play games.
There’s a lot you can do on Facebook, but who uses it? Let’s take a look:
Facebook is probably the most developed platform. It’s constantly expanding and adding new features regularly so it’s important to be aware of new updates and consider how your business could put them to good use.
Hot on the heels of Facebook, Twitter was founded in 2006 and is the social media platform that made hashtagging topics popular.
At its heart, Twitter is a microblogging site. Users can post short tweets of up to 280 characters long as a standalone post or a reply to another tweet. Users can also retweet (the same as sharing) another user’s tweet or sub-tweet, which is a retweet with an added comment.
Twitter is very fast paced, with over 500 million tweets posted every single day. That’s over 6000 a second! It’s a common occurrence for one account to post several times a day in contrast to Facebook, which at most averages one post per account per day.
Twitter doesn’t share the same popularity as Facebook, but it does have its own interesting set of demographics.
Twitter is most useful when it comes to customer service as businesses are much more open and accessible. This can lead to an increase in complaints but it also means that you have a direct way to address these problems and talk to customers one-on-one.
Launched in 2010 and acquired by Facebook in 2012, Instagram is primarily a photo and video sharing app.
Users can upload photo or video content into a recognisable square format and use filters to edit the appearance. You can like posts and comment on them too but you can’t share, at least not without the help of a third party app.
In 2016, Instagram launched Instagram Stories which lets users upload short videos or photos to their Story, which appear for only 24 hours.
Here’s some stats about its demographics:
Instagram is an incredibly visual platform and creative content does well. It’s well suited to any business that can express its creativity to get noticed.
LinkedIn is the only social network that’s targeted at professionals. Businesses and individuals can share their professional achievements, as well as advertise jobs, and access and publish research.
LinkedIn is a very niche social network which is reflected in its demographics.
Because of the nature of LinkedIn, it’s well suited to B2B companies or any business that wants to share about the more ‘corporate’ side of operations.
YouTube is often overlooked as a social media platform as its main function is for users to upload and watch videos. However each video has a comment section, users can give a video a thumbs up or thumbs down, as well as subscribe to their favourite channels.
Out of all social media networks YouTube has the most even demographics.
Unlike other social media platforms where users passively scroll, YouTube naturally encourages engagement as users actively seek out videos to watch.
As with Instagram, YouTube is a creative medium that can feature everything from product demos to tutorial videos, creative entertainment pieces and much, much more.
There are also some smaller social networks that can be used to tap into niche audiences.
SnapChat lets users send quick videos and photos which can only be viewed a handful of times.
Pinterest aggregates content from all over the web into one image-led platform that lets users discover new interests, create mood boards, and post their own content too.
Now that you have an understanding of the most popular social networks, it’s time to decide which to use.
The social media networks you use should be the same as your customers. Being able to answer the following questions will help you narrow down your options:
You might find that the answer is several different platforms, which is normal. There may be some that you pay more attention to than others but at the very least a Facebook profile is a good place to start.
Once you’ve finally identified which platforms are right for your business, it’s time to put together a strategy.
First of all, you need to set yourself goals for each social media platform. These goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound - or SMART for short. They will be what every single post and comment should work towards.
You also need to decide how you will measure success. Will you focus on the number of likes or followers you have? Or is it more about the number of comments you get? Decide what the indicators are that show you’re successfully achieving your goals.
Your strategy should also outline your target audience. You’ve already identified who they are, but as you build your social presence you’ll be able to create a more detailed picture of your customer. This can include things like the type of content they respond best to, the times of day you see the best engagement, and the messaging that resonates most. Assess your competitors
To ensure your strategy is really effective, you need to research your competitors. Identify what they’re doing and what they’re not doing and see if there’s any gaps you can fill. If a competitor is neglecting one social network over another but you know there’s an audience there, that’s your opportunity to fill the gap. You should regularly review yourself against your competitors and adapt your strategy accordingly.
Armed with this information you will now be able to plan what sort content you will create and publish. This can be anything from photos and videos to polls, short statuses, sharing news stories or promoting on one type of product. For each piece of content remember to note how successful it is and how it’s helping you achieve your goal.
Once you’ve been publishing content for a few months or have reached the deadline set out in your goals, review your efforts. See how far you’ve come to achieving your goals and audit your performance so far. What content has been successful? What has struggled to do well? Are you noticing any common themes? Remember to review your competitor’s activity too to see how they’ve performed in the same timeframe.
A social media strategy is just one aspect of a digital marketing plan. While developing a social media strategy takes time and effort, once you have one in place you’ll find it’s a powerful tool to marketing and growing your business.