Social media is a part of our everyday life. Most of us log in to Facebook and Twitter to join in conversations with friends. However, these sites offer more than just a way to catch up with long forgotten classmates.
For companies, social media management offers a way to connect with customers quickly, easily, and cheaply. It is a way for brands to present their identity.
Business use of social media is more than just an occasional post on a page, though. It is something that requires planning and regular management.
When the first social media websites were launched, over a decade ago, they were a way for individuals to connect with one another. Facebook famously started out as a network for students at certain colleges to meet one another.
Now, though, they are a platform for reaching many individuals. With millions of users across a number of different platforms, social media as a whole offers great power to business users. The social media definition has shifted from being networking sites for individuals to being sites that foster communication between individuals, groups, and businesses.
Today's social media users look to sites like Facebook as more than just a place for fun. Facebook's internal search often takes the place of search engines such as Google for people searching for business details.
Facebook and Twitter, in particular, are seen as ways for individual consumers to interact with and find out information about companies.
The business account options can give a company the ability to show customers whether they are currently open, where they are located, and even what products they have for sale. With an understanding of what both consumers and businesses want from their sites, social media companies have been fine-tuning what they can offer.
Of course, the one thing that social media sites offer to a business that other sites can't offer is a large audience. With millions of active users, these sites are on par with many television networks for audience size. In some cases, social network usage can surpass newspaper readership.
This audience is a big draw for any business. Knowing that you can reach such a broad range of consumers is attractive to any business. With the ability to reach some of this audience with a free account, it can be even more attractive.
However, just because there are millions of users on a site does not mean that your business will automatically reach those millions. In fact, most business accounts struggle to reach a significant audience.
The problem faced by most business social media accounts is a lack of concrete strategy. Too many companies approach social media for their business the same way they approach their personal profiles.
They set up business accounts for Twitter or Facebook, posting occasionally, just as they do on their personal accounts. Unlike their personal accounts, which connect them with people they already know, their business accounts need to reach an audience that does not have a personal attachment to them. This is a significant hurdle.
A social media strategy sets out how your business will utilize social media to reach its goals. These goals could be increased customer numbers, a larger mailing list, or higher attendance at events. Whatever the case, it is important to understand what you want to achieve through your social media use.
When creating your strategy, you need to set realistic goals. While it would be great for a small company to explode overnight, getting millions of new Facebook likes from paying customers, that is not realistic.
By setting realistic goals, you can find a strategy that will lead to success. Once you have reached your goal, you can adjust to a new, higher goal.
It is also important to understand where you are starting from. Looking at your starting point, and what you have been doing on social media, can help you figure out what you have been doing right and what you have been doing wrong.
Even large corporations try things on social media that don't work as they'd hoped. The difference is often how they use this as a lesson about what to do differently in the future.
What are the social media sites that are good for businesses?
The short answer to this question is that all of them can be useful. However, certain businesses will find that they should put more focus on one over another. Understanding the different social media sites, their users, and their uses for business is key to any good social media management plan.
Perhaps the biggest social media network, Facebook attracts a broad audience across many different countries. Its demographic is regularly changing, but it appeals to different age groups and is often the first social network that consumers turn to.
For businesses, it offers a variety of tools for outreach to customers. Like the personal profile, the business page offers the ability to share content, such as images, status updates, and more. It also offers additional functions, such as selling.
In order to be seen on a Facebook user's timeline, the page must be liked. This is essentially an opt-in for marketing. However, with the site's algorithms, it does not guarantee that every user will see every post.
Facebook also offers on-site advertising. This can be targeted to a specific demographic on the site, or even to an email list for retargeting.
Rapidly approaching the reach of Facebook is Twitter. This microblogging site allows for updates of 140 characters or less to be shared with followers. There is no real distinction between business and personal accounts on Twitter, although larger business accounts can be given a Verified status.
Twitter gives businesses the ability to offer real-time updates. This can be great for events, where other users can be encouraged to take part. The use of hashtags also offers targeted marketing within tweets. This makes content on a particular topic easily searchable by users.
The site has expanded its appeal to businesses as it has launched promoted tweets. These paid placement tweets are included in users' timelines, offering seamless advertising within the context of normal use.
Businesses often use Twitter to share information about themselves while interacting with customers. Many larger businesses use Twitter as a way to offer customer service to their customers.
This is a social network that is ideal for B2B companies. With the ability to reach out to specific industries, both through individual profiles, company profiles, and group discussions, LinkedIn offers businesses a way to communicate with one another that other social networks simply cannot.
LinkedIn may not be the best site for reaching individual consumers, but it is a useful tool for many businesses. It can help with B2B relationships and can be a way for potential employees to find out more about what your company offers.
Another growing social media site is Pinterest. This site offers users the ability to "pin" links to different boards. These pins can be shared and repinned by other users. For businesses, there is also the ability to pin items for sale, complete with a price.
