Building a Solid Social Media Presence for an SMB

There would hardly be any marketer who would doubt the utility of social media as a medium for marketing. This makes it an essential channel for any business to establish contact with their existing and future customers. Brands successful in this endeavour are known to affect their sales and bottom line on a consistent basis. Success on social media is directly proportional to the quantum of planning that goes into before execution. 


Introduction

Presently, there are 3.85 billion social media users in the world, which is around 49% of the total population. This can give us an idea about the large user base that is available on this medium that can be leveraged by brands incorporating social media as a critical marketing component. In this day and age, it is quite essential for brands to keep a conversation going with their customers, to drive traffic, awareness, leads, sales and even brand loyalty. This write-blog seeks to outline how a solid social media presence can help a business and the underlying strategy that can drive it.


Why social media must be leveraged?

Any brand seriously pursuing online marketing cannot deny the fact that their audience is on social media. And, getting across a marketing message that sticks, need to be the primary motivation driving social media outreach.  But, there can be brands that can have second thoughts about including social media in their brand outreach due to the crowded nature of the medium. No one can deny the clutter, but a brand needs to be focused on providing value through content that finds resonance. Here is a look at why social media must be integral to your brand: 


  • Increase Brand Awareness: Implementing social media can greatly enhance your brand recognition since you are engaging with a broad set of audiences. Keep the branding message relevant to prospects and customers by talking about their priorities. Through regular and consistent updates, both through organic and paid means, a brand can build a reputation that can greatly enhance - brand recall, leads and conversions. That said, it is essential to keep in mind that not all social platforms are equal and a brand needs to customize its message for optimum engagement. Share your passion for your brand for others to take notice and support your brand. A distinct brand personality is likely to find a genuine and loyal following.  

 

  • Establish Authority: Building trust is another way to closer to your audience. On social media by consistently providing valuable content pertinent to audience concerns and specific industry topic relevant to the user. A brand can become the go-to source of information in a specific domain. With time, it establishes the brand as a credible source of information and builds a strong brand image that naturally converts to thought leadership. This can be crucial when it comes for a brand especially for B2B marketing on a platform like LinkedIn, where buyers find trust-factor to be determining aspect during decision making. 


  • Increase Web Traffic: Social media can supplement the traffic to your brand’s website and enable the brand to reach a different set of audiences in a personal, useful and entertaining manner. In fact, it can reach new prospects without any prior history of engagement with your brand. Every social media channel is essentially a gateway to your website, and every new piece of content has the potential to engage a new user. By being on different social channels, a brand can improve the possibility of better outreach not restricted to a specific demographic. For example, your audience on Facebook, are known to behave differently than the ones on Instagram. Hence, it is important to have a mixed approach involving several social channels to get the maximum advantage when driving traffic to the website. 


  • Reputation Management: Brands are known to initiate conversations and build a narrative around them on social media. As a conscious and proactive brand, you should be able to control the narrative about the brand. Being present on social media offers the opportunity to build a positive vibe around the brand, through regular content updates and engagement with the audience. Although it is easy to handle positive reviews, you should be able to prevail over and counter any negative event or reviews that can snowball into a big issue. It cannot be done instantly without an active presence on social platforms. 


  • Direct Customer Engagement: Unlike traditional means of communication (print, media), where the conversation is often one-sided, social media widens the scope of communication. Customers can directly interact with brands and can elicit responses from them swiftly. In fact, users expect brands to have a presence on social media for immediate access and complaint resolutions. Brands that are known to interact with users consistently are rewarded with repeat customers with enduring business relationships. 


  • Improve Leads and Sales: Social media platforms offer inexpensive paid advertising than conventional sources. Besides this, the expansive user base on these platforms provides quite accurate targeting options that can help brands reach specific audience segments. In fact, there are advertising formats on Social media that specifically cater to the collection of leads. Moreover, existing brands on social media are now geared for ‘social selling’, wherein prospects are discovered, connected with, nurtured for conversion into customers. The idea here is to offer a ‘solution’ than promoting the product upfront to the user.


  • Market Insights: Remaining active on social media can give you insights into your audience & market through ‘social listening’. It is a practice of monitoring social conversation around topics, giving a better understanding of audience priorities to identify trends being followed by them. When done correctly, it can identify the tone and language of your target audience. You can make use of these insights to create content that can be readily consumed by your audience to improve referrals and word-of-mouth.


  • Competitor Watch: Your competition can present you with opportunities for improvement and learnings about elevating your brand. By closely following your rivals on social media, you get exposed to their pain-points, which could be addressed by your brand to stay ahead. Furthermore, staying current about the activities of the competition can keep us up-to-date on new strategies, tactics and their implications when implemented. You can be saved from adopting certain failed tactics adopted by your rivals.  


Most Relevant Social Media Channels – In Brief

When it comes to social media channels, you have to pick the right mix of channels that works seamlessly for your brand. Each platform has its own nuances and a brand needs to abide by these to successfully conduct themselves to be heard by the audience. Here is a look at the most popular social platforms and how to engage on them:


  • Facebook: This platform has an expansive user base of 2 billion active monthly users and is a fairly conversational platform. Users who have ‘liked’ your page are looking forward to receiving updates, promotional offers, discounts, product updates, new products or any upcoming launches or events. Use a combination of content types to gauge the engagement levels, once you have a grip on the audience taste, you can follow an established pattern while continuing your content optimization efforts. The audience generally follows a business for a reason, ensure to post relevant content to get engagement in return.


  • LinkedIn: The platform has an active user base of 250 million users and is a social media for business-to-business marketers. Users following a brand on this platform are motivated by insights and updates related to an industry-specific domain. Posts have to be resourceful telling the audience how to improve themselves in an area of your expertise or it could be the latest product updates. Ensure you share the best aspects of your business - triumphs they can learn from and insights that are not found anywhere else. Presently, LinkedIn also allows videos, a great way to engage the audience is through product-based and insight-related videos.

