Day by day, the internet is buzzing with articles about the dos and don’ts of social media. But many beginners’ guides miss out some of the crucial advanced tips – the insider info that makes social media really effective.
According to data published in Forbes, social media usage amongst US adults has increased by 800 per cent in just 8 years. If you’re not already taking advantage of social media, now’s the time to begin. But make sure you know the secrets of a really effective social media presence.
It’s OK Not to Over-share
When you first get started with social media, it can feel like a big commitment that you just don’t have time for. You’ll have joined some of the big networks like Facebook and Twitter, and perhaps some smaller ones too, and the challenge of keeping all of them updated may seem like an impossible task.
In business, time is money, and wasting time on social media is no different than wasting other resources.
It’s best to start out with a small number of social networks so that you don’t spread your time (and your content) too thinly. As you get used to each one, you’ll quickly figure out which sites are the most valuable and providing the best return on investment. You can then share more on those networks and scale back your involvement if it’s just not working.
Tip: Reserve your business name on social media sites quickly: take a look at KnowEm.com. That way, your accounts are set up and waiting if you want to use them, but you don’t need to actively spend time curating content for each one if you’re not ready.
A Little Automation is OK
Once you’ve figured out which sites are working best for you, you might want to try automating some of your social media tasks so you can reclaim some of the time you’re spending on updates.
Automation has gotten itself something of a bad name in social media, but there’s no harm in using a third party service to support your posting and commenting efforts. Just use automation sparingly.
Social media has to be a two-way exchange to be effective, and simply pumping out updates does nothing to encourage engagement or conversation. But try these alternatives:
- Use Buffer to schedule updates to your different networks.
- Mute timewasters and abusive followers with SocialOomph.
- Try Constant Contact for effective cross-promotion.
Ditch the Hard Sell
All too often, businesses treat social media as a one-way advertising channel, using the same old tactics they’ve been using on advertisements and infomercials. Social media is not a traditional outbound marketing resource and it’s important that the tone of your messages reflects the setting you’re in.
When tweeting, for example, refrain from sending marketing messages. Instead, aim to start conversations. Sure, you can target those conversations and engage likely customers, but your primary goal is not to sell.
All too often, businesses simply bark out advertising without considering the potential to interact. If you’re smart, you’ll be able to harness the power of social media to make connections, rather than trying to sell your product ‘dry’ to whoever happens to be around.
There’s a Time and a Place
Social networks move quickly, and naturally, they’re all updated around the clock. But that doesn’t mean you have to tend to your social media pages 24/7.
In order to make the best use of social media, you need to understand what your audience is looking for – and when.
Most businesses have a core demographic that they’re marketing to, and generally, there will be a geographical element to that. It makes sense to target social media activity towards the days and times when that audience is most likely to benefit from it. That means updating your social networks when your market is online – not necessarily when it’s convenient for you. (This is where automation can help: see above).
If you’re not sure when to update your social networks, take a look at these useful resources:
- Moz published some interesting statistics about the lifespan of an average tweet.
- Here’s some data from Facebook about its News Feed algorithm and how it works.
- Check out some recommend times to post on social media in this infographic. (Remember: this is general advice, and your experience may vary.)
Broader Horizons Mean Bigger Audiences
If you’re using the ‘main’ social sites like Facebook and Twitter, is it time you branched out? Social networking and written content go hand in hand, but there’s plenty of scope for a social campaign to include video and images too.
Also, Google is always pushing businesses to promote themselves locally, and Google+ isn’t the only way. Brands are always looking for the next big social network, and there are a few notable newcomers that could be worth your attention:
- Pinterest is five years old, yet it has only really gained traction in the last couple of years. According to Pew Research, more than 80 percent of its users are female, making it a key site for many businesses.
- Vine has attracted attention from marketers thanks to its short, simple video format. Owned by Twitter, it’s remarkably easy to use.
- Nextdoor is a new social network based on local events and interaction. If you have a bricks and mortar store, it’s one to watch.
Measuring Your ROI
Whatever your social media strategy may be, measuring your return on investment (ROI) is the best way to ensure it’s working. Whether you use a special social monitoring tool or a free alternative like Google Analytics, make sure you have something in place that will keep track of your campaign performance as it evolves.
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