Having a social business account for an entrepreneur is no longer optional. With billions of people using popular networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn, trying to connect with them there make a perfect sense.
Businesses understand that. Today, the vast majority of them have social media accounts; in fact, according to AdWeek, 88% of business owners use social media for marketing purposes, which means that the competition is unbelievable.
This finding, however, doesn’t mean that a business owner cannot stand out from the crowd. Marketing your business on social media doesn’t cost an arm and leg compared to traditional advertising methods, but rather requires following the latest, evidence-based techniques.
If you’re wondering what those techniques are, read on. This article is an ultimate guide to social media management for online business owners that will have on your way to build brand awareness, drive sales, and attract new customers.
Social Media Management Guide for Online Businesses
Step #1 — Develop Social Media Guidelines
Social media guidelines are a collection of principles that guide employee and brand behavior on social media. Essentially, these principles are best practices and suggestions on how to act in certain situations to avoid damaging reputation and providing quality service (if applicable).
For you as a business owner, having these practices and suggestions in place is very important because they provide social media managers with specific instructions in situations that require special consideration. By introducing these guidelines, you’re also letting everybody know that they shouldn’t mess with the brand’s image online because they may be consequences.
These are the main goals and considerations that your social media guidelines have to cover:
- The priorities of your company.
- Sensitive areas of social media activity (responding to comments, reviews, etc.).
- The desired image and reputation online.
- Activities that could undermine your brand.
- Guidelines for interacting with customers and influencers (we’ll discuss this later in this post).
- Activities that enhance social media presence.
A terrific example of social media guidelines comes from IBM. The company has a page on its website dedicated specifically to “IBM Social Computing Guidelines,” where it lists all policies related to the use of social media.
Some of the policies include:
- “Respect copyright, fair use, and financial disclosure laws”.
- “Respect your audience”.
- “Be the first to correct your own mistakes”.
- “Don’t cite or reference clients, partners or suppliers on business-related matters without their approval”.
- “If you publish content online relevant to IBM in your personal capacity it is best to use a disclaimer.”.
Check out the full policies at IBM Social Computing Guidelines page and see what you can use for your own social media policy, too.
Step #2 — Develop a Content Plan
There are a wide variety of content types out there, so you have to know what ones will work for you. The best-performing ones in recent years are described in the Social Media Marketing Trends Survey Summary Report chart below.
Let’s discuss some of these content types.
a) Video and Live Streaming
Here are some facts: according to statistics compiled by Biteable, Facebook videos receive 135% more organic reach than a photo. No wonder 60 percent of marketers used videos in their social media marketing in 2016, right?
This type of content also performs well because people are visual learners and prefer to consume information in a form that ensures easy understanding. Creating infographics isn’t that hard; you just need good content, and the rest can be taken care of by free tools such as Canva Infographic Maker and Venngage.
c) Educational Written Content
People are increasingly using social media to find instructions, tips, and instructions on doing things they love, so being an authoritative source of reliable information is every brand’s dream. The examples of such content include how-to articles, and in-depth guides (like the one you’re reading right now).
The power of quality content for brands is amazing. In fact, check out these stats provided by QuickSprout.
You can reach similar results only using quality content. By ‘quality’ content, I mean the one that follows these content marketing guidelines.
- First and foremost, create interesting content social media users actually want to engage with. One of the laws of content marketing says that epic content fills the need. This means talking about your audience’s problems, wants, needs, and aspirations.
- Second, forget about talking about your brand. Gone are the days when companies were in charge of dictating market trends and content creation. Now, it is the customer who is the center of the universe. If consumers find “sales speak” in your content, most of them will leave right away.
- Third, good content uses natural language. Let’s suppose you’re running a coffee shop and you need to write an article about how to choose a coffee maker. Would the academic style of writing be a good idea in this case? Of course not, this is not a Wikipedia page or a college history paper. Write in a simple, natural language that your readers will find easy to understand.
- Fourth, create only original content that uses reliable evidence. People are not going to listen to your content if you don’t support what you’re saying with credible evidence.
- Fifth, be consistent. A hallmark of a good content producer is consistency. You absolutely need to be consistent (in fact, this principle applies both to quality and delivery) to show your reliability as a source of information. If you’re not consistent, there’s no point in asking readers to subscribe to your newsletter.
Step #3: Develop a Posting Schedule
Quality reigns supreme here. It’s tempting to put as much content out there as you can in an attempt to attract some attention quickly, but this strategy will ultimately make quality suffer. A better way is to focus on quality and share content that delivers value using a specific posting schedule.
