10 Social Media Tips for Businesses

January 10, 2017

Social media can be a highly valuable tool for your company if used right, or a giant time-waster if not. Knowing how to use social media correctly can make all the difference! Here are a few tips to help you maximize your social media use:

Know your platform

Twitter is used for VERY short-form content, Instagram is all about visually appealing images, and YouTube is for engaging long-form content. When posting to social media platforms, make sure you’re posting content that suits the audience.

Plan first

Never jump into a campaign without a plan. Sit down and create a comprehensive social media marketing plan before the campaign begins. It can help you increase your chances for success, as well as prepare you to analyze the good/bad of your plan.

Engage

The truly effective way to reach more people is to engage with them. Always be ready to reply to comments, thank people for participating, and listen to what people have to say. The more you engage, the better!

Monitor your efforts

You’ve come up with a social media plan, but you have to be ready to adjust or flex as needed. The only way to know if it’s needed is to monitor your efforts. That means tracking/analyzing your social media progress to determine if it’s having the desired results. Change as the situation merits!

Take advantage of automation

Twitter and Facebook both have automation options, and you can find tools like Hootsuite and Buffer to help you schedule content ahead of time. Automation can help to streamline the process!
Target your audience – Know who your audience is, and make sure your posts reach them! The narrower your audience, the greater the chance that you’ll reach the right people with your content.

Maximize ROI

Don’t spend time posting across all platforms if only a few platforms yield the results you want. Make sure your efforts are concentrated on the social media channels that work best for you.

Be smart with hashtags

Used right, hashtags can be a great way to track your engagement. Used incorrectly, they can clutter up your content and annoy people.

Organize yourself

Part of the social media plan should be to draft a calendar that helps you to keep track of everything you are posting and when.

Advertise

It’s worth spending a bit of money on advertising via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social media channels. The ad money will often yield a higher ROI than with Google AdWords marketing!

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There was a time that “local SEO”—optimizing your content according to a specific location, using keywords such as “drycleaners Los Angeles” or “dentist Miami”—was perceived as something done exclusively by bricks-and-mortars retailers. After all, using local SEO narrowed the audience to only people in that specific location.

However, the truth is that local SEO is important even to online retailers. Why is that?

Well, simple: your customers live in cities, right? If you can target your content according to that specific city, it’s easier to give them what they need.

Let’s take, for example, an online clothes retailer. The retailer sells both winter and summer clothes. To hit the winter-wear audience in the Northern United States, they can use local SEO for New England, Chicago, Seattle, and so on. But people living in the Southern United States will start wearing summer clothes long before their northern counterparts do, so a local SEO campaign targeting Phoenix, Miami, Los Angeles, and Houston will enable the clothes retailer to start selling summer clothes before the sale of winter clothes ends.

Google loves local businesses, and actually does more to promote them than global or national businesses. The search engine is designed to bring up local results first, especially if the keyword searched includes the location. A search for “laundromat in Glendale” will usually bring up the Glendale-specific locations, and farther down the list will be the retailers that belong to larger chains. It’s Google’s way of promoting local business and delivering the best tailored results.

Google also tries to give the most specific results according to the person searching. Your Google history will give the search engine information on the sort of information you’re looking for, according to your location and other data. If there is a business that offers what you’re looking for in the place you want it, Google is going to make sure you see it.

Proximity-based searches are more common with mobile commerce as well. Look at Uber, the app that searches for the closest vehicle to your desired location. Or Tinder, which tries to find matches nearest to you. Local SEO will be important for mobile searches as well, as Google has tried to make the searches as location-specific as possible.

Local SEO is no longer useful just for brick-and-mortar retailers. Even online retailers should endeavor to include local SEO when and where relevant. It may lead to much better engagement and reach in the specific cities where you want to find your target demographic.

The word “brand” is usually used to refer to a company or line of products, but it actually goes beyond that. A company’s brand is the perception people have of that company. For example, thanks to Apple’s branding efforts, we all know that Apple products are sleek, cutting edge, and innovative (even if they don’t always live up to the hype) or that Nike is the brand for athletes (even if other brands have better products).

Your personal brand is the world’s perception of who you are. Building a personal brand is the best way to influence the people around you: employers, coworkers, employees, customers, supplies, even your competitors. By creating a personal brand, you control the narrative and help people perceive you the way YOU want them to.

How can you create your own personal brand?

Find the heart and soul.

What is the most important aspect of who you are and what you do? What is the “mantra” that drives your product or service? Think about what matters most to you, and that is the heart and soul of your brand.

Appeal to emotions.

