5 Best Social Media Practices Every Business Should Know
If you are a business owner, you probably already know that businesses in today’s digital world must have an online presence. Consumers will search for a business’ website to learn more about what the business is selling, the people behind the company, the company’s story, and what values it has, before making a buying decision.
The second step many people take before giving you their money is to search for what others are saying about your business. Whether it’s the local paper, a national news outlet, a Yelp review, or on social media, people are looking for third party validators who might influence them and where they choose to spend their money.
Consumers also want to feel good about giving away their hard-earned cash, so they’ll be looking to see what your company’s values are, what you believe in, and how you are influencing conversations and ideas in online channels.
Chances are you already have a website; you might even have done some paid advertising or alerted your local media that you’re in business. You might even have a few social media accounts already, but you might feel overwhelmed and just don’t believe it’s worth all the time and effort it takes to create and manage posts while also running a business. No question - it’s a lot of work and there’s not always a clear return on investment.
Here is another perspective to consider when building your business’s online presence with these five best practices for using social media.
1. Set goals
The first step in developing your social media strategy is to set SMART goals. That is, goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely.
You will want to be thinking about what goals you have for social media that fits into the larger goals for your business. For example, if you are trying to double your audience on a given platform within six months, which might be a specific and measurable goal, but is it achievable? Is it relevant to the overall goals for your business?
Perhaps, a better goal is to use social media to build brand awareness or increase traffic to your website or to have a platform to better engage with your customers and/or to generate more leads.
You’ll then want to think about which platforms make the most sense for your business to meet those goals. If your target audience tends to be younger, then you’ll probably want to look at Instagram and Tik Tok. If your audience tends to be more established, perhaps Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest is a better option. You’ll need to do some initial research about your own consumers and compare them to demographics of the major platforms.
2. Have a plan
Regardless of what goals you set, you must have a plan for how to achieve them. More importantly than the plan itself, is to have the plan written down.
As the saying goes, “if you fail to plan, then plan to fail.” Don’t let your social media strategy fail because you neglected planning for success. So come up with a documented plan that includes your SMART goals, the tools you need to accomplish them, and how you plan to track them over time.
There’s no better way to adjust your strategy and track your return on investment than having a written plan that you refer to often, and that you can use to show your progress over time.
3. Find your voice
Social media is a fantastic tool to establish brand recognition and find your voice as a company. Is your brand serious or funny? Are you strictly professional or can you get sarcastic?
The answers to those questions will largely depend on who your target audience is and the kind of vocabulary they use.
Your particular voice and tone is important for connecting with your audience in a way that is relatable to them. People are more likely to stick with brands they feel “get them” - brands that speak their language and understand their needs.
4. Listen and engage
One of the best things about social media is the ability to connect directly with customers and prospective customers (i.e., your followers) directly. Building relationships in business has always been important. Whether it’s someone that walks in your storefront, that you talk to on the phone, or that you engage with on social media, each engagement is an opportunity to build rapport that could lead to long-term sales.
Part of effective relationship building is also listening. Social listening is an important tactic to see what others are saying about you and your brand online. It also gives you an opportunity to pay attention to trends and other information that may be relevant to your business, or your customers.
You may want to use social media to follow what your competitors are doing or to find partnerships to help you reach those social media goals. You have the world at your fingertips, so take advantage of the new opportunities that come with social media.
It is called social media, after all. Use it to socialize with your audiences.
5. Quality beats quantity
Not all businesses need to be posting daily on all channels, although it’s probably a good idea to sign up for most of them. It’s free and relatively easy to sign up. Create a basic profile on each channel that includes your website and contact information. This also ensures that people don’t try to sabotage your brand by signing up for a social media handle that uses your business’ name.
The key to good social media practices is to post content that is valuable. It should either provide a value to your business, or to the customer, but the best content is one that benefits both. Use images, graphics and especially videos to boost engagement.
You can’t be everywhere at once, so don’t try to be. Focus on the channels that are going to best help you reach the goals for your business, at least at the start. And if you find that you are spending too much time and energy trying to manage content on multiple platforms and there is one that is just not working for you, then let it go and spend your time on the ones that work.