The only way to grow your business is to gain new customers. One cost-effective way to secure new leads is via social media. However, it's difficult to know where to concentrate your efforts for the best chance of success.
Social media continues to grow in numbers and frequency of use. Facebook has about 2.2 billion active users each month, and other social media sites are on an upward trend as well. However, just throwing stuff out there — whether on Facebook or another social media site — isn't the most effective use of your marketing time or dollars.
If you want to improve your social media presence, here are seven key steps you need to take as soon as possible.
"Know your audience" is good advice for nearly every type of marketing. It's the basis of figuring out where to have a social media presence and how to reach the specific demographic of people you most want to reach. There are many ways to improve your knowledge of your audience.
Start by studying your website analytics. Who visits your site? Where are they from, and what type of device do they use? Collect as much information as you can. Next, look at your audience on social media right now. You'll also want to study the audience of your competitors and poll your current customers. Collecting all this data and looking at it as a whole allows you to gain a pretty good picture of who your audience is.
Once you have an idea who your typical customer is, take the time to figure out how best to connect with the younger generations. Millennials are one of the largest generations in history, starting to surpass even the baby boomers. Gen Z is right behind them and coming into buying power of their own. If you want your business to remain healthy far into the future, you must connect with those who will be customers for many years to come.
The younger generations want a clean, uncluttered look on your website. They also want to be able to connect easily with your social media channels. Include links on your page so that they can like your social media with a single click or two.
It's important to choose a color scheme and stick to it across all your channels. If you use blue and white on your website, use the same blue on your social media channels. While you can change the look a bit, the page should still be immediately recognizable as your brand. Different colors evoke different emotions in people, so choose wisely based on the emotions you're trying to inspire.
Shopify has a green shopping bag logo, and they use this same color bag and logo across all their online presences. Note the green logo used on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and their website. The minute you land on any of these pages, you instantly recognize that logo, which is highly relevant to the shopping cart services they offer.
About 56 percent of businesses use social media metrics to track likes, shares and comments and figure out which campaigns work. When you see which ads perform best and which target audiences respond the most, you can use the money you spend on social media ads more effectively. The more information you have, the better. Part of this strategy goes back to point one of knowing your audience, but you also have to see the ways that audience performs on the specific social media platforms you're on.
If you choose only one social media network on which to start, choose Facebook. The most commonly used social media platform is Facebook, boasting 79 percent of US-based people who are online. Even the rapidly growing Instagram is only a distant second place, at 32 percent of American internet users. While older generations do use Facebook more frequently than the younger generations, most individuals still maintain some presence on the social media giant to stay updated about family and friends.
When consumers have a positive experience with a brand on social media, they're 71 percent more likely to recommend that brand to others. Spend time training your social media managers in your customer service philosophy, how to handle complaints and engaging with people online. The more positive the experience, the more likely people are to share information about your brand with others and expand your social media reach.
Adobe has a page on Twitter devoted to customer service called Adobe Care. Note how they respond to a customer complaint above. They apologize for the problem, let the customer know what's being done and offer a temporary solution. They also respond quickly rather than leaving the customer hanging.
Even the most diligent social media manager gets busy with other campaigns and misses a post here and there. Fortunately, some tools allow you to schedule ahead of time so that you never miss another timely post again. Automate posts by using apps such as Missingltr, PromoRepublic and HubSpot to automatically generate campaigns based on blog posts and fill out your calendar.
Some tools are free, and some cost a monthly fee. Use what you can afford, and as your company grows, invest in better tools that automate more of your processes.
These seven tips generate a better social media presence for your brand. You can take several small steps on a daily basis that will improve your social media reach, such as adding vibrant photos, investing in video and finding your voice as a brand. With time, you'll gain more followers and drive more traffic to your site from your social media pages.
Lexie is a graphic designer and typography enthusiast. She spends most of her time A/B testing websites and creating style guides. Check out her blog, Design Roast, and follow her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.