Social media isn't just a trend. It's an effective way to reach audiences and it should be an integral part of your online presence and marketing strategies. Studies show that the majority of consumers will visit websites after following a brand on social media, will buy from that brand and will recommend it to a family or friend.
Social media is effective because consumers habitually log onto it daily. However, it can present huge challenges for business owners because it's an ever-changing and very crowded space. It can be difficult to create and post original and engaging content all of the time. It can also be challenging to keep up with the trends. The biggest challenges with social media are not having enough human and financial resources and lacking a formal strategy to build a community of loyal followers.
Having a strategy is essential and although it may take time it will be worth it the end for your business. The strategy is a summary of everything you plan to do, the tactics you will use to achieve your goals and metrics you will use to track your progress.
Here are a few tips when designing a social media strategy:
Quality over quantity. It's not necessary to be on all platforms. Choose platforms that your audience is using. That means you'll need to have a good understanding of your target audience. You're not Amazon. You can't sell to everyone. A targeted approach will yield better results than trying to appeal to larger, more general audiences.
Focus on building a loyal audience, not just having a lot of followers. Your online presence doesn't necessarily improve with more followers. So, it's necessary to work on cultivating a quality target audience who is interested and can benefit from what you offer. That will increase engagement which will improve your online presence.
Engaging content is key. Quality content isn't really enough. You want to connect with your audience by posting content that will spark positive emotions. Followers who emotionally connect to your content will like it and share it with others.
Social media SEO is more important than ever. Consider that Facebook receives 2 billion searches per day and Instagram supports a general keyword search, not just accounts, hashtags and people. Using popular keywords in your social media is just as important as using them in your website. This is just another reason that keyword research is imperative when designing a strategy and creating content.
What about hashtags? A hashtag is a "clickable" combination of letters, numbers and/or emoji preceded by the # symbol. They are used to categorize content and make it more discoverable. There are many aspects to mastering the use of hashtags and it can be overwhelming at times. Research is important and having a social media marketing professional can be very helpful when creating hashtags.
You must be active and engage with your audience. You must consistently publish quality content often, respond to likes and comments, follow and engage with others, answer direct messages, share content from other sources. Being active on social media is a key element to establishing an effective online presence. This can be very time-consuming for a small business owner. There are a variety of options available to make it easier to stay active. A social media professional can advise you and help you with content creation.
Reputation management is often overlooked but it will improve your overall presence. The goal of reputation management is to shape the consumer's perception of your brand and business. It includes business review sites (like Yelp) and local online business directories where customers offer written reviews about their experience with your business, service and/or products. You should first make sure you're listed in the most relevant directories and that all of your business information is included and it is correct. It is important because Google looks for consistency across all of the platforms to determine your credibility and ranking in the search results.
Reviews are also a very important part of your online reputation management. Obviously, reviews have a powerful influence on customers, as well as your ranking in search results. You'll also want to make sure that you keep a steady stream of reviews coming in so they are kept up to date.