Facebook influenced 52% of all online and retail purchases in 2015 according to a study of 1,000 adults across 17 countries. Of those who were studied, 46% of consumers also reported being influenced by Pinterest, 43% reported Instagram, and 36% reported Twitter. With , and with the number of users expected to reach 2.95 billion by 2020, there are a lot of customers for your brand to influence.
While the ability to reach customers has always been part of the appeal of social media for businesses, it has become clear over recent years from studies such as these that social media for businesses is as much about influencing customers as it is about connecting with them.
In fact, social media marketing has not only become expected – it’s become accepted. Pinterest, in particular, has become a platform for researching, planning, and making purchases so much in fact that the majority of Pinterest users report using the platform with a shopping intent. According to a study of Shopify, Pinterest pins featuring a product and a price receive 36% more likes than those without prices. This shopping intent, of course, is not limited to Pinterest. Over a quarter of the 1,000 participants in our opening study reported making a purchase directly from either Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and – yes – Pinterest. Browsing social media has become the new form of window shopping and, if your content is enticing enough, it can directly lead to a purchase.
Keep in mind that influencing your customers and growing your sales are not the only benefits you stand to gain from an effective social media strategy. Social media is invaluable for:
- Fueling your SEO strategy in order to generate more traffic to your website.
- Gaining valuable insight about your customers in order to better anticipate their need.
- Establishing your brand’s presence and managing your online reputation.
- Expanding your reach in order to acquire new customers.
- Developing relationships with your customers in order to build customer loyalty.
- Leading your competition. 97% of businesses utilize social media. If your competition does not already use social media, they will soon.
Social media is your sine qua non for reaching customers and, by extension, it’s vital to the overall success of your business.
With that said, it’s important to understand that social media is not a magic bullet for success. Simply throwing up one or two posts on your company’s Facebook page each week will not achieve the results you desire. Instead, achieving success on social media requires effort, time, and patience – and lots of it.
Here are our recommendations to guide you towards success.
What It Takes To Manage Social Media For A Business
Start by answering the question: What is my business goal for social media?
Do you want to increase awareness of your brand? Do you want to drive more traffic to your site? Do you want to generate more leads, increase your conversions, or improve your retention rate? Do you want to attract new talent or boost your existing team’s morale?
Knowing what you want to achieve and who you want to reach are the prerequisites for choosing the right social media platform for your business. After all, Facebook and Pinterest are a great place to share your product with those who are looking for product to catch their eye but you also have to make sure you audience is also the right fit. For choosing the platform with the right purpose and right audience for you, we’ve put together a quick cheat sheet:
- What type of business should be using it: This is an easy answer. Everyone. With an estimated 1.71 billion monthly users, your business can’t ignore it. You must have a page listed.
- What is being shared: A smorgasbord of content. Everything from photos and videos to events and advertisements. Facebook’s feed is perfect for whatever content your business may have.
- How often should you be posting: Ideally, once a day, however 2-3 times per week is perfectly acceptable. The main thing to accomplish is to just be consistent and active.
- What type of business should be using it: Most business’s (but not all are suited)
- What is being shared: Twitter is a place to become a thought leader. The meat and potatoes of Twitter revolves around a business’s ability to start, join, and lead conversations within your particular industry. Gain credibility for your company by showing peers and followers you know what you’re talking about.
- How often should you be posting: Because of the constant streaming style of Twitter you’ll need to be posting several times a day to make sure your content is getting noticed.
- What type of business should be using it: Restaurants, design/fashion, boutiques, and visual inspired companies.
- What is being shared: Visual posts are the only things posted on Instagram. That is party why it has become so successful. Photos and video (less than 60 seconds) are what you’ll need to be sharing here.
- How often should you be posting: 3-4 times per week. Obviously the more the better here. However, make sure your content is of high quality. Blurry, redundant, or just bad visuals in general will deter people from following you. Make sure it’s really worthy of sharing on Instagram to get the most out of the social network.
- What type of business should be using it: B2B business, online publications, big brands, bloggers
- What is being shared: Similar to Facebook except the use of hashtags has a far great impact. Google+ has transformed into an interest based platform where professionals can go and network with others within the same industry. A great place to post company blogs or interesting case studies. Also, remember that Google+ is Google so there is no reason for you to think it doesn’t matter. Only Google knows for certain the impact it has on Search engine optimization.
