Build traction and leverage social media marketing channels

It is now difficult to imagine what life was like before social media but did you know that the first site has only been around since 1997 and the first platform to reach 1 million subscribers was in 2004? The ability to share photos, opinions, events, as they happen has significantly transformed the way we live, not to mention the way many of us do business.

Advantages

  • 3.5

    billion social media users worldwide

    Source: Oberlo.com
  • 73%

    of marketers believe that social media marketing has been “somewhat effective” or “very effective” for their business

    Source: Oberlo.com
  • 91%

    of all social media users access social channels via mobile devices

    Source: Oberlo.com
  • 49%

    of consumers depend on influencer recommendations on social media

    Source: Oberlo.com
  • 3.5

    billion social media users worldwide

    Source: Oberlo.com
  • 73%

    of marketers believe that social media marketing has been “somewhat effective” or “very effective” for their business

    Source: Oberlo.com
  • 91%

    of all social media users access social channels via mobile devices

    Source: Oberlo.com
  • 49%

    of consumers depend on influencer recommendations on social media

    Source: Oberlo.com

Does your company need to be active on social media every day?  Not necessarily, but several times a week, with relevant and interesting content for sure, if you want to build traction and reap the benefits from this popular and free online marketing channel.

Here are 10 advantages of using social networks for your business:

  • Build your brand
  • Attract prospects
  • Increase visitors to your website
  • Advertise cost-effectively by building account networks
  • Carry out market research
  • Monitor the competition
  • Increase customer loyalty and retention
  • Collect customer feedback
  • Enhance SEO
  • Opening a company page is free

Platforms

When one thinks about social media, the popular social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube come to mind.

However, there are several other channels which can also be leveraged for business i.e. to do market research, build brand awareness, for lead generation, audience engagement and to find new sales channels. These include:

  • Discussion forums
  • Sharing economy networks
  • Interest-based networks
  • Social shopping networks
  • Consumer review networks
  • Bookmarking and content curation networks
  • Blogging and publishing networks

You can find more details  about how each can benefit your business on the Hootsuite blog.

Below is an overview of the different social media networks, when to use them, their reach, and ideal target audience. Adoption will depend on the size of the potential audience you wish to reach and the resources and engaging content you have available to make regular postings.

LinkedIn

690+ million users in over 200 countries (Spring 2020) Source: LinkedIn
30 million companies
Demographics – men and women ages 25 – 64

LinkedIn is the best professional network and particularly suited for B2B. While the U.S. is LinkedIn’s biggest market with over 180M users, LinkedIn has gained traction around the world. This includes over 200 million in Europe and close to 200 million in Asia Pacific with membership growing strongly year over year. The platform operates in 24 languages.

On top of setting up a company page, when you create a group on LinkedIn, you can increase your reach and create a space where you can engage with your target audience. Groups allow professionals working in similar industries to share ideas, share content, find jobs, and even more so, establish themselves as leaders in the industry.

LinkedIn also has a sponsored ads application for promotion of business offerings and events to a target audience, which can be selected by industry, company size, geography, etc.  LinkedIn Sales Navigator, a powerful prospection tool, allows targeting of companies and contacts with keywords and enables the licence holder to get in touch directly via InMail with key decision-makers.

Facebook

Number of monthly users: 2.6 billion as of Jan 2020 Source: Statistica
140 million businesses
Demographics: Men and women, ages 18-65 or older

Facebook is the most popular social network in the world. It is a top social media site also for businesses with over 140 million using Facebook on a regular basis. However, it is not as business-focused as LinkedIn and tends to be more suited for B2C. Ideal Facebook content for B2B should therefore be focused on storytelling, social interaction, brand building, testimonials and customer service.

Videos and photos work well on Facebook and should be updated on the timeline of the company page as well as used to make ongoing additions to the company Facebook story. Setting up a business profile allows other Facebook users to leave a review and can be categorised by industry type and used in posts to message and publish company updates. Under the events section, you can create event pages and promote upcoming events.

