Editor's Note: Jo Robinson is a content writer for Media Shark. Today she joins us to explain the importance of a social media strategy for business, and how your company can build a presence from scratch.
As a business owner, your social media presence is non-negotiable.
On a personal level, you might find Facebook futile or Instagram infuriating. But professionally, if you want your business - and especially your online business - to succeed, an active presence on those platforms is crucial.
‘#That's a bit dramatic @writer', I see you tweet.
But it's not.
Your potential customers are active on social media and it's essential to keep yourself at the forefront of their minds; to increase sales, you meet your prospects where they are at.
Establishing a social media presence will also help you build relationships with your existing clients, strengthen their loyalty, increase your web traffic, and offer a point of difference to your competition.
Assuming, that is, you do it right.
Your attendance on social media is compulsory, but if you've been delaying the inevitable, do not be afraid: it's never too late. Now is the time for your brand to get socially active. Here are seven steps for building your social media presence from scratch, and gaining a meaningful following that will help you build your business.
1. Pick the platform(s) that work best for you and your brand
There are many social platforms to choose from these days: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube, and Tumblr are just some of the mediums in a growing list of viable social networking sites.
The good news is, you don't need to be on all of them! In fact, spreading your resources too thin is counterproductive: there's nothing worse than Googling a business and finding an old, abandoned Twitter account sitting among half-baked hashtags and a default profile picture.
In the beginning, choose one or two platforms, and start there. Do some research, and pick the ones where your target audience is present. The quality of your content reflects on your company, so don't create profiles for the sake of it. Put your energy into growing and maintaining relevant platforms to avoid seeming like someone who isn't committed to their business.
2. Craft your profiles
You showed up, and made an account. Good job, but you're not done yet: your social media profiles should never be an after-thought. They're extremely powerful opportunities to strengthen your brand and communicate who you are, so it's essential that you give your profiles the #TLC they deserve.
Choose a profile and cover image that's consistent with your brand. Depending on the nature of your business, either a logo or a professional image of the business-owner works well. Low-quality images are a no-no, so make sure to use high-resolution images if you have them, or produce them if you don't.
Add your logo to all images throughout your social media and when you add any copy, consistently use the same font in line with your style guide.
Your biographies should be completed using your short and long business description, and all contact information should be filled out.
Make sure you add a ‘contact now' button to Facebook and Instagram so people can call you as an easy next step to their browsing.
Social media counts towards your SEO search ranking, so this is another golden opportunity to get keywords next to your business name on search engines.
With informative and engaging profiles, social browsers who visit your page(s) will know that you mean business and you've got something worth their time, so never slack on this bit.
3. Share with your audience
On the Internet, it's easy to buy fake followers. Don't do this. Not only is it inauthentic, it's also completely unnecessary: if you produce engaging content that your market enjoys, your followers will grow organically and you'll also get engagement too.
Content is the currency of social media, so if you haven't begun a content strategy yet, now is the time to start. Here are some suggestions:
- Attach a blog to your website, and write helpful articles related to your niche - you can hire writers to help you with this job, or invite guest posts from influencers
- Commission white papers that reflect the state of your industry
- On heavily visual networks like Pinterest, infographics are a proven strategy
Whatever you do, give to your audience, and they will have a good reason to stick around.
Before your page grows, you need a small initial following. Start by:
- Sharing your page with people you know, or people in your company
- Share it with existing customers by email
- If you're on Facebook, join relevant Facebook groups, and share page content there
- On sites with tags (like Twitter and Instagram), adding useful tags will help you get discovered
Once you've made a start, your followers will grow organically and you'll know that people are there because they will be genuinely interested in you and your content.
4. Post consistently
We've all seen it. A nice, attractive page, a few posts bubbling with excitement about a new business, and then...
...nothing. nothing but a screen-based version of an awkward silence. Think tumbleweeds and crickets floating across your screen as people wonder where the rest of your content is. The last post was 40 weeks ago and your customers - protip: the people with money to give you - have no idea if you're even still in business.
Until you've built up a loyal following, you need to post regularly and consistently. This might be once a week, or it might be once or more per day. How often you post depends on the nature of your business and your market, but the key is consistency.
Unless you have a dedicated social media manager, uploading content on the fly will never work. You're a busy person and social media will always get pushed to the bottom of the pile. Spend some time scheduling content to make sure your reach is constant, and your followers know what they can expect from you.
5. Offer incentives for sharing your posts
All humans have a ‘what's in it for me' attitude, so once your immediate friends and family have liked and shared your page, it's helpful to devise incentive-based offers to create a traffic boon.
Offer goods to your audience and potential audience such as discount vouchers, a free product, or entry into a competition for sharing a post which will extend your reach.
Always check with your platform owner as restrictions can apply to competitions, and you need to make sure your posts always sit within their guidelines.
6. Respond to engagement
Your pages should be a welcoming environment where people can hang out, express their opinions, and feel included, so always acknowledge people who respond to your content.
Tag people in comments, and like/reply to reviews and posts on your page; yes, even the negative ones!
This is your opportunity to create strong relationships with your market and put yourself at the forefront of their minds. As your followers witness this engagement, they're more likely to pop over and follow you too, further building your audience.
7. Use analytics
Finally, most platforms now provide free analytics which you should take advantage of. Posting the wrong content at the wrong time for the wrong audience will bring you to a roadblock in terms of growth. Useful metrics to pay attention to include
- Number of reactions/shares/comments on a post
- Days of the week, and times of day that your users are most active
- How many clicks a link received
- Demographics of your audience: age, sex, location, interests
Using this information, you can build a better social media strategy while simultaneously boosting your marketing efforts. Pay attention to people, and they will pay attention to you.
Building a social media presence can be a slow process, but it has a snowball effect. Stay in it for the long haul! With consistency and effort, an active social media presence is well worth the benefits it will bring your business, so use the outline above to devise a strategy you can commit to.
Bio: Jo Robinson is a content writer at Media Shark, where she can be contacted. With an exciting background that includes police forensics and professional fundraising, Jo's a whiz with words and appeals to a wide range of audiences.
Learn more with these related OMI classes:
Social Media Brand: Expressing Brand through Social Media
Creating and Curating Content People Love
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