With half of the world’s population now on social media, it’s rare to find a brand or business not using it to grow an audience, generate leads, and increase sales online.
Social media has a place and its here to stay, so here is how to use it in 2021.
Some questions we received when social media was new are the same ones we receive today:
• How do I find time to do it?
• What’s the ROI?
• How do I make it pay?
• Can I sell?
People see social media as this disconnected piece of marketing that you have to figure out and play in. Just like every other facet of marketing — social media needs a strategy too.
Social media is just another channel; it is another part of marketing. So how does it fit into your overall objectives? You may realize that you are wasting your time with social media because it doesn’t help achieve your objective of growing your business or getting more clients. Lots of people bought into, “I have to be there, I have to be in all these new places or I’ll be left behind.” In some cases, your clients aren’t there and you can’t physically participate and do well there without watering down your other efforts.
Why businesses use social media today
What’s the main reason you use social media today? Most folks are going to say, “I don’t really know,” that’s probably the most honest answer. Brand awareness, community engagement and content distribution are the biggest reasons that people use social media today. Sales, lead generation, and customer support are not far behind because those are the things that we want to do the most, there’s a place for social media today, and you just have to understand where that is.
On the flip side, I read a statistic recently from GlobalWebIndex that 71% are more likely to purchase products and services based on a brand’s social media presence and referrals, so it does have the power to help you meet your objectives. Social media today is about meeting your objectives.
How to meet business objectives with social media
So how could social media meet your business objectives? First outline what those objectives are: Is it to get a certain number of new clients? is it to launch into a new service area? Is it to launch a brand or a new product campaign? Is it to build a community?
If you think about those as some of your objectives then you could start saying, “Okay, well how could we tie that then to marketing objectives,” because sometimes it’s very difficult to go from launching a new product to how does Twitter help us do that? If you think about some of the marketing objectives, like:
• Increasing awareness
• Driving traffic
• Re-engaging current customers
• Generating leads
• Growing revenue
• Boosting engagement
• Building community
• Social selling
• Offering support to existing customers
Those are marketing objectives that actually can be accomplished quite nicely through the right use of social media today.
Think for a minute. What are your top three marketing objectives for the rest of 2021? Once you have those, it’s simply a matter of saying, “Okay, how could social media help me do that? Here’s a list of specific tactics that we are going to use in order to have social media accomplish those goals.”
If you want to expand into a new market segment, the strategy for that might be to use social media to discover and build relationships with influencers or brand ambassadors. Break it down to a project. Create a list using Twitter lists or using BuzzSumo. Use an influencer platform like Upfluence to find people who fit your brand and manage your influencer campaigns.
Make a plan to reach out to 10 of them a day about potential partnering. Break it down into specific things and just ask yourself, “How can social media help me do that?” Please notice, I haven’t mentioned a single platform yet. The missing element is that we don’t understand “ how” and “why” so we can make proper decisions about when and where.
What are some of the tactics or some of the things that you can do in social media based on the stages of the buyer’s journey? For example I talk about the Marketing cycle; know, like, trust, try, buy, repeat, and refer. I’ll even add an eighth step to that. For a lot of companies, social media can be great for hiring as well. Paid social, paid Facebook ads, and paid LinkedIn ads can be a really great way for people to come to know you or know about your content. There’s no question that showing a personal side on a social media platform is a way for somebody to identify with or like your brand.
Telling stories on social media is a great way to build trust, which is a step we need. You can make offers for certain types of businesses having a special or a sale or a holiday event as long as you are providing value and engagement in other forms. This is a very legitimate way of using social media. Doing things once somebody buys from you, like creating a Twitter video and just saying, “Hey Bob, we really appreciated working with you.” Or, “Hey Bob, here’s your finished product. We’re shipping out today.” That kind of stuff is a great use of social media to generate repeat business.
There are different ways to use social media. Creating a Facebook group of your customers or champion customers and creating something unique or custom for them. From a hiring standpoint, most of your employees are on social media so you can use their networks, in some ways, to help recruit and maybe create some sort of formal program. If you think about using social media not as just this megaphone that gives you an audience but for your very specific marketing objectives, business objectives, and then meeting certain intent throughout the customer journey, you can develop a strategy that makes some sense.
What social media platforms you can use today
The amount of social media platforms to choose to be active on keeps increasing every year, but you don’t have to conquer them all. In fact, it’s best if you only choose the two or three that are really relevant to your business and that you can align your business objectives with.
Twitter makes it easy to distribute your content. And, there are over 326 million average monthly Twitter users globally for you to share that content with.
