Four Tips for Using Social Media Effectively

Peter Roesler, President - Web Marketing Pros

By Peter Roesler

President, Web Marketing Pros

social-media-computer-fingerAccording to one study, only 19 percent of marketers say they don’t use social media at all, but on the blogosphere, these marketers make up a very vocal group. Common complaints about social media marketing is that it’s takes up too much time and effort, it’s too hard to reach target audiences, and it’s too difficult to get engagement from the fans that are already on the social media channel. While these are certainly some of the challenges of effective social media marketing, it’s not too difficult. Here are four tips for using social media effectively.

  1. Develop a Social Media Strategy
    Many business owners dive into social media without taking the time to first develop a strategy. This is a mistake that can seriously hurt the effectiveness of a social media campaign. Without a goal or focus to a campaign, it’s unlikely that a company can reach their target audience from billions of people who are online on hundreds of different sites and platforms.

    Start by deciding what the overall goal of a campaign is. This can be related to increased sales, developing a larger fan base, or things like educating the public about a product or service. Business owners also need to carefully choose their target audiences for the campaign. Anyone who is able to buy covers a lot groups and demographics, and most likely, there isn’t one message or social media platform that would appeal or reach all of them. By targeting specific audience, business owners increase their chances of crafting effective messaging. Marketers also need to consider how the social media campaign will integrate with the organization larger advertising and marketing campaign, and to ensure that the brand message is consistent across all forms of media.

  2. Focus on the Platforms Where Your Customers Are Most Active
    It’s easy to think of social media as being one thing, because each network usually offers similar tools for posting photos and videos; communicating with friends and brands; and sharing content from websites. However, this sort of generalization of social media is a disservice to marketers. It’s important to consider the target audience and to find out which social media sites they are most likely to use. It’s more than just knowing what kinds of accounts they have. For example, for B2B marketers, their target audiences will be most active on LinkedIn for business purposes, even if they happen to have a Facebook account to connect to friends and family.

    Here are some statistics to keep in mind when deciding where to focus an organization’s social media networks:
    18 percent of all internet users are on Twitter. And A broad range of demographic groups uses the service, with especially high adoption rates among Hispanics, college graduates, and those with incomes of $75,000+.
    – While Facebook has strong adoption rates among almost every group, the service is particularly popular with women and young people ages 18-29 years old.
    – Pinterest users tend to be women, with some level of college education, with middle to high incomes. According to a Pew Research Center study, Pinterest users also tend to be white and from more rural areas.
    – Instagram is becoming popular with African American and hispanic groups.

  3. Use Paid Content and Advertising
    The need for paid content and advertising is a sore spot for many beginning social media marketers. Many were initially drawn to social media for business because it promised free marketing and infinite reach. While this still technically true, the fact remains that social media has become so large, the best way to get a message noticed quickly is to use the paid tools built into the platform. Unless the company has produced content that will spread virally on it’s own, paid promotion and advertising is almost essential for getting the ball rolling.

    To illustrate the principle at play with Facebook, if a Facebook user saw every action their friends did, the News Feed would go so fast that no one’s message would get seen.  The best solution is for Facebook to use a Edgerank system to decide which content is shown and what isn’t based on what the user chose to engage with in the past. This keeps the platform relevant for the users because the content they want to see is more likely to be shown. However, paid content allows businesses to slip their content into spots that are usually reserved for the content that the user most likely wants to see. This means they will pay more attention to it than they would if they were used to seeing random, irrelevant content on their News Feed.  In the end, this is beneficial for everyone and keeps the social media network running.

    Remember that social media is like every other form of media. It’s completely possible to get free press in the local newspaper or have events shown on television news, even so, business owners still pay for ads on these platforms, because they know they can reach more people when they pay for the coverage. Social media is no different. The amount of people using social media makes it worth it for businesses to put in the money for paid advertising and content promotion.

  4. Figure Out What Engages Your Audience
    There are a many different ways to engage with consumers, and business owners have to experiment to find out what works best for their customers. Discounts and promotions are a lowest common denominator, but that’s not the only tactic available to connect and build relationships with customers.

    It’s essential that marketers find ways to fulfill some sort of need for the consumer. For example, to appeal to the need for belonging, marketers can build an online community that customers can be a part of, such as the groups marketed toward stay-at-home parents. To appeal to the need for safety, marketers can provide tips on how to use their products to keep their family from harm. By giving people chances to be creative and share their work, a business can use their social media channel to fulfill consumers desire to be creative.

    People may say they don’t want a relationship with companies, but that’s mainly because the term “relationship” is so loaded. In truth, everybody will respond to content that interests them. The key is relevancy. Here are some questions that marketers can ask to connect with their customers with relevant content. For example:
    – What sort of news and information would the target audience want to know about?
    – Which of Maslov’s hierarchy of needs (physical, safety, belonging, esteem, and self actualization) does the content meet?
    – What does the audience want to talk about?
    – What sort of things inspires them (e.g. beautiful images, humorous items, inspirational quotations)?
    – What issues are the audience is passionate about (e.g. conversation, children’s health, cancer research, etc.)?

These are just a few of the things that business owners and marketers can do to become better at social media. There will be more posted on this blog in the future. The important thing to remember is that there is a strategy for handling every challenge involved in using social media. Marketers should always be on the look out for new tactics and experiment to find what works best for them. The truth is, social media marketing not too difficult to figure out. Rather, it’s too important to ignore.


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