MARKETING TIPS & TOOLS

How to Use Social Media Effectively

Stefan A. Slater

17 June 2016

Social media is, of course, a major part of our daily lives. According to the Pew Research Center, 76 percent of American adults use social media on a consistent basis.

Business owners and marketers shouldn’t overlook social media as a marketing tool—when used properly, it can be an effective way to reach new customers and spread brand awareness. However, learning how to use social media properly is important—without a proper social media strategy, a marketer or business owner can waste hours each day sharing content that will simply disappear within the ever-increasing flood of social media updates. Here are a few tips on how to use social media effectively.

The Proper Channel

In order to establish a social media strategy, you need to determine which social media channels to invest your time in. Some businesses are often inclined to establish a broad social media presence, but this can be a drain on resources, especially if a business is trying to learn which channels its customers tend to use daily. For example, in the U.S., 72 percent of adults use Facebook, while only 23 percent use Twitter. Facebook tends to be popular with adults, while younger generations prefer Twitter and Snapchat.

So, to get started, invest your time with one channel—most likely Facebook. If customers respond well to that one channel, start to spread out. Remember: certain channels are better for certain businesses. For instance, a gym might do well with Facebook, which allows them to post images, text, and links to events or blogs. However, a bakery might fair better with image-based platforms like Instagram or Pinterest, since these channels allow them to share enticing pictures of food.

“To get started, invest your time with one channel.”

Engagement

It’s important to engage your audience. Images and videos are excellent for engaging viewers, as they offer more interaction than a simple block of text. However, if you choose to post text, make sure to make it compelling. Post links to informative blogs with catchy headlines and teasers, or share polls or questions that will encourage viewers to weigh in with opinions. In short, you want to establish a two-way communication with your audience—they should feel the need to interact with you. The more engaging the content, the higher the probability that a viewer will take the time out of their day to click a link or share one of your Tweets or Facebook posts. At the end of the day, whatever you share on social media needs to be useful or entertaining in some form.

 

Timing and Scheduling

Timing is key. If you post too often, you might overwhelm your audience. Post infrequently, and your audience may become bored. So, how do you determine an effective posting schedule? Start by posting at least once or twice a day. If reactions are positive, start posting more. You can also use certain tools, like Facebook’s Insights, to determine the popularity of certain posts and to understand your audience’s timing preferences. These tools, for example, may tell you that your audience tends to log on in the early morning and late afternoon, and that they enjoy commenting on videos over participating in polls.

Bring It Home

Ideally, when it comes to social media, you need to have a goal in mind. For example, many companies use social media as a way to drive traffic to their main website. So, if a carpeting company wants to drive traffic to their website, then most of the content they share via social media will encourage viewers to travel back to the main site. If they share links to articles or blog posts, then those articles need to be posted on their website. Or, if they post images or other content that doesn’t link directly back to the main site, then it should relate to the business’s expertise in some way, so that viewers will maintain a correlation between the topic area and the business.

With a proper social media strategy, a business or marketer can use social media as an effective marketing tool, increasing overall brand awareness and bringing in new customers. It takes time and effort to understand how well social media works for your business.  Whether you outsource the maintenance of your social media platforms or keep it in house, mastering social media for your business takes commitment, but it’s well worth the effort.

Teaser: Social media can be a powerful marketing tool—if you know how to use it properly. Here are some tips on how to use social media effectively.

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