Social media has become one of the most influential marketing strategies for businesses in recent years, which begs the question: How do you best use social media?
It comes down to knowing your target audience and the platforms best suited to you and your product and or service. There is a whole range of diverse content to tap into, that can engage an audience and lead to a conversion to sales. The trick is getting the approach right to begin with.
That’s why today we’re sharing social media tips from the experts, and what works for them. We are sure that you can pull a useful tip or two from today’s discussion and apply it to your business’s social media strategy.
We ask: What’s the best way to use social media?
Alison Lee, Head of Marketing, ipSCAPE
Social media enables businesses to connect with their customers. With many organisations adopting different platforms, it is imperative to understand why you are using specific platforms and how they can be used effectively.
At ipSCAPE, we primarily utilise LinkedIn.
As a cloud customer experience technology solution in a B2B market, we find that our audience – CEOs and Leaders in technology and Customer Experience are primarily using LinkedIn over other social media channels when it comes to starting conversations about cloud business communications.
Tips when utilising LinkedIn:
1. Engaging posts: Create meaningful content that will resonate with customers and share them from your personal account or company page. You can tag businesses and individuals or use hashtags to increase awareness to broader networks.
2. Comment on trending posts: LinkedIn notifies you of topics that are trending that may be of interest to your business. This is as an opportunity to increase awareness and offer your expertise as you participate in the conversation.
3. Reporting: Sales Navigator provides businesses with statistics on who is engaging with your business. You have access to information such as engagement rates, page views and follower metrics and demographics. We use these statistics to guide future posts.
4. Share news: Interesting news articles that your company has participated in make for relevant and timely content – such as sharing an article from Dynamic Business!
Alex Zaccaria, Co-Founder and CEO of Linktree
It’s fair to say that in the current environment, social media has become a brand’s single most important touchpoint for connecting with consumers.
But with noise and misinformation proliferating our channels, the brands that will thrive during this time will be those that can listen to their consumers and use their social media to foster meaningful communities that impact their lives for the better. Beyond farming ‘likes’ or hitting their ROI, it’s important for entrepreneurs and strategists to consider the role they can play during this time and hone in on the value of what they are creating for the end consumer.
Increasingly we are seeing brands, businesses, influencers and side-hustlers using their Linktree as hives of information. From sharing advice on how to entertain bored children, directing audiences to the Food Bank and even creating a virtual festival to support musicians in need, brands like Nandos Australia, Tourism & Events Queensland and Isol-Aid are creatively using their #linkinbio to reconnect, support and positively mobilise their communities.
Nicola Moras, social media strategist and author of Visible
There is a huge flurry at the moment about getting online and becoming more visible – IF you still want to have a business in the next 6 months! Here are my top tips for using social media in the best way possible:
1. Consistency wins. Post daily and post great content.
2. Be relevant. Post content that is relevant to your audience and what they’re going through daily
3. Add value to your followers by sharing hints, tips and advice
4. Remember to share ways that people can buy from you
Troy Mossley, Senior Associate, Sierra Legal
In using social media (we predominantly use LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter), we try to achieve a balance between:
- providing our connections with relevant content and legal updates (i.e. quality over quantity) that give them information that would be of interest to them, but which is also in our area of expertise;
- championing the successes of our firm, team members and the work we do (which also gives our connections an understanding of what we do and how we may be able to assist them); and
- showing the personality of our team (in our role as trusted legal advisers it is important to show that our team is approachable and personable – we are not just some soulless advice on a screen, we are people with whom you can confide/consult and collaborate).
This strategy hasn’t changed in the current COVID-19 affected environment (although, with things changing on a daily basis there have been a few more updates on legal developments!)
Melissa Haywood, Marketing Director of Vistaprint Australia
Now more than ever, brands need to use their social media platforms in mindful and intentional ways. Social media usage during a crisis is crucial as many consumers turn to online communities to stay connected. Challenging times present an opportunity for brands to step up, adapt and offer a fresh perspective across their social channels. Melissa Haywood, Marketing Director of Vistaprint Australia, offers tips and advice on how to navigate social media during COVID-19.
- Acknowledge COVID-19 it is important that brands walk a fine line when acknowledging COVID-19 on their platforms. Pretending everything is normal will make a brand look out of touch while overdoing it may come across as overbearing. If you are unsure how to approach this, stick to providing useful-business related tips.
