Most businesses nowadays have some social media presence. Which is a good idea, because, according to Statista.com, 3.6 billion people in the world were using social media in 2020. So whatever business niche you're in, most likely your audience is on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, TikTok and/or other platforms.
If you've ever used social media (for business), you probably know that some of the best practices are: listening to your audience, keeping your posts short, responding to customers and using pictures and videos to keep your posts interesting. But what else does it take to build a social media presence that works?
In this article, I'll cover 10 best practices and trends for social media marketing and a little bonus at the end.
1. Know your ideal and existing target audience
One of the first important things in marketing: know who you want to buy your products (or services), who you think would buy your products and who is currently buying your products.
If you can define the characteristics of your customers, it'll be easier for you to focus on the social media platforms they use, know what they research and want the answers to, and what sort of content they react best to.
When identifying your target audience, focus mainly on:
• Their sex and age
• Where they live and what language they speak
• What they do for fun in their spare time
• How much money they make and what they do for living
Think of as many things as you can to identify your customers and it'll help you come up with the most effective content ideas for your social media.
2. Research your competitors
If you know who your competitors are, keep a close watch on their social media presence.
How often do they post? On which platform? What kind of content do they post?
Also, don't forget about companies in your field who are not necessarily your competitors. For example, I manage social media for a non-profit in Slovakia and I often get inspired by non-profits in other countries (such as UK, US or Austria). These companies are not competitors, but they do the same and have bigger audience, so they are perfect for the research.
3. Decide on which social media platform(s) to use
It's not the smartest idea to want to be on every social media platform. Unless you're a huge company of hundreds or more of employees and customers (and maybe not even then), you might not want to be everywhere - it's just not necessary.
You can find many data and statistics on this online, but your common sense and the knowledge of your product will tell you where your audience is easily. For example, most of Facebook users are people over 25, or even 30+, whilst Instagram is popular among teenagers and people in their early twenties.
Choose the right social media platform to speak to your audience and they will want to speak back to you.
4. Think about your goals and plans
Social media for companies or freelancers is often used to keep their audience engaged. It's a part of content marketing, which means you want to provide content for your audience about what interests them, keep them updated and informed and form trust with them.
But you can get some serious awareness about your company from social media marketing, and clicks, sales and other conversions, too.
So what is it that you want to achieve with social media presence of your business? Decide whether you want to grow your audience and build awareness, keep your customers engaged and attract new ones, or drive sales and improve your business' KPIs.
5. Set up your profile, plan your content and start posting
It's smart to plan your content ahead of time, but especially in the beginning you might need to observe and try many options to find what works best for you.
Once you have some audience, post different types of content: videos, pictures, infographics, share articles... depending on the platform you use, try different things and see what your audience engages the most with.
Measure constantly - which sort of content is the most popular? How does your audience like to engage? Who is your audience and are they your target audience? If not, how can you attract your ideal customers?
6. Communicate with your audience
Internet is made for a two-way communication. It's important to let your audience speak to you, share their opinions and ask you questions.
CTA (Call to action) is an important part of any copy (or content) and social media is not an exception.
Here are some examples:
- "Let us know in the comments below!"
- "Download my guide now"
- "Register here before the link expires"
You can also communicate with your audience by letting them "create" the content:
- "Today is the International Grandmas Day! What is your favorite memory with your grandma?"
- "We're working on a new menu from March and you can have your say! What should we add and what should we get rid of?"
- "Happy Thanksgiving! What are you most thankful for this year?"
And, of course, don't forget to reply to their comments and messages in a timely manner. If you're asking them to comment, comment back. If they message, message back.
If they leave a review, take the time to reply. Both positive and negative reviews are very important for your business and how you handle them shows a lot about you and your business.
So make sure you put aside your emotions when you communicate with your customers and keep professional at all times.
7. Never stop measuring and adjusting your strategy
Social media platforms usually have their analytics tools, but you can also use external ones (such as Google Analytics, HubSpot, TweetReach, Hootsuite and others).
But also just by looking at your engagement, you might be able to tell who likes your posts and when. These statistics will help you interpret a lot about your posts and your audience.
It's important to understand who interacts with you, how and when.
Look into the stats on when your audience is online and start posting in those times and days.
8. Answer people's questions and give them the content they want
Nobody wants to follow a company that doesn't speak about anything else but how many awards they've been nominated for and other "interesting" news about them.
You can try and ask your audience (see point 6) what they want to know about, observe similar companies' audiences (point 2) and what they react best to. Do your research with search engines and keywords. What are the most common asked questions in your field? Can you answer them?
9. Post pictures and short videos (and audio)
When posting on social media like Facebook or Instagram, you just have to post a picture or a video (well, Facebook lets you post just text, but it's not recommended).
Videos and audio have become especially popular in 2020. Podcasts are booming and videos are supported by most platforms and watched more than ever. According to Statista.com, YouTube
reached 1.78 billion of users in 2020 and the audience is just going to keep growing.
Hubspot also supports the use of images and videos in your social media posts; they found that Tweets with images had 150 % more retweets in 2020 and Facebook posts with images had 2.3x more engagement in 2020.
And what about audio? Well, for one, there is the new, quickly growing, invite-only (for now) social media Clubhouse. Twitter also launched its audio "Spaces" feature and acquired podcast app Breaker, as SocialMediaToday informed earlier this year.
So, be sure to keep your eye on audio and how it might be incorporated in social media, and in the mean time, pictures and videos are the go-to for your posts.
10. Post about your and your company's expertise
Connected to point 8, see what people might be curious about - and answer them.
A company that provides a caregiver service for seniors in their homes should tell people how to lift a senior from their bed, how to help them to shower and what to focus on when choosing the right caregiver for their loved ones. This all can be done with the help of social media: they can record a video, share a blog post or compress the info in the most important bullet points in an infographics.
Similarly, a language school can use their social media to share tips on how to learn a language by yourself in a lockdown or post short pronouncing video/audio as a tutorial.
As long as your audience is interested in it (which they probably are, why else would they follow you?), incorporate your expertise in your social media strategy.
Bonus: SEO for social media
If you're thinking how to use SEO in your social media, don't worry too much, because it's not necessary.
Social media platforms don't directly influence your company's SEO.
But that doesn't mean you should completely forget it.
As I mentioned before, keyword research will help you find out what your audience is looking for and you can help them find it and answer their questions.
Chloe Mason Gray also urges us not to forget the fact that social media are search engines, too.
Your potential customers might search for a tutorial on YouTube, or your content can become visible on Instagram thanks to hashtags.
She also mentions that social media profiles come up in search results. That means, you should keep your social media up to date, interesting and on brand; there might be people who prefer to click on your social media rather than your website.
Also, don't forget to include links in your social media posts. This also doesn't affect the SEO directly, but it definitely helps guiding your audience back to your website and your product.
Social media will be around for another good while - in one form or another, so it's worth to establish your presence on some social media platforms.
What do you think will be the next big thing in social media marketing in 2021?