Succeeding in business has always involved connecting with customers. For many modern businesses, virtual connection through social media can be easily as important as face-to-face meetings. But while social media may be here to stay, it can feel like the popular platforms change overnight. Let’s look at how to use some of the biggest social media sites to build and sustain your business.
General Tips for Social Media Success
No matter which platform(s) you use, a few basic guidelines apply:
- Be active. An abandoned profile can be worse in some cases than nothing at all.
- Have a specific goal in mind. Are you hoping to raise brand awareness, make sales, attract traffic to your website? Build a strategy around one goal for best results.
- Keep an eye on the time. Social media is a notorious time-waster. Assign a daily or weekly time limit in advance so you don’t find yourself spending hours “researching” on Facebook.
- Don’t worry about being active on every platform. Find the social media sites that work for you, and let the rest go.
The mammoth of social media, Facebook boasts over a billion active users, and 50 million small businesses with Facebook pages. Whether Facebook is still the trendiest spot for social media interactions may be up for debate, but its sheer size means many businesses can’t afford to ignore it.
How to Make Facebook Work for You
Facebook has a lot of great tools in place for businesses. Once you’ve figured out your market for a post, use targeting tools to engage your audience based on demographics like gender, age, and education. Analytic metrics can also help you learn which posts and even which posting times lead to the best responses from your target audience.
If you have a brick-and-mortar storefront, be sure to categorize yourself under “Local Businesses,” not “Companies and Organizations” so users can “check in” when they visit you. Keep up with WBENC news and get a taste of events even if you can’t be there in person. Following our Facebook page to be the first to hear about the next great WBENC opportunity.
It’s amazing how much people can say in 140 characters. Here’s how to make sure your voice is heard:
- Think of Twitter as an ongoing conversation—who you’re talking to matters. Reach out to influential people in your industry. Responding to trend leaders, popular writers and bloggers for your industry, and potential partners adds clout to your online voice.
- Tweet often. With such a short format, it’s easy for individual Tweets to get lost. Daily engagement is best, although you may be able to get away with a few, more in-depth contributions per week.
- Get visual. Tweets with photos or videos get triple the engagement of text-only, according to reports from Twitter.
- Tie in trending hashtags if possible to get your brand in front of a wider audience.
This social media site is much more than an online résumé. If you’re like many business owners, you feel like you should have a LinkedIn profile, but aren’t sure what to do with it.
Use LinkedIn Like a Pro
People turn to LinkedIn to learn more about your company. Make it easy to find you. Select a banner image that represents your company and a professional-looking headshot. The “Summary” field should have an elevator-pitch description of what you do, with a keyword or two included.
Add information to your profile the way you would build a CV. Relevant work experience, accomplishments, and volunteer work are great. Hobbies and pet photos belong on more informal sites.
There are a few options to move past your profile. Join LinkedIn Groups to build relationships by participating in discussions. LinkedIn Pulse lets all users publish posts. If you have a business blog, this can be a good opportunity to syndicate your posts, add fresh material to your profile, and attract your connections to your website.
● Did you know WBENC has a LinkedIn page? Keep the conference energy going by connecting with colleagues.
LinkedIn is geared more toward fostering individual relationships than accruing a large number of followers. Aim to connect first with people you actually know, or hope to (this is a good next step for those connections you made at the WBENC conference or a recent RPO event!).
Instagram has leapt from a candid photo-sharing site to a powerful business tool. The company just released analytics tools, business profiles, and mobile ad creation within the app. Creative WBEs with a perfectionistic streak will get hooked on capturing (and filtering and editing!) the perfect image. With 18-34-year-olds making up the site’s main demographic, this social media tool is a must for businesses targeting a youthful market.
Strategies for Insta-Success
- Build a super-cohesive image. Pick one color palette and filter to make your images look sleek and curated.
- One to three posts per day is plenty. Most users prefer not to be “spammed” with half a dozen posts at a time.
- Make images feel immediate. Instagram users gravitate toward beautiful shots that still keep a candid, serendipitous feel.
If you dismiss Pinterest as a site for fantasy wedding daydreamers, you could be ignoring a major business opportunity. Pinterest thrives on aspirational domestic lifestyle ideas: food, entertaining, gardening, and home decor are popular topics. If your business is product-oriented and ties into any of these fields, you could have a massive market at your fingertips.
Pinterest Success in Two Steps
- Use boards to guide customers to their favorite products. A baby clothing company may divide products by season, gender, and style (rompers, newborn essentials, dress clothes, headbands). A frozen veggie seller could feature boards with 20-minute, gluten-free, or kid-approved recipes, as well as ideas for every vegetable in the garden.
- Tie in your customers’ favorite hobbies. If you’re a stationery designer, did you know that bullet journaling is taking off? A board full of beautifully designed to-do lists may be just the ticket to get customers excited about their next purchase.
Pinterest also offers buyable Pins. Businesses selling through BigCommerce, Shopify, Magento, IBM Commerce, and Demandware can share Pins with a blue price that users can buy without leaving Pinterest. Other sales platforms may offer buyable Pins in the future. As always, though, clicking a Pin can take a user to a business’s website, so sharing your merchandise through Pinterest may attract customers.
Which social media accounts do you use for your business? Which do you want to learn more about?