There are a ton of reasons to choose to use Twitter as one of your social media channels. It’s free to use, it allows you to offer quick customer service and support, it can be used as a search engine tool for competitive analysis and for prospects to learn more about your business, and it allows you to directly communicate with your audience.
Facebook is a place for audiences to connect with businesses big and small. In fact, two-thirds of Facebook users report visiting a local business Facebook Page at least once a week. Facebook also offers in-depth paid ads and highly-customizable targeting features.
The social media platform has launched features similar to Instagram like Facebook live and Facebook stories. These are great features to educate and communicate with your audience on Facebook.
As one of the most important B2B social media platforms, LinkedIn is a channel that can help you attract more eyes on your business. LinkedIn is one of the most popular social networks for professionals and entrepreneurs. You can use the platform to showcase your business in multiple ways – if you are the face of your business, having a personal presence is important. You can also create a showcase page for your business and distribute content there as well.
Instagram marketing is competitive, but not impossible. Instagram offers a massive reach for brands with an advertising audience of more than 1.16 billion people – coming in at the third largest social media platform.
Today, 90% of Instagram users follow at least one business. And it isn’t only consumer products that benefit from having a presence on Instagram. More than 36% of B2B decision-makers use Instagram when researching new products or services. This makes Instagram a great channel to showcase the products or services your business has to offer
Clubhouse is a relatively new social media platform focused on live audio. As a business owner, Clubhouse offers some unique advantages that make it worth considering. You can learn about your audience’s concerns and desires directly from them. It’s as close to a real-life conversation as you’re going to get on a virtual platform.
On Clubhouse, you don’t have to chase down your target market every time you log on. Your audience is already there and they want to engage in a conversation with you. Because of the real-time nature of the content and the ease of bringing people into the discussion, it allows you to have meaningful conversations and build know, like, and trust with your audience.
TikTok is a video-sharing social network with over 800 million monthly active users and an average daily view time of 52 minutes. Right now, TikTok is experiencing a period of exponential growth which means there’s a huge audience ready to be tapped into. Brands who’ve successfully pivoted to TikTok early have reaped huge brand awareness rewards, often with very little investment.
Creating viral content on TikTok is much more attainable than it is on a platform like Facebook or Instagram. The video-sharing platform has a huge trend culture, but there are trends in every niche making it possible for your business to shine within yours.
How We Approach Social Media for business
I’m going to wrap things up by just talking about a couple things we do at Midland Digital Solutions. People ask what tools we use or what platforms we leverage. Our in house marketing efforts focus primarily on Linked in, Facebook and Instagram. We spend more time on these because we get the best type of engagement there with limited resources.
Our facebook approach is that we want to promote on the business page. Our business page serves a critical business function for us. The business page is meant to be Midland Digital Marketing stuff. As far as content goes, about 30% of the content is our ongoing content, the content that we’re producing on a daily and weekly basis. About 25% is curated content from other sources, 25% is straight up business goals so we’ll promote a product, a new podcast episode, a webinar, an event that I’m doing that I want people to take advantage of because they may opt-in.
We’re trying to meet business goals. We boost or advertise most of the content. We devote another 25% to people, and culture, and personal observation. We round that out with our ongoing content that is on our editorial calendar. A fourth is curated from other sources, a fourth is aimed at meeting our business goals, and about a fourth is just people, culture, goofy stuff. That’s the mix that we like to go with on Facebook right now. That seems to be a good mix to create engagement and to create views, and to create comments. Then we consistently advertise on Facebook as well with focus on the two categories of our own ongoing content and of the content that supports our business goals.
As far as Instagram goes, Instagram recently introduced a business page account. You get more insights and access to the advertising platform with it. Please create an Instagram business page if you leverage that platform.
Tools to consider using to amplify your social media strategy
As far as tools go for social media scheduling and management, we are big fans of Buffer and hootsuite. A new social scheduling tool we’ve recently been testing out is MissingLtr – the platform offers quite a few more features than Buffer like advanced performance analytics, content curation, and more.
Facebook and Twitter actually have some pretty good insights. The business side of Instagram provides some great analytics as well.
We use Canva and Headliner for content creation. Canva has tons of different templates used to create clean, unique graphics for Instagram and facebook to promote a new blog article or an upcoming webinar. Headliner allows you easily create videos to promote things like a new podcast episode or blog article.
Social media is about meeting business and marketing objectives and looking at the platforms that really allow you to do that. Half the tools out there will do the job so you need to make a determination about the business objectives and marketing objectives you’re trying to meet. Set up campaigns and tactics based on your strategy and you will ultimately win.
Ask yourself this question if you’re trying to decide about social media today: does this tool or this practice or this tactic benefit my customers? if your answer is “yes”, go for it, and have the right tools in place to measure your return on investment.