Is Social Media still important and should you bother?
If you’ve just started a business and put together the social media profiles for your company brand on different networks, then I’m sure your mind is filled with questions like:
“How do I get followers and likes?”
“How do I get traffic to my website via social media?”
Or if you have traffic, you reach a certain point when you ask yourself:
“How will I manage to increase that traffic consistently?”
This article will help you find answers to all of those questions.
The most important thing it will do is guide you in creating your social media strategy and understand the elements that influence that strategy to materialize and change over time.
Funny thing about time… it’s a great ingredient for research. A study done by the Pew Research Center on social media usage between 2005 and 2015 shows that the percentage of people in the US using one or more social networks has increased from 7% to a staggering 65%. Still don’t believe you should focus on social media? Just take a look at this Compilation of the latest social media statistics of consumer adoption and usage from Smart Insights.
So why is social media so important? Because people spend a lot of time on these networks, and that makes them the perfect medium for referrals and driving traffic to your website pages.
How does social media drive traffic, you ask?
- By engaging viewers and offering them useful, relevant content.
- Holding surveys, asking questions, connecting with the audience.
- Getting feedback, analyzing and adjusting your marketing strategy as a result.
- Using brand recognition; making sure the brand is in front of potential buyers in case they are looking for your services, giving them incentives to buy.
- Associating with influencers. Expanding the professional reach of partners and collaborators, associating the brand with industry influencers; becoming an influential source of advice and information and sharing website content.
- Increasing customer retention and brand loyalty. Social media is better than any other feedback tool because it’s a medium in which you get social, and you receive the sincere responses from your audience and customers. You easily find out more about your target audience, (better profiling for your customer), and your target audience gets to know you better as well (which in turn increases conversion and loyalty).
- Gaining trust and credibility. People expect your company to have Facebook and Twitter profiles because it’s a way they can contact you and find reliable information. You look legitimate, and the more people hear about your brand, the more credibility you will gain.
- SEO score. Every SEO expert knows your social media account affects your SEO score as well, affecting your website traffic in turn. Social networks are starting to look more and more like search engines, and you can’t do SEO without taking care of social media accounts on all relevant channels.
Choosing the right Social Media channel for your business
When choosing the best social media channels for your business, make sure the chosen medium is aligned with your business goals. Create measurable objectives by using the S.M.A.R.T. strategy.
Look at demographics (location, age, gender, income, religion, ethnicity, education level, marital status, the number of children) to find your buyer personas and their favourite mediums.
Ask questions like: What do they like or dislike? What motivates them? Are they career oriented? (HubSpot is doing an excellent job attracting these kinds of followers). Are they the trend followers? Are they sociable followers? (Example: Buzzfeed is doing a great job in attracting sociable and trend followers). Are they attention seekers? (this type would do anything for likes). For help in discovering your audience, you can use tools like Mention, to monitor keywords related to your business.
You don’t have to be on all social media channels, just the ones that best help you accomplish your goals. Because even though setting up a profile won’t cost you anything, managing it will cost you time! Facebook and Twitter are great mediums for B2C (business to customer) type interactions.
Let’s talk hypothetically here. Imagine you own a bar, and you search for a hashtag such as “beer”; you’ll find out what people in your city talk about when to come to your services, and you can interact with them, and give them offers via a simple @ sign.
Linkedin is great for B2B (business to business) type interactions. I like how the guys from Link Humans present the importance of social media for B2B in their podcast ”5 Reasons Social Media is Important for B2B” (and love their British accent too). Even in business to business environments, the core element is the human; businesses are groups of people, be attractive to people and businesses will find you interesting.
Google+ helps increase traffic for posts that offer value and Pinterest is all about the visual element (Infographics and photographs, anything visually informative and relevant to your brand). Retailers love Instagram because it offers them the perfect opportunity to showcase their products.
I like and recommend SlideShare; you can present even the heaviest and complex information in a way that your target audience will easily understand. People go to SlideShare to get educated on complex issues, find solutions to problems, and of course, see some great presentations!
Let’s talk about costs for a second, shall we? At a first glance, social media will only cost you (or the person you give the task to) a few hours a day, which is nothing compared to the increase in sales that it can bring you. By increasing the traffic to your website significantly, all you have to do is close the deal.
It’s all about being present!
What should I post on Social Media?
After choosing your social media networks and fully filling out your profiles, the next step is to create and publish posts. But how do you do that? Check out what your competition is doing and do it better than them!
After a while, you’ll find your voice or tone and put together your posting strategy. Use any relevant skills you have, for example if you’re good with photographing and Photoshop, you can share images and photos on Pinterest and Instagram.
We even have a list of content generating tools to help you:
- Canva for images
- Skitch for Screenshots
- Infogr.am for infographics
- And MyBlogU to brainstorm ideas for social content.
Images and visual elements in general (videos, gifs) get more views, clicks, reshares and likes than any other type of post. On Facebook and Twitter, photos get 53% more likes, 104% more comments and 84% more click-throughs on links than posts without visual content.
Make sure you include visuals, hashtags, short text and emoticons when relevant for more interaction. You can post links, images; you can re-share, post quotes. A good idea would be to post the same type of content all week except for one day on which you post a different kind of content (to observe the effect it has in audience engagement).
Worried that your competitor’s news feed won’t be enough inspiration? Check out these cool 100 social media post ideas from non-other than Forbes!
When and how often should you be posting?