- Continue Posting: Some of your consumers are likely to be using social media at increased rates during lockdown. Make sure your social platforms are a welcome space that helps your audience feel engaged and comfortable.
- Provide Helpful Advice: Use this time to step up and be a voice for your consumers. Be extremely careful to make sure all information you are circulating is sensitive given the current climate. If your brand chooses to post about the virus it is imperative to do so in the most appropriate and sensitive way possible.
- Do Not Sell Yourself: During this challenging time keep your focus on your consumers not on yourself. Remember that the ultimate goal is to build and maintain positive relationships. Brands who are seen to be using the current situation for their own gain will become very unpopular amongst consumers.
- Carry On: During this unsettling time, brands must carry on, find solutions and implement creative avenues to successfully connect with their target audiences.
Jill Schoolenberg, Regional President for Australia, Canada and Latin America, GoDaddy
Whether it’s to communicate with customers, promote your business or steer people to your website or e-commerce store, social media can be a very effective platform for small businesses today. If your business is selling online, for example, consider using social media to promote your products and services and to steer traffic back to your online store. After all, posting engaging content with links back to your website, or store, can be a great way to help customers engage with your business at a time when they might not be able to visit it in person. The current situation evolves on an almost daily basis, so you can also use social media as a way to communicate changes to your business in real-time. People often value a personal connection to their favourite brands, perhaps even more so if they’re feeling vulnerable, as many are today. You might find you can strengthen your bonds with them simply by reaching out through social media to ask how they’re doing, and how your business could help.
Fintan Lalor, Regional Manager, APAC, Wrike
Social media presents a fantastic opportunity for small businesses, no matter the industry they operate within. As the name suggests, socialising is at the heart of these platforms, and companies are more likely to see greater results when they spark and engage in conversations with their audience. For B2C operations, social platforms like Facebook, Instagram and TikTok can be an avenue to reach and engage with your customers directly. Business leaders might connect with like-minded individuals across LinkedIn and Twitter, or use these platforms to join relevant discussions, showcase thought leadership and generate leads.
To drive impactful results, commit to investing in social media marketing. At least one person should be responsible for championing the company’s content and community engagement. It takes time to build up a following, however, more often than not, businesses will out of it what you put in.
Omar Sabré, Co-Founder and CEO of MAISON de SABRÉ
Social media has always been central to our marketing strategy and has been a key growth driver for MAISON de SABRÉ.
As more people stay at home as a result of the pandemic, they are turning to social channels to fill more needs than ever. This makes social media one of the most important tools for brands to communicate with their customers.
It’s important to ensure that you remain active across all relevant social platforms and deliver a steady flow of content. Consistent communication fosters engagement and connection, keeping your brand at the forefront of the customer’s minds and allowing them to interact with it virtually.
You should also ensure that messaging is both sensitive and appropriate. Your social media strategy should be adaptable and responsive – posts that were created in February and scheduled for April may no longer be appropriate or relevant.
By ensuring communication through social channels puts the consumer and their needs at the centre, rather than the business, you can build a consistent, personal and authentic connection with your customers.
Ben Rohr, CEO of Meluka Australia
Social media allows us to tell our story directly to potential customers. Rather than rely on our labels or store employees to sell our products, we can communicate directly, highlight our value-add and then get real time data on whether these messages are important to customers.
Our top tips are:
- Be succinct
- Communicate your key selling points
- Use eye-catching images
- Trumpet your customers’ feedback.
Validation of a product online can be difficult. Potential customers can’t try your product, so use customer feedback to provide that validation.
During COVID-19, we are seeing an unprecedented focus on health and wellbeing. For all small businesses today, it’s important to account for this in your messaging across social media channels as that’s the first point of engagement between you and a potential customer.
It’s equally important to focus on positive messaging. With so much negativity on social media, a critical way to stand out is by giving your customers optimism which can then be associated to your product. That flows into changed consumer preferences and behaviours. Already, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in our organic raw honey products due to the health and wellness focus of customers now shopping online rather than in store.
Ngaire Crawford, Insights Director ANZ, Isentia
Before you use social media, you must spend some time listening. A lot of organisations forget that social media is a valuable pulse check on how audiences are feeling, and which messages they are reacting strongly to. It’s important to also understand the audience you’re communicating to. Instead of looking at small pockets of information, consider a range of sources for a more holistic view of the conversation. This will help you to create a complete picture of your audience.
