With the pandemic and more people working from home than in the office, there is greater engagement and interaction on social media. We’re seeking connection, and with social distancing becoming the norm right now, social media is the best place to find that.
Importance of Maximizing Social Media
Facebook issued a report last week that looks at how our interactive behaviors have shifted during the pandemic and what that means for how businesses conduct their marketing, particularly their public relations. There is an increased opportunity now for businesses to reach their target customers on social media. And, with the traditional media so focused on covering the election, civic unrest, and social issues as well as the pandemic, social media are the best media channel right now to capture visibility, build awareness and gain some traction with your marketing. That’s why you need to be maximizing social media!
However, social media are still a mystery to some businesses and “where to begin?” is often the first question. Knowing your marketing goals, such as driving traffic to your website or establishing thought leadership, will help you with identifying the social media sites you should concentrate on and the types of content (including video and audio content) you will post on those sites.
Like the traditional media you pursue, the social media you focus on should reach your target customers. Most businesses will find they should be on LinkedIn, Twitter and Google My Business, while consumer businesses should also be on Facebook. If your business is more locally-based, then Alignable makes sense as well. You might also find there are social networks specific to your industry. There’s also Instagram (for photos), YouTube (for videos) and SlideShare (for slide presentations).
Implementing Best Practices
With social media, you need to create a presence on your page or site that is highly professional but also appealing, incorporating photos of your company, team, customers, vendors, offices, etc. It’s an opportunity to let customers know who you really are and clue them into you company culture as well as convey your company and product messages. More importantly, you need to develop a strategy for social media with an understanding of what to post and when, how to optimize your presence, and how to truly engage your target audience and create a loyal following.
Below are some best practices for developing your social media strategy and ensuring it executes smoothly and delivers results.
- Build an easy-to-follow calendar of your social media activity, indicating which social media sites you’ll post to and how often (weekly, twice-weekly, daily — you’ll want to post at least weekly). Posts can be new content (e.g. blog articles and marketing communications), upcoming news and events, email marketing campaigns, conversation starters on industry hot topics and trends, surveys/polls, contests, images, videos and tips/tricks/techniques related to your business that would be helpful to your target customers. You’ll want to include images with your posts, along with links to the full content or “learn more” info on your website.
- Schedule your social media posts and messages for when your customers (including global ones) will see them. That could mean posting off-hours in your time zone to reach your customers at the right time during their workday. Generally, posting in the afternoon is best. Tools such as HootSuite can help with managing this.
- For those customers who are in other geographic areas, you need to consider that they have different information needs and follow different trends, so you need to do the appropriate research to ensure you create content for them that’s relevant.
- Set up keyword search streams, using Google Alerts or similar tools, to gain insight into what your industry is saying, what your customers think is trendy and what your competitors and complementary businesses are doing. This allows you to stay on top of what’s happening in your industry to ensure you are always providing timely, relevant and attention-grabbing content.
- Get your team of employees (and even customers and partners) to participate and collaborate on executing your social media efforts in order to offer a multi-dimensional voice but also not have to do it all yourself or put the task on one person. You could incentivize employees in some way to contribute, even if they’re just reviewing content your outside marketing resources create. You can get your customers and partners engaged by inviting them to guest blog, provide testimonials, etc.
- Analyze metrics such as click-throughs on your social media links, which you can obtain through website traffic data provided by Google Analytics and similar tools. This data will give you a sense of which messages are resonating, whether your scheduling is spot on, and what’s generating followers. Metrics will tell you whether your social media strategy is succeeding and help you to determine and demonstrate a return on your investment in it.
Before designing and implementing a social media strategy, or for more in-depth guidance on how to proceed, you may want to engage a public relations or marketing expert with experience in working with social media. Because, if you’re not currently on the social media bandwagon, or you are but you’re not fully engaged with it, you’ll want to take advantage of the public’s current change in interactive behaviors. It’s your best opportunity for getting exposure in your market during the pandemic.