Using social media to improve customer engagement
Facebook, Instagram, and — of course — LinkedIn. From connecting with colleagues to finding old friends, social media provides a valuable and ubiquitous role in our daily lives. But it isn’t just about personal communication; it’s also about connecting with consumers. 88% of businesses are now using social media for marketing. LinkedIn, Yelp, Facebook, and even Instagram now play a vital part in connecting customers directly with brands. By using social media strategically, companies can not only increase general brand awareness but also customer retention and engagement.
Choosing the right platforms
Social media platforms change year by year. Platforms such as Vine shut down, while Twitter radically alter their platforms with continuous feature upgrades. Each platform has a different core demographic and is useful for different industries. To create an effective social media campaign, you need to understand the different platforms available and select the most appropriate one for you.
- Facebook. Restaurants, bars, and nightlife venues frequently find their customers turning to Facebook first — and it’s easy to see why. Creating and promoting events on Facebook is an easy way to get in local traffic. But Facebook pages aren’t just for food and drink service; nearly every business should maintain at least a Facebook page where reviews can be posted.
- Yelp. Yelp has easily become the go-to for customers looking for businesses in their area. Customers will look for everything from general contractors to retail outlets on Yelp and posted user reviews have become extremely important.
- Google Places. Google Places is extremely well-integrated with the Google Maps service, and consequently having reviews and your business information up is extremely important. For example, when customers search using the keywords “interior painting near me” or “sports good stores,” they’ll often be directed to Google Place information.
- Instagram. Instagram is popular with restaurants, shopping outlets, and recreational facilities; anything that will give you fun and engaging pictures. Whether your business runs outdoor excursions or sells antique jewellery, Instagram can be a great way to quickly increase brand awareness through solid, unique content.
- Pinterest. Pinterest tends to have an artsy audience focused on cooking, crafting, fashion, and other creative pursuits. Businesses that are either selling creative products or selling hobbyist supplies will find Pinterest extremely useful.
- Twitter. Twitter is rapidly becoming a go-to place for business-related information, as well as one of the first places that many customers look to for customer support. Because of that, Twitter is now becoming non-optional for many larger businesses.
- Tumblr. Companies that want to reach out to a more youthful demographic would do well to consider Tumblr, as the platform is commonly used with demographics aged 15 to 25. Other platforms, such as Facebook, are primarily focused on the 25+ audience.
- LinkedIn. With nearly half a billion users, LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional and business networking platform. It is a vital networking tool that also aids in both customer retention and talent acquisition, making it a critical component in every company’s overall networking strategies.
It’s not possible for most businesses to run comprehensive advertising campaigns on all of these platforms. Instead, companies need to drill down and identify which platforms their customers are using the most. Youthful, modern brands may find their core audience on Tumblr and Instagram, whereas B2B companies may want to focus on Twitter and LinkedIn.
Optimise each channel
It’s easy enough to automate your marketing so that content is replicated across all platforms — but it’s usually not the best strategy. Every platform and its audience is different, and consequently content has to be optimised for each channel.
Word limits, hash tags, embedded links, image filters, and more are all different across platforms and impact how users may interact with your content. Content on Twitter or Facebook may have vastly different hashtags than content on Instagram or Pinterest. Similarly, some types of content such as video or images may be better suited for other platforms.
Building a strategy
- Develop your social media goals. Is your organisation attempting to build brand awareness? Increase sales? Bring in website traffic?
- Investigate platforms. Which platforms are more likely to be of use to your organisation? How can they be integrated together?
- Create a content calendar. Use an automated system to schedule your posts and connect your chosen social media platforms.
- Set the tone. When posting to and interacting on social media, put your content first — and avoid being overly promotional.
- Build relationships. Social media isn’t a one-way street. Build relationships by interacting with customers one-on-one.
Analyse and optimise
It isn’t always possible to have the correct social media strategy right out of the gate. Instead, you’ll need to analyse your audience behaviour and optimise your strategy to their needs. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Which posts are garnering the most interest? Try to take advantage of popular content by promoting it and following up with similar posts.
- When do we get the most interaction? You may find scheduling your posts at different times and days of the week will get better reactions.
- Where are our followers coming from? By identifying the sources of your followers, you can see which platforms are most useful to your strategy.
- How many followers are we retaining? If followers are frequently leaving, you may not be delivering the content that they expected.
Find the value in social media engagement
Through social media, you can effectively build your customer relationships and increase customer engagement — but it does take a lot of work. With no one-size-fits-all solution, each business must find their own path. Your social media strategy will depend on a lot of factors, including your organisation’s industry and its primary audience. But once you’re able to develop a solid social media strategy, you’ll find yourself connecting and engaging with your customers more directly.
Modern businesses are finding that the way that they do business and market is changing very quickly. From recruiting brand ambassadors to improving brand awareness, companies must always be cutting edge if they want to remain competitive. With the rise of new digital trends, many CEOs, entrepreneurs, and managers may find themselves needing advice and guidance. At TEC, we provide world-class mentoring from an experienced and successful network of professionals from different industry sectors. If you want to build connections, enhance your business or get help in navigating the ever-changing corporate landscape, contact TEC today to get started.