Unleash Your Potential with These Top Social Media Marketing Tips
When it comes to social media marketing, everyone has their opinions on what works best. At Word Nerd Creative Content & Design, we understand better than most social media marketing agencies what’s impactful and what will ultimately result in wasted ad spend. In this article, our team covers exactly how small businesses can market themselves successfully on social media platforms. Specifically, we cover:
- Why businesses should use social media for marketing
- How social media algorithms impact marketing and content strategy, along with details on:
- How to better market your business on social media, including tips on:
- Ways to measure social media marketing success, specifically:
If you’re like most people, you’re likely on social media for a lot longer than you’d like to openly admit. It turns out, it’s a lot harder to resist that palm-sized glowing screen in your pocket than many people realize — particularly when all your friends are waiting to interact with you on the other side.
It’s this irresistible urge (addiction, perhaps?) that has slowly made social media marketing one of the most powerful tools available in a business’ advertising arsenal. Whether you love the idea of the internet as a non-stop share-fest or rue the day Facebook was ever born, the fact remains that today’s consumers prefer to learn about, engage with, and purchase from brands primarily through social media.
Some business owners might mistakenly view their personal social media success as a how-to guide for how to proceed with their brand’s social media strategy. However, it’s important to realize that while an invaluable tool for business owners to leverage, social media for one’s brand should never be approached in the same manner as a personal profile. There are critical differences between business profiles and personal profiles — both in the way platform algorithms serve content and the specific types of content that users want to see from each. Navigating these disparities can be overwhelming at first, but with the proper guidance, business professionals can experience great success in the social sphere.
Why Businesses Should Use Social Media for Marketing
As we mentioned earlier, today’s consumers prefer to experience brands through social media. In fact, 63% of consumers expect brands to use social media as the main channel through which they communicate to their customers. The demand for a social presence is clear, but what do business owners truly gain from all the added work of creating and scheduling content, engaging online, and building shoppable social experiences?
It turns out there are many benefits that business owners stand to reap by strengthening their social media presence, including:
- Increased Brand Awareness: With billions of users worldwide across all platforms, social media offers one of the most cost-effective digital marketing methods used to increase a business’ visibility within its target market.
- Improved Inbound Traffic: Without this increased online exposure, it can be difficult to venture outside the realm of existing customers to introduce a brand to new possibilities and prospects, making social media a marketing must.
- Search Engine Rankings: When approached strategically, social media can be used to increase a brand’s search engine rankings, allowing them to rank in top positions for the keywords most likely to influence traffic and conversions.
- Higher Conversion Rates: Increased visibility means more opportunities for a business to convert — especially when brands actively engage with their customers.
- Better Customer Satisfaction: Genuine, one-on-one interaction through social media results in stronger brand loyalty, which ultimately results in stronger customer satisfaction overall.
- Leads & Sales: Due in large part to the increased brand visibility, social media has been shown to have a higher lead-to-close rate when compared to any other form of digital marketing.
How Social Media Algorithms Impact a Brand’s Marketing & Content Strategy
Social media works and you already know how to work social media, so what else do you really need to understand? While most platforms offer a seemingly identical user experience for business and personal profiles, it’s important for business owners to understand how social media algorithms work differently for each so they can better inform their marketing and content strategy.
What Are Social Media Algorithms?
Put simply, social media algorithms help sort posts in a user’s feed based on their individual preferences rather than chronologically. This helps social platforms prioritize content that matters most to users based on their likelihood of engaging with it. Prior to the switch to algorithms, nearly all social media feeds displayed posts in reverse chronological order. On some platforms, like Twitter, this is still an option for users’ Timelines.
How Do Algorithms Work for Brands?
While the main purpose of an algorithm is to serve relevant content to users, there is a lot of machine-learning and data science involved “under the hood” that ranks posts based on criteria which — quite honestly — can be a bit of a mystery at times. That said, most networks are pretty transparent about what will help content rank better and be deemed worthy enough to appear in a target consumer’s newsfeed.
For instance, with Facebook’s algorithm changes, brands can remain relevant by:
- Prioritizing meaningful conversations over transactions
- Stopping engagement baiting
- Publishing more native video content
Each social platform has different algorithms in place meant to protect the quality of their user experience. The best way for brands to experience success on a particular platform is by staying up-to-date on any algorithm changes and developing content around the policy guidelines.
How to Better Market Your Business on Social Media
#1 – Choose the Right Platforms
Building an impactful social media strategy starts with a deep understanding of the target market. Sure, a dance instructor might use Facebook to keep their friends and family up-to-date on their latest moves, but is Facebook really the platform best-suited for maximizing reach for a dancing professional? Probably not.
In fact, it will take multiple platforms for brands to effectively reach and interact with the audiences most important to their business objectives. For our dancer example, they may consider adding YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok to their social media strategy since these platforms are visually stimulating and are more likely to generate engagement among valuable audience members. Taking the time to research how each platform is used, what users prefer to interact with on those platforms, and (of course) what the content algorithms are for each will result in a much more impactful strategy.
