Are you just getting started with social media? Or are you looking to improve your current social media results? There are hundreds of thousands of articles on the best social media marketing practices, tips, advice, and strategies. But which ones are best for your business? The following are seven best practices that businesses of all sizes can use to build a solid social media strategy.
#1: Learn From Your Competition
Not sure where to start when it comes to social media marketing? Start by finding your competitors on the top social networks and watching what they do.
According to Pew Research Center, the top social networks for adults in the US are Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Twitter. You can gain valuable insights about your competitors by searching for them on each of these networks. Then, answer the following questions.
- Which social networks do your competitors use the most?
- What does your competitor include on each of their social profiles and pages?
- How often do they post on each social network?
- When do they post on each social network?
- What do they post on each social network?
- How much interaction do they receive on their posts on each social network?
Answering these questions about your top competitors will allow you to build a foundation for your business’s social media strategy. While you don’t want to copy your competitors, you do want to see what is working best for each of them. Use that to inspire your content and engagement with customers.
According to responses from over 3,000 marketers by CoSchedule (a popular software for content marketing), marketers who set achievable goals for what they want to achieve through marketing were 376% more likely to get the results they desired than businesses who did not.
Marketers who write out a specific marketing strategy for their business also see a similar rate of success. They are 313% more likely to get the results they desired from their marketing over businesses that did not.
You can set achievable goals for your social media marketing by setting goals that are realistic, measured, and completed within a specified timeframe for your business. For your business, achievable goals could include:
- Build a presence on Facebook with at least 100 ideal fans within the next three months.
- Respond to customers within 24 hours on Facebook and LinkedIn by the end of the next quarter.
- Start driving 1,000+ monthly visitors from Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest to your website within the next six months.
How well can you describe your perfect customer? The type of person that is likely to buy your products and services? The type of person that is likely to share their good experiences with their network?
The description of your perfect customer should include basic demographics (age, gender, relationship status, and geographic location), profession (salary, position, industry, and company size), household type (rent or own, multi or single family), household size (including the number of adults, children, and pets), and interests (favorite magazines, shows, hobbies, etc.). Once it does, you will be able to step into their shoes and determine:
- Which social networks are they using?
- What groups are they joining?
- What businesses do they follow?
- What types of posts do they like?
- What type of posts do they share?
Once you have observed your competitor’s social media strategy, you should have a good plan as to which networks will help you get the most results.
In business, there is a popular principle called the Pareto Principle. The theory behind this principle is that 80% of your results will come from 20% of your efforts. Apply this principle to your social media marketing by focusing your efforts on social networks (usually one or two for small businesses) most likely to drive customers to your business.
This strategy will save you time and money. It will also save you the headache of learning about dozens of social networks when only one or two will actually send visitors to your website who become your customers.
Take the top one or two social networks, based on what you observed from competitors and what you think your perfect customer would use. Personalize your description on those networks to include the words you think customers use most to search for you, such as wedding planner or landscaping designer.
This will “optimize” your profiles and pages, helping your customers find you through the social network’s search box.
You may notice that some posts on social media gain a lot of engagement – likes, comments, and shares. Other posts don’t gain the same kind of attention. It’s important to focus on quality over quantity when posting to your social media profiles and pages.
Again, think of the Pareto Principle and 80/20. 80% of your social media marketing results will come from 20% of your social media efforts. So don’t spend a lot of time trying to create a large number of posts or comments on other pages.
Focus, instead, on creating a really amazing post that is more likely to be liked, commented upon, and shared by others. If you spend some time scrolling through your competitor’s posts, you’ll be able to see which ones get the most response.
Identify specifics about those posts, such as the format or the type of content they share (informational content vs sales content). You should be able to find some good inspiration for your own content using the best of your competitor’s content.
Most social networks will notify you when someone replies to one of your posts or sends you a message. But sometimes, social networks won’t notify you about people who have included your business name in their post without a proper “tag” or inclusion of your social media username.
For those cases, you can use the search box. Search for your business name (with quotes, like “Larry’s HVAC Services” or Larry’s HVAC Services. This will reveal any discussion of your business that you may want to join. It can also reveal great testimonials and reviews about your business – ones that can be included on your website to help boost sales!
The good part about social media marketing is that you can always measure the results of your efforts. Each social network provides businesses with insights on their profiles and pages. These insights will show you how fast your audience is growing and how much engagement your posts receive.
The main goal in social media isn’t always to get the most number of fans or share a dozen posts per day. Rather, the key is to create a social media presence and publish content that will be valuable to your perfect customer. It’s better to have 100 fans that are engaged with your business than 10,000 fans that never read your content. Implement these practices to see growth in your social media results and business.