Posting sponsored ads and paying a modest amount to boost business posts is a cost-efficient way to reach a wider audience. Ads can be A/B tested and conversion pixels installed for effective retargeting. Groups can also be created from the company page on Facebook and you can invite the members of the page to join your private group, which can work as a community alongside the Facebook page.

Twitter

Number of monthly users: 330 million Source: Omincoreagency.com

Men and women, ages 18-65

Twitter gives its users a steady stream of information and new content from all over the Internet. It has millions of engaged users every month, and practically every brand in the world has an account to update its customers. It may not have the same broad audience as Facebook, but it is easily one of the most accessible networks on the planet.

However, Twitter famously limits its users to messages of 280 characters or less. That means you have to be concise, interesting, and informative all in one tweet, and that can be a challenge. However, when you do it correctly, people can like or retweet what you have written so that you can appeal to a broader audience. For expansion of brand awareness, Twitter is reportedly one of the best social media platforms.

With Twitter, you can tag companies or customers in posts, retweet positive customer tweets, and respond to customer questions via tweet or direct messages. Like Facebook, you can also post content like photos or videos.

Users can easily communicate with others through simple actions like tagging, hashtagging, commenting, private messaging, reacting to posts, and re-sharing content. You can also create an original hashtag to promote your campaign or content, which allows you to build a unique brand.

Hashtags on Twitter and Instagram help increase your social media presence as they make your content viewable by anyone who has an interest in your hashtag as it goes beyond just your followers. Hashtags can help you build a brand for your business or yourself by engaging with customers and joining the conversation about what is trending.

Instagram

1 billion active users in 2020 Source: Omincoreagency.com
25 million businesses
Demographics: 67% of US adults between 18 and 29 years of age use Instagram. Source: Hootsuite

Bought by Facebook in 2012, Instagram has grown into a social media powerhouse with the world’s top brands leveraging the account to create engagement, build awareness and increase sales. Here are a few key numbers to keep in mind when considering if to extend your social media activity to this platform:

  • 928.5 million people can be reached through Instagram ads (last updated by Simon Kemp in 2020, CEO of Kepios and thought leader in digital marketing)
  • 90% of users on Instagram follow a business account (updated by Instagram in 2019)
  • More than 500 million accounts use Instagram Stories each day (last updated by Instagram in 2019)

Instagram is one of the youngest social networks, with a majority of users under 25. That makes it the perfect social network for brands or companies that target young, hip demographics. Photos and short videos (less than 60 seconds) with a small amount of text do exceptionally well on Instagram. Instagram also integrates with your Facebook and Twitter accounts so you can use the same photos across multiple platforms.

Users all over the world are adopting the platform — and some countries are seeing massive growth in their number of Instagram users.

YouTube

Number of monthly users: 2 billion. Source: Hootsuite

Demographics: Men and women, ages 15-80 and older

YouTube is kind of a catch-all when it comes to content since so many people use it. Bought by Google in 2006, it is no surprise that is has become the second-largest search engine in the world after Google. Comedy and music do well on YouTube, but it can also be used effectively for business. Many businesses on YouTube have a creative, visual or educational component e.g. they use it to post tutorials or webinars.

Companies can create a Youtube business page and group videos by category, topic and language. It is a good idea to use the tags that YouTube suggests, since they are based on what people commonly search for. You can also manually add extra tags and variations on your tags. Smart keywords and hashtags are important to help SEO and ensure the video is found by a maximum number of viewers. In-depth analytics are available to understand engagement and audience. Sponsored ads can also be placed on YouTube.

Other Channels in Asia

China has its own set of predominantly mobile-based social media and networking platforms. There are three major players i.e. WeChat, QQ and Weibo. WeChat has over 1 billion users and a powerful and broad feature set and is also being used widely for business purposes.

LINE is the most popular messaging application in Japan, Thailand and Taiwan. The majority of LINE’s 211 million monthly active users are located in those areas. However, they are also growing in influence in Spain, Argentina, Singapore and Hong Kong, largely due to their specialised global marketing strategy. Similar to WeChat, Official Account holders can build their own experiences/applications within the app called Business Connect.

