Social Media is no Longer Just an Option for Businesses
It’s hard to even remember a day when social media didn’t dominate our personal and professional lives. Yet, ten years ago, very few people were active on social media. Facebook was just coming of age as angsty teenagers transitioned from MySpace profiles and instant messaging chat rooms to broadcasting their lives through photos and status updates on Facebook. Now, if you’re not on social media in some form (unless you’re from the baby boomer generation or older), it’s considered unusual. People use Facebook to stay in touch with friends, LinkedIn to connect with employers and find jobs, and Twitter to stay up with news and current events. Plus, social media savvy is now a skill in high-demand from employers across various industries. That’s because for businesses to stay afloat these days, social media is more than just an option- it’s a necessity. Startups, in particular, need social media smarts in order to springboard their businesses from the idea stage to reality.
According to Timothy Sykes, a contributor for Entrepreneur, “In today’s market, harnessing the power of social media is a must if you want to grow your business and grow your brand.” As any entrepreneur knows, a clear and consistent brand and consumer outreach are crucial for growth and long term success. The benefits of social media for marketing purposes are many: it helps you establish the authority of your brand and get recognition, it leads to higher conversion rates, it increases inbound traffic, it decreases marketing costs, and it leads to better search engine results and better customer relationships. Luckily, learning the ropes of social media as a business tool is simple. You don’t need to be a social media guru to use it to grow your business. You just need to master the basics. Here are the simple steps entrepreneurs should take to utilize social media for business growth.
Set up profiles across all the major networks
It’s important to establish a presence across multiple social media networks, so that when people search for your business, they will find that you have a strong presence online. Additionally, the more properties you control, the more backlinks there will be directing people to your main website. Not all websites will make sense for your brand (for instance, if you are a technology company, you may not need a Pinterest), but it’s important that you create and maintain an account with the most popular social media sites: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.
Connect with your target market and industry leaders
Once you’ve set up your profiles, it’s time to build up your connections. The whole point of having social media profiles is to attract visitors and generate leads for your product or service. Successful business are built upon strong customer relations, so take the time to connect with those who could help grow your business and develop personal, human relationships with them after the initial connection through a private message, email, or pre-scheduled call.
Optimize content for each platform
No two social media platforms are exactly alike, so be sure to give each site the individualized attention it needs. That means not posting duplicate content across all of your profiles. Format content specifically designed for each platform, so: photos for Instagram, longer thought pieces (you could post blogs as Pulse Posts) for LinkedIn, brief status updates or videos for Facebook, and truncated announcements on Twitter. You can share the same piece of information across all of your sites, but share it in different ways.
Align your content with your message
It’s imperative that the content you share aligns with your company’s brand and message. Likes and shares are great for building up engagement and getting the word out about your company; however, the most important thing is to remain authentic to your brand. Only share content that aligns with your company’s brand, even if it’s not always the most popular content. Otherwise, people will be confused as to what your company represents and less likely to buy into your products or services.
Google’s algorithms favor sites that are updated regularly, have high word counts, and generate lots of activity and engagement, so the more you post, the better! Ideally, you should be active on your social media profiles every day, or at the very least a few times a week. Know your goals and formulate a schedule for how often you post. Be sure to post consistently if you want to maintain an engaged following.