How to engage with your social media followers

There are five things worth knowing about social media marketing:

  1. It is an effective marketing channel for your business if applied strategically

  2. One size does not fit all

  3. It is at least as time consuming, if not more so, than the other marketing activity you're doing

  4. Social media is not free (it never was)

  5. Content is king

In other words, if you're still sceptical about the social media marketing opportunity for business growth, let's see if we can overcome that hurdle. As 'social' as social media networking first began, and while the personable traits apply to business pages as much as to personal pages, only tackle social media for your brand with a business head on.

Social media strategy

What is it that you're trying to achieve from social media activity? You might be trying to reach an existing audience with an extension of your messaging to reinforce your brand, product or service. You might also be trying to reach a new and wider audience. Ultimately, you should be striving for results that support your bottom line: hotel bookings, restaurant bookings, accommodation enquiries, product purchases. 

What social media activity also provides is an opportunity to nurture an audience. You can achieve this through publishing content on your channels that is both fascinating and entertaining as well as useful. Don't think about what you want to say about yourself, when structuring your social media content strategy. Think about what your audience might benefit from knowing that you can provide them with. 

A strategy for each social media channel

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, LinkedIn and more. Which social media channels you create a business account for depends on who you're trying to reach. Facebook may have started in university halls but it's increasingly a domain for a maturer audience (think 25-65). Instagram, on the contrary, has a more compact demographic peaking in the mid thirties. While the stats say that Twitter's user base is quite young, it perhaps starts younger than Facebook and doesn't age quite so well. Snapchat (as long as it may last) is very much a teens and twenties playground. Pinterest is a female-heavy platform (25-55) and used by many as a search engine in its own right. LinkedIn on the other hand is designed for anyone in employment - you're online CV and your business's opportunity to talk business.

Beyond demographics, consider what each platform's users are doing in each platform. Why do they login or open the app? What are they looking for? Who or what do they want to interact with? What's the likelihood they'll engage and share the content versus simply browse through it?

With a bit of research and some similar insight into the leanings of your existing customer base, you can begin. 

Investing resource in social media activity

When I first created social media accounts for a business in the mid-noughties, we did it because we spotted a digital marketing opportunity early on. But it was very much something I did on the side, on top of my other responsibilities. Nowadays, armed with a social media strategy aligned to business objectives and your marketing goals, you need dedicated social media resource. If you don't have that expertise or resource in-house, don't worry. For some of our clients, social media is what we do.

In the last 10-12 years social media has changed. In a customer-centric business, social media (especially Facebook) is also a customer service channel. For many businesses that applies to Twitter too. You have to be prepared for that in terms of resource (time spent, availability of someone to interact and their ability to suitably respond).

You wouldn't scrimp on your ecommerce, so why scrimp on your customer facing interactions?

Social media budget

The greatest ever misconception about having a Facebook business page? That it doesn't cost anything. First up it requires resource and time, in-house or retained, that head appears in your budget somewhere. And we've already said this is not a 'while you're there' task. 

Most pertinently as we drive head first into 2018, social media has evolved significantly since first concepts. Having been stormed by brands in endeavours to reach customers and generate digital word of mouth marketing, the platforms have (mostly) figured out how to monetise that. 

Facebook was once known as the poor man's Google Adwords. It's still a much cheaper cost per acquisition (CPA) for most businesses compared to bidding for top spot on Google against your competitors. But Facebook is also an algorithm, ever evolving and increasingly expensive for advertisers. Mark Zuckerburg's most recent announcement about the changes to the news feed and what that'll mean for brands will ensure that.

That resource we talked about is also responsible for boosting posts, creating Facebook ads, managing social media budget and monitoring CPA and outcomes.

You don't have to spend heaps to see success. You are going to have to test what works and what doesn't. Social media paid advertising budgets are only going to increase.

Content is king - an honest cliche 

Most people hate that phrase nowadays - yet more marketing jargon that's been overhyped and badly executed. Well, unfortunately, is still holds true. But it's not alone. Timing plays a pretty big part in its effectiveness. Oh and so does that thing we talked about above: budget. 

If we go back to the crux of what social media networking is all about, we'll find social interaction. This is played out through visuals (still and moving), in-the-moment access, humour and fascinating facts.

Whether or not people interact comes down to whether or not it makes them feel a range of emotions: warm and fuzzy (emotive content), chuckling and cheered (funny or entertaining content), first-to-know (breaking news or live content), enlightened (subtly educational content).

Simple, huh?!

We manage social media accounts for clients for travel, hotel, restaurants and drinks brands. If you want to explore this further, let's chat.