Prospection tool

  • 54%

    of social browsers use social media to research products

    Source: Oberlo.com
  • 71%

    of consumers who have had a positive experience with a brand on social media are likely to recommend the brand to their friends and family

    Source: Oberlo.com
  • 54%

    of social browsers use social media to research products

    Source: Oberlo.com
  • 71%

    of consumers who have had a positive experience with a brand on social media are likely to recommend the brand to their friends and family

    Source: Oberlo.com

Social media is an integral part of your inbound marketing and sales process enabling you to actively engage with prospects and provide timely information to move the account to the next stage of the sales funnel. Using marketing automation will also facilitate tracking.

Here are a few tips for using social media for prospection:

  • Determine where your prospect base is active
  • Join relevant communities where you can get involved
  • Follow the appropriate users
  • Keep an eye on the competition and replicate what works well
  • Monitor who joins your network and if they are an ideal prospect for further follow-up
  • Show you are a subject matter expert and provide whitepapers, tip sheets and studies which can be downloaded
  • Use videos and attractive visuals to increase engagement

Best practices

Images Are Key. Always include an image with your posts. This will dramatically increase your chances that one of your followers will view the post and share it with their network. Make sure you optimise the image format for the different platforms:

  • Facebook: 1,200 x 628
  • Twitter: 1,024 x 512
  • LinkedIn: 800 x 800
  • Instagram: 1,200 x 1,200

Make sure your images are original and stand out. Add an attention grabbing slogan, quote or benchmark in the image if relevant. (Note Facebook sponsored ads do not accept images with text). Try to avoid using the same image twice but try to keep a recognisable template and brand style.

Hashtags. When determining which hashtags to use and which are popular for a specific keyword or topic you would like to highlight, you can check the following sites https://hashtagify.me/hashtag/ or  https://www.hashatit.com/,

Competitive analysis. Use social media to take a closer look at what the competition is doing. What networks are they on? How big is their audience? How often do they post? How much do they engage (shares, likes, and comments)? What are they good at? And not so good at? Identify gaps in your own strategy and fill them.

Social media ‘Rule of Thirds’.  As a general rule try to balance your content with ⅓ share posts to promote your business, ⅓ share posts of ideas from influencers in your industry (or like-minded businesses), ⅓ share posts of personal stories to build your brand.  Implementing the ‘rule of thirds’ will allow you to endorse things that others have done, show that you are involved in current news, and limit how much you talk about yourself.

Use subtitles. 85% of social media videos are watched with the sound off. Put subtitles in local language where possible for increased impact.

Call to action. Include a call to action in your postings e.g. link to the website or a landing page. Include a call to action also at the end of your videos.

Handles.  Social media handles allow everyone to have a unique identity on the platform. By inserting a relevant handle in your post (referred to as tagging) the person with that handle will receive a notification and can share the content as appropriate.  If you want to mention another user in your tweet, on Twitter you can include their handle using the @ symbol. This works in a very similar way on Instagram. A reader can also click on the @handle to view your user profile.

Timing. Think about the best day and time to post to get maximum impact. The best timing for posting varies for each platform.

Promote. Add a follow us icon in the email signatures of employees linking to your social media pages. Icons can be found here on the Hootsuite blog.

Networking. Create a pubic group on your Facebook and LinkedIn pages and invite local business associations, their affiliates and prospects to be members.

Optimise your profile. Review and update if necessary your profile on your social media pages in line with best practices.

Event promotion. Create an events page or virtual events page (webinar etc) on Facebook and promote upcoming events in this section.

