In recent years, social media marketing has rapidly gained momentum; it can increase brand awareness and build personality, drive more traffic (and hopefully sales!) to your website and potentially improve your SEO.

Over 1.8 million people worldwide use Facebook alone, not forgetting the 15 million Twitter users and 12.2 million Instagramers – just in the UK! With these numbers are still growing rapidly, social media may soon have the power to make or break your business. Make sure you’re heard above the digital noise by reading our tips.

Picking Your Platforms

Pick your platforms wisely – getting exposure to the right people depends on this. It’s better to be selective and use social media well on more targeted channels than trying to spread yourself too thinly on channels that aren’t relevant to your audience and business. Twitter is a popular option and works well for many businesses when used to its full potential. Generally, LinkedIn is better suited to B2B companies, while Facebook is often ideal for B2C. For highly consumer or retail businesses in particular, Instagram and Pinterest are also great for building brand personality and showcasing products.

While there’s nothing stopping you from utilising multiple social media platforms, ensure that, while keeping your brand’s image and messaging consistent, your tone and content is appropriate for each outlet. LinkedIn, for example is a professional platform, while sites like Facebook, Pinterest and Snapchat are typically more informal, with users using them for personal entertainment and value. As a result, you may choose to keep company or more corporate posts on LinkedIn, while less formal, entertaining content is great for other outlets.

Strategy and Goals

Failing to prepare is preparing to fail – successful and effective social media marketing would not be possible without a clear strategy.

The most important question for your strategy to answer is ‘who?’ Who do you want to entertain and engage? Who do you want to follow you? And, most importantly, who do you want to convert into a customer?

The strategy should be based on what you want the customer to do as a result of your social media activity, so bear this in mind when you’re creating it. Think about the content that needs to be posted, who you want to be social with, how this fits in with your wider business objectives. There’s no point being on social media for the sake it – always ask yourself ‘why?’

Plan to post updates when your target audience is most likely to be browsing social media – lunch breaks or commuting hours, for example. Remember though, when users are scrolling through Twitter on their morning commute, they want to be entertained and informed by engaging content – not sold to. Aim for just one in four of your social media posts to be self-promotional, instead, share blogs, relevant industry news or entertainment pieces that your will grab attention and potentially earn you some followers.

What do you want to achieve? Working in tandem with your strategy, set yourself clear goals. Perhaps to achieve X many leads through social media marketing in the next 6 months? To have Z percent of sales generated my social media marketing each month? To reach a click through rate of Y percent by the end of 2017?

Whatever goals you set your business with regards to social media marketing, these should be supported by your strategy and your team.

Measuring your Social Success (ROI, Conversions, KPIs – not vanity metrics)

Using social media marketing effectively can rocket your followers, compete with your competitors and complement your brand personality and customer service.

But you need success you can measure objectively, vanity metrics (your number of followers, likes, retweets etc.) may look nice, but they cannot tell you how many of your followers are now paying customers. It’s much better to have a smaller but more relevant following than a larger one who are not likely to engage with your brand on any level. When you come to creating your strategy, consider your KPIs and ROI at this point.

Growing Your Centre of Influence

In order to help identify and expand your target audience, you’ll need to grow your centre of influence (COI). Commenting on posts from complementary companies, for example, not only gets your company exposure to relevant users, but can also showcase your company’s expertise. You can establish trust in your brand by offering a well-constructed opinion on subject matter in your field, join in the discussion and get your name out there in front of exactly the right people.

Your COI can grow quickly when you consider all of the potential customers that you can target using social media. This is now even easier; thanks to Twitter lists and Facebook fan pages. These features let you collect all of your competitors, influences and complementary companies to view in one single feed, making it easier for you to see what your COI is posting and allowing you quick access to relevant updates to comment on and interact with.

What to Post

As well as using social media to promoting your business, products or services 25% of the time, you need to think about how else to engage your ideal follower and, more importantly, your ideal customer.

So, who is your ideal customer? And what are their interests? Parents of young children? Sports people? Young professionals? Gain and retain followers by posting engaging content that they want to read about. As well as effective hashtags, posts shared with images and or videos tend to perform much better, with many more followers engaging with the post and clicking through to your site.

If you need help generating likes and followers to turn into customers, Generate UK can support you and your team in developing a social media strategy, creating content, managing your channels and more. Find out more about our social media services.