Written by: Jen Carlevatti // Nov 10, 2020
Last updated: Dec 17, 2020
From watching goofy dog videos on YouTube to catching up with far-flung friends on Facebook to sharing family vacation snaps on Instagram, social media has become thoroughly ingrained in our daily lives. Yet many business owners haven’t made the leap from engaging personally to profiting from it professionally. Are you one of them? Fear not. We’ll show you how to use social media marketing to grow your business.
What Can Social Media Marketing Really Do for a Business?
If you’re still not convinced that platforms like Facebook and Twitter can deliver on your business goals, consider this stat: The number of worldwide users on social media is projected to reach 3.02 billion active users per month by 2021. That’s a lot of eyeballs. And they spend billions of dollars a year on products and services discovered through social media.
Using social media marketing can draw those wandering eyeballs to your business and help you:
- Find new customers
- Drive traffic to your website
- Develop relationships and trust with customers
- Create brand recognition
- Maximize conversions and increase sales
Get Started With a Good Plan
If you’re new to social media marketing, resist the urge to immediately begin blasting out content on every social media channel available. According to social media giant HootSuite, you should take the time to:
Set Goals and Objectives
Create SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely) that directly impact your business, such as attracting new customers or increasing sales. This will allow you to use only the tactics that support your goals and see if your efforts are working.
Research the Competition
Chances are, you already keep an eye on your competition. Be sure to check out what they’re doing on social media, too. It’s a great way to see what others in your industry have done, what works, and what doesn’t. Successful businesses in other industries can be an additional source of inspiration.
Decide Which Platforms Are Right for You
Each social media channel has a different mix of users. Take a look at the demographics to see where your existing customers (and potential new customers) are spending their time. For example, if you’re targeting Gen Z, you’ll want to concentrate on Instagram and Snapchat. For, Baby Boomers, focus on Facebook. Once you’ve identified which platforms to use, make sure you understand how to post content, how to engage with users, and what functions are free vs. paid.
Create a Social Media Calendar
A social media calendar can help you strategically plan what type of content you want to create, when to publish it, and which platforms you’ll use. In general, you’ll want 80 percent of your content to inform, educate, or entertain, and 20 percent of your content to sell products or build your brand.
What Tactics Should I Use?
At the beginning of this article, we listed a few ways social media can help you grow your business. Now, we’ll share some concrete steps you can take to meet each of these goals.
Find New Customers and Drive Traffic to Your Website
To get started, include your social media icons and links on your website, emails, print materials, promotional giveaways, etc. Encourage contacts to like your profiles, share experiences, and leave reviews to expand your reach and help potential customers evaluate whether your business is right for them.
You’ll also want to create engaging content that your followers (and their followers) will want to share. When this happens on a large scale, it’s known as “going viral.” Think funny videos or memes using your product. For maximum effect, don’t forget to post your content when users are most active.
Speaking of maximum effect: Visual content like photos, videos, infographs, and animations are 40 percent more likely to be shared on social media than other types of content, so use them liberally.
Lastly, consider launching a paid social media advertising campaign. Most platforms will allow you to target exactly who you want to reach by age, interests, location, etc. Facebook offers a robust advertising program that can help you see how people interact with your website after viewing an ad, show targeted ads to people who have already visited your website, optimize your ads for specific goals (like purchases or sign ups), and more.
Develop Relationships and Trust With Customers
Social media is unique: It’s the only marketing method that that lets you talk directly with your customers. Make the most of it! When users engage with your content, respond to their comments. Deal with complaints efficiently. Develop posts that show how your company can solve a problem. Answer questions promptly. By engaging directly, customers feel like they know and trust your company and are more apt to make a purchase or use your services.
Build Brand Recognition
More than 40 percent of digital consumers use social networks to research new brands or products. Unless you’re a big consumer company like McDonalds, chances are there are a lot of potential customers that don’t know your brand. It’s critical to use these platforms to raise awareness. Create content that tells your company’s story. Brand all of your images with your logo. If you have a blog, share your original articles to establish your company as an authority in the field. You could even enhance goodwill by sharing your company’s participation in community and volunteer events.
Maximize Conversions and Increase Sales
There are a few tried and true ways to turn a passing glance into cash in your pocket. First, motivate customers and tell them what to do next by including a strong call to action in your posts. Some examples include “Register Now” or “Call for a Free Consultation” or “Order Online and Get Two-Day Delivery.” Discounts are another popular way to entice social media customers to visit your website and make a purchase. You could also consider holding a contest or giveaway for social media customers who make a purchase. If the offer is enticing enough, your customers may even share it with friends who will also make purchases.
No matter what platforms and tactics you choose to employ, expanding your marketing plan to include social media can be a game changer for your business.
Enhance Your Efforts With USF’s Digital Marketing Courses
For an affordable way to get the digital marketing skills that drive today’s businesses, explore USF's Marketing in the Digital World for the Small Business courses. They’re a time-saving way to learn the basics of search, social, video, display, or email marketing without earning another degree. Each live online course lasts four weeks. You can choose to take just one course or take both to earn the Marketing in the Modern World Certificate. Contact the Office of Corporate Training and Professional Education online or at 813-974-0950 for more information.