Social media content strategy and planning.  To ensure a continuous flow of interesting posts, engage followers and catch new followers, it is important to maintain a rolling content management or editorial calendar.  This should be part of your overall social media marketing strategy. Creating unique and engaging content is really important. The calendar will enable you to take a big-picture approach to social media content planning. It will help you visualise your ideas and organise them in a way that makes the strategy easier to execute. You can also:

– repurpose content to optimise your time and efforts
– use short video clips which are increasingly popular
– incorporate the annual event calendar into your social media calendar
– identify key events abroad and mark them in your calendar
– determine who are the main influencers and follow them on social media so that sharing positive content is easier, in particular, when your sector, product line or company is mentioned.

Sponsored ads – a cost-effective promotional channel. While opening a social media page is free, you can invest in sponsored ads placement on the major social media channels (Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter). They are a cost-effective way to reach a much wider audience, at home and abroad and can be used for increasing attendance at events and building awareness. The ads can be set up from your social media business page via a Business account and are billed to a company credit card. Targeting by platform differs. On LinkedIn targeting is done via industry, company size, geography, job seniority and interest and on Facebook via geography using keywords linked to job title and interest. You will be able to see upfront the expected reach, number of clicks and approximate cost. You can place the ads yourself or ask a local marketing agency to do it for you.

Use a social media management software. If you are posting on several platforms, this software allows you to save time, and gives you a clear overview of what is scheduled if several users are making posts. The software also contains analytical tools for easier measurement.

Cybersecurity

Protect your business

No company with an online presence is immune to a cyberattack. However, there are several precautions you can and should take to protect yourself and your business.

Wrongful use by a third party of someone’s private or professional social network account can have detrimental consequences. This is why each account needs to be subject to the highest possible protection:

  • A strong password
  • A double authentication system
  • Access rights strictly limited to those who need them and according to their specific needs

In addition, you should also be careful about how third-party services can use your social media accounts. Beyond simple authentication, some services take the liberty to publish on your behalf on your Facebook account or to access your personal data. This can go as far as soliciting your contacts or “friends” for commercial purposes. As a result, you may become the involuntary accomplice of spamming or of taking an intrusive approach.

Normally, you should be able to limit the intervention of third-party applications to your Facebook account as much as possible. If this is not the case, you should question the interest of this application and its real objectives.

Whichever social networks and services you use on the web, it is important to master the interconnections between these services. To do this, simply check regularly in your Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, email accounts:

  • which applications have access to your account
  • with which rights
  • possibly how

Privacy

Almost all social media sites have strong privacy options. Enable them whenever possible. For example, does the site really need to be able to track your location? In addition, privacy options can be confusing and subject to frequent change. Make it a habit to check they are working as you expect them to.

Social networks are rightly used to give a human touch to your business. However, you must be careful not to give too much information about your employees. This information could be used wrongly to carry out social engineering attacks that can damage the company as well as the privacy and/or the reputation of the people involved.

Beware of scams

Similar to email, ill-intentioned people may attempt to use social media messages to gain access to your password or credit card. Be careful what you click on: If a friend sends you what appears to be an odd message, it could be a cyber attacker pretending to be your friend.

Know the rules

Familarise yourself with the site’s terms of service. Anything you post or upload might become the property of the site.

Advice available from SECURITYMADEIN.LU. Visit our website www.securitymadein.lu for more information and to contact us.

Measurement

There are different social media measurement metrics you can use based on your business objective and goal as follows:

  • Followers, shares : Increase awareness and brand recognition
  • Comments, likes, mentions : Demonstrates engagement, customer advocacy
  • Website clicks, newsletter subscriptions : Lead generation
  • Testimonials, social media sentiment : Customer retention

While social media monitoring focuses on past results and measures success, social listening monitors your social media channels for any customer feedback and direct mentions or discussions regarding specific keywords, topics, competitors or industries, followed by an analysis to gain insights and act on those opportunities (e.g. a well-known Luxembourg application tool is Talkwalker).

By performing social listening, you can create the kind of content your followers actually want, come up with new ideas based on industry trends, and improve your customer experience by interacting directly with customers. However, social listening is performed generally by companies with an already developed and broad social media presence and you will need to assess the investment in the monitoring tools against the expected return on investment.

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