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How to use Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn to smash social media and grow your business.
You simply can’t grow a successful business today without engaging with your customers via a vibrant, likeable and useful social media presence. But is it possible to stand out among the bikinis, puppies and pina coladas on Instagram, or the shouty clickbait headlines on Facebook, or the dance videos on TikTok? In short, yes. Here are 10 ways your business can smash social media.
People like pictures – just ask the 1 billion people who use Instagram every month. Enticing photography is one of the greatest assets your brand can have. If you know how to use its features properly, your smartphone can be nearly as good as a professional camera and there are dozens of online courses that can give you pointers.
And with the help of gimbals, portable mics and nifty lenses — all which work with your smartphone — it’s not tough to create high-quality photos and videos that in turn can become great content to help with growing your audience. Need some assistance with video content? It’s worth considering a custom video package to get it done right. Drone photography and video is also soaring in popularity and can be worth the investment if your business could benefit from sweeping location shots.
Best Practice: A great example of harnessing the power of authentic and engaging video content is Melbourne-based fashion retailer Whofish Boutique, who keep their brand top-of-mind with a rotation of Instagram Stories showcasing product.
Unless you’re a huge brand with an equally huge marketing budget, it can be very difficult to stay agile across all the main social media platforms. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, a better social media strategy may be to measure your audience engagement and zero in on one or two social media channels that will best reach your customer base.
Facebook has more users than any other platform. Instagram is the place for visually driven businesses such as fashion, hospitality and travel. Pinterest skews female, and the company claims 98% of its 300 million monthly users have tried something new they’ve found on the platform. And LinkedIn is all about building your business network and connections. Create a company page to update your followers on your latest achievements and offerings, as well as generate new B2B leads.
Best Practice: Yoga studio Power Living has premises in Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney and has firmly settled on Instagram as their preferred social media platform, using its reach to tell stories of staff, upcoming events and to keep members updated and inspired.
According to a survey about online content, 86% of social media users say authenticity is important when deciding which brands they like. Australian brands like The Healthy Mummy and Flora & Fauna know this and the business owners of both companies regularly engage directly and personally with their customers – using their real names – on their social content, instead of leaving all the interaction to faceless social media managers.
Best Practice: As The Healthy Mummy founder Rhian Allen says, an authentic drive and connection with the customer via social media is vital but you still need to be focusing your business plan around the customer, “which is that the customer is always number one”.
The internet is powered by humour; just ask the 20 bazillion (give or take) memes generated every day. Even organisations with serious messages like the US National Park Service (2.5 million Instagram followers) and NSW Police Force (240K Instagram followers) use humour on social media platforms to build audience engagement and brand awareness with their huge, responsive following. TikTok is a good platform for humour but is in its nascent stages for social outreach and businesses should make sure they are the right fit.
Best Practice: If you plan to post humorous content, make sure it is funny and not offensive. Perhaps ask a few trusted friends, with a wide variety of opinions, if the social content works before posting. Leading global online dictionary dictionary.com ensures social cut-through with a wry and amusing feed on Twitter while staying brand safe by keeping only words as the subject of the joke.
Many brands make the mistake of thinking social media is something you can dash off in your spare time. In fact, it should be a serious and focused part of your business. Creating original content to grow your social media presence can take a lot of time and effort. Either carve out dedicated time in your day to prioritise it or save time by paying a trustworthy content marketing professional to do it for you. If you want guidance on how to do it right, this course has modules on Facebook and content marketing, as well as consultation with a digital marketing expert.
Best Practice: Your brand and your social media posts need to be in sync. Having a quality product or service and an amateur social media account will cause brand dissonance and have customers shaking their head. Take your cues from one of the best: Nike remains innovative, performance-based and inspirational – all brand values – with followers on Instagram.
Crafting your social media message to current events, such as trending news, celebrities, memes, politics or popular TV shows, has two advantages: it makes your brand look current and agile and you can piggyback off trending hashtags without it costing you huge amounts of time and money.
Best Practice: Twitter is the easiest place to find out what’s trending across the web as a whole. It lists its trends, curated to your tastes and interests, very clearly on its homepage.
Never miss an opportunity to let your customers – and anyone else – know where to find you on social media. Include links to your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn social channels on all correspondence, stationery (such as letterheads and business cards), and even on your packaging, if appropriate.
Best Practice: It sounds simple but customers should not be scrambling, or googling, to connect to your business. Ensure your email signature and website has easy to find links to all your social media accounts.
Customers expect businesses on social media to respond to direct queries as quickly as possible; in fact one report says 94% of respondents expect a response from a brand within four hours, while 37% expect it in under 30 minutes. And speed can convert to sales: analysis by a car-sales website found dealers who responded to customer service enquiries within an hour were 48% more likely to close the sale than those who waited for 24 hours or longer.
Best Practice: Make an effort to respond to comments regularly; after all, social media is all about communicating and connecting with others. Responding shows that your brand is available, approachable and authentic.
Criticism is part of the social media landscape and very few businesses can avoid it altogether. But handle it well and you could find your behaviour boosts, rather than bruises, your brand and bottom line. Studies have found 45% of people think more favourably towards a company that responds to negative comments on social media.
Best Practice: Most social complaints are posted on Facebook (71%) and if you respond swiftly to a customer question, Facebook will flag your page as being, “Very responsive to messages.”
This sends a positive message to followers, even in the face of criticism. The best approach is to keep calm and respond kindly.
Complaints are also part of the deal. Don’t get defensive. Try to take the issue out of the spotlight by asking the customer to DM you their email address or phone number so you can discuss their complaints personally. Apologise unreservedly if you’ve made a true mistake.
Best Practice: Be careful to avoid trolls who are just making unconstructive mischief for brands on social media; your target audience will see what they’re doing.