How Can I Effectively Use Social Media For My Business?

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Social media icons (caption: Guide to Social Media For Business)So many publishers, content marketers, and bloggers focus on writing killer content and optimizing it like crazy to garner organic search rankings and traffic. But don’t forget an important part of engaging your audience, gaining traffic and growing your internet presence is by leverage social media channels as well.

It’s a sure bet your competitors are focusing on social media — and the last thing you want is to be left in the dust and missing out on reaching customers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, and many other popular channels where your audience may be trying to find you and communicate with you.

Article Overview

Why Use Social Media For Business?

Laptop, note book and phone on deskIn addition to your website and email marketing efforts, your digital marketing plan should also include social media. There are so many positives to using social media for business.

And, it’s free to use! The only investment you need to get started is time. With a little effort on your part, your business can grow with the help of various marketing platforms. Here are some benefits to leveraging social media for your business.

Drive Traffic Back To Your Website

Person pointing to Google Analytics on computer screenAn uptick in website customers is what most people want when they are putting their business on social media. More traffic to your site equals more potential customers equals more potential purchases.

When others are liking, commenting and sharing your content it shows that your business is popular. In return, Google can see your site as being more authoritative which in help can help your site rank higher (think SEO).

Receive Direct Feedback From Your Customers

If your business is active on social media you will not only be posting updates about your business and its offerings but you will also see what others are talking about in your industry. Some of those comments may contain information about what a customer wants or is looking for. This is a great way to see where the development of your product is heading and what your audience needs.

Keep An Eye On Your Competition, As Well As Your Customers

You can see what your competitors are up to and how you’re stacking up. By actively monitoring your accounts you can also stay on top of consumer complaints. Being proactive vs. shying away from these requests can lead to a more honest and authentic relationship with your customers.

Boost Your Reputation

If a customer comes to you with a complaint on social media it could turn bad. However, if you respond openly and resolve the issue it could have a good outcome, maybe even result in more happy customers. These days consumers are looking for companies they can interface with and feel confident they’ll be able to get in touch with should there be a problem.

If you post your discussion publicly, other potential customers can read the interaction and see how well you handled the problem. That my inspire them to buy from you vs a competitor. And of course, for sensitive matters you can always discuss issues with your customers in private channels.

Social Media Business Card

Improve Your Customer Service

Many customers turn to social media when they have questions about a product or service. By not answering these questions you run the risk of making yourself look disengaged and careless.

It’s important to remember that in today’s business environment you are in the public eye 24/7.

Be sure to monitor all your accounts regularly and answer all of the questions you receive. Even if someone tweets you saying thank you, it’s important to provide a response. This will demonstrate to your customers that there’s an actual caring human behind that computer and not just an automated bot.

All of this may seem like a large investment of time and resources, which it is. But if you don’t invest, your competitors will.

Build Trust

Most industries are so competitive nowadays that a customer has choices. There are plenty of other businesses today that can probably help them just as well as you can. It’s critical that you are visible and active so you can distinguish for them the value in your brand. If a customer sees that you are active on social media, it helps them trust you, as they will see that you have confidence in your product or service.

It also shows that you care about your customers and want to help them if anything goes wrong. Social media is an easy way for your company to be accessible to customers by meeting them where they are.

Promote Your Content

Social media is a free platform you can use to spread your content to others. If one person finds it useful they may like, re-share or comment on it which results in others seeing your content as well. This “user generated content” or UGC is like an online version of word of mouth. Just be sure not to over-share, and diversify your sharing to include industry updates, and in some cases even updates from competitors as well.

Types Of Social Media Channels

Now that you are hopefully convinced to use social media, it’s important to understand the channels available to you and decide which platform is the best fit for your business. Here’s a quick checklist and overview of the most popular social media sites with links to additional resources for each.

There is no “one size fits all” approach in social media for business. Depending on the type of business you have, you may need to experience with different platforms and discover which one converts best for you.

Facebook thumbs up (caption: Guide To Using Facebook For Your Business)

Facebook

You may think that Facebook is the most important or the only social media platform that can help grow your business. It’s one of the most popular, and one of the oldest.