- How often should you be posting: Like Facebook once a day is optimal however 3-4 times a week is acceptable.
- What type of business should be using it: The ultimate B2B social network. If your company is mainly doing business with other businesses you need to be active here.
- What is being shared: LinkedIn is going to allow you to establish your authority, expertise, and trustworthiness. Designed with a focus on building professional relationships, LinkedIn allows you to create awareness, improve your reputation, spread your influence, acquire industry insight, generate leads, and build traffic to your website. It’s the most trustworthy social network among professionals.
- How often should you be posting: 3-4 times a week. Blogs, industry articles, and thought provoking visuals work best here.
This is one of your most critical decisions and so it’s worth doing your research or reaching out to a vetted social media professional for consultation.
Software and Tools for Managing Social Media Accounts
Whether you’re a large corporation, a smaller start-up business, or anything in-between, there are a number of tools that are available that can make the often cumbersome task of managing even just one social media platform significantly more manageable. But with so many tools available, just choosing one to use for your business can be a chore in itself.
Hootsuite and Sprout Social are two of the most acclaimed tools used by social media professionals and, while jumping into any of them is quick and easy, weighing the specific pros and cons of each platform is worth your time. Here’s what you need to know.
Hootsuite offers a robust and customizable dashboard for monitoring and managing your social content. Hootsuite’s dashboard provides you with a multi-column display that allows you simultaneously view your posted content, your scheduled posts, and posts that mention you side-by-side all from one centralized location. Any of these feeds, along with any other feed you specify, can be easily toggled on or off in order to create your ideal workspace. While premium plans are available, Hootsuite’s free plan will allow you integrate up to three social media platforms from Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, YouTube, LinkedIn, or Instagram.
Aside from an impressive dashboard, Hootsuite also provides a number of other features to free users including basic analytics and access to Hootsuite University.
Hootsuite is a robust platform and, especially when in the right hands, it can be very powerful. These two reasons are why it is easily one of our favorite tools for social media management at webFEAT Complete.
Who is Hootsuite best for? The free plan will satisfy your most basic need to publish content when and where you want to. The basic analytics provided to free users is nice, especially if you are learning to manage social media for the first time, but in order to make full use of this feature you will need to upgrade to a paid subscription. If you’re interested in learning more, we offer an in-depth guide to Hootsuite.
Sprout Social, like Hootsuite, is a great way to schedule and publish your content, if not better. In addition to offering key integration with the major headliners as far as social media is concerned, Sprout also integrates with Google Analytics, Bitly, Feedly, UserVoice and Zendesk.
Sprout also offers a number of features for optimizing your content. With the platform you can create a list of keywords that you can track. In terms of analytics, Sprout can also create visually appealing reports which alone places it a stead ahead of Hootsuite which does not provide reports. Perhaps most noteworthy, though, is the “ViralPost” feature. With it, you can set content to automatically post at the most optimal time based on analytics about your audience. Simply put, Sprout takes a lot of guesswork out of your strategy.
That’s not to say that Sprout is without drawbacks. For one, it carries a steep cost of $99 per month. Furthermore, the sheer amount of features may seem overwhelming to some. Like Hootsuite, we think Sprout is great but if your intent is simple content management across profiles, it may be too much – in both features and expense.
Who is Sprout Social best for? Sprout Social simply outperforms Hootsuite in a lot of ways but the lack of a free plan makes it less attractive to those who may be hesitant about their ability – or commitment – to manage social media effectively.
Choosing Your Social Media Tool
When it comes to finally deciding on a social media tool for your business, there is one more question you need to ask yourself: How much more productive will this tool actually make me? After all, being able to effectively manage all of your content is great – but only if you have content to manage in the first place. None of these tools are going to write content for you, much less queue it to post without someone first logging in.
Also keep in mind, however, that while both of these tools allow you to push out a steady stream of content to your audience, effective social media management is about more than just content. You need to closely monitor discussions about your brand, engage with your audience, and even manage your reputation when necessary. You need a person behind your profile to make decisions and take action.
At the end of the day, someone has to be responsible for leading your social media strategy on top of being a content writer, project manager, community manager, and the dozens of other roles it entails. And while tools are not going to alleviate the other demands of your business, if you still want to receive the benefits of social media there is a solution.
Partnering with a Social Media Professional
Choosing the right person to manage, analyze, and optimize your social presence has a tremendous impact on your success. Their expertise, or lack thereof, can frankly make all the difference between your time and expense devoted to your social strategy being well spent or a total waste. It’s not a decision to make lightly.
