How to use social media like a professional – Part 1

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Developing an effective social media strategy – and then correctly implementing it – is crucial to achieving the goals and objectives of your business. Social media is such an important part of business strategy in today’s modern world.  Many businesses are using social media, but many are not using it as effectively and efficiently as they could be. In this blog series we detail the key seven steps to help you build your strategy, maximise its implementation and use social media like a professional!

Global trends in social media

Social media is one of the most important tools for accessing and engaging with your target audience. Today 3.8 billion people globally use social media – that’s nearly 50% of the world’s population. There’s no sign of the uptake slowing either, as trends indicate that social media users continue to grow at more than 9% each year.

Currently each internet user has an average of nearly ten social media accounts and spends over two hours on social media each day. Social media isn’t going away, and chances are the people you want to engage with your business are using it.

Why you need a credible presence on social media

Social media is important for establishing your business’s credibility. It is a crucial part of the consumer buying cycle and decision-making process.

Research shows that:

  • 60% of consumers will visit your Facebook page before your website or physical store
  • 80% of consumers are more likely to purchase from you if you have a credible & authentic Facebook page
  • 62% of consumers say Facebook is the most important & useful channel to research small business
  • Many people are active on social media for business – in fact 43% of internet users use social media for work purposes

While people may not necessarily ‘like’ your business page, follow your account or engage with your content, chances are they will check it out before making the decision to buy from you or do business with you, so it is important that your social media profiles are professional, on brand, current and active.

Despite this, few businesses use social media effectively to achieve their business goals and objectives.

Social media for business

There is a huge range of social media platforms available – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, WeChat, Pinterest, Snapchat, and TikTok just to name a few – yet a key part of your social media strategy is identifying the right platforms for your business to be on.  Not every platform will suit your business or your audience.

You may be familiar and experienced with some social media platforms, whereas some newer platforms might be a bit foreign – if you are just starting out there are some great online tutorials and blogs which take you through the ‘how tos’ of the various platforms. Facebook Blueprint, Hootsuite or Sprout Social are some good places to start – as well as searching YouTube.

The majority of this guide will relate to Facebook, as it’s the most popular and universal social media platform across all businesses, demographics and geographical locations.

Seven steps to social media strategy success

So, how do you use social media like a professional to ensure you maximise return on investment of your time and your money? As with many things, it all comes down to strategy.

Based on our experience at Purple Giraffe, we’ve created a roadmap of 7 key steps, and will provide a few bonus pro-tips along the way to give your strategy the professional edge.

Step 1: Identify your goals

The first step is to know your objectives and goals. Ask yourself why you’re doing social media for your business –

  • What’s the purpose?
  • What do you want to get out of it?
  • What do you want your audience to get out of it?
  • Make sure your social media goals are S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant & Time-bound)

Without setting clear and effective goals, you have no way of measuring the performance of your activity and return on investment of time and money.

This will also help you identify which social media platforms might best suit your business and filter out the ones that aren’t as relevant or appropriate for you.

Pro tip:

To get clear on your objectives and help keep it top of mind, write out a mission statement for each platform – a simple, one liner statement clearly outlining your specific goal for that platform. For example, for LinkedIn you might write: “I will use LinkedIn to grow my professional network, provide value add content and drive traffic to my website.”

Step 2: Know your audience

Next, as with your business strategy your social media strategy needs to clearly define your audience and your ideal customer.

It’s important to know your audience, where they spend time and hang out online, and what they want to see and engage with on social media.

Consider things like your audience’s:

  • Age, gender, and interests
  • Geographical location
  • Education and professional status

Building a customer profile will help you identify which platforms to be on and what content to create.

It may be tempting to set up accounts on all social media platforms, but not all of them will be relevant for your business or brand.

For example, despite its current popularity TikTok may not be a relevant fit for your business.  It’s heavily skewed to the young adolescent market (69% of TikTok’s users are 13-24 years old) and may not be where your audience is spending time.

Or perhaps the time and investment needed to effectively manage a Twitter profile isn’t worth the ROI for your brand – some research suggest that you need to post 7-10 times a day to be effective on Twitter, which might be perfect for a journalist or social or political commentator but too onerous for others.