Most businesses, especially those that are consumer-focused, are likely to find the largest audience here. While there are many other platforms that may work better for your business, Facebook is a good place to start. Checkout our guide dedicated to Facebook for business.

Instagram on iPhone (caption: Guide to Instagram for Business)

Instagram

Instagram is a way to show people what’s going on behind the scenes in your business. Instagram is ideal for businesses revolving around lifestyle, fashion, food and personalities.

It’s purely visual content that you share, so it’s quick and easy. You can also share videos as long as they are 15 seconds or less. We show you how to leverage Instagram to drive leads.

With both Instagram and Twitter be sure to use a hashtag (#) when you can (#thisistrending). Hashtags are clickable and organize topics by grouping them, making it easy to see the latest news for a particular topic of interest at a glance, and helping those with similar interests find your brand.

Twitter

While Twitter is a popular place for keeping up with breaking news stories and seeing what is trending – globally and locally, it’s also valuable for businesses as it gives you the direct ability to communicate with your customers on the fly.

Whether your business is large or small, Twitter allows you to initiate, join, and lead conversations. You can interact directly with anyone, whether it’s a potential customer or another brand. In 140 characters you can engage with just about anyone (who has an account) including prospective customers, partners, media and more.

There is no limit to the number of times per day you can tweet since Twitter is a real-time communication tool, but like most things in life, moderation pays dividends. Want an example of what we consider a reasonable “tweeting schedule”?

Check us out on Twitter @WeRockYourWeb

Pinterest

WRYW Pinterest board

Pinterest is a place to get inspired and to drive traffic to your site. It’s basically a giant pinboard of images grouped by topic, with each image containing comments and links to products, pages, and services. When someone comes across your pin they can click through to your site.

Because it’s very visual driven, Pinterest is often used for fashion, design, DIY, travel, food and other creative niches. The majority of “pinners” are female. This platform is perfect for creative content that is displayed visually.

Unlike the other social media platforms, you don’t have to scale back your Pinterest use at the risk of annoying others (as long as your “pinning” relevant content). You can pin multiple times a day and if another user likes it, they can then re-pin to their own Pinterest board. Pinterest is all about sharing.

Another benefit of Pinterest is it can be a huge traffic source for your business. Keywords are important – title your post accordingly so that people can find you when they are searching. And it’s worth investing the time to add keywords in your descriptions and hashtags to help your brand get noticed.

Many brands also use a “Pin it” hover feature on their website – especially if they have a lot of visuals worth sharing. It’s a quick and easy way to encourage visitors to share.

YouTube

Amy Schmittauer of Savvy Sexy SocialVideo channels on YouTube give you an opportunity to reach your audience in a whole new way. Add another dimension to your marketing campaigns with an immersive experience that give you a chance to showcase what’s going on behind the scenes at your company.

We have new YouTube tips from an expert if you’re interested in learning how to effectively use video in your marketing strategy.

Other Social Media Platforms

There are dozens of other platform at your disposal like LinkedIn (great for B2B and hiring), Snapchat (great for a young and visual audience), Behance, Flickr, Foursquare (great for restaurants) and Yelp, among others (not to mention, newer platforms like TikTok). There are so many social media tools out there, it’s hard to keep up with them all. However, the ones we review above are the primary platforms driving feet in the door and are a great place to start. Once you master those, it’s not a bad idea to branch out your social campaign to include the others.

Steps To Create Your Social Media Presence

Even though you might not be using every channel, you’ll want to go ahead and create an account for the major ones so you have the handle or URL (before anyone else does). In other words, if your company name is “Blue Widgets,” you’ll want to secure Twitter.com/BlueWidgets for example. It’s easy to do and only takes a few minutes:

  1. How to get a Custom URL for FacebookGo to the platform’s website and enter a username and password.
  2. Set up a social media URL or handle that’s unique to you. Learn how to get a custom URL on Facebook if you already created a page.
  3. Add your website, location and a brief description of your business.
  4. Upload a profile photo and cover photo (for Twitter, adjust any color settings to match your brand).
  5. Start spreading the word! Add your social media links to the sidebar and/or footer of your website, on your “contact us” page, in your email signature and on business cards (basically anywhere you have contact info).
  6. Create posts and start sharing content. Be sure to tag people, businesses and places.