This is not the only way a business can use the site, though. A social media strategy can use Pinterest as a way of defining a brand's identity. The use of things like mood boards can help a business show consumers what its identity is, what they can expect from it, and create an emotional connection with the brand.
Now owned by Google, YouTube is a well-known video sharing site. However, it also meets many social media definitions. It is a site where users can interact socially. It is also a site where businesses can reach out to consumers.
Whatever your business, YouTube can be a valuable social media tool. Video presentations can reach an audience that might not see a Facebook post. They also have the benefit of being easily shareable on other social media sites. When creating your social media strategy, think about how your business can use video to explain what you offer, what you do, and what makes your brand different from your competitors'.
Another Google owned social media site is Google+. Originally launched to be a competitor for Facebook and Twitter, the site has developed its own unique use for businesses.
Having a Google+ account is essential for every business. This is because a Google+ page will help your search engine rankings. When the information on your G+ account matches that of your website, it gives your website a higher authority score, an important part of Google's algorithm. The higher authority score gives your site a higher ranking on the search engine results page.
Although there are many different social media sites, the goal for using them is the same: to engage with customers. Social media management and a social media strategy give you the tools to achieve that engagement.
A social media manager is the person who handles your social media accounts. This person, or team, ensures that the content shared on your social media accounts stays true to your brand identity and your brand's social media goals.
One of the main jobs of a social media manager is posting content. Your business's social media accounts are only as strong as the content they share.
This content can define what your company does, what it has to offer, and what customers can expect from it. Most companies' content is a combination of original posts, such as status updates and images, and shared content. This can be links to other sites, including the business's own website.
Having a regular posting schedule is important for your customers. Knowing that you post regularly will allow them to anticipate when they can see new content from your page. A social media manager will schedule this content, ensuring that the right content is shared at the right time.
Social media sites give businesses the ability to monitor the reach of their content. This can be through metrics such as new likes, shares, retweets, repins, comments, or +1s. All of these represent social engagement with the brand.
Setting goals is a part of any social media strategy, and monitoring the success is part of social media management. This also involves analyzing what does and does not work for a brand and its audience.
Simply posting content is only part of a social media manager's job on these sites. It is also necessary to engage with customers. Getting customers to get involved will expand the reach of a brand's content.
However, a social media manager may have to serve as a customer service representative. This may be answering questions about the business, its products and services, or the posts that have been made. It can be managing promotional events like online contests, which aim to boost the level of customer engagement.
A social media manager should also work within social media marketing plans, ensuring that paid advertising and other content work together towards the company's goals.
Success can mean different things to different companies. Defining social media goals is an important part of any strategy. Each social network offers different metrics, as discussed above. A social media management plan should involve how these metrics can be understood.
Social media outreach can be seen much like an advertising campaign. By reaching out to the audience, a company can raise awareness and increase its conversion rate.
However, social media monitoring can present some unique challenges. Understanding the realities of engagement metrics can be a specialized skill. A social media manager can help a business make sense of these numbers. They can help with the social media monitoring by working with a company to know what types of engagement can be seen as a step towards an increased conversion rate.
Social media offers several types of conversion. A user can be converted from a non-liker to a liker, then from a liker to a sharer, and from a sharer to a paying customer. A social media manager can help a company monitor these changes.
Social media engagement can be seen as a spectrum, and bringing customers along the spectrum is one job of a social media manager. By sharing the right content at the right time, and knowing what the brand's message is, a social media management team can help a brand increase its conversion rates.
Another use of social media is as a customer service portal. While this might not fit in with many types of engagement metrics, a social media manager can help you understand how these sites can serve purposes beyond just sharing content. Adding a customer service angle to your social media strategy can be a way to build brand loyalty, something that can lead to a higher conversion rate.
As a business owner, you have many different tasks to take care of on a daily basis. While you might remember to post to your business's social media accounts one day, you might be too busy on another day. This inconsistent use of social media is a big problem for many business users. It results in customers not forming a set idea of what the business will do for them, and how they can expect to engage with the business on social media.
By working with a social media manager, the day-to-day work involved in these sites is handled for you. Working with you to create a social media strategy, the agency can post content on your behalf. This can be content from your website, or external content that reflects your brand identity.
Social media management also ensures that all of your social media profiles remain on brand. This can help consumers identify your accounts from one site to another, whether through a profile image, logo, or other graphic elements. It can also ensure that your accounts all keep the same "voice."
An agency can help you make sense of what your social media reach means, monitoring your social media success and conversion rates. With an experienced team, an agency can work to integrate your social media profiles with your website, branding services, and marketing plans.
Social media offers huge potential for outreach. Giving companies the ability to post content, share information, and even create directory listings, they offer benefits beyond just customer interaction.
However, managing social media can be a challenge for many business owners. A social media management agency can help ensure that your company gets the most from your social media profiles. To find out more, get in touch with us today.