According to Pew Research Center, 65% of all adults use social media. Social media usage isn't just for young internet denizens anymore - everyone uses it. It's not an exaggeration to say that social media has changed the way businesses market themselves and interact with their customers. More than that, it's given businesses of all sizes a powerful marketing tool that they can use to grow a loyal online audience and attract more customers.
How Social Media Marketing Helps Businesses
In the modern business landscape, social media is one of the most important tools in a small business’ marketing arsenal. This isn’t just idle speculation, either – the numbers back it up. According to Social Media Examiner’s 2015 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, which polled 3,700 marketers about the impact of social media on their marketing efforts, those businesses that engage in social media marketing can see several noticeable benefits because of it:
- 91% of marketers polled said that social media marketing increased their business’ exposure online.
- 70% said that social media marketing increased traffic to their websites; when companies engaged in social media marketing for a year or more, that number increased to 75%.
- 73% reported their social media accounts developed a loyal fan base of followers.
- 68% said that engaging customers on social media alerted them to market trends that they would not have otherwise known about.
- More than 50% said that social media marketing was directly responsible for generating new leads.
That’s a lot of real benefits to be had, especially when you consider how little investment is needed to obtain them. In the report mentioned above, some marketers said that spending as little as six hours a week maintaining their social media presence was enough to reap the rewards.
Some Tips for Posting on Social Media
Of course, seeing the benefits of social media marketing requires following certain guidelines for creating content that will attract an audience. I could easily write thousands and thousands of words on best practices for posting on social media, but for now we’ll keep it contained to just a few simple tips:
In order to see the benefits of social media marketing, you need to cultivate an audience. That means making regular posts that keep people engaged and paying attention to your feed. You don’t want to bombard people with dozens of posts a day, but one post a month isn’t enough, either. Try to make at least a few posts a week on all of your social media accounts.
Share Content More Than Once
If you have an important update that you want your followers to see, it’s perfectly acceptable to make multiple posts about it in the same day. In fact, it’s a very good idea to do so. Not all of your followers check their accounts at the same time, and it’s easy for posts to get lost in the constant flood of information that is your standard social media feed. If you’re having trouble getting people to engage with your account, try making posts with the same info twice a day: one at lunchtime, and one around 5:00 or 6:00 pm, after people have gotten home from work.
Post Content Worth Sharing
The main purpose of social media marketing is to increase the number of people following you online; everything else follows from that. The best way to get more people to follow your Facebook or Twitter account is to post content that people are likely to share. “Likes”, retweets, and similar content sharing mechanics are the lifeblood of social media. When your online followers regularly share the content posted to your social media account, the faster you’ll attract more followers interested in what you have to say. Each new follower you get is one more person who’s likely to visit your site and engage with your brand directly.
A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Retweets
So what does “content worth sharing” mean, exactly? That’s a big question, one that has several different answers. That said, one of the easiest guidelines for creating “sharable content” to follow is to create posts with images. Pictures are much more likely to catch people’s attention than simple text, and are also more likely to be shared. According to one study, Twitter posts with images were likely to be retweeted 150 percent more often than those without.
Know Your Audience
Another “sharable content” guideline to keep in mind is what kind of audience you want to attract. Namely, you want your social media posts to be something that the kind of people who are likely to become customers of your specific businesses will find interesting. If you’re a bakery, pictures of freshly baked bread and links to recipes that your foodie followers will be excited to read make for good, sharable content. If you’re an art gallery, you’ll want to post content related to the art world and art history instead. If you’re not sure what your online fan base wants, pay attention to which posts get the most attention, and give them more of the same.
" It's not an exaggeration to say that social media has changed the way businesses market themselves and interact with their customers"
When it's all said and done social media marketing is an ongoing project. If you’re not seeing the results you want, try posting at different times or sharing different types of content. And once you start attracting your audience, pay attention to what they’re telling you through their interactions and comments. One of the great things about social media marketing is that unlike other kinds of marketing, you can get instant feedback from the intended audience. You can then use that feedback to learn more about your customer base, and to provide your customers with more of what they want.