Tips:

  • Make sure your social media profile and cover photo reflect your branding. See our guide on social media cover photos, complete with optimal dimensions for each platform.
  • If you choose not to be active on a particular social media service, be sure to mention where people can find you and include links where possible.
  • You can advertise on social media channels like Facebook (either displayed ads or to “boost” a post), Twitter and Instagram for a minimal cost and controlled budget with a high level of specificity about the type of buyer you are looking to reach with your efforts.

Try and maintain brand consistency across the platforms you use (i.e. use consistent imagery and messaging) so your potential customers have a seamless experience.

Ideas For Writing Social Media Posts (Video)

Feeling stuck on what to say in your posts? Want to make sure your posts get seen in the first place? Here are 5 concrete tips:

Tracking Your Social Media Efforts

Facebook on iPhone and iPadAll this social media stuff is fun, but is it working? Google Analytics to the rescue. They have a social section where you can see what networks are referring traffic to your site and what pages they are visiting from your social media efforts.

You can also use a URL shortening service like Bit.ly to create unique links for each post and/or channel to track how it performs. A shorter URL takes up fewer characters in your status update (which applies mostly to Twitter which has a character limit), however you may lose the branding of having your website name in the link.

Best Practices For Building A Community

  • As you gain “likes” and followers, you might get an occasional private message, comment, mention or post on your wall. When this happens you should respond to them in a timely fashion to show that you care. Respond as your brand but make it personal.
  • If you receive a negative comment from a fan, don’t delete it, no matter how tempting it might be. Follow up with your condolences, offer a solution and take the conversation offline in case the problem escalates. Your customers will appreciate your authenticity and transparency which builds trust.
  • Google Plus, LinkedIn and other social media sites have micro-communities and groups related to specific topics in your industry that you can join. These are a great place to find and connect with potential customers.
  • Commenting is another great way to build your community and drive traffic. Find articles on other websites that relate to your area of expertise and leave your feedback (and a link back to your site anytime it is useful and possible).
  • Forums including Reddit, Yelp and our community here on We Rock Your Web (you’ll notice readers engaging and discussing on almost every article we have) have become popular places for people to ask questions, leave reviews, share their stories and vent frustrations. Find a hot topic and chime in with a solution.
  • Remember the yellow pages? Well online directories are pretty much a digital version of that big book that’s now propping up your monitor. Most industries and trade organizations have company listings where you can add your company and website. You might have to pay a small fee to join, but it could provide valuable, qualified leads.
  • Guests Posts are an easy way to get (usually free) content and can be a powerful marketing tool because more than likely your guest author will share on their social media networks too. Conversely, reach out to other bloggers to ask if you could write an original post for them to include on their site. Note: be cautious to only work with reputable writers and websites to protect your company’s reputation and SEO.
  • Contests are a fun way to increase community engagement and grow your number of followers. Give away your own product or service or find a partner to donate a product in exchange for having fans comment, like and/or subscribe. There are free sites like Rafflecopter that can manage the legal aspects of your contests to protect you from any sweepstakes or other promotional concerns.

Ready To Be A Social Media Maven?

Now you should be equipped with all the basics you need to get your business off and running in the world of social media. If you’re highly active on multiple social media outlets, some handy tools offer a one-stop place to schedule, post and analyze all of your social media work, so you don’t have to continually log in and out of dozens of channels. See our reviews of the best social media management tools for our top picks.

Which social media platform is your favorite?

About The Author:

Sadie has over 15 years of experience in digital marketing, graphic and web design, social media strategy, email marketing and more. She is a 4th generation small business owner and has worked with a wide range of brands from fortune 500 companies to startups and entrepreneurs.

Sadie is a self-proclaimed Apple/Mac guru and keeps up with all the latest tech trends at conferences including South by Southwest. Sadie has a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Texas at Austin's Moody School of Communications and a concentration in Business from the Red McCombs School of Business.

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