Tugging on someone’s heartstrings is the best way to get them on your side. You need to think about how you make your product/service/persona to make people feel, and how you want them to perceive you. The emotional appeal of your brand is what will set you apart.

Determine your purpose.

What is it that you are offering to people? What do you have that makes you unique from others? Why do you stand out from the crowd? This goes beyond just the skills, products, or services you have to offer, but it includes your personality, character, and passions.

Describe yourself.

How would you describe yourself? Are you an artist, a leader, a strategist, or a team player? What words can you use to endear yourself to others emotionally? Think about the things about you that appeal most to others, and use that in your creation of your personal brand. Be a “passionate creator” or a “willing assistant” or an “enthusiastic leader”.

Keep it simple.

Your personal brand should be distilled to one or two simple concepts. Don’t try to be everything to everyone, but find your niche and make it work. Narrow the scope of your brand to a simple concept that everyone can relate to. The simpler the idea of you and your brand, the more easily people will be able to relate to it.

In the end, your personal brand is how the world will perceive you. It’s best if you can control the narrative and help people to see you the RIGHT way.

If you’ve ever talked to a web developer, they will no doubt have harped on the importance of building a mobile-friendly website. You may have no idea why it matters, but they certainly believe it’s important. But why? What makes a mobile-friendly website so vital for the success of your business, product, or service?

Mobile shopping is in

Here’s the truth: more and more people are using their phones to shop. You can still go to your local store and buy goods, but your phone is useful for calling a cab (Uber), staying in touch with friends (social media), ordering dinners to go (Grubhub), finding good places to go and activities to do (TripAdvisor), even booking flights and hotels (AirBNB, Expedia, etc.). 55% of consumer shopping time in 2014 was spent on phones, while only 45% was spent on computer. That means more people are buying using their phones. If you have a product to sell, your customer are probably most likely searching for it on their phone.

More people are web-surfing on their phones

It doesn’t matter if you don’t directly sell products; the average person spends more time surfing the internet on their phone than they do on their laptop. If you succeed at driving them to your website (where they can find out more about your product or service), you want them to stick around to find out more. If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, they’re all but guaranteed to click away and go to another website that IS mobile-friendly. Your customers—both current and potential future customers—expect you to make their life easier. A mobile-friendly website is one that is “easier” for them to use.

Your business will suffer

As mentioned above, most web-surfers are likely to leave your website if it’s not mobile-friendly. But here’s something you might not know: Google may also penalize your website for not having a mobile-friendly design. Google may display it when someone is searching from their PC, but not when searching from a phone. Given that 55% of web surfers are using their phone, you could end up losing a huge chunk of business because you don’t have a mobile-friendly site. You want Google to drive as many clients to your website as possible, which means building a site that is compatible with mobile devices.
Yes, it will likely cost more to create a customized theme that is responsive to mobile and desktop users. In the end, however, it will benefit you—both in terms of customer ease of use and search engine compatibility.

Twitter is so much more than “just another social media platform”. It’s actually one of the best platforms to use for business, as it offers a broader yet more targeted reach than any other social media network. With 300+ million users and 500 million Tweets sent per day, it’s a small business’ most valuable tool for expanding your audience.

Why is that?

Your competition is using it.

You can find your competitor brands on Twitter, and the last thing you want is to be left behind!

It’s quick and easy.

All you have to do is type up your message in 140 characters and hit the Tweet button. You can share info about a new product, offer a discount, or announce big changes easily.

It offers better visibility.

To get hundreds or even thousands more people to see your content, all you have to do is use the right hashtags. Hashtags increase the visibility of your post beyond your immediate network. If used correctly, they can help you reach a much broader audience than you ever could on your own.

It’s good for your brand.

Any business that isn’t on at least Twitter and Facebook are “behind” and “antiquated”. To stay relevant and modern, you need to be using social media networks—even if you don’t master them, at least use them!

You can stay on top of trends.

Want to find out what’s “in” or trending? Use Twitter Search to help you find out what people are saying about a certain topic. Get in on the conversation or create content that makes you relevant. It’s a great way to ensure you stay in touch with the world around you.

It’s great for networking.

You can talk to anyone in the world just by tweeting to them. There are no limits on reach, so you may find a broad range of opportunities you’d never have found otherwise. All you have to do is keep your eyes open and think creatively.

You can be smart with your communication.

Instead of spamming your social media with useless content, Twitter enables you to start a two-way dialogue with people. You can make jokes, share interesting content, or talk to people directly. You’ll find it will help you to refine your brand and message!

If used correctly, Twitter can be your most effective tool for engaging with your customers and followers. Be smart with your Twitter use, and it will help you to improve your brand and message.