Simply said, you have to figure out the ideal frequency for your social media posts. The frequency is based on a number of factors, including the time when your target audience is active on social media. Here are typically social media guidelines, according to data compiled by John Rampton, a Forbes contributor:
- Daily Posts: 1-2
- Maximum number of posts on workdays — 2
- Maximum number of posts on the weekend —1
- The ideal time to get the most shares — 1 pm
- The ideal time for optimal value: any time between 9 am and 7 pm
- The ideal time to get most clicks—3 pm
- Daily Tweets — no more than 5
- Most popular time to tweet — between noon and 1 pm (during the lunch)
- Least popular time to tweet — between 3 am and 4 am
- Daily Posts — 1
- The ideal time for posting — noon or during the lunch break
- The worst time to post — between 10 pm and 6 am.
Remember: this is the generic best time for these platforms that work for most businesses. Figuring out the best time for your business may require more research on your target audience. For example, you’ll have to figure out when your audience is online.
Step #3: Build Authority of Your Brand
Being an authoritative brand means that you have expert knowledge of your industry/niche/products. Customers pick the brand very carefully; otherwise, company review sites wouldn’t have existed.
Many consumers rely on social media to determine what products and services to use, so being a brand that gives this advice means increased trust and a positive reputation.
To build brand authority, consider the following:
- Creating quality content (created by real experts in the field if possible) that solves specific issues and concerns of your target audience. In-depth articles, infographics, and videos are the most popular content types for that.
- Be consistent in style, theme, and quality. People reading your awesome content rely on you for quality information, so you have to make it happen on a regular basis. Also, consider adding your brand’s logo and colors to social media information to help viewers memorize them.
- Reach out and engage. Being a good brand means reaching out to the target audience and communicating with them regularly. This makes them feel appreciated and valued; moreover, they will be much more likely to return the favor if needed (more on this in the next step).
Step #4: Engage with Potential and Existing Customers
The importance of two-way communication on social media for businesses cannot be overstated. The stronger the relationship is between your brand and its customer base, the better the former is positioned to sell and develop.
So, here’s what your social media guidelines should contain in terms of engaging with customers:
- Always respond to comments and complaints. Customers expect your brand to reply as soon as possible, so you should do that. In fact, Search Engine Watch described the research produced by Lithium Technologies which found that 53 percent of Twitter users expect to hear back from a brand they’re interacting within an hour!
- Stick to what you know. Don’t give any advice on something that you don’t know. Even one mistake like this could cost your reputation on social media and lots of customers.
- Share user-generated content. Doing so makes customers feel part of the topic, so consider sharing some content produced by your followers. Just make sure it’s quality!
Step #5: Get Positive Reviews
Online reviews are powerful PR tools because they are important for social media users to believe in your brand’s reputation.
Take a look at the results of the Local Consumer Review Survey that sought to determine how influential online reviews are:
- 85 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
- Yelp and Facebook are the most trusted review sites
- Consumers read an average of 7 reviews before trusting a business
Here are some tips for you to manage reviews on your social media page effectively:
- Ask satisfied customers to leave reviews using calls to reviews on your website, product pages, email newsletters, and during communicating with customers on social media
- Always respond to negative reviews. Customers expect you to reply and offer assistance in case if they have a negative experience with your business. If you don’t, chances are they’ll use other businesses in the future. Besides, an unfavorable review is a great opportunity to discover where your business needs improvement, so ask the customer to provide as many details as possible to know what happened and why.
- Put positive social media reviews on your website. They’ll serve as additional proof of your reliability and facilitate positive associations. For WordPress websites, for example, special social testimonials and reviews plugins such as Repuso and Youtpo are available.
Tools for Social Media Management
Automation is a big deal these days because it speeds up business processes (social media publishing, analytics, etc.), so check out these popular tools to see how they can benefit your social media management and marketing.
- Google Analytics — Data collected by this tool can help to focus your effort on areas that drive conversions.
- Grammarly — The tool which you can use to get help on how to write, proofread and make relevant and engaging social media content.
- Buffer — Automatic scheduling and posting of social media content.
- Canva — We’ve already mentioned Canva’s Infographic Maker in this article, but this tool has so much more to offer, including templates and design tools for social media posts, flyers, documents, and posters.
- BuzzSumo —This tool allows finding the most popular content across several social media platforms and help you to discover trends and topics to write about.
Success on social media doesn’t happen overnight. While the tips above are not requirements for success, they can greatly enhance your social media presence and increase the chances of becoming a popular, authority brand with an army of loyal followers.