Or, if you want to grow your audience and market in Asia then you may need explore WeChat.

It’s therefore important to gather and analyse data, and not make assumptions about where your audience is hanging out.

You may think that Facebook is a better network for Baby Boomers than Millennials – and you’re right in that it is fast growing amongst Baby Boomers, yet data shows that Millennials still outnumber Boomers on Facebook. It’s therefore important to know the data about who is using each platform and in what ways.

Once you have an established audience, check the analytics of your own profile to see who your followers are, where they live, what their interests are, how they interact with your brand, etc..

Creating a customer profile will also guide you on what content to create – as you’ll have a better idea of content that your audience will like, comment on, and share.

Pro tip:

You don’t have to be everything to everyone, and you don’t have to be on every platform. Remember each platform’s mission statement – if you can’t articulate a simple mission statement for the platform, then it may not be a good fit for your business.

Step 3: Know your competition

There is so much value in being authentic to your own brand and objectives and essentially staying in your own lane.

However, there are some advantages to being familiar with what your competitors are doing. This doesn’t mean you need to copy your competitors, but there can be opportunities to draw inspiration and even get clear about what you don’t want to do.

Pro tip:

Social media can be quite a big time-waster and it is easy to get distracted – developers do that intentionally to get you to spend more time on the platform. So instead of trawling through newsfeeds, setting up social media listening helps you stay across what’s going on with your competitors and in your industry in an efficient and effective way. You can set up reporting for brand names and key words so you can see what they’re sharing and what people are saying about them. This is a good way to stay across what’s going on and address what you need to without getting sucked in to the social media vortex.

Step 4: Take stock with an audit

Whether you’re new to social media or you’ve been active for a while, it’s always a good idea to take stock of your activity with an audit so you can clearly identify what purpose your social media accounts serve and how well they’re performing.

Again, not all platforms will be relevant to your brand, or audience, so if the purpose of the platform isn’t clear or you haven’t been active on a platform for a while, it’s time to think about whether it’s somewhere you should be. If it’s not, then deactivate the account.

It is far better to use fewer social media platforms well than use them all averagely – that’s part of being strategic.

When auditing your social media there are a few key things to ask yourself:

  • Are my profiles optimised?
  • Are my social media usernames / handles consistent? And do I even have them?
  • How do my pages look?
  • What do they say about my brand?
  • Do they say what I want them to?
  • Are they current and complete?
  • Are the bios and about sections up to date? Do they include keywords to help with searchability?
  • Are the images high quality and appealing?
  • Am I active on there? Do I post regularly?

Remember 60% of consumers will visit your Facebook page before visiting your website, and 80% say they are likely to purchase if you have a credible Facebook account. If your last post was years ago, or your content isn’t current or on brand they’ll likely assume you’re not in business anymore or for some other unfavourable view.

Take a look at the Insights:

  • Who is your audience?
  • Who are your followers? Is your target audience there?
  • How are they using the platform and when? Do they engage? What do they engage with?

Take a look at the Analytics:

  • How are the platforms performing?
  • Is your activity achieving your objectives?
  • Can you use this platform to achieve your objectives?

Pro tip:

If you’re not sure where to start, search online to find a free audit checklist to help guide your review. You can find plenty of free tools online to get you started – we have several free tools available on our resources page.

Part 1 wrap up

Social media is clearly an important consideration in your marketing and communications strategy. Despite the overwhelming focus placed on content when discussing social media, your presence or absence on certain platforms is equally important, and should be guided by your business’s needs and audience behaviours.

Of course, content remains critically important too, so be sure to check out Part 2 of “How to use social media like a professional”, where we continue with a focus on the content you post, and how it can be best adapted to your goals.

References

We are Social Jan 2020

Digital Marketing Academy data

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Kelly Wagner

Kelly Wagner

Kelly Wagner has more than 20 years of diverse professional experience across the public and private sector. As a marketer, Kelly has specific skills in strategic business planning, social media management, event management and marketing communication. Kelly has worked with large corporations and also established a number of start up businesses and seen then through to sustainable success.

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