Social media platforms for businesses can be seen as an extension of a brand or website, enabling faceless companies to have a tone of voice and some personality. A great example of this in my point of view is Wendy's in America. Sassy much? After you've read this, check them out. But first, this blog contains a few social media tips for busy people who think they should be doing more social.
Throughout this blog about social media tips, you will see “TLDR”, which means “too long didn’t read”. For those of you short on time, these are abridged summaries of the content beneath in tidy, snappy summaries. Hopefully, you will have time to read it though…
Marketing 101: Identify Who Your Target Market Is
- Define target market
- Prioritise social channels based on this information
Humour me… If you haven’t already segmented your database to understand who buys your products/services, it’d be a good idea to do that now (if you haven’t, we can help do this relatively quickly with some data trickery).
But why? Understanding what your customer looks like means you can start making informed judgments about:
- What they are most likely talking about
- What they might be interested in
- Where they are most likely to be active
- When they are most likely to be active
- Who they are most likely to be influenced by
This is fundamental stuff that will shape the rest of your strategy, but mainly it will answer the question of which platform/s to use and when to use them.
Choose a Social Media Channel
- Be realistic with the time you have
- Start with one social network
- Do it properly
Cue setting up a Facebook business page, Twitter account and LinkedIn page (and if you have a spare ten minutes you could quickly set up a YouTube account).
Just because your boss likes Pinterest, doesn’t mean you should be on it. Just because all of your competition have Facebook accounts, doesn’t mean you should have a Facebook business page.
Apply your understanding of your target market to known platforms and make informed decisions. For example, Twitter tends to more male orientated and Facebook more female orientated*. There’s a lot of research that can guide you with a little searching.
Is the channel suitable for your target market? For example, I know many teachers that change their name and hide a lot of details so as not to be identified by students and parents. So, are they likely to be engaging with work-related brands?
Also, review the opportunities the platforms present for targeting, paid media, reach etc. Are there active groups you can chat in? What kind of messages are going back and forth? There are more social channels than Facebook… your blog is a social channel, for example. How is that doing?
Commit Resource or Walk Away
- Literally what the title says…
You will see that to do any social channel well, you need to commit resources to it. There are no shortcuts so you need to be honest with yourself. “But how much resource?” I hear you say!
Look at some of the best social accounts within your industry and see:
- How often they post
- What kind of content they post
- How much they talk with their community
You’ll notice that it’s a lot! And it takes time – a whole lot of precious time – to make a social channel work well.
For example, TES is a Teaching Resource organisation and they seem to be active on Twitter, and came up as an opinion leader for a recent client of mine. They have many followers and their tweets get a decent amount of engagement. Not everything is a hit, yet they put the work in to produce timely, interesting and relevant content.
Could they do more? Yes. For example, they get a lot of engagement but don’t often respond to comments.
But the net result is still positive because of the content they produce, and they have a good follower base (244k at the time of writing).
Understand That Social Media Is Not a Lead Gen Tool
- Don’t be a Jeff
- 80% engagement (replies, posting interesting content, joining in conversation etc)
- 20% self-promotion
It’s tempting for businesses to see social media as a lead generation tool. It may contribute toward lead generation, but if you approach a social channel this way, it’s likely that engagement amongst your target market will be low. It’s highly probable that you will bore the socks off any that come across your posts that shout:
“Look at how great we are!”
“New deal on socks for today only!”
Imagine you’re talking to a guy at work called Jeff and he’s talking at you about his widget project at every given opportunity. Jeff doesn’t join in conversations about Westworld or Master Chef. When you ask Jeff a question, he just ignores you and steamrolls ahead banging on about his widgets. It doesn’t matter if you talk to him when you’re getting a coffee, at lunch or even in the pub after work. Don’t be Jeff.
A good rule of thumb is the 80/20 rule, whereby 80% of your messages are pure engagement or “being sociable”. The other 20% can be about you. In a nutshell, to misquote McFly…it’s not all about you.
Tone of Voice
- Use an appropriate tone of voice for the platform
You may notice that social channels tend to have a more informal tone of voice and most social channels are different from each other. Consider a sliding scale where at one end you have:
Twitter: loungepants on, tub of ice cream in hand with the remote in another
LinkedIn: top button undone, suit jacket off but still looking smart
Now find out what your business sounds like on this platform. Here’s the CIA’s first tweet:
Time of Day: Use Analytics
- Use platform’s own analytic software
- Post when target market is most active
- Use Hootsuite to schedule posting
Hypothetically speaking if your target market were teachers:
- When do teachers generally have spare time to go on social media:
- In the morning?
- Midday during lunch?
- Late in the evening when they’ve finished all the marking and have finally put their feet up with a glass of red?!
You should be able to make assumptions about when your target market is most active, and that’s when should you be posting.
Note: It’s probably not when you want to post.
Ultimately though, the proof is in the pudding and you should be reviewing your analytics to see when your posts receive the best engagement. The majority of the bigger platforms have inbuilt analytics to see how much “engagement” a particular post has had, and some have really decent demographic breakdowns. For example:
If you’re unfortunate enough to have a target market who are more sociable in antisocial hours, then the use of third-party tools like Hootsuite can come into its own as you can schedule posts to go out at given times.
Warning: There is a drawback to this though, as you’re not actively engaged in conversation, so there may be a risk of posts being outdated or inappropriate (see below example of Tesco’s “hay” scheduled tweet at the height of the horse meat scandal).
Engage Your Target Market: Reply to Comments / Join in Conversations
- Try Buzzsumo to do some stalking on your competition and target market
Do a little stalking! Find out what people are talking about. Join groups if they’re available on this network. Find out who is leading conversations, setting trends and start following them. Have a look at what others are doing and do it better.
A great tool I use is Buzzsumo, to:
- Find out the most popular content by keyword
- Find out the most popular platforms
- Find out who their main influencers are
- Use images in your posts
- Make use of the platform’s features to engage e.g. hashtags, surveys and @mentions
Try not to be too lazy when you’re posting! You’ve made the effort to pick the right platform for your particular target market, you’ve chosen the right time to post, you’ve got something really interesting to post about… don’t write a few lines and hit send. Make your post stand out from the crowd. Be creative and use memes, gifs, and images. If you’re not sold on this idea, read this article and you’ll soon change your mind.
There are other ways to stand out, and they are also ways of engaging your target market. This is where the time, energy and effort comes in. Most platforms give you the ability to use tools for engagement, from the basic reply to a post to creating surveys. All of these aspects of the platform help to make it more social and more interactive. If you use them you’re more likely to generate engagement with your audience. Here are some of the many ways to engage:
- @Mentions (especially those directly involved)
- A simple question! Ask a question!
- Reply to other users asking for engagement
- Retweet/share – this will get you noticed by the original poster, especially influencers
- SlideShares (LinkedIn)
None of these things are cutting edge, but it’s surprising how many companies don’t do any of them. Maybe it’s not surprising because doing these fundamental things take time and effort, but if you’re serious about social, they are all worth doing well! If you’ve any other suggestions please comment below and I’ll be sure to include them and link to the source. Alternatively, for help with social media marketing, get in touch with our experts today.