Did you spend 2014 thinking that social media was a poor excuse for a marketing channel? That Twitter is too superficial to help your business grow and profit, or that Instagram is too fluffy of a platform for a serious brand to use well?
Let me level with you: it’s not social media, it’s you.
If you dismiss social media networks as unimportant or ineffective marketing tools, you’re missing out on a huge — and free — form of smart, useful marketing for your brand or business.
I’d love to help you enter the New Year with a new perspective on social, and how to use it to your advantage. Use these tips to better your social media presence and start seeing a better ROI of your time and effort in 2015:
Understand Why Social Media Matters
You can’t hope to improve social media marketing efforts in 2015 until you take a moment to recognize what these platforms can do for you.
Proper content marketing on social media can:
- Raise awareness of your brand and provide greater exposure to clients, customers, collaborators, and connections
- Build a loyal group of fans that believe in what you’re doing
- Lead to new business opportunities
- Give better insight into your target market
- Increase conversions and lead generation
…and that’s just scratching the surface. But if you miss the main point of social media, you’ll likely not see these excellent benefits. And that main point?
It’s right in the name: social media. Social media marketing won’t work for you if you’re not actively engaging in social behaviors on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Plus, Instagram, and whatever other platform you’re on.
That means engaging in conversations, not just tooting your own horn 24/7. Ask questions, or answer other people’s queries. Provide resources and helpful hints. Give people a chance to connect with you in a genuine way.
They can’t do that if you’re constantly shouting about how great you are in the form of every single update you create being about you and pushing people to click back to your main site.
Keep Showing Up
You need to be social, and that means being present for the conversations that happen in real time. Or at least, maintaining a steady, consistent presence.
It’s tough to monitor social media feeds and streams because many of them move fast — and there’s always a lot of content to sort through. But you don’t need to sit on social media all day long to achieve this.
Use tools like Hootsuite and Buffer to help you manage your own updates and keep up with the conversation — without making yourself crazy trying to check in to all your accounts every 15 minutes.
Know Where Your Target Audience Is
Do you use Twitter because someone told you to do so? Are you on Facebook because it’s the only platform you’re familiar and comfortable with?
If so, you’re not likely seeing good results from your efforts (unless your target audience just happens to be there, too).
There is no right social media network on which to invest your time. At least, there’s not a single answer for every brand and business. The right platform for yours will be the one where your target audience is.
Take a bit of time to do some market research and figure out — where do my clients or customers like to be? Then go to them in 2015.
Stop Forcing It
Too many times in 2014, we heard about brands getting themselves into social snafus with inappropriate hashtag use. Whether it’s a hashtag or a comment, tweet, or update that you post in an effort to forcibly inject your brand or business into someone else’s conversation, it’s not good.
If a hashtag isn’t relevant to you and your audience, don’t use it. Just stop. It’s not genuine, it can get you into serious trouble with the general public, and it only tells people how hard you’re trying to force this.
Create a Plan
All the advice in the world can't better your social media marketing in 2015 if you're not willing to get organized, take things seriously, and create a plan of action for your strategies and ideas. Try taking the following steps to get you started:
- Determine what social media platforms you'll be on, based on where your target audience likes to hang out
- Plan out how frequently you'll post (per day, per week, etc)
- Decide what kind of content you'll share and lay out a variety — from links, to quotes, to tips, to sharing other brands' content — but choose a main form of update that you'll stick with most often to create recognizable consistency.
- Choose tools to help you implement (and save you time)
- Give it a shot! Take action and start getting social
- Reevaluate your plan and more importantly, your results from your actions. Make changes and tweaks based on those results, and keep on working on your strategy as you learn and test.
How will you improve your social media marketing in the new year?