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Whether you’re an up and coming business setting up your first social media account or you’ve been actively tweeting and posting for the past few years, you’re probably aware that social media is a bit of a mine field. Do you focus all your efforts on Facebook, or do you try to post to all channels? How can you use it to sell products or promote services? Why are we getting no likes, shares or comments?

It’s hard to ignore the benefits of social media but easy to be overwhelmed by its complexity.  However, when used correctly, social media can be a cost effective and vital tool in your sales and marketing arsenal. By taking a step back and getting the following five things right, you can ensure that you’re making the most of your social media:

1. Focus your efforts on the platform(s) that your target audience use

A lot of businesses adopt a scatter gun approach, posting to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+ all at once. However, this is both time consuming and counterproductive.

The key to social media success is understanding your target audience. Undertake some persona work, get to the bottom of your audience’s make up, their hobbies, interests, characteristics, and use this research to determine which social platforms they’re likely to use. E.g. If you’re targeting DIY focused people who enjoy interior design and are keen photographers, look at Pinterest. If they’re business people and you do a lot of your work through connections and networking, look at LinkedIn.

By focusing your time and effort on the platform(s) that your audience are actively using, you can ensure you’re posting to the people who are most likely to engage with your social campaigns.

2. Plan your month (use an editorial calendar)

Have you ever been in a situation where half way through a work week you suddenly realise that there’s a big event happening tomorrow, it’s completely relevant to your business, and you could have utilised it to produce some great social media content to promote your business? A small amount of planning can help you to be active rather than reactive.

Download an editorial calendar (get in touch with our team you’d like a free copy). This is a year-long calendar in Excel form with all of the key events, national holidays, days of note etc. already inserted. Input the dates that are most relevant to your business and use it to plan campaigns/posts around these dates. This way you can come into work each Monday, take a look at your editorial calendar and make sure you’re ready to plan and carry out your social campaigns. It doesn’t take a lot to setup, and it will dramatically improve your process.

3. Post at the most appropriate time for your audience (and on weekends!)

Timing is very important on social. Just because posting at 10am on a Tuesday suits your work schedule, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your audience are on their mobiles or desktops browsing social media at that time too.

Most social platforms have inbuilt analytics and insights. Utilise these! Go through your history of posts and identify the top performers that received the most engagement (likes, comments, shares etc.). See if you can spot any trends in regards to what time they were posted, and note if they were image, text or video based, GIFs, a competition, or a thought-piece, etc.

And don’t forget, just because your work week is 9-5, it doesn’t mean social media is too. Post content when you’re audience is most likely to be online, including weekends! A platform such as Hootsuite can help you to schedule social posts to be sent on the days and times that you determine. If you need help on using Hootsuite, contact us and our social media manager will provide guidance.

4. Find out what your audience want to read/hear about – and post it!

Are you beginning to see a theme? Social media is all about satisfying the wants and needs of your audience. Do this and you’ll find that they become brand advocates, and your engagement increases, meaning you’re more likely to see positive results.

It is easy to fall into the trap of persistently advertising your business services or pushing promotions, but social media users don’t want to be constantly sold to, even if they’ve bought into your business or product. Social is often part of our downtime, which means brands and businesses need to be smart about how they interact with us online. They need to understand what makes their audience tick, what interests them, what they’re willing to comment and engage with when using social.

Use a content-finding tool to find interesting articles and post them to your page. Mix business and product promotions with personality posts (interesting things at the office, what’s in the news, help tips and advice) and analyse what gets the best response.  Find the right mix, and keep it interesting for your audience.

5. Get on board with social media advertising

We’re huge advocates of social advertising, and here’s why: it is a tremendously cost effective and targeted way to reach potential customers and connections. If it’s not included in your marketing budget, it should be.

Posting organically (non-advertising) to your social media is great for your current social fan base/followers, but there’s a huge pool of potential fans/customers/connections out there that aren’t seeing your posts and campaigns. Not only can you reach them through social, you can also pinpoint your targeting in great detail based on location, hobbies, interests, characteristics etc.

The key to mastering social is creating an advert/campaign that your target audience will engage with. How difficult this is depends on the nature of your business – if you’re an ecommerce online shop, it makes sense to show products to those who are most likely to buy based on persona research. If you’re offering business services, you may need a hook, a download, a thought piece, or a campaign of real substance rather than a simple service promotion.  Either way, it’s definitely worth testing, as social media could be an ideal sales and marketing tool for your business.

If you need a hand getting your social in order, whether it’s choosing the right platform, profiling your audience or setting up ads, our social media experts can help – just get in touch!

How can we help?