Social media is all around us and has become a daily part of people’s lives.
As of this month, there are nearly 650 million Twitter users, posting some 58 million tweets every day. Facebook is even bigger, with 1.4 billion users, spending 700 billion minutes on the network every month. In the United States, 58% of the population use at least one social network, and that number leaps to 98% for those aged 18 to 24 years old.
And yet, I still have organizations or consultants tell me, “my customers aren’t really on social media.”
Your customers ARE on social media
Unless your customers live under a rock and do not have Internet access or a smartphone, you should assume they are on social media. In fact, according to research by the University of California Berkeley, some 80% of respondents use the Internet to research information on a product or service they want to buy, and increasingly, that’s on social media networks, no Google search.
Using social media to reach your customers and tell your story is no longer an “if” but a “must have”.
But where do you start and how do you figure out which social media channels to use? You will want a plan. The only thing worse than not being there at all is creating a profile and having zero content or information. In this case, build it and they will come doesn’t work.
Top 8 steps to get you started
- Research which social network your customers use most and start with the top one: If your customers are mostly consumers, then Facebook is a must have and a good starting place. If you are a B2B product or service, then start with Twitter. One fast way to figure out where to start is to research where your top competitors have a presence and make sure you are in the conversation.
- Build a great profile: As you build your first profile, make sure you are following best practices. Each social network provides helpful guides and suggestions, and if you don’t have the time or staff, then hire someone to do this for you.
- Develop compelling content: Content is king on social media. Spend some time researching your competition or market leaders to determine what type of content is driving the best engagement and follower growth. If you don’t know what to write or don’t have the resources, look to getting expert help from a social consultant or agency.
- Grow your follower base: In spite of what some people say, growing followers should always be a case of quality over quantity. Think of your followers as leads. You should be able to do this organically or at a very low cost.
- Measure, analyze and adapt: As you start building out your presence and community, make sure you are using data to determine what’s working and what’s not and track your progress. You want to do initial baseline metrics, and then continue to use data to improve how you are engaging and adding followers.
- Increase frequency of content: Once you know what type of content works best with your followers, try doing more. But be clear on how different social networks require very different levels of frequency. On Twitter, work up to 10 posts a day. For Facebook, 1 or 2 a day is usually fine. Use these numbers as a guideline, as dach market is slightly different. Experiment with post frequency, while always measuring, to determine what works best for you, and look for tools to help you find great content and schedule posts, like Hootsuite or Buffer.
- Do targeted follower campaigns: As you work to build out your social community, look into targeted follower campaigns. Again, your goal is NOT just quantity, but using filters, comparables and research to build a relevant base of users who would be interested in what you have to say and sell.
- Rinse & Repeat with the next social channel: From there, you will want to look at other channels based on the market and your product. While it’s tempting to think you must be everywhere, it’s better to have a great presence on one or two channels then a mediocre or bad presence on many.
Of course, this is overly simplified, and each of these steps takes hard work. But it gives you an idea of how to move down the vital path of social media.
A 20-year tech industry veteran, Margaret is known for taking people, teams, brands and companies to the next level through creativity, awesome positioning and messaging, coaching and hard work. She is a proven entrepreneur and intrapreneur, having led successful programs and teams at several startups and Fortune 500 companies. Margaret is Chief Marketing Officer for Rival IQ. Prior to this, she was Vice President of Product Marketing and Cloud Evangelist for the cloud computing division of Hewlett-Packard. She’s a frequent author and sought-after speaker on subjects such as marketing analytics, big data, cloud computing, women in tech and the convergence of technology and business. She is also an active mentor for men and women in technology. You can follow Margaret @seattledawson.