Here’s how to be more social
Social media has democratised audience acquisition, enabling businesses and marketers to move away from expensive channels, such as traditional TV and radio, and has instead enabled cost-efficient ways to spread a message to a targeted audience.
As far as audience size goes, the most used channels in Australia are Facebook and YouTube, each with over 15,000,000 active users recorded as of January 2019 (data from social media agency Vivid Social). Instagram, a close third, follows with over 9,000,000 active Australian users.
It’s obvious why marketers and small business owners are desperate to put advertising and communications into these channels to drive awareness and sales. Today, social media has become a way to get the word out about your business and drive customer growth and revenue.
Without a social media department, it is possible to have a functioning presence. Social media is inexpensive — it does take time, but businesses can get great returns from modest input.
Social media is the opposite of the memorable quote from Field of Dreams — if you build it, they won’t come. It’s essential to define your objectives, know your audience and determine a plan before embarking on social media work.
Define your objective
Articulate why you want a channel and what you want to achieve. Consider both the organic (non-paid) and the paid (advertising) social program, be sure to define objectives for each. Be realistic about your time, the effort you can give to social media and also your budget.
Define your audience
Gone are the days of “spray and pray” marketing. Facebook, for instance, has amazing targeting capabilities and businesses are able to, using paid advertising, reach audiences based on their demographics and psychographics. To build your ideal audience, one tip would be to sit down with a pen and paper and map out the behaviours and qualities of your existing customers.
Rather like building a persona, consider if your audience is married, has kids, are managers, interested in sport, food, finance, health, are plumbers, electricians etc. Replot these audiences into your social channel of choice and your targeting will be laser focused.
Develop a content plan
Consider what your audience is interested in and what your business is about. How can the two needs converge to deliver content that engages.
Consider the mediums you can use for content - image, text or video. With so many brands on social media jostling for consumer headspace, it’s essential to deliver an innovative content program that will “cut-through”.
Building out a content plan for an organic or paid strategy requires time to both prepare as well as analyse performance data. Of course, the more engagement you get, the more your content will be seen by more audiences (have a read about social media algorithms).
Executing social media takes time, but there are plenty of tools that can help. With the advent of user-controlled tools such as Canva for design, Fiverr and Freelancer to outsource, stock-video sites and also scheduling tools such as Hootsuite and Buffer. Facebook even has message responder bots to personalise.
From a paid point of view, businesses can inexpensively generate engagement and leads by offering information for free. In many cases, promoting an eBook, white paper or webinar download in exchange for an email address can drive awareness and interest in your business.
With Facebook and Instagram (Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion in 2012) an ad impression buy can start at $1 per day. Whereas action based (likes, video views or post engagement) ad campaigns require a minimum spend of $5 per day.
The time-consuming element is optimising the campaign. Optimising may require audience or creative changes. Like any science experiment, amend one element at a time to see what is working. Once you have found an approach that works — scale.
Whichever path you choose with social media, practice makes perfect and once refined will be a great tool for your business.
Here are some other final tips before you begin.
- Use images - if you have a visual business, you are in luck. If not, think about what images are relevant to your brand and build a library.
- All social channels use hashtags or keywords. Research the keywords and hashtags most relevant to your brand and use them. Hijack some popular keywords and create your own branded ones.
- Provide some value across organic and paid content - create an emotion or provide information.
- Explore advertising options and test your ideas from as little as $1.
- Respond to every person who engages with your brand. Respond with a like, a thank you or a comment, depending on what’s required.
- Your organic strategy should be about informing and engaging the audience you have. The paid strategy should focus on bringing new people into your business or at the very least ensure they follow you or like your page.
- Consider what content should go out across each channel on any given day. How many times a day or week you post depends on your business and audience.
- If you can, be timely and respond to popular events or news items that are relevant to your brand.
- Learn how to remove comments and block users from each channel - should you need to.
- Research - there are plenty of free tools and low cost paid ones to help you learn about the intricacies of social media. Facebook has Blueprint and YouTube has the Creator Academy.
Michelle Tucker, head of digital and marketing, Momentum Media