Posted on: October 1, 2020
Many businesses recognise the commercial benefits of being on social media, particularly this year when so much has migrated to digital. It certainly makes sense to be visible on the channels your customers frequently use.
But social media is consumed 24/7 and so a real challenge is how you feed your social media machine.
Social media challenges
Often unable to afford an inhouse social media team, smaller businesses often struggle to:
- make the time for the creative thought process to create update content
- author the content in a way which will engage customers and contacts
- create a regular stream of content to maintain their visibility to their target audiences.
More often than not you see sporadic bursts of activity interspaced by a prolonged period of silence – which often leads to poor follower numbers and a disengaged audience.
The answer isn’t though to pack your profile full of frequent but dull updates. The best social media profiles (the ones that stimulate conversations and business opportunities) are those that are kept fresh with content that adds value or is interesting to the audience.
The people who win business or strengthen their social network relationships are those who interact regularly with their social channel.
So how do you maintain an interesting and continually visible presence on social media, and with limited time and resources? Here are some time-efficient tips to help you keep your profile fresh and engaging.
Plan your content
Most people struggle to come up with creative and engaging updates on the hoof, or under pressure. At the same time, it makes commercial sense to be more strategic and commercial with your updates. So look ahead and plan what key messages are likely to resonate with your audience. Ideally, you should integrate your social activity with any other marketing activities/sales promotions you have planned.
At the beginning of each month, why not decide what your key messages are to be for the days ahead and brainstorm updates there and then? This will give you a pool of content to draw on when you get busy.
Of course, it’s even better if you still post updates in real-time in response to a sudden change, an emerging trend/topic or favourable market condition. Having a backbone of content to draw from, however, can save you valuable time and keep your social media page(s) fresh. The more organised of you can put this content into a calendar so you know what’s appearing then.
Know what topics interest your audience
Chances are you are using social media to get more customers. Chances are you have some idea…
- what your customers like
- what interests them
- what frequently asked questions they come to you with
- what solutions they are looking for.
All of this gives you a pool of topics to concentrate on in your social media updates.
Having articles, blog posts, special offers, videos, podcasts, case studies etc which you have created is fantastic. If not, sometimes it’s good to blend in and share third party content on the topics you know your audience are into. Serving up a mixture of your fresh content with curated content gets you noticed as a useful and ‘go-to’ insight source.
And, if seasonality impacts on your customers’ buying behaviour, make sure you’re certainly visible and touching on seasonal topics at that time of year. Discuss amongst your team what topics are most likely to resonate in the weeks ahead. Look at what your target audience is engaging most with and join in the discussion.
Quality first, then quantity
Think of the social media updates you personally engage with. It’s likely that the more interesting, fun and enjoyable they are, the more likely you are to read them. So carry that sentiment through to your own updates.
Wherever possible put them through the ‘what’s in it for them’ test to create content which your audience will automatically be drawn to and enjoy engaging with. Adding a relevant and eye-catching photo or video will make your post more appealing.
And images showing your business, products and customers in action (rather than library shots) will appeal even more and demonstrate your business’ unique personality and brand.
Where possible recognise the nuances that reside with the different social media channels – not just the update character limits, but also the tone, feel and spirit of each channel. Try and create content which will sit well in the different environments rather than one update which you blanket post to all of them
Pre-schedule to save time
Over the years a number of online social scheduling tools have emerged, which greatly help if you want to preset your updates to appear when you want. Following on from the monthly planning session we mentioned, you could preset your month’s updates in one go to save time. Out of the current scheduling tools, we particularly like Buffer and Hootsuite, although we hear great things about Sprout Social and SocialReport too.
If you are going to use a scheduling tool, be sure to also keep an eye on your social media account and alerts. This will enable you to respond in real-time to any comments, or to react to the latest development/trend which may be grabbing the attention of your audience.
Respond promptly to audience interactions
Your social media page(s) should create the opportunity for dialogue, not simply broadcasting. Too many companies forget this and social media audiences can get very vocal if they feel they’re being ignored.
So make sure the notifications from your channels are coming through to people who are empowered to quickly respond to comments. If needs be, set up a rota so the load gets shared around. The key here is that the designated person ‘on duty’ will monitor any messages, mentions etc and respond promptly and effectively. Don’t have members of the team assigned to this if they don’t have the authority to action the necessary response/resulting activities.
As well as your social media channels notifications (and do make sure you’ve switched the notification settings on), you might want to use something like Mention or Google Alerts to spot references to your company, brand or products online. This will help you keep current with the latest online sentiment for your business.
Any time, any place anywhere
There’s no real excuse not to check out your social media pages. The relating free app is easy to download on your smartphone so you can interact with your social network whenever and wherever you are. This means, when you do have a spare 5 minutes, you can check out how your channel and page are doing and update your status if needs be.
Measure what works and what doesn’t
Social media channels come with great analytic tools, so use them to assess which of your updates generated the most engagement.
Similarly, track traffic from your channels into your website and to pages you’ve set up for conversion into sales. Wherever possible try and map out the contribution social has made to the customer journey as, if you don’t, you will never be sure of it’s real value to you.
Whether you focus on the Business to Consumer or Business to Business market, there are opportunities to be had from using social media. As a marketing channel, social media initially appears to have a low entry point (it’s free to set up a profile). The challenge then comes with resourcing the effort to keep that profile fresh and engaging. That shouldn’t put businesses off, or mean that profiles will be weak. The key is to treat social media strategically as any other channel in your marketing toolkit. Plan and focus your resources effectively and efficiently on your target social media audience:
- Make sure you’re on the right social network for your audience (only go where they are to use resources wisely)
- Think about what your audience will most engage with
- Plan and create content that touches on their interests and encourages dialogue between you both
- Schedule the content to be visible at times when they engage most with the channel
- Respond promptly to their interest and responses
- Measure your approach and finetune where necessary
For more advice on marketing your business contact us or tel. 01483 429111.