During COVID-19, we can see across social media that people are feeling anxious and disconnected, and they are quickly outraged by organisations who aren’t playing by the rules. But users are also craving innovation and are supportive of those that are doing the right thing, making an active contribution to their communities. With this broader context in mind and knowledge of the potential risks when communicating, you can engage with your audience more effectively.
Rochelle Ritchie, Content Director at Hotwire Australia
COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of honest and consistent communications – especially on social media. When reviewing your current social media strategy, you should consider:
- Content: People are spending around six hours online every day – with one third of that time spent on social media. It’s important to ensure your content pillars are still relevant and post frequency remains consistent. Unsure of whether your tone of voice is up to scratch? Look to updating your personas.
- Creative: A solid social strategy should involve rich content, including video, GIFs, static images and interactive stories (including polls). With people spending more time online, the standard of creative is high.
- Advertising: Almost all paid social strategies are pivoting and decreasing spend during this time. Remain consistent with spend – maybe shifting some budget from Conversions to Link Clicks. Weathering the storm will ensure brand longevity long after this is over.
Michelle Gallaher, CEO of health data analytics company, Opyl
When you’re just starting out, invest in a social media coach. I found it useful to have an expert opinion on the posts and comments I shared, and they helped refine my knowledge of content creation tools.
Master one platform first as not all social media is equal or appropriate for your business strategy. Avoid the ‘set and forget’ method and auto-sharing the same content across multiple platforms.
Actively manage your community – social media is a two-way conversation, not a megaphone to blast content into the abyss. Get the most out of your investment by using social platforms to deliver customer service, answer and ask questions, research your market and be sociable. If someone walked into your office or store, you would have a chat, so why not do that on social media too.
Consider privacy, copyright and the legal implications around intellectual property and defamation law, as these do apply to the digital world too. Don’t use others’ work, such as photos or art, for your own social media feed. Even if you tag the creator, unless it’s explicitly stated that the image is free to use, you are not protected, nor is it ethical or fair. Be conscious of what you are sharing; don’t plagiarise or spread misinformation, and always be respectful of others.
Social media needs to be led from the top of every organisation. It’s often the first impression a client or customer has with your brand – so make it count. With that in mind, don’t let someone manage your social media unless you are prepared to mentor them, and allow them direct access to the business’ leadership team.
Shannon Ingrey, VP and GM, APAC at BigCommerce
It’s clear that COVID-19 has had a huge impact on retailers across industries with a number of stores having either opted to temporarily close physical storefronts or have been forced due to lockdown laws. As a result, retailers are leaning more strongly than ever on online touchpoints, including social media.
With over 18 million Aussies now active on social media, it’s no surprise that social platforms like Instagram and TikTok have become key avenues for brands to connect with consumers. Brands should be using social media as a tool to communicate clearly with consumers on how the business is adjusting to the current climate — ensuring that as one touchpoint is lost (physical stores) other available ones are used to keep communication lines between consumers and brands open.
Brands should also leverage their social media channels as a means of educating, engaging and connecting with their audiences. Increasingly, we’re seeing this through the use of platforms like IGTV where brands are able to educate the audience on products and services through longer form videos.
Social selling should also be used by Aussie retailers to create a clear visual of the product or service in action for consumers — either by leaning on user generated content or related lifestyle imagery to highlight how a product fits into the context of a consumer’s life.
Flo Lau, Creative Director, Shutterstock
With advertising spend currently on the decline, brands are turning to social media to entertain and maintain engagement with their audience while they’re stuck indoors. Additionally, digital video consumption is at an all time high, with Instagram announcing plans to monetise IGTV and the increasing popularity of social media platform, TikTok.
It’s never been more important for brands to use engaging video content as a means of cutting through in an oversaturated market and stand out from the competition. You might think that high-quality video content is expensive, time-consuming and requires a full production staff — but that’s not the case. You can solve a lot of these problems by utilising stock video content. After all, even Hollywood does too.
Social media is about experimentation. Find what works and what doesn’t for your business but remember to ensure your video content remains consistent. Regardless of whether you use video or static images, consistency is key to building strong customer relationships and offering a streamlined experience through all touchpoints with a customer.