Don’t get left behind! One in ten American companies, and one in four small businesses, are not on social media at all. Why would you want to miss the chance to reach 81 percent of the U.S. population?
Social media marketing increases your exposure and drives traffic to your website, and it doesn’t even have to cost you any money. Forty-eight percent of Americans have interacted with companies on at least one social media channel. Social marketing gives you a chance to bring your brand to life, connect with your clients and leads, and share your successes and unique insights with the world. Make sure to read what NOT to do on social media before you get started. This article is designed for small- to medium-size organizations that are beginning to dabble in social media.
How Do I Start?
To make it worth your while, develop a social media marketing strategy designed around your target audience and key messages, and that will drive the channels you will want to use. Visually attractive, engaging, and relevant content (with graphics, images, and video) is critical to attract and retain followers. I’d recommend creating social media templates so all of your posts reflect your brand and look consistent.
Take advantage of all this untapped potential to market your organization:
Share posts created by your clients, colleagues, or community partners
Share your own blog posts, events, polls, and offers
Repost items that your employees have curated
Follow your clients so you can understand their needs and upcoming projects
Follow your competitors to stay apprised of what they’re doing
Follow industry leaders and professional societies to glean industry news
If you do not already have one, create a blog or news tab on your website so you can easily share your organization’s thought leadership and news from there.
Top Six Channels for Companies New to Social Media
Do you really need a Snapchat channel? Unless your target audience is Generation Z (born after 1995), you don’t need to bother with Snapchat. If you’re just starting out with social media marketing, I’d suggest starting with these channels, in this order. The critical success factor is to KEEP IT UP. Don’t just start on social media channels and then stop. Be consistent, provide high-quality posts with imagery, and keep it up.
Best for: Business-to-business advertising, converting visitors to leads, thought leadership, and attracting potential employees
Most people think of LinkedIn as a career site, but it’s become so much more than that. If your clients are other business owners or college-educated professionals, LinkedIn is where you want to be. LinkedIn is the largest online business network in the world.
LinkedIn has 590 million users, with 260 million who are active each month, and they’re all there for a specific purpose—business networking and education. If they come across a post they find interesting or beneficial for their career, they’ll track it to its source. With 2.7 million business pages, LinkedIn is 277 percent more effective than Facebook and Twitter when it comes to converting visitors to leads. A full 80 percent of social media business leads come from LinkedIn. It’s also an essential way to reach millennials: of 2 billion millennials around the world, 87 million are on LinkedIn and 11 million of those are in decision-making positions!
A strong LinkedIn presence that showcases your company culture also is an outstanding method to attract job seekers. Paid job or news postings get your message out even faster.
LinkedIn users want serious, professional, and informative content, and LinkedIn’s blog platform allows you to share your company’s industry leadership or your employees’ professional expertise and insights. LinkedIn offers excellent suggestions for meaningful post ideas. If you’re writing about your clients or partners, don’t forget to tag them in your posts!
Ideal number of posts per week: three to five
Best for: Advertising, building community with your followers, sharing news
Even if you don’t trust Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook is a social media marketing opportunity you simply can’t ignore. With 665 million active users each day (including 74.5 percent of Americans), and 645 million local business page views per week, Facebook remains the winning social media platform. Women (77 percent of users) are more likely to use Facebook than men (66 percent), and contrary to popular belief, young people are the highest users. You can build an online community most easily on Facebook, offering opportunities for your followers to engage with your posts. More users are turning to Facebook to watch video, too.
Senior ad buyers ranked Facebook as the most profitable social media channel to drive return on investment, second after Google ads. Facebook allows your clients or other followers to leave a message, browse through posts and photos, or chat with you online. Your Facebook page needs to be updated regularly with not only promotional information, but also engaging and interesting content. Ideal number of posts per week: two to three
Best for: catching attention with visuals and building engagement, especially with young women
The second most-engaged social network after Facebook, Instagram is on a roll. It’s grown over 10 times the number of users it had in 2013. In June 2018, Instagram reached 1 billion monthly active users, with more than 500 million active users online each day. If you’re trying to reach young people, you must be on Instagram. At least 71 percent of Instagram users are under 35, in particular female, and 50 percent of those users follow at least one business…so 71 percent of U.S. businesses have realized the potential to increase their brand and actively market on Instagram. Instagram drives more engagement per post (liking and commenting) than any other network–ten times more than Facebook. Instagram users also often get recommendations of companies from the influencers they follow.
Instagram takes a bit more effort to manage as a social media channel, because it is best managed from your phone and not your desktop. Furthermore, with its potential for influencer and hashtag engagement, it takes more social media savvy to benefit from the time and energy you invest. Instagram Stories offer a unique opportunity to unwrap your tale in several images. Ideal number of posts per week: three or four
Best for: news in real time, following your clients to see what’s important to them, staying up to speed with industry news
With 215 million active users, Twitter provides an excellent way to engage your clients and stay up to date on industry trends. Twitter is best used as a source of news in real time. If you follow your clients and colleagues, you’ll learn information about their pressing needs and upcoming projects. You can amplify their messages by sharing their posts.
Twitter is the top social media channel for customer service, because it allows people to contact you quickly and easily. In terms of advertising, it is not as valuable as Facebook, LinkedIn, or Instagram. Because it moves so rapidly, you need to be active on Twitter regularly (ideally several times a day) to be noticed. Ideal number of posts: at least two or three a day
Best for: Sharing video stories of what you or your clients are doing to make the world a better place
Depending on your type of business and industry, YouTube can be another great way to get your message out. YouTube has over 1 billion unique visitors every month, with over 100 hours of video uploaded every minute. It’s the second largest search engine after Google. YouTube is also owned by Google, so when it comes to boosting your SEO ranking, videos are over 50 times more likely to appear on the first page of your Google search results.
YouTube is a great platform for sharing your knowledge (e.g., how-to videos) or telling stories about your amazing work. Creating videos that represent your brand well takes more planning and investment, though, so that’s why this is on the bottom of the list for organizations that are fairly new to social media.
Ideal number of posts per week: one, depending on your industry
Best for: Posting job ads and company updates; responding to reviews
GlassDoor is a recruiting and company rating site, and many companies pay for additional benefits. What many are not aware of, though, is that your company can post status updates that contribute to your recruiting brand. It’s also good practice to respond to reviews from employees or former employees, both the critical and the positive comments. Whether it's Yelp, TripAdvisor, or GlassDoor, companies rise in my estimation if they respond to their reviews.
Ideal number of posts per week: one or two
How Do I Track All of This?
If you’re serious about boosting your social media presence and taking advantage of the marketing opportunities out there, I’d recommend subscribing to a social media dashboard such as one of these.
I’ve always used Hootsuite, because it allows you to schedule and edit your posts and follow several channels and streams, and it’s reasonably priced for companies large and small. For example, when I went to the UK last summer for vacation, I scheduled posts ahead of time to keep my company’s channels active. I’d suggest that you start out with a tutorial on Youtube—there’s lots of great training out there. You don’t have to use Hootsuite to post things, but it has many advantages—the most prominent one being that you can schedule ahead and set up streams.
Still Feeling Overwhelmed?
You don’t have to go it alone. Contract with a marketing communications professional to help your company take advantage of the plentiful PR and marketing opportunities on social media. I promise you—investing in a social media program will pay off big time!
Fertile Ground Communications LLC inspires people through story and turns dry language into compelling communications. We specialize in supporting purpose-driven organizations that are working to make the world a better place and helping clients create a healthy, vibrant future for generations to come. Learn more at www.fertilegroundcommunications.com.