It’s no secret that social media presence is essential for businesses. Beyond that, though, it can get a little fuzzy. What platforms should you be on? What do you post? How often do you post? If these questions have run through your head, you’re in the right place. Effective social marketing follows a plan, a strategy. As a content specialist and social marketer, I’m here to give you some tips.
#1: Know Your Audience
ALL good content is based around the audience, not the writer. As writers, we can get lost in that. We write what is important to us and sometimes forget who we’re writing for–the audience. What do they want to know? What are they excited about? What do they want to see? When we know the answers to these questions, we create content that will be interesting to them, and that will ultimately lead to greater engagement. They’re more likely to interact with those posts in some way. They’ll like it, comment on it, share it, re-pin it. Why does that matter? Those things lead to greater visibility, greater reach, and ultimately–sales.
#2: Be Social
Social media is meant to be social. Shocker, right? You’d be surprised, though, how many businesses never reciprocate. They don’t reply to comments. They don’t thank other businesses for sharing their content. They don’t follow or in any way interact with other businesses. Simply putting the stuff out there isn’t enough. Social media is a two-way street, and as such, it requires work in both directions. It might not sound fun to everyone out there, but if you’re the one managing your business’s social platforms, you need to plan to spend some time each day being social.
#3: Use Different Platforms in Different Ways
This is a BIG one–and one many small businesses are doing all wrong. Each social platform has its own set of “rules.” A business’s followers on each platform vary greatly. Take a look at your demographics. Let’s look at some simple examples from my own platforms and followers:
- 68% women, 31% men
- 33% age 25-34, 30% age 35-44
- 49% live in Sioux Falls (my location)
- Most active time of day 7-9 p.m.
- 50% women, 50% men
- 47% age 55-64
- 22% live in South Dakota
As you can see from even just two of my platforms, I have very different audiences and needs to meet. Many small businesses utilize a third party posting company (like HootSuite, for example) to post on their behalf. The business creates the posts, schedules them, and lets them go. There’s one HUGE problem with this plan, though. If you’re posting the exact same message at the exact same time across all platforms, you’re in trouble. You’re not reaching the right people at the right times with the right message.
Each message needs to be catered to the audience it’s intended for. Some platforms will benefit greatly from the use of hashtags; others will not. Some platforms require shorter messages while others do well with longer messages. The list goes on.
I’m all for utilizing a service to post on your behalf. I mean–who has the time to be active on all social platforms at all hours of the day?? I’m just saying you need to consider the content being posted on each platform. Tweak it to fit the needs and wants of that audience, and post it at the right time. Personally, I use and recommend Buffer, in case you’re curious.
#4: Strictly Follow the 80/20 Rule
This one is so important that I have an entire post dedicated to it. The “80/20 rule” is a term that gets thrown around for all sorts of things from cause and effect to time management to relationships to dieting! In this case, I’m talking about the content your business is posting.
No more than 20% of your posts should be sales related.
Go ahead–read that again. Let’s review #2 above; social media is meant to be social. It’s not a giant billboard or never-ending infomercial. It’s a place where people go to be social. If every post from your small business is an attempt to sell them something, three things can happen:
- Best case scenario…they never interact (like, comment, share, what have you) with your posts. The social platform then decides they don’t have any interest in your business. That determined lack of interest bumps you lower in the algorithm. Eventually, they don’t see your posts at all. Yep, that’s the best case scenario.
- Worse…the follower gets tired of seeing your posts and unfollows/unlikes/etc. you. Now they of course never see your posts unless they specifically seek you out.
- Worst case scenario…they tell all their friends how annoying Business XYZ is. OK, maybe that doesn’t happen often, but it’s certainly possible!
So back to the 80/20 rule: 80% of what you’re posting should be fun stuff your followers want to see. Some folks call this “fluff.” Share local or industry-relevant news. Share real people doing real things. Did your employees volunteer locally? Did you attend a conference? Will you have a booth at an upcoming fair? You can also incorporate sales indirectly. Maybe you share a DIY article or a video that shows someone using your product. Heck, share a funny joke or cute kitten meme!
Let’s do a little math here for good measure. I recommend small, local businesses post no more than five times per week on Facebook. To follow the 80/20 rule, only one of those posts should be sales related. The other four should be “fluff.” Might be time to start creating some fluff posts, eh?
When it comes to social marketing, it’s important to have a strategy in play. Pick even just one of the four tips I recommended, and make it a habit today.