 

  • Twitter: This is the most conversational of all the social media platforms in which users communicate with each other in a fast-paced manner. After twitter expanded its character limit from 140 to 280 characters, it has enabled brands to communicate with more freedom. Brands on this platform mainly tweet about paid product promotions, online contests, thoughts related to the industry, data insights and more. Users expect brands to communicate on a lighter note compared to other platforms while providing value through content. In terms of engagement, you would have to post multiple times to get visibility, as there are close to 5,700 tweets put out in a single second.    


  • Instagram: This platform is known for its visual appeal and boasts of an active user base of 500 million.  It permits users to post stories (videos) and regular posts (images with text captions), you can select a format that will produce most engagement. Organic reach is limited and the platform is more aligned with a pay-to-play model. Majority of users on the platform are young who demand a certain degree of quality and consistency in your posting pattern. Brands that are visually driven are required to post multiple times a day and this posting pattern varies with the type of industry. Another, element on the platform is a hashtag, when used appropriately allows brands to get discovered by new audiences.


  • YouTube: This is primarily a video-sharing platform, with 1.9 billion monthly active users and has the distinction of being second most popular website after Google. Brands are known to create product-based videos to build credibility among the audience. Optimizing videos for search is another way to gain visibility on the platform. Being owned by Google, brands can run paid ads on the platform with the Google Ads interface with a great variety of targeting options. Audience searching for brand-specific content are mostly looking for ‘How-to’ videos that explain product usage. Use specific keywords and opt for the right titles to be discovered by the audience. Take advantage of the space for video description to include CTAs and links to drive traffic back to your site. 


Social Media Strategy Framework for a Business

Now that we have talked about ‘why’ social media is critical for online marketing and have discussed the major social media platforms. Let’s now focus our attention on the strategy that should help us drive the desired engagement on social media. A good strategy need not be carved in stone; rather it should be flexible enough to accommodate changes and should have room for optimization. All social media platforms are constantly evolving; hence a flexible approach is the best way ahead. The strategy framework:


  • Establish Goals: Right at the start, we need to be clear with our goals, and these have to be achievable, measurable, audience centred and should be tied overall impact it has on the organization. Brands need to evolve two types of goals – Primary and Secondary, while the former deals with immediate outcomes, the later specifies objectives for each social media platform.


The primary goal will be a top priority outcome that you seek in a specified period of time. For example, launching 3-new products on select social media channels in the next 6 months. A secondary goal would be metrics tied to the performance of the content on each individual channel. Some of metrics could be – post frequency, audience growth, reach, engagement, traffic generated, lead generation and lead nurturing (site visits by prospects).


  • Identify Audience: This is a two-fold approach, wherein you are targeting your most likely customers and an aspirational audience (future customers). The aim here is to build a persona which is most likely to embrace your brand and build a better relationship with him/ her through social media. This easier said than done because there are multiple audience segments within a targeted group. Hence, it is essential that a brand uses a combination of organic and paid approach to get across the brand message to its most likely audience. 


An aspirational audience is a group that will be a critical customer base in the next 5 years and it is essential to influence them because they form an emerging business segment.  Having decided on the target audience, you need to probe about their motivations, pain-points, demographics, lifestyle, personality traits, and how they describe themselves. 


  • Channel Strategy: This again can be divided into two broad categories – primary and secondary channels. The channel where you will focus most of your effort through organic and paid campaigns will be Primary. There should be a direct correlation between - investing time and resources on that platform to the priority goals that have been set. If you have decided on customer engagement as a priority, the platform should cater to that need. Else, it should be a channel with reduced focus. 


Ideally, there need to be 2-3 primary channels, here “less is more” given the investment of time and resources. Your secondary channels would be any social media channels with a future audience. For example, customers of a manufacturing firm might be using LinkedIn for professional reasons and Facebook for private conversations. Their secondary channel would consist of an audience on Instagram, who will be customers of the future.  


  • Content Strategy: You need to have a content strategy in place to outline what is to be published across channels. Your content strategy needs to have purpose, broad content categories and sub-topics to each category. The purpose of the content is an overarching idea associated with a brand. In other words, your mission statement, an overriding purpose that guides an organization. 


Broad content categories would be 3-5 high-level topics or building blocks that support all other content ideas. For example, ‘Content Marketing’ would be a broad content category for a digital marketing firm. The sub-topics would be all specific ideas that support the broad categories. For ease of producing content, a brand must utilize a tool like a content calendar to plan content well ahead of time.


  • Content Distribution: The best strategy for content distribution is a paid advertising approach to reach relevant audiences. With major social platforms becoming pay-to-play models, it becomes essential for a brand to adhere to this approach. Paid advertising would include creating awareness through top-of-funnel video ads, retargeting, lead generation ads. For converting customers, a brand can use exclusive promotions or offers through paid ads. 


Not all posts need to be promoted by paid means, but a fixed budget should be devoted to boosting top-performing posts. Another means to promote content is through internal stakeholders (employees, followers, and existing customers) who can be encouraged to share content with their friends’ circle with brands featuring and tagging them in content. Next, you can directly approach influencers to co-create content and use their networks to reach a wider audience.


Conclusion

A brand after having done the necessary hard work must measure the results. Your social media goals will determine the metrics that you want to track, to measure the performance and success of your strategy.  Select the metrics that matter the most to your brand. You can easily find metric reports on Google Analytics, Facebook Analytics, LinkedIn Page Analytics and Twitter Analytics to gain insights into the performance of your content. With enough insights, you are equipped to optimize the strategy according to real-time conditions in which the brand operates.


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