Social Media Marketing for Business

Balancing tone, language and visuals with relevant and engaging content to your target audience can be challenging even at the best of times.

For just a minute, forget everything you know about your business. Now look at the first ‘touch points’ and platforms where customers first come into contact with you or your business – be it a physical shop space, Facebook page or your website. Focus on branding, service offered and what the customer ultimately looks for. If you were a hotel you should ultimately focus on the quality of the beds, room amenities, activities to do at the hotel or nearby, practicality of the location, local transport links, any countryside views and the grounds, food and drinks. A sports club would focus on the electric family-friendly atmosphere, celebrating equality and diversity, upgrades for comfortable leather seats available, food and bars. A good shop or restaurant would concentrate their efforts on promoting how their food is ethically sourced, vegetarian dishes available, range of drinks, special offers and most importantly, hygiene. An online e-commerce store would offer reassurance that relevant steps have been taken to protect payment information during the checkout process, allow customer reviews, as well as details about a delivery, refunds and returns policy.

Audience Segmentation

In a nutshell, audience segmentation is where you divide a large audience into smaller groups of people based on similar needs, values or characteristics. Naturally different groups of people will react differently to your content.

As a social media marketer you should carefully segment your audience into different groups or categories. This might be based on their age, gender, interests or location. Ultimately it’s likely your business has more than one target audience. For example, a sports club may generalise and call their target audience ‘sports supporters’. However this is far too general, we need to delve deeper into the statistics and analytics to find out a bit more about our audience and compare this against our perceived or intended audience. By dividing your audience into categories or groups, this can help to inform you about what type of content to post, choosing the right platforms and when to post to your social media pages. We can often be mistaken about who our end customer actually is.

A sports club, for example, may attract a diverse audience within a 15 mile radius of the stadium’s location, with the potential of worldwide exiles and fans further afar, supporting the club virtually. Equally this audience can be a lucrative secondary audience due to the potential monetisation element through international ecommerce of merchandise products in the club shop. When we segment our audiences further and look at the social media analytics, we would be able to find out more about our customers’ age range, gender, interests and hobbies, and location by most popular towns, cities and countries. Then we can use this information alongside any customer surveys, be it digital or printed survey forms left in branch at a customer pay point or reception to inform our wider marketing strategy.

A customer survey could nicely complement our social media analytics, informing us how people travelled to our physical location, if they are a return or new customer, what types of products they buy and/or like, if they follow us on any social media. Then we can compare how the survey feedback compares with our followers on social media. A printed survey form could be given to a customer while they are waiting, neatly filling the time while you fulfill their request or deliver the service they asked for. To use a personal example, I may go to a shop and buy something as a casual customer, but not follow the brand on social media as there may be no obvious incentive or need to do so, from the customer’s perspective. For individual posts we can use each social media platform’s analytics feature to track how many people clicked through to our company’s website, and if they engaged with any social posts or simply kept scrolling.

Consider the optimum time/s for content to be pushed out, type of content to publish and choosing the right platform or range of social media channels. On the point of optimum timings, understand who your audience is and think about when they might be working and busy with family, when they finish work and lunch breaks. This could prove to be a good start at mastering the art of a well-executed social media plan and should form a part of your overarching marketing strategy.

Purpose vs Platform

Every social media page you run for your company, or even as a professional personal page, should have a clear defined purpose. Are you going to be using a particular page to inform, educate, persuade about your company, product or services – or even for networking.

For example you may use LinkedIn for yourself, and as a business owner or employee, for networking in order to build strong connections with professionals and suppliers in your industry. This could help financially, commercially and develop your company’s reputation within the industry.

Consider the relevance of the content you are posting to each page before hitting publish. Are you trying to capture new or return customers’ attention? Are you looking to educate prospective customers about a new product range, what your USP is or services you offer? On the other hand, you may also be looking to use the power of persuasion to convert a customer from a ‘lead’ into a sale.