Go on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram around the holidays and you’ll find nearly every brand and company making a holiday-themed post to try to capitalize on the special day. Why is that? What is it about the holidays that’s so special?

Holidays are a time of year people look forward to. They want to relax on Memorial Day, Labor Day, Independence Day, Christmas, New Year, etc. Holidays have a positive mental association in their mind. A smart brand will take advantage of that association and link it to their product or service. A holiday-themed post shows that you are relevant (you create fresh, up to date content), but it also creates that positive association in your viewers’ minds. After all, if you’re as happy as they are about the holiday, you’re no longer a faceless company—you’re an individual like them who is interested in the same things.

There’s a certain emotional appeal to holiday-themed social media posts. People tend to be happier than average on holidays, and each holiday has its own emotional touchpoints. Labor Day is all about hard-working people. Earth Day is about protecting the planet. Christmas is about family. Using those emotional touchpoints in your social media post can help you to connect emotionally with your viewers.

You’ll find that using social media for holiday posts can also foster a sense of community. You can offer a holiday-themed deal to your customers, or simply ask a question to engage them. Use your post to encourage engagement and connection. Remind them what’s important for the holiday and ask them to share the things that matter most. The more interactive the post, the better.

If done right, a holiday-themed post can be highly shareable and buzzworthy. A well-crafted post has beautiful visuals related to the holiday, an emotional message, and an interesting call to action. It can be something as simple as “Tell a family member you love them on X holiday” or something more complex like “Bring attention to a social injustice on X holiday”. Anything can go viral if it has the right message, hook, and visual. A good call to action can encourage people to purchase or click on something they normally wouldn’t, especially when paired with the other components.

Don’t worry about hitting EVERY holiday in the year! Find a holiday that is “on brand” with your product or service, and focus on just that one. Create awesome, engaging, funny, and emotional content for that holiday and hit it hard. Once you’ve gotten the hang of it, start using more and more holidays to drive interest in your brand.

Creating quality content takes A LOT of hard work! Whether you hire a copywriter or do all the work yourself, it’s still an investment to create content to post to your website, blog, or social media platforms. Even harder is creating quality content that is unique, interesting, and hits the right marketing notes without being too “pushy” or “salesy”.

Here’s one tool a lot of people don’t tap into crowdsourcing. Instead of hiring out, you can use your readers to generate content to share. Instead of using your own one-way content, user-generated content encourages a two-way discussion that helps readers to feel more engaged with your brand. That engagement is what will lead to much better customer loyalty in the long run.

To encourage your users to create content:

Offer an incentive
Establish clear guidelines that are easy to follow
Be appreciative of anyone who produces content for you
Encourage regular contributions
Give your members independence
It takes time to get that user-generated content flowing in, but once you have it, you’ll find it’s highly effective for building a community.

Best of all, the user-generated content is marketing material that will appeal to other readers in a way that you never could. Think about it: why do so many companies use testimonials on their products or services? Instead of saying “Our product is this”, they use real-life people saying, “I love this product for X reasons!” Users are more likely to take the word of fellow users than that of the manufacturers trying to sell the product. (Why else do you think product reviews are prized so highly?)

The user-generated content will do the marketing for you. After all, it will show other users that you have a community that is engaged and interacting. Every piece of user-generated content—be it fan art, memes, photo collections, articles, or social media posts—showcases your product or service, but without your needing to put your spin on it. It’s a way of subtly marketing, one that doesn’t involve you.

The more you can encourage your users to generate content, the better. You should include it in your monthly marketing plans and find ways to promote the production of this content by your users. Have a “standing offer” that provides a discount or special deal every time your users produce something of value for you. Over time, you’ll find that it can be one of the best ways to generate quality content that appeals to a broader range of people—all without your needing to spend a single cent!

The addition of videos to Facebook revolutionized the way brands and companies can reach new fans and followers. Now, you can give people interesting, valuable content in the form of a short, snappy video. If a picture says 1,000 words, a video is worth a whole lot more.

Here are some tips to help you use Facebook Videos that will serve your brand:

Launch a product

If you’re doing a physical product launch, use Facebook Live to show people what’s going on during the launch. Even if they can’t be there physically, your fans will be able to enjoy the experience from the comfort of their home and still feel like they’re part of the buzzy new product.

Take them behind the scenes

People love to feel like they’re getting something special or exclusive. To make your fans feel special, take them behind the scenes of your business operations, your new product, or some special event.

Interact with customers

Facebook Live allows you to interact with customers and followers in real time, answering questions, giving information, and even sharing tutorials and how-to’s. The more you interact with people, the better!

Interview someone interesting

Give your Facebook fans the chance to hear from someone else: an expert in their field, a celebrity, or someone else who will pique their interest. Interviews can be fascinating and provide a lot of value in just a few minutes of video.

