We're often asked by clients if we think that social media is important for them.
The easy answer is: Yes, there's always a way to make social media work for any business. Even a B2B company.
The more complex answer is: Yes, but... to be successful you need to have a social media strategy that establishes your plan for...
- Where you're going to post.
- What you're going to say that will engage your audience.
- When you should post.
- How you're going to get it done.
1) Where does your target audience hang out?
One of the best ways to decide where you're going to post is to consider the average age range of your persona. (Notice I didn't ask what you're selling? We'll get to that later.) Start with age and then consider which social media platform those people are active on. Developing a persona for your target audiences will really help with defining age and social media usage habits.
Once you know who you're aiming for, consider their ages and the social channels they tend to use.
- Facebook continues to be the one with the most users, but those who spend the most time on Facebook tend to be your 40+ crowd.
- Instagram is also well-used across many age categories, but the 29 and under age category uses it more than other age groups.
- Snapchat is great for teens and young adults.
- Linked in, Twitter and Pinterest tend to be tied for users in the 30-64 age category. Not to be ignored, but not as far reaching as Facebook and Instagram. Twitter is good if your target audience is nationwide or worldwide. Pinterest is great if you have lots of pictures to share.
This doesn't mean that people under 30 don't use Facebook and that those in their 40s don't use SnapChat. But, in general, we know that these are the platforms favored as of now.
Start with this assessment to determine where you should be. You should post in multiple places, but knowing where to place emphasis will get you on the right path.
2) What Should You Say?
Say as little as possible. People are using social media on their phones. They're scrolling through to see what peaks their interest and skimming past things that are too wordy, picture-less or not applicable to them. (ie: A 25 year old probably don't care as much about retirement savings right now as a 45 year old.)
Obviously that doesn't mean you can't say anything, but catch their eye first. Using a video, an animation, or a cool photo is a good start. Businesses often say to us: But I sell ________ and there aren't cool pictures to share. Then the challenge becomes creating imagery that will catch their eye. There are some tools out there to help. Here are two we like:
- Ripl - Free app with upgrade option to create animated images great for Instagram and Facebook.
- Promo for Business by Slidely - Easily create 15 second videos perfect for social media with video footage and music rights included in the purchase price.
And when you say something, be conversational. Consider the age group you're speaking to and then talk to them as if they were there with you. That's going to relate much more than a very formal post with no contractions used or words that make you take a moment to figure out what's being said.
What about negative comments?
Sometimes the social comments aren't in your favor. Do what you can to have a voice in the situation, address it and try to remedy the situation so that others will see that you're engaged and paying attention. Some of the greatest success on social media happens when a company engages to help them, answer a question, address a concern, etc.
Otterbox is a great example of turning a negative comment into a positive experience. A colleague tweeted that she was disappointed about how her phone case performed and within minutes Otterbox was engaging with her on social media, trying to solve her problem and make her feel like she mattered. That turned into a live discussion around the office about how helpful Otterbox is. And that turns into good feelings which turns into sales. Our team was more likely to want to give business to Otterbox knowing that they cared and were concerned with Kelli's issue. It's how we work as human beings... whether it's a product we use personally or at work.
3) When Should You Post?
There's a lot of research out there on when to post things. If you own a night club you probably shouldn't post at 7 am and expect an immediate reaction. 7 pm may be more logical. If you're selling gym management software you know your target audience of gym owners is likely to be up and at their computers or scrolling through social media on their phones by 6 am.
If something really cool happens, post it right then. That's the essence of social media – capturing the moment.
4) How to Make Sure Social Media Engagement Happens
Even if you have assistance from a marketing agency for social media planning we recommend you also have at least one person who can act as the "boots on the ground" to capture photos, take videos and have their pulse on what's going on.
- They'll know if there's a hot topic that needs to be quickly added into the schedule.
- They can get a shot of a famous person using the product or who came into the store.
- They may also be more aware of news items that come up that affect them or their customers that needs to be shared.
This person at the business needs to make social media management a part of their daily responsibilities.
There's also an ongoing need to monitor comments that are posted. There are questions that come up that a business-expert, not a third party agency, can best address. We recommend that your business' social media manager stay on top of the comments, replies, etc.
The entire team should be aware that social media questions are a timely issue and can't be pushed off too long or else you start to create feelings that are the opposite of those created by Otterbox.
What to do first?
If you have someone who can help you get your social media planning started, now is the time. If you don't we recommend talking with a marketing agency. In the meantime, be sure you know who you're targeting by fully developing a persona. Download our free tips for Linked in so your business' presence on that outlet will be as strong as possible.