There's no denying it. Social Media is part of our everyday life, as consumers, marketers, and social beings.
Whatever the niche is, whether B2B or B2C, one thing is certain—we have to do social media right. The fact is, your target market is in social media, you just have to know where and how to reach them efficiently.
Today we talk about how to get ahead of the game and maximize social media's full potential to grow your business. Here are several ways to leverage social media to grow your business:
1. Jump in the Social Publishing Bandwagon
The rise of Content Marketing has caused social media networks to build their own publishing platforms. With the success and growth of LinkedIn Pulse, other social media giants have also taken this publishing route. Today, aside from LinkedIn Pulse, we have Twitter Moments and Facebook Instant Articles. And then there's Medium, which is not really considered a "social network" per se, but have become a content distribution channel that bloggers and brands use to attract bigger audience.
What's happening here is, these social networks have allowed users to publish full articles on the social media platform, rather than just sharing links. That said, definitely include social publishing in your content strategy this year and see how it works for you!
2. Know Where Your Market Is
You don't have to be in ALL social media channels. Say, if you have 3 hours to allot to social media in a day, don't spread those hours thinly across 3-5 different social media channels. Instead, take 1 or 2 channels and focus all of your efforts there.
Here are some quick social media statistics:
- 90% of Instagram users are below 35 years old.
- LinkedIn is more widely used by professionals and executives, aged between 30 to 49.
- YouTube reaches more adults aged 18 to 34 than any single cable TV network.
- Snapchat is the youngest social network of all. More than six out of 10 Snapchat users are in the 18-to-24 age group.
- Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest drive the most social media referral traffic back to websites. But YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn drive the most engaged traffic.
You have to begin with understanding who your market is, and then finding which social media network they hang out in. Invest your time and money there.
3. Engage with Social Media Influencers
Adweek claims Influencer Marketing as the next big thing. This is where PR, SEO (link building), Content Marketing and Paid Advertising intersect, and many brands will continue to take on social media influencers to talk about their products and spark conversations with their market.
This is true for both B2C and B2B strategies. In SEO and Content Marketing, we call this "influencer outreach", where marketers build relationships with subject matter experts for the purpose of creative link building, thought leadership, and networking. With (relatively) little effort to connect with influencers in your niche, you can actually hit a lot of your targets at once.
When engaging with social media influencers, it's good to take note of the following:
- Your biggest advocates have the fewest followers (Buffer). A huge following may get you a lot of hearts and likes, sure, but that may not equate to action and engagement. Interestingly, "an analysis of over 1 billion social mentions from the past two years showed that 91 percent of mentions come from people with fewer than 500 followers." Hmm.
- Focus on quality content over quantity of reach. "Brands are interested in value, not empty views," says Frank Narra. This tells us to not be blinded by the number of followers, instead, focus on the credibility of the influencer and his/her ability to create valuable branded content.
That said, consider setting budget for influencer outreach this year. Not only is it good for brand reputation and immediate traffic and sales, it can also add value to your organic rankings and visibility long-term.
4. Experiment on New Content Formats
There are various ways to attract social media followers, and depending on your business goals and target market, you have to consider experimenting on new formats.
Here are some quick stats:
- 58% of marketers say original written content is their most important form of social content. 19% say the same about original visual content e.g., infographics. 10% say curation of others’ content is most important. (Buffer)
- Followers value images, videos, and customer reviews from brands most highly on social media. They place the least value on white papers and ebooks. (SocialTimes)
- Posts with videos attract three times as many inbound links as plain text. (iMedia Connection)
Once upon a time it was easy to conclude that visual content is more effective, or that videos get the most engagement, or that whitepapers are best for B2B. The statistics above only proves to us that there is no longer a cookie cutter way to doing social media or content marketing.
There are myriads of ways to attack different industries, and business goals, and buyer personas. Your best bet is to understand your niche, see what your competitors are doing, do an inventory of your resources, and experiment on what works for your business.
5. Take Advantage of "Owned" Distribution Channels and Influencers
What do we mean by owned distribution channels? Just like "owned media", every business has distribution channels within its reach. These are your existing clients and followers, your own content marketing team, your employees.
And since we mentioned employees, you may be surprised to know that your employees can be your best (or worst!) influencers, with 50% of employees reported to talk about their company on social media—without any prompting. A study shows that there are nearly 120 million full-time employees in the U.S. alone, which means about 60 million employees choose to talk about their employer online.
That's good news as far as word-of-mouth content distribution and social media promotion goes, except, most businesses are not aware of what their employees are saying about them. Employees talk about their company on social media without any guidance on safe content, which may pose some critical issues and challenges down the line.
This year, think about how to empower your employees to be influencers in their own right, and to take part in your company-wide marketing strategy. We see how this works for companies like Moz and Hubspot. Growing influencers in-house benefits both parties, giving the company its much needed social reach, while also providing personal networking and career growth to its employees.
6. Invest in Sponsored Posts and Paid Advertising
If you still think that your market will find you organically, think again. Publishing content is just half the battle. How you promote and distribute content is the real game changer. With Instagram rolling out its own Sponsored Ads last year, joining the ranks of Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter who have their own advertising models, there's no denying that the social media and content publishing battle has gone paid.
But now it boils to identifying where to get the most bang for your buck, whether doing sponsored content placements, brand partnerships, commissioning social media influencers, and creating paid ads. With a data-driven and strategic paid advertising campaign, you get a bigger chance that your content reaches your target market in the most cost-efficient way possible.
How about you? How are you making the most out of your social media efforts this year?