Social media is a vital part of online marketing. But creating social media content that reaches your audience takes a little bit of work. Here are 6 tips for businesses trying to promote their brand on social media.
1. Do Your Research
Research goes a long way in helping you deliver the most effective social media content. It is important to understand the size and characteristics of your audience, as well as their online behaviour.
Your Target Audience
Think back to your previous customers, and what you know about them. Can you identify any common demographics, values, experiences, expertise, or social environments?
If you have the contact details of your customers, consider sending out a survey. You should also examine the way users interact with your competitors on social media. Write down everything you notice about these customers and take note of any commonalities.
Some experts suggest that compiling these characteristics into a customer avatar is a useful way for business owners to target their content. It may seem a bit odd, but many business owners find that giving their customer avatar an identity – a name, age and occupation – helps them create better social media content, as they can design a focused campaign with a specific person in mind. This is a lot less difficult than imagining the detail among a group of people.
Once you know a little bit about your target audience, you can use Facebook’s Ad Manager to estimate the size of that audience.
Take a look at the latest research on peak traffic times in the specific countries or regions where your business operates, or the popularity of different social media platforms across different age groups. There are a number of blogs and websites that publish research about the online behaviour of social media users. Gather as much research as you can about the online behaviours of your target audience and use this to help you create a social media strategy.
It is important to understand that what works best varies across each social network.
For example, on Facebook, story-driven content that sparks conversation tends to be the most effective. Using humour works in most scenarios, but it’s also important to have some variety among your posts. For instance, the recent poster by WebsiteFix has a a bit of humour and also convey the message.
Break up the promotional posts every now and then by sharing an image, story or video that will resonate with your target audience.
Twitter is much more instantaneous and news-orientated than Facebook. It calls for headline-orientated posts that are easy to understand and fit within the 140 character limit. A great way to gain visibility on Twitter is to interact with users who are successful in your field. Where possible, relate your content to a recent news story or current affair. For example, if you run a Real Estate franchise, and the market is in favour of the buyer, link your post to a reputable news website. If you’re a personal trainer, be on the lookout for any newly published studies about the benefits of exercise. Be creative, but try to avoid divisive topics unless you’re absolutely certain it will work with your target audience.
LinkedIn is a great platform for long-form content. You can use LinkedIn to host blogs and share research-based content, including news stories and reports. When posting content that communicates mostly through long text, add a little bit of visual content, such as a photograph or infographic.
LinkedIn also features a number of industry-specific discussion groups. Making meaningful contributions to LinkedIn discussions can result in valuable leads for your business.
3. Use Visuals
Images are key to creating effective social media content.
Research conducted in 2013 found that compared with the average text-based post, it is estimated that photos get 53% more likes and 104% more comments. Furthermore, posts that centre on an image have an 84% higher click-through rate for links.
Meanwhile Tweets containing photos will get, on average, 113% more engagement and 150% more re-tweets. Images are also great way to convey a powerful message within the 140 character limit.
So it is clear why photographs make a post more visible. But did you know that they also make the content more memorable? Studies show that when people hear information, they’re likely to remember only 10% of that information three days later. However, if a relevant image is paired with that same information, people retained 65% of the information three days later.
The right photographs and the right balance of text-based and visual content will help your brand stand out on social media.
4. Time Your Posts
The best way to reach your target audience is to post content when they are most likely to be online. Peak hour differs across channels, location and demographics. There is a lot of research indicating that the optimal time to post on Facebook is 3pm, and the best times to Tweet are Wednesdays- at noon and again between 5pm and 6pm. While statistics such as these are useful, it is important to learn about the online habits specific to your target audience. For example, the online behaviour of someone working 9am-5pm Monday to Friday will differ from that of a single parent or a University student.
There are a number of options when it comes to scheduling your posts on social media. Some channels, such as Facebook and Twitter, offer a business account, which allows you to schedule posts and measure the performance of your content.
Tools such as Hootsuite or Sproutsocial allow you to manage multiple social media channels at the same time. For example, you could start the week by scheduling posts for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Although the content is being scheduled, you don’t want your social media presence to come across as automated, and you should avoid posting right on the hour or half hour. For example, if your research tells you that the best time to post is 5pm, perhaps you might schedule the post for 5:03 or 5:12. If you want to reach people who are online at 5:30, try posting at 5:27, or 5:36.
Facebook has a feature which allows users to announce major life events through their timeline. Some of the default options include graduating from higher education, getting engaged, getting married, expecting a baby, or having a new pet. There is also a ‘custom’ option that allows users to add their own life event.
Facebook Business allows you to target audiences based on specific life events. For example, if you sell pet supplies locally, you can target users in your area who have a new pet. If your business is in the wedding industry, you can market specifically to newly engaged couples.
By marketing to the right people at the right time, you can significantly increase the visibility gained through your content, ultimately leading to a higher conversion rate.
5. Make a Memorable Hashtag
Hashtags are more than a convenient way for users to categorise and filter content. They can be used to build and expand communities who share a goal, a value, or a love for a particular brand.
Ideally, your hashtag is easy to remember, but unique enough that it can generate momentum specific to your campaign. One example of effective marketing through hashtags was Coca-Cola’s mid-2010s ‘#shareacoke’ campaign. As part of this campaign, Coca-Cola produced cans and labels which read ‘share a coke with’ followed by a range of different titles. For example, ‘Share a coke with Sarah’ or ‘Share a coke with Dad.’
Coca-Cola encouraged its audience to tweet their own stories with the hashtag ‘#shareaCoke,’ increasing the brand’s social media visibility by having customers create content.
If you are creating a hashtag campaign, make sure you search the hashtag before you use it in case it is being used by a similar brand or to discuss an unrelated topic. For best results, adopt the hashtag on multiple different channels.
6. Listen and Engage
Improve your social media engagement. Customer feedback is extremely valuable, and one of the appeals of social media is that it allows users to express their opinions – about their favourite TV shows, about news topics, and about products or services they have used. Comments, posts tweets and reviews provide valuable insight to what you’re doing right, and how your customers feel the product or service and be improved.
Social media is also a great avenue for interacting with customers and answering their questions. A positive interaction with a customer goes a long way. Not only is it likely to impress the customer you interact with, but it is also noticeable to other followers or visitors to your page.
Furthermore, activity on a post, including comments, likes and shares, boosts its visibility for other users within your target audience.
When you interact with your audience, you reach a larger number of people, while demonstrating that your brand is trustworthy and cares about its customers.
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