Partnering directly with a vetted social media specialist is often the best way to acquire the most qualified individual to manage your company’s social media presence. And, aside from the immediate savings of time and expense that are ordinarily lost through a tedious hiring process, partnering with a known professional ensures that they have the robust, highly-specialized skills that are necessary for success.
An effective social media manager must be able to provide:
Creating and posting content are the hallmark skills of social media managers but, at its core, the role is primarily about project management. An effective manager works to align your social goals with the overall goals of your business, planning and executing projects in order to achieve them.
Social media changes – and often without warning. An effective manager not only responds to these changes swiftly but they also take all of the necessary actions today in order to ensure a smooth transition for you during the next update.
Being able to communicate and engage with your community is an important piece of the puzzle. Your prospective customers are engaging with your business, why shouldn’t you be engaging with them? Responding to customer inquiries, asking for feedback, or just saying hi go a long way in community trust in your company.
The types of content that go the furthest on social media are things that are uniquely different. Sure, there are some definitive types of content that all marketers can agree on but being able to think outside the box is an important skill to succeed at social media. Developing great content is a key factor in how well you perform in social.
A successful social media management campaign must not only create unique content and manage profiles efficiently, their message must fall in line with the overall goals of a business. Differing messages in the business and marketing plans come off as disjointed to the consumers. Not a good look.
Have you ever wondered why one post on social media acquired a high level of engagement while another went largely unnoticed? While watching how content performs on social media is fascinating, if you’ve ever spent a substantial amount of time crafting your ideal post only to see it fail, it can also be a source of frustration – on top of being a waste of your resources.
While an experienced social media manager is able to provide results that seem nothing short of magic, their success primarily comes from careful analysis of your audience and strategic application of their findings. In other words, they are as much a data scientist as they are marketing wizard.
An effective social media manager must be able to wear multiple hats. And while a good social media manager is able to offer these skills, a superb put these to use based on years of experience and industry knowledge.
While tacking on these duties to the already cumbersome list of responsibilities of an employee may be a short-term solution, it would not provide them with the focus they need to provide meaningful results. Moreover, the best way to approach social media is constantly changing. What is effective today may be not be effective tomorrow and so there is an ever-present need to stay current. This is only possible with someone who works within the web industry each and every day. In other words, you’re not looking for a social media user – you’re looking for a social media leader.
All things considered, your reputation is perhaps the most important reason why you need a professional handling your social presence. 92% of North American consumers regularly read online reviews and 84% of consumers trust these online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. And while it’s one thing to manage the conversations people are having about your business on your own branded page, it’s another to address the 96% of the people talking about your business elsewhere.
Yes – that’s right. Social media management is as much about monitoring Yelp, Google Places, and other consumer review websites as much as it is your branded social channels.
Every component of your social presence contributes to your overall reputation. While you could have an outstanding Facebook page, keep in mind that this is not the only place potential customers can go for information. A 1-star or 2-star review on Yelp or another less closely monitored profile could cause you to lose about 90% of prospective customers. In other words, your reputation online can make or break your business.
Consumers are going to talk about your brand on social media whether you’re active on it or not. And, like in all other areas of reputation management, the benefits of prevention always outweigh its cost.
webFEAT Complete: Your Social Media Management Partner
We’ve past the stage where social media was a choice. Today, it’s about how you chose to manage it. And while a search for your brand that reveals no social profile communicates that your business is irrelevant, a search that reveals a poorly kept profile communicates a message that is far worse.
Your social presence is a reflection of your business as a whole. For businesses that are still hesitant about the value of social media, we can only venture to guess their hesitancy is due largely in part to the common perception that social media is – dare we say it – “fun” (cue cringing faces).
And in full transparency we would like to disclose: It is. It’s really, really fun!
At webFEAT Complete we sincerely enjoy helping businesses achieve their social media goals. Whether that means developing an outstanding reputation for your business, helping you make the best return on paid social ads, or you simply need creative content development, we can provide our knowledge, skills, and experience to guide you every step of the way. We the make the seamless easy, seamless, and, yes, enjoyable.
webFEAT Complete will build you a social presence that satisfies your customers, inspires your employees, and helps you achieve your goals. Contact us or schedule a consultation for social media management. We would be honored to be your partner for success!