Posted: Mon 27th Jun 2022
Social media expert and Enterprise Nation member Joanna Michaels answers some common questions and shares advice about making a success of using social media for your business.
Why is social media important to start-ups?
Raises brand awareness
Pro tip: Once you've decided on a handle, secure it across all social media platforms, even those you currently don't intend to use. Grab them while you can as they can get snapped up pretty fast.
Fulfils your overall business goals
This can only happen if you're completely clear on:
what you want to achieve on social media (objectives)
how you're going to go about it (assigned actions)
Builds powerful connections
When you're proactive in how you use channels like LinkedIn and Twitter for strategic networking, it can get you and your business in front of the right people, who are often key decision-makers. Use these platforms to start important conversations and accelerate your start-up's growth.
Makes you stand out from the competition
Having a website for your business is still important. But there's no better way than social media to tell your story and show you and your business 'in action'. Do this to share your values and build trust and credibility.
Helps you learn about customers and competitors to shape up your growth strategies
That's right, social media is an intelligence gathering spot. It can help you to better understand your audience, their likes, interests, preferences and behaviours.
It's also great for watching your competition: what they are doing well, how you might be able to do it better, what's not working for them, and things to avoid.
What are the best ways to build a loyal and engaged following?
Create high-quality content
Social media is a content monster. In other words, something that you've probably heard a million times before, but content is king. There's a good reason why this cliché is so popular. Because it's true.
Content is what attracts people to your social pages. It's also what keeps them there. So you need to create content that's worth consuming.
Here are some things to think about:
Are you solving your audience's problems?
Are you addressing their pain points?
Are you making them laugh?
How are you adding value?
You need to give people a reason to listen to what you're saying. If your content is good enough, people will come back for more and they will share it with others.
Give your social presence some personality
Want to capture your target audience's attention? A great personal brand shows off your expertise as well as your personality, so make sure your social media activity doesn't look like everyone else's.
There are plenty of brands being robotic on social media and playing it safe. Posting a picture or a link, adding few hashtags; job done.
But that's not how you stand out. What we need is more personal, relatable, human-centric content. That's why selfies or any other posts that have human faces in them, as well as story-driven posts, perform better than others. Users can connect with such posts by relating to other people's experiences.
Social media users don't look for perfection, but authenticity instead. That said, they are getting wiser and can see through gimmicky ads. They can recognise what's honest and genuine and what's not.
Consequently, you must stay true to who you are, what you do, whom you serve and, most importantly, why you do what you do. What's your higher purpose? Know what you stand for before you dive in.
When you're aligned with your purpose, people can't help but feel it and connect with you. Authenticity is the source of connection, and without connection you don't have much.
How do I convert social media followers into paying customers?
This is such an important question. You may have thousands of social media followers, but if the sales aren't happening, then you have lots of followers and not customers.
Sure, social media is great for brand awareness, but that's useless if it's not leading to conversions.
Be crystal clear about your target audience
If someone asks you 'Who are you writing your content for', would you be able to answer? If you have trouble answering this question, you'll find it difficult to convert leads into sales. You must know your audience.
Look into data
If you only focus on 'doing' social media and skip the analysis/measuring part to check what's working and what's not, you can never improve.
Make time to regularly analyse which of your social networks brings the highest conversions. Which pieces of content proved most successful in terms of engagement and conversions? How many people downloaded, bought, registered?
Tools including Facebook insights, Google Analytics and Twitter data. Look at them and keep adjusting, refining your strategy, copy, frequency and timing.
Are they are any specific features that I should be aware of?
Harness the power of hashtags, especially for Instagram: your posts will receive a wider reach and more engagement. Keep them relevant and aim for a balanced mix of both the popular ones and the less-used, niche ones to help introduce your brand to dedicated communities of potential fans.
#JournoRequests and #PRrequests hashtags on Twitter: If you search those hashtags on a daily basis, you'll find requests from local and national media looking for the perfect person or business to use in their story.
This type of responsive PR (rather than the proactive type where you send out cold pitches and hope someone might or might not be interested) can give your start-up a much higher rate of return because these journalists have already been commissioned to write stories about a particular topic.
How do I find the time to manage all of my social media?
Outsource it by hiring an expert freelancer or agency
Or, you can do it on your own. But because it's very easy to be 'busy' and not at all productive on social media, you'll need discipline and a strategy. A plan that will keep you on track, so each action you take serves a purpose and gets you closer to fulfilling your objectives.
Think allocated time slots. Example: I'm scheduling my weekly content for two hours on Sunday afternoon. Then each day, plan 15 minutes in the morning and then later in the day to monitor mentions, respond to questions and engage in conversations.
Map out your content ahead of time. That way, you can stay organised and not miss any important industry dates, seasonal marketing opportunities etc. Marking those ahead in your calendar will prevent your content from stagnating, which results in reduced lead conversion.
Be generous and don't forget about the power of reciprocity for relationship building. Marketing, like almost everything else in life, is about building relationships and connecting with people. And this is why interacting with others and their social media content is so important.
You may think 'I don't have time to chitchat, I have work to do and bills to pay' but all the social media interactions are just like those face-to-face ones. They are between the people like you and me. Your social media connections are people first and customers second.
Identify social media accounts that belong to your target market and start interacting with/talking to them. It's that simple. There's no magic. You're not going to be a viral sensation overnight, hence you need to give it time and commit to it. Build your engaged and loyal community, conversation by conversation.