#2 – Create a Content Calendar
No matter when a post is shared to a personal profile throughout the day, it’s likely to find its way to a friend or family member — especially if they’re someone who regularly engages with content from the poster. While the same is somewhat true for businesses, timing does play a more significant role when posting content to social media platforms. By posting content at the times when more target consumers are online, brands have a better chance to reach and engage with the people most important to them.
Not only that, but scheduling out content ahead of time helps brands save a significant amount of time on posting. After all, business owners are busy taking care of operational concerns: They don’t necessarily have the ability to post in the middle of the afternoon on a Wednesday (incidentally, one of the most popular times to publish content). Using a scheduling tool like Hootsuite, Later, or Sprout Social is one of the smartest investments business owners can make in their social media marketing efforts.
#3 – Encourage Genuine User Engagement
Social media at its core is, well, social. For businesses, engagement is the key to generating enough user interest to ultimately transform a passive audience member into an active consumer. Businesses need to be interactive with their followers, taking advantage full advantage of social media’s capabilities by encouraging authentic engagement.
The easiest way to foster genuine engagement is by posting content that people actually want to read, comment on, share, and like. This goes back to our first point on understanding the audience: Brands must do their research in order to find out what their target consumers care about most so they can contribute to the larger conversation and remain relevant within the space.
#4 – Avoid Over-Selling Products & Services
In the earlier section on social media algorithms, we mentioned how Facebook business profiles can overcome algorithmic obstacles by prioritizing meaningful conversations over transactions. While the main goal of social media marketing is obviously to drive sales, it’s important not to view followers as simple numbers and dollar signs. For starters, they’ll be able to easily tell this is the case. More than this however, it communicates to consumers that all the brand cares about is their bottom line — not the customer experience.
Keep in mind that the average consumer sees up to 10,000 advertisements each day, and that doesn’t include any unpaid branded messaging that might pop up on their newsfeed. Find opportunities to bring value to the conversations and topics that target consumers are actively engaging with to increase the likelihood of appearing in their feed. Brands can gain access to these insights through social listening tools like Sprout Social, or even through free sites like Answer the Public.
#5 – Share Native Video Content
Visual content performs the best on social media, and video content is especially attention-grabbing in today’s fast-paced culture. Consumers want a quick, captivating way to find out what a brand is all about while businesses need to cut through the competition and easily convey their personality and passion. Video content is the easiest way for both parties to get what they need.
Not only is video content more impactful for brand awareness, but it’s also content that’s more likely to generate user engagement. And, since many social platforms place character limits on post lengths, video content is an easy way to expand upon what couldn’t be said in the corresponding caption. Interesting, narrative-driven video will get the best reaction from a target audience, allowing businesses to more authentically engage in the conversation at large to bring increase value to their followers.
Ways to Measure Social Media Marketing Success
Once a business implements a social media marketing strategy, it needs to be able to gauge its success or failure. There are three main metrics that brands should know in order to better inform their social strategy:
#1 – Volume Growth
While not the most important performance indicator, volume growth can be a helpful tool to understand how many people are talking about a specific brand, industry, or service offering. This isn’t just about counting how many mentions a business has in posts or hashtags, but more about measuring how many people are talking about a particular brand. To find this, brands can look to:
- Tagged Mentions: This is the easiest way to find out whether or not a business is being talked about online as it involves the user tagging the brand in question.
- Brand Mentions: Businesses will need to leverage social listening tools in order to find mentions about their brands that aren’t tagged in content.
- Branded Hashtags: One of the most common forms of online conversation involves the hashtag, which can be related to events, products, and brands.
- Inbound Traffic: While it might not seem related to social, measuring inbound traffic from social content can help uncover important insights about what’s working and what isn’t.
If the audience isn’t talking about the business, it can be signal that the social media messaging isn’t resonating with followers. Take the information gained to adapt the content strategy to the target audience and improve volume growth with time.
#2 – Consumer Reach
Different than volume, reach refers to the number of users that have seen the content a brand has distributed. Put simply, any time a brand’s content appears on somebody’s newsfeed, it’s counted in their reach metric. Content with higher reach has traveled further on the web, which makes this particular metric excellent for gauging the effectiveness of a content strategy.
If a particular piece of content has reached a higher number of people, this means the algorithm has recognized it as “more valuable” to target consumers. This means the content is more likely to generate engagement in the algorithm’s judgement, which brings us to our next point:
#3 – Engagement Rate
Perhaps the most valuable performance indicator for brands to consider when seeking social media success is engagement rate. This refers to how people interact with a brand and its content across all social networks. Engagement measures all actions taken on all types of posts, including comments, likes, shares, link clicks, follows, and more. High engagement rates mean the audience knows and trusts the business, and has created an online community around the brand. When measuring engagement, it’s important to pay attention to the following:
- Likes and shares
- Audience growth
- Followers-to-following ratio
- Audience mentions
Using social media to market a business takes hard work and dedication. While not an overnight solution, social media marketing offers a long-term, strategic answer to brands hoping to broaden their prospects, engage with high-intent consumers, and increase profitability.