How to effectively use social media for marketing

A bad social presence may be worse than none at all, so ensuring that your accounts are managed well is imperative for attracting and engaging your target audience online.

Social media isn’t something that will work if it is done sporadically, and off-the-cuff status updates or rushed posts to promote your latest piece of content won’t set your profiles alight. Instead, it requires strategy and a clear plan for meeting your objectives to see meaningful successes.

Know your objectives

First of all you need to identify your social objectives – without them you won’t know the benchmarks you should set, what you should be measuring, or the calls to action you should be implementing.

Regardless of whether you’d like to increase website traffic, improve brand awareness, target local customers or simply encourage interaction with your company, it is important to be aware of the aims so you understand the intention of your social output. Once you have them figured out you can build your social platforms and strategies in line with your goals.

Pick your platforms

The most important thing is to not stretch yourself too thinly. It can be tempting to open a profile on every social network out there, but doing this will inevitably leave you with a few active pages while others lay dormant.

Concentrate on the platforms that you know your audience use – for example, Instagram is a great platform for art galleries and bakeries, but it wouldn’t necessarily work for a doctor’s surgery or an accountancy firm.

Now you know where you should be, remember to keep your branding consistent – your profile pictures, page headers and bios should all be company-centric, informative and visually pleasing.

Social media icons on mobile

Do your research

Another key to effectively using social media for marketing is to actually understand the platform you’re on and how your audience use it. Spend some time getting to know it – understanding the intricacies of the platforms makes navigating them easier and means you can use them to their full potential.

Knowing when your audience is online and scheduling your posts for those times helps your brand be seen by more people – which helps increase interactions and general engagement. This infographic from Quick Sprout gives a good insight into when you should be posting and the reasoning behind it. However, don’t just take Quick Sprout’s word for it – use Facebook Insights, Google Analytics and other tools to investigate and then experiment to find out what works best for you.

Know your tone

So, you know your target market and what you are hoping to achieve – now you need to decide on a voice. This should be relatively easy – your offline marketing, target market demographics and the industry you operate in should give you a fairly good idea of how you should be communicating. An ice cream parlour would interact with their consumers in a colloquial and friendly tone, while a law firm would use a professional air and more formal language. This should be consistent across all facets of the business – continuity is important for brand awareness.

Skittles is a great example of a company that has a thorough understanding of its brand and the tone that works well on social media.

Utilise social opportunities

Social media presents companies with endless opportunities to get involved in conversations, create relationships with customers and jump on hashtags to gain a brand advantage. The recent UK trend #DrummondPuddleWatch, revolving around a Periscope stream of a puddle that passers-by were having difficulty crossing, spread across Twitter and within hours was a top trend with over 20 thousand viewers watching live on the app. Loads of companies decided to take a chance and ‘hash-jack’ this event, including Marmite, Greggs and Domino’s Pizza.

Using social media in this way helps to present your brand as one that is aware of current events and the latest trends, and can lead to amazing results when you get it right. In-the-moment updates are set to rule in 2016. Twitter recently introduced a Moments tab, Facebook is constantly show what is currently trending, and the growth of live-streaming apps like Periscope shows no sign of slowing.

Calls to action (CTA)

Unless you are Apple, Nike or Justin Bieber, engagement doesn’t necessarily just happen – you need to ask for it, and the trick is not to ask too often. Structure your posts correctly to improve your chances, with any CTA placed at the end.

Encourage interactions by asking for opinions or, as suggested by Twitter, hosting competitions where you specifically request entrants to retweet or follow your page as a method of entry. Incentives are a huge help in this respect – many people will retweet, follow and share if there is a prize on offer for doing so.

Let’s get visual

Visually pleasing posts are important – they’re key to encouraging engagement and, according to Buffer, lead to increased clicks, retweets and favourites. Using images across all of your social platforms will make your feeds more attractive, meaning more followers, greater reach and more chance of engagement. This is also true of video content, which continues to grow in popularity daily.

Cisco reports that, by 2019 there will be nearly a million minutes of video shared every second, which is too big of an opportunity to miss out on! Start working video into your strategies and create video content that your target audience will enjoy and share.

Camera and iPhone

Things to remember:

  • Use your time wisely – only be where your audience is
  • Research social platforms and understand how your target audience uses them
  • Stay on top of trends – spend time looking at what people are talking about online
  • Don’t ignore your monthly stats – understand why they are good/bad and learn from that
Becky Storey profile picture
Becky Storey

Becky joined Vertical Leap as a Social Media Specialist in 2015, having previously worked remotely as a Social Media Manager for an agency alongside her degree, and in-house for a growing poker company in Hampshire.

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