Finding your Footing: A Beginner’s Guide to Social Media
Social media is an especially strong marketing tool for many businesses, allowing you to reach consumers and influencers outside of your organic reach. But gaining a social media following is about more than just posting relevant information and eye-catching imagery; it’s about connecting with your target audience and learning what they like, dislike and/or want to see out of our business.
First things first
Choose the correct channels for your product or service. This is suuuuuper important, because every channel has a different demographic as its primary user. So, if you want to target 50-60-year-old men who are interested in building materials, Twitter probably isn’t the place to do that. Let’s break it down to the general audience for the major social channels most businesses use:
Facebook: This platform has changed a lot, especially recently, and is used primarily by men and women in their 30’s-60’s looking to connect with friends and family. People below 30 primarily use it because it’s the only option of its kind, but don’t typically engage with businesses they don’t know or follow.
Twitter: The audience for Twitter is men and women between 19 and 50, who are looking for news and current event updates in their area.
Instagram: Geared towards the broadest range of people in my opinion, Instagram targets men and women of all ages but in different ways. Below 30, people will follow and interact with brands they know and are loyal to whereas above 30 they might do so with anything that pops on their feed that catches their eye.
LinkedIn: Depending on your business, LinkedIn is a great tool for targeting men and women 21-plus in a professional sense. Really anyone who has a career, or is looking to start one, and is interested in topics regarding their career/industry.
Snapchat: These users are typically younger, around 15-25, and don’t usually interact with brands (other than people, a la celebrity brands) unless it is through a Snapchat filter or paid advertisement.
Those are the most common platforms, but there are countless more to consider. Definitely do some research on which platforms are used more commonly in your industry after reading this blog, and take at look at which channels your direct and indirect competitors are actively using.
Second things second
So, now you’ve identified which platforms you’d like to use based on the audience profile and your industry/target audience. From here you will need to set up your social media profiles accordingly, keeping a few things in mind as you do so.
1. Keep the look and feel of each page in line with your current branding in terms of colors, fonts, and tone of voice. BUT REMEMBER, social media is peer-to-peer marketing so if your current tone is corporate and uses a lot of large words like ‘obfuscate,’ [i]it might confuse people. Try and keep it as close to your brand as possible while still speaking conversationally
2. Identify key social influencers in your industry (i.e. bloggers, reporters, hosts, community partners, media outlets, etc.) and follow them. This will be helpful when trying to track/pitch them on things happening with your business.
When you set up your profiles, make sure to upload a cover photo and profile picture, as well as include ALL relevant contact information. You would be surprised what people are unwilling to search for, so if you have a method of contacting you add it otherwise you will get a direct message requesting it I promise.
*A tip: Keep your profile picture consistent across all channels as this will help users identify your profile more easily.
Third things third
You now know who your audience is, and have the relevant profiles created that will reach them best. The next step is the fun part; content creation! You may find it difficult at first, but here are a few tips to help get started.
Tip 1: Create a “person” that is writing all the content. I know you’re wondering why person is in quotes, because it’s you, and you’re not wrong. BUT, someone else is doing the talking on the posts because if your target audience is a 50-year-old male engineer and you’re a 23-year-old female who likes cats you probably don’t speak or think in the same way.
Put yourself in their shoes and get to know your audience on a level beyond their job. What are their hobbies; what kind of car do they drive; do they listen to the radio or do they pay for Pandora; what’s their favorite kind of food; do they watch sports; and so on. When your audience is on their social media, they’re typically not looking for things to do with work but instead for posts on their personal interests.
Tip 2: PLAN, PLAN, PLAN. You don’t want to post too often and fatigue your audience, but you also don’t want to post too infrequently and let them forget about you. I find that creating a monthly calendar in advance (by the 20th or so of the prior month, for planning and approval purposes) helps keep the content relevant and can help you visualize when you need more content versus less. If you’re just starting out, start with only a few posts a week and slowly work your way up.
Step 2 of this tip is a personal lifesaver. Use a publishing platform to schedule all of the content you’ve just written, in advance of when you’ve planned for it to post to your profile. The platform will automatically push the post to the selected profile when you choose, allowing you to kick back and relax knowing it’s not 10 pm on a Friday and you forgot to post anything all week.
Tip 3: Engage and respond with anyone and everyone who comments on your content. This shows people that it’s a person behind the content and makes them feel closer to your business because you took the time to like their comment or respond to a question. Customer service is a part of social media marketing that not many people think about, but can ultimately make or break a page.
There you have it, your beginner’s guide to social media marketing! Once you’ve gotten a hang on content creation and audience profiling, you can start to dig deeper into the social media ocean. If you need help, give me a call!