When business owners see—or start to hear about—the benefits of social media for business, their first inclination is to jump on board. It makes sense, especially with all the goals that can be achieved with a solid social media presence.
There is one down side to just jumping in to social media: the step of choosing what social media site is right for the business is completely overlooked. Instead, most people tend to sign up for the biggest site so they can cast a big net, or the social media site they have a personal profile on.
That’s when you need to just slow down.
Don’t get us wrong: we’re not saying that Facebook is the wrong site for every business (we’re not!). We’ve achieved great things for many businesses on Facebook. What we are saying is that when you’re considering signing your business up for social media, your first step should be deciding what site or sites is right for you—and how many sites you can manage well.
Choosing the right social media site(s)
Matching your business to the right social media site (or sites) is a match made in heaven, because it allows you to reach the people who like—and want to buy—your products. They’re your target audience—and should be your social media focus.
That’s the problem with jumping on the biggest site, or the site you have a personal profile on. If your target audience isn’t on that social media site (more info on social media sites and key demographics in this infographic), you’re not going to engage with the people you want—and want you.
Are you a hair salon or bridal shop? Consider Pinterest, where images and a mostly-female demographic fit with your product. Sports team? Consider Twitter where fans are waiting for your 140-character updates.
Worse for your business is when you jump on that site, or all the major social media sites, and then discover you don’t have time. An abandoned Facebook page, Twitter profile, or any other business page isn’t going to get you results—and it looks bad to anyone who happens upon your abandoned site.
What makes a solid social media presence
A good social media plan for your business revolves around two key factors: target audience and business calendar. Knowing your target audience facilitates 1) choosing social media sites; 2) selecting the right tone for your audience; 3) determining what content you create and post to social media that fits your audience.
A good social media marketing plan follows the 80/20 or 70/30 rule. Twenty percent of your posts should be promotional and 80% entertaining (if appropriate), relevant and valuable to your audience.
To execute a stellar and efficient social media plan, sign up for a good scheduling tool, such as Hootsuite or Buffer. Don’t schedule your social media posts too far in advance so you can stay on top of trending topics. When necessary, be flexible when needed.
On certain social media sites, such as Twitter and Instagram, hash tags are not optional —at least not for anyone (or business) who wants to gain traction on social media. Posts with relevant hash tags can expose your post to potential followers interested in your industry or topic. Hash tags are also invaluable when starting a conversation, running a photo contest, promoting an event, or executing a coordinated social media campaign. Create original hash tags without any “online baggage” (i.e. used before with negative connotations, taken from a competitor) and promote them through an integrated marketing campaign that includes online and offline marketing efforts.
Social media posts with images have been proven time and again to receive significantly more engagement than posts without. Use this social media image cheat sheet to create images optimal for your social media network, and be very selective about the images you create or choose. Don’t just pull random images off the internet; this can lead to serious legal repercussions (more about image copyright info by Hootsuite here).
If you decide Pinterest or Instagram is right for your business, don’t just worry about size; worry about the quality of your images. These social media networks are visual networks, and you won’t get results unless you have high-quality images and attention-grabbing text.
Your social media plan isn’t going to gain momentum if you’re present for a period and gone for awhile. Inconsistent social media posts are going to get you nowhere if you take the feast and famine approach. Put simply, great social media execution requires regular time—and not just when you have the time.
The definition of “regular” depends on the social media site you are on. Whatever site—and the frequency of your posts—you find works for your company, choose quality posts over quantity. Twenty ‘junk’ tweets or posts won’t get you results (except for bogus followers) if your tweets aren’t valuable and relevant. If you don’t have time to produce and find quality posts, outsource your efforts for optimal social media results on the right site for your business.