A recent report by Statista predicts that there will be 3.02 billion social media users worldwide by 2021. Take a moment to think about the opportunities this affords you and your business.
Right now, with just the touch of your fingertips, you have the capability to put your brand in front of multitudes of potential customers. However, it will take a little bit of strategy to make sure that your brand stands out amidst the sea of those competing for attention.
Here are nine strategic ways to effectively use social media to drive your brand and increase sales:
1.Determine your target market
According to a report by Sensis, 79% of Aussies are active on social media. In order to ensure you’re reaching the people who will be interested in your brand, you have to take a look at the different social media channels and find out where your target audience is spending the most amount of time.
Don’t just assume that your target audience uses one particular social platform or another. Take some time to research what conversations about your industry and your products and services are taking place within each platform. Once you’ve narrowed down which ones will provide you with the most reach and influence, focus on those. Your social content will only do its job when the right people see the right posts and shares.
2. Maintain focus
Once you’ve done your research, you’ll likely find that there’s no need to maintain a presence on every platform. Prioritise your focus on the top two or three platforms you feel will yield the most success. This will save you from wasting countless hours composing status updates, sourcing images, and sharing content on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, and many others. Less is more in this case! Focus on the quality of your connections and the content you’re providing them, and you will prove to be much more successful and effective.
3. Provide quality content
Original, valuable content creates trust and authority with your online audience. If you create content that’s both informative and useful to viewers, they’ll view your brand in a positive light. This positive association can build a base of loyal customers. Another plus, people are more likely to share something on their own social networks that is visually appealing and engaging.
Your quality content should include:
- Blogs: If you don’t have a blog, start one. Create posts that help solve common problems and truly educate your audience on emerging trends that will make their lives easier. Then, share those posts across all your channels. If the content is high quality, your readers will be more likely to share, giving you an even further reach.
- Video and images: The use of visual images is a highly effective way to get your content noticed in the noisy and flashy world of social media. The use of photos and videos will help grab the attention of your target audience. Create how-to videos, short product demos, or animated short clips that explain your product or service. Be creative! People like to share videos, so good video content will increase your brand awareness considerably.
- Infographics: Infographics perform incredibly well on social media. They allow people to quickly gain insight and information on a topic without taking a lot of time to read through an article. If you can create your own branded infographics, that is ideal. If not, you can share those of others and tag the original source. As long as it provides helpful or insightful information, people are likely to share it.
One more aspect to remember when creating content is to focus on sharing and demonstrating the benefits of your products. Try to avoid being overly “salesy” or “pushy.” Instead, use your content to demonstrate how your product or service works and to highlight customer satisfaction. Show the benefits that customers experience after using the product by including credible testimonials from satisfied customers.
4. Let your personality shine through
Social media is all about being relational with people all across the globe. Take this opportunity to let your personality shine through by developing the tone and voice of your posts to truly reflect what both you and your business are all about. Your audience is much more likely to engage when the conversation feels casual. Plus, if you’re charismatic, your personality will help you gain followers.
One thing to keep in mind is to know your audience and use a different tone for different platforms. For example, on Twitter you can be much more laid back and cheeky with your approach. However, LinkedIn will require a more tailored and professional delivery.
5. Get social
To create a brand following and a loyal audience, you need to interact. Do this with likes, shares, and reposts to show your audience that you find what they’re saying to be valuable. If you show that you appreciate them, they’ll be more likely to reciprocate. The way they share will depend on the platform. A retweet, repin, or shared Instagram image can spread the word about your brand and earn you new followers.
6. Be consistent
Create a branding style guide, and stick to it. Define the colours your company uses for its branding, and always use those. Don’t use various logos—choose one, and stick to it. Ensure your branding is consistent across all your social media sites, as well as your website and blog. Consistency helps people more easily recognise you and increases brand awareness.
7. Embrace the hashtag!
Hashtags are very powerful tools. They put your posts in front of numerous audiences and can vastly expand the reach of your brand on social media. Hashtagify.me, RiteTag, and Later (for Instagram) are just a few of the hashtag generators available to find the most relevant ones being used in your industry.
8. Give it a little boost
When you notice one of your posts doing exceptionally well—gaining likes, views, shares, and engagement all on its very own—give it a little boost. You already know it’s engaging, so why not expand the audience who sees it? Be sure to keep your social ad accounts funded so that you can easily boost successful posts to put them in front of an even larger audience.
9. Take time to analyse
You won’t really know how effective you’re being at growing awareness of your brand unless you take time to look over the data. Most social channels already provide helpful reporting tools. For example, Facebook Page Insights will show the likes and shares your content attracts. However, it’s also helpful to use tracking links within your posts to collect valuable data. For example, using a URL shortener such as bit.ly will show you the number of click-throughs those links received. Also, take a look at your web analytics as well to see which platforms and other sites provide the most referral traffic. By using these insights, you can learn what works and what doesn’t—and respond with appropriate action to continually optimise your approach.
Social media is saturated with voices vying for attention. However, with the right strategy, consistency, and creativity, your business will stand out and rise above the crowd.
Faye Ferris is the APAC Sales and Marketing Director for BusinessesForSale.com, one of the world’s largest online global marketplaces for buying and selling small to medium-sized businesses. Faye is passionate about helping Australian small businesses succeed and regularly writes about entrepreneurship and business management.