Surprise people with a sale or promotion

Videos are a great way to get people interested in sales and promotions, and you can share a lot of info in a few seconds or minutes. Plus, you’ll find people are far more likely to share the videos to others they believe will be interested in the sale or promo opportunity.

Tell a story

People connect with stories more than they do anything else! Use your Facebook platform to tell stories: of people whose lives have been improved or changed by your products, funny and interesting things that happened to your company, or the process of creating a new brand or product. Stories are always more interesting than marketing content or product feature lists.

Discuss current events

There will always be something happening in the world around you, and Facebook Videos give you a chance to discuss them at length. Trending issues change on a daily basis, so make sure to “strike while the iron is hot” and get those videos uploaded before something else becomes more relevant.

Everyone loves coffee, right? When you think of coffee, your mind no doubt flashes to Starbucks, the largest coffee house chain in the country. But how does that happen? How is Starbucks so firmly implanted in your mind, even though you’ve never seen a TV ad or billboard for them?

It’s all about their reputation! People talked about how much they loved their Frappuccino or Pumpkin Spice Latte, and those mentions stuck in your mind. When you wanted a cup of coffee, they came back to you and made you want to try Starbucks.

That’s EXACTLY what you need for your business!

Reviews and comments from customers are the word-of-mouth exposure that will sell your business or product far more efficiently than any billboard or ad ever could. If your customers go and tell their friends about what you have to offer, those friends are more likely to try it. When they see reviews giving your product or service a high rating, they’re all but guaranteed to give it a go.

Your online reputation—established through reviews, comments, feedback, shares, Likes, re-Tweets, and so on—create an expectation in the minds of people who encounter your company or product. Many shoppers simply won’t buy products that have no reviews because they’re unwilling to take a risk on an untested product. However, a product with a lot of reviews is more likely to draw attention.

The most important part of your online reputation is the star ratings (from 1 to 5) given by your customers on Amazon, Google, Yelp, and Facebook. Most people check out the star ratings before ever looking at the reviews. In fact, many will avoid reading text reviews if the product they’re considering doesn’t have a high enough star rating.

However, text reviews and customer feedback is really what will “seal the deal”. When people read positive buzz words—honest, reliable, high quality, user-friendly, convenient, and so on—they will be sold on the product or service before they ever read the specifications or features.

Your online reputation is proof that you do go work or provide a quality service. If you want to enhance your reach, it’s time to reach out to your customers and ask them to post a review or rating of your product or service. You can offer an incentive to anyone who leaves an HONEST review, and be sincerely appreciative when they do. Use the reviews—positive and negative alike—to help you improve your performance and product.

People don’t like being told to buy products, but they often want to buy products that their “idols” or “heroes” wear. When they see their favorite celebrity, athlete, TV personality, or talk show host wearing or using a product, they immediately want to give it a try.

Big brands have learned the value of “influencer marketing” and give away hundreds of thousands of dollars in free products to “the right people”. All the influencer has to do is mention the product or brand, and their dedicated followers will go out and buy it. It’s a subtle form of marketing, one that can lead to very high returns if done right.

The question is: is influencer marketing right for your business? Here are a few elements to consider when evaluating influencer marketing:

Is there a demand?

Is your product something that people would want to a) try out, and b) buy because they saw it on their favorite influencer’s social media profile? You wouldn’t use influencer marketing to promote a cutting edge sump pump, but you may find it useful for cosmetics, beauty products, clothes, shoes, accessories, vehicles, and other “showy” products.

Can you find the right influencer?

You wouldn’t reach out to Kylie Jenner with the request to promote your testosterone supplement, and you certainly wouldn’t want Michael Jordan to talk about erectile dysfunction medications. It’s all about finding the right influencer, the one whose personal brand would enhance and be enhanced by your product. A relationship with the right influencer can be worth its weight in gold, but the wrong influencer or pairing can lead to a lot of money wasted.

Who does the approaching?

In most cases, you will be reaching out to influencers and asking them to feature your product. However, if you have a product or company that is quickly growing, they may reach out to you. Both are viable options. It’s always nice to be contacted by an influencer, but you need to be prepared to invest in reaching out to them.

How influential are they?

When working with any influencer, you always need to consider their reach and influence. Do they have thousands, hundreds of thousands, or millions of followers? Do they actually sell the products they showcase? Can they deliver sales or raise product awareness effectively? Always consider the influencer’s real reach and audience before signing any deals.

The truth is that influencer marketing, if done right, can be a very effective way to grow your business and extend your reach. Ask yourself the questions above to ensure you’re going about it correctly.

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