How to get your social media presence from zero to hero in ten easy steps.
According to Statista, the number of social media users in the world is predicted to reach 2.67 billion by 2018.
With the population of the world currently sitting at over 7 billion, this figure indicates, very strongly, that you'll be able to find most of the adult population actively using one or more social media platforms at some stage in the very near future.
If you didn't quite understand the significance of that little factoid, I'm going to shout at you through my metaphorical megaphone; your audience is active on social media…and so it's essential that you are too!
While on one end of the scale there are people making careers out of creating social media content and developing effective strategy; at the other end, there are individuals who have only ever dabbled for personal use, if at all. But regardless of your level of social media experience; it's important that you and your business have a significant presence to avoid getting left behind in the social media movement.
With mobile phones glued to fingertips, and social media apps producing notifications every time someone moves; it's vital that you keep up with the social media game and don't miss a trick.
If you're still not convinced (increasing megaphone volume as you read!); here are some benefits of giving your business an active social media presence:
You can build relationships with your clients
Social media helps to strengthen relationships between you and your customers. It's a less formal platform where the personality of your business can shine through and create valuable interaction. Collaboration is immediate which means that your followers get an instant reaction and have meaningful conversations with you which leads to increased sales and customer loyalty.
Increases website traffic.
Your sales take place on your website where your ‘buy now' button lives, and social media is the perfect platform to get your followers there. With the opportunity to provide relevant, engaging content which will leave them wanting more, social media accounts are the perfect ice breaker.
Keep up with your competitors.
Social media isn't just valuable for drawing in new customers and clients; it's also an excellent way to engage with your competitors and their followers too. You can get a grand idea of what they're doing and how they're keeping their customer's engaged, and while we don't condone copying someone's marketing plans and strategy, you can get a sense of what makes people in your niche respond.
So, with all of this in mind, being active on social media is, (are you paying attention?) non-negotiable. But if you're looking at accounts with tens of thousands of followers and an already established platform of content, you might start to feel the familiar sense of panic begin to rise.
Where on earth do you start?
With so many options available, we've put together a quick guide for those of you starting from nothing and are about to take the leap and jump on the social media bandwagon.
If you don't know a hashtag from a hamburger or a tweet from a twerk; this is for you!
1) Pick a platform.
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, Pinterest, YouTube, Tumblr, Google+, Snapchat…the list of platforms you can use to communicate with your audience is never-ending, and getting bigger by the day.
It might be tempting when you first start to jump right in there to set up accounts for all the platforms to get your presence known, but this is a mistake.
Do thorough research to find out where your target market hangs out and pick one, two or a maximum of three platforms and focus your attention there. If you try to be everything to everyone, you'll dilute your messaging and spend all your time producing half the relevant content. Social media can be a full-time job which is what many people make it, so use your time wisely.
2) Create your profiles.
When you set up your profiles, you need to get it right as this bit is your business card of social!
Choose a profile picture which represents your brand; I recommend either your logo or a picture of yourself if you're building a personal brand. Make sure it's of high quality, in focus, and clearly communicates who you are.
Choose a cover photo where appropriate and again make this something that is in line with your brand. Make sure it has your logo, and any messaging is written in a font that meets your style guide.
Complete your biography using keywords and phrases which will count towards SEO. Make sure it's clear, concise, and gives your followers a thorough understanding of what you and your business are all about. If you're unable to write well to describe yourself then a freelance copywriter can create a company bio for you. They will charge a one-off fee, and you then own the content to use across all platforms and mediums.
Add precise contact details including website, phone number and email address.
Sell yourself, these words hold power and your company bio is an excellent opportunity to tell everyone on the internet why you’re the best, so go hard!!
3) Don't buy followers.
It can be extremely tempting to buy followers to make your brand appear more attractive, but this will be a mistake. I repeat, avoid! You need to commit to building genuine relationships with your market by providing useful and relevant content which is relatable. When you buy followers, you risk spamming your authentic audience, and the lack of genuine engagement will be detrimental to your brand. It can be a slow process to reach a steady following, but with commitment and consistency, this is extremely achievable.
4) Always point posts to your website.
Social media isn't an opportunity for a hard sell at every upload, but it is a chance to get followers to your website where the much strived for sales take place. Link blog posts and other relevant articles to your website so that you make it easy for your audience to visit your page, get drawn in to your rock ‘n’ roll content and make the all-important sale.
5) Respond to likes, follows and comments.
Social media relationships are comparable to real-life relationships and, just as in the schoolyard, you need to respond to people who try to engage with you. Mention new followers by name and always reply directly to comments on posts. If you don't actively engage with your followers, they will keep on moving until they find someone who they can interact with (probably your competitor), and you'll find yourself with no playmates to hang out with.
6) Post a variety of content.
Some platforms are better equipped for this than others however a variety of content is a must for the majority of social platforms, particularly Facebook. Post the right mix of engaging articles, sales posts, funny quotes and you can add your personal branding in there too. This will make sure you appeal to a range of audiences which will gradually but significantly grow your followers
7) Plan your content.
Social media is relevant because it's messaging is so instant. World news can go viral in minutes, and you have ample opportunity to reach the other side of the globe with an engaging or particularly impressive article or post.
And that, dear readers, is the epitome of powerful!
BUT, don't just wait until something relevant happens before you post! You need to supply a constant stream of content to meet the expectations of your audience; that could be one post a week or up to three a day depending on what they respond to, but it's important that you're consistent. There are lots of social media management sites available (such as Hootsuite) that help you schedule your content so you always provide a feast for the hungry eyes of your market.
8) Use analytics tools.
User activity on platforms such as Facebook and Instagram is tracked, and the data is available for you to use! For free!
Among other relevant information, you can see which kind of posts are popular, what time of day is popular to post, and more. If I can give you one tip, it's to use this information! It's free! The more you respond to the actions of your audience, the more popular you'll become, what a fortunate bunch we are to have access to these tools, for free!
9) Share your blogs.
If you're blogging for business (which you should be), always upload your content on your social sites with a relevant image. This will extend your reach far and wide and give more people more opportunity to find your website and therefore your product.
10) Engage with a professional.
There are no hard and fast rules with social media; the beauty is you can tailor it to respond to your audience and them to you, BUT; it's important that however you get there, you get it right. Social media can be a full-time job so if you're struggling to find time to produce quality content on a regular basis; it's imperative that you engage with someone who can.
A freelance social media strategist will offer their services for short or long term projects, and because they know exactly how to talk to your audience, they will catapult your business into your social circle of choice.
It can appear as though it will take a long time to grow an audience but don't be tempted to miss out on social presence. The first port of call for most potential clients is to check out your social media profiles, and if you don't have a presence, people will wonder why not and mosey on over to someone who does.
There are social media marketing experts out there who can assist you if you struggle to find the time for social media and with the majority of your target market having access to social media, you'd be a fool to miss out on this opportunity for engagement and further sales. It may take time, but it is worth it! Post a project today.