What’s the best time to post on social media? The problem with posting time is that because you can have fans and followers all over the world, there cannot be a perfect time for posting on one or all social networks. This is important because if you post at high traffic time on Social Media networks, more people will see your post and you’ll have better results.
Although there are several studies, claiming one or another time is better for posting, the best way of finding that out remains – trial and error. Post at all times of the day by using post scheduling tools and see which times and days (online studies claim Thursdays and Fridays have 18% higher engagement) work best for your brand and products.
How often can I post without being perceived as spam by my audience?
The following infographic from Buffer, realizes in collaboration with SumAll gives some insight into how often you can and should exactly post on social media platforms.
Adapting the message to your different Social Media channels
This is a subject of discussion in social media circles because some people tend to share the same message on all social media channels.
For example, let’s say you created a blog post, and you’re sharing it on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Google+. If you’re to write the same message to accompany your blog post on all social networks, then people that view your post on more than one medium will scroll past it.
Why write a different message on different networks? After someone says “pass” to your blog post on one medium, you get another chance to grab their attention on a different medium, through a different approach.
Apart from that, your post will be different in appearance and structure; thanks to the differences between mediums (no hashtags on Linkedin, no snippet on Twitter and so on).
Social Media traffic increasing strategies
- Sharing the same content more than once
What happens with traffic if your share your social media posts more than once?
Ok, pay attention because what I am about to share with you has the power to almost double your traffic. It’s a simple idea that pays off if you do it right.
So here’s what you are going to do…
When you publish a post, include a heading, a link, hashtags and share it on all networks. What we marketers always tend to forget is that few people actually see the post when we share it. The reach of the news feed to the interested party is limited by the presence of the audience on the Social Media platform at the time (as we mentioned at point 3).
For that reason…
You are going to share valuable and actionable content more than once, even 1-2 weeks from the initial posting. Don’t make the mistake to use tools that share your content every hour; filling people’s news feed with your posts will make them think “spam” and unfollow you. There’s no need to force the relationship and lose it all together, right?
Extra Tip: Remember to ask yourself “How long will the content be fresh or shareable?”
- Using hashtags for greater reach
Hashtags are on most of the social platforms – Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, etc. Hashtags can help you do research to see what people are discussing in connection with your brand and products and can be used to make your content easily found by interested parties.
All you have to do is include relevant hashtags that rank high in traffic in your social posts. Just like in everything else, too much can spoil the broth.
- Join relevant social network groups and communities. Especially less known groups!
You can create or join groups and communities, bringing people together in one place under one idea or interest.
What you have to do is…
Create one or more groups and join a large number of active groups and communities that relate to your niche. These are an important traffic resource for your website thanks to the community spirit and the principles that determine the formation of such groups.
Tip: Post your new content links in these groups but don’t be too sales-y with your updates (people want value, not feeling like they are being sold something).
Join less known social media networks to get a competitive advantage (the first one in closes the sale!). Try to find social platforms created especially for your industry (for example GoodReads for book authors); that means they’re interested in your products and what you have to say.
- Including website material on social media, and social media channels in the footer of your website
Make sure it’s easy to share your website content on social media and that all links from your social media posts work perfectly. It’s a two-way street when it comes to website traffic and social media; making your website social media friendly is very important, and you can use AddThis to include social media buttons (with logos) to your websites for greater visibility and traffic.
And while we are talking about buttons… don’t forget about “Buy now” action buttons in your Social Media profiles.
- Paying attention to… and engaging with industry influencers
A great idea to get influencers to share your content is to create articles that feature them and their websites/ blogs/ companies. You can either create an interview article with one influencer or create an influencer roundup blog post (check out how to do an influencer roundup in this article from Social Media Examiner).
Contact influencers, ask them to share your content and spend some money on StumbleUpon ads. Your website will appear as a “referrer” in influencer website analytics, encouraging them to share your content and increase traffic to your website.
The visual side of Social Media
Posts with visual elements such as images have a significantly higher engagement that the ones that don’t. Just as the guys from HubSpot say in this article from January: ”37 Visual Content Marketing Statistics You Should Know in 2016” content with illustrations and colour have a higher appeal for people and get shared and re-shared.
In recent years, we have observed that video is better than images by far, and its importance is rising; it makes sense, because if one picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth much more.
Social video continues to surge, on YouTube and Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and beyond. To create and read about social videos we recommend this article from Hootsuite: “A Guide to Social Video, and Where it Fits in Your Marketing Plan”.
Is Social Media marketing automation a good idea?
Automation for your social media posts is definitely a good idea (here are the top automation tools: “7 Terrific Time Saving Social Media Automation Tools that you have to use!”. Choose the best one for you, especially if you want to analyze the results of a post at any given hour of the day or night.
You don’t get to sit back because just posting isn’t enough; you need to talk to the people interacting with your content (customers, references, friends, colleagues). They’re too important to ignore. (Again, tools like Mention help with keeping up with all the conversations).
Tracking your results? Where do you go from there?
Use Google Analytics social reports to track your results in social media traffic and extract the next steps of your social media strategy from the “numbers” you discover.
Sprout Social offers a full suite of social media analytics, which help you see exactly what messages perform best. By integrating Sprout Social with Google Analytics, you can see which of your posts are driving traffic, conversions, and overall revenue.
Remember! Be genuine, interesting and most of all… be social!
Thank you for reading and please share if you found this useful. Have you tried any of the methods or tools above? We would love to read about your experience in the comment section below.
Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net