Customers are now more informed than ever when it comes to businesses they interact with and buy from. We all look at a company’s reviews from past customers, ethics and morals such as brands being environmentally aware and using sustainable methods and materials. This information is now more accessible than ever before with Google’s reviews for businesses, independent review sites like TripAdvisor and CheckATrade.com, among others.

Live videos on Facebook, amateur videos such as tutorials, walkthroughs and competitions captured on your phone, and professionally produced videos can be just as effective with the correct planning, advance warning and support given by your social media followers, and execution. When you run a live video on your Facebook page, your page followers are sent a notification by Facebook, rather than relying on your audience stumbling across a video or post in their crammed news feed.

Tone and Language

Capturing the right tone with your social media posts can be the difference between social media success and failure.

Balancing the level of conversational tone that social media was predominantly designed for against the level of formality links back to the purpose of your social media content. We all use colloquialisms in speech and by text to our mates every day but think long and hard before filling another business owner or professional client’s feed with slang. Think does it add value and is it appropriate for the type of platform and intended audience.

If you are trying to convert a customer from a lead into a sale, you may wish to use the personal pronoun “you”, inclusive pronoun “we” and ask your followers rhetorical questions. A personal pronoun gives the impression that you are having a one-to-one conversation with the customer. The collective pronoun “we” may suggest to your followers that they are part of something bigger. Asking prompting questions encourages your followers to leave a comment, thus increasing engagement and make it more of a two-way communication channel rather than a platform for hard selling.

Not all social media content must be planned; some can be reactionary and on-the-fly, reactive to weather, current affairs, the ever-changing Covid-19 situation and societal issues. This goes back to my earlier point about timing. To use a random example, if you are a retail shop you may look to focus on promoting chilled drinks, alcohol and an air conditioning unit about today’s gorgeous warm weather. This would be relevant and useful to the end customer because naturally we all look to find ways in which to cool down in the heat.

In regards to language, avoid alienating your end customer on social media with any topic or subject specific jargon. Save long complex sentences for long-form blog articles on your company website or blog. Keep messages short and snappy, only providing the key information. Include a line about the USP of your product or the company itself and why people might find it useful. Think about what sets it apart from the competitors.

If you are posting about a new product range or shouting about an upcoming event, include a hyperlink back to the relevant page on your website or Facebook page. This will drive people to your website. Ensure you keep the length of the social post to a minimum to increase curiosity and encourage people to visit your website. Afterall your website likely offers some form of ecommerce feature or sales form. To grab attention, include visuals such as photographs, video, designed graphics and emojis, where appropriate, depending on the audience. One idea might be to run a social media campaign in the run up to a replica shirt or product launch where you gradually reveal an image of the product like a jigsaw puzzle. Such posts could be accompanied with the simple wording “coming soon” and a red siren emoji. This captures the audience’s interest and aims to leave them both intrigued and curious.

Cross-Promotion and Partnerships

You can further grow your social following by exploring paid and unpaid, yet mutually beneficial, cross-promotion opportunities, partnerships as well as traditional sponsorships. By cross-promoting a brand or product, you can mutually gain the interest of an existing highly engaged audience. The first step is to contact other like-minded companies, organisations and charities related to the industry that you are in. For example, if you are a car tyre manufacturer or retailer located in a city centre, you may first contact a car or motoring-related magazine, car club and offer a tiny discount to a regular supplier in return for a shout out on their social media, tagging in your account.

If you are a B2C business, I would encourage you to keep an eye out on local Facebook groups and post any events you may run throughout the year on these groups; you may also capture some business from customers looking for a particular service you offer. Social media marketing should not ever be just about a hard sell.

Conclusion

Understanding your audience while striking the balance between tone, language and formality with creating interesting, engaging and purpose-led content can be crucial.

We could have covered other fundamentals to digital marketing including consistent branding for your social pages; paid social media advertising by boosting posts on Facebook or running paid Twitter advertising campaigns, and inviting those who have liked a post to like your Facebook page. Hopefully this should be some food for thought and a good starting point, you can always contact me if you’d like.

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