A guide to using social media for businesses
People are spending more and more time on their phones and the majority of that time is spent scrolling through social media.
Social media is where your audience is, you can connect to them 24-7 and that‘s not the only benefit. It opens up so many opportunities for your business, encouraging you to build a credible reputation, attract clients and offer your services. And the best part is its free!
Thinking about posting on social media is only the tip of the iceberg as there is a lot you need to think about in order for your platforms to be successful.
Start with a plan
Before committing to social media, it is important to have a plan. You must consider your businesses goals and values to make sure your content is in line with it and valuable to your audience.
Here are some questions to help you start…
Who is your target audience?
It is vital to think about who your audience is. Once you have identified this it will lead you onto more in depth questions such as; what are their demographics and locations , what language and content would they engage with, do they follow any of your competitors etc.
What social media platforms do your target audience use?
Each platform has its own audience and it is far better to focus your time and resources on those that will work best for your business.
For example, if you are selling a product then using Instagram is a great visual platform. You could also use Facebook and Twitter to post your products as well as generic posts where you can add some personality. Whereas if you are targeting B2B then you should use LinkedIn as this is more of a professional platform.
Social media platform demographics (Source)
- Facebook is still the most popular platform in 2019. There are more than two billion people using it every month as well as 65 million businesses using Facebook Pages. More than six million advertisers promote their business on Facebook. The most popular age groups that use Facebook are 18-29 years old (81%), 30-49 (78%) and 50-64 (65%). Overall 68% of adult social media users are active on Facebook so when using this to promote your business you will almost definitely find a target audience on this platform.
- Instagram is predominantly used more by the younger generation; it is a photo and video sharing social media app. The most popular age groups that use Instagram are 13-17 years old (72%), 18-29 (64%) and 30-49 (40%). My research confirms that if you are looking to target a younger audience Instagram is most definitely the place to be posting.
- Twitter is a social media site for real-time information on news, entertainment, sports, politics, and more. The most popular age groups that actively use Twitter are 18-29 (40%), 13-17 (32%) and 30-49 (27%). Twitter’s users, very similar to Instagram, are predominantly more of a younger audience.
- LinkedIn is a professional social media site where businesses share content, network with one another, and build their personal brand. It has also become a place to attract talent to their company. The most popular age ranges on LinkedIn are 30-49 (33%), 18-29 (29%) and 50-64 (24%) LinkedIn. It was not surprising to discover that LinkedIn is used more by adults due to it being a b2b platform.
What message do you want to send to your audience with social media marketing?
It is great to start posting regularly on social media, but you will need to think about what sort of message you want to send out. Will you want to come across formal and informative or do you want to add some personality? Adding personality to your posts will be effective depending on your target audience and what platforms you use. It is a great way to gain followers who will be loyal because of your interesting content.
How often do you want to be posting?
Now you have a basic idea of what your content will be about and what platforms you will be using. How often do you want to post? Everyday or a few times a week. It does not matter how much but it is important that once you start to post you have regular content for that platform. This is because your audience will begin to know what times you post content and look out for it.
What is the ‘prime posting time’? You want to get the most views possible on your content and maximize engagement, this can be done by knowing the best times to post on social media.
- Facebook – mid-week is the peak period on Facebook. The middle of each weekday, from morning to mid-afternoon, are best times to post because the engagement is most consistent throughout these blocks of time. Late night and early evening along with weekend days have farily low engagement. Users may check in or post a few updates about activities in the middle of the day on Saturday, but these times aren’t your best times for reaching audiences.
- Instagram – engagement on Instagram peaks around mid-day and mid-week, very similar to other platforms, although there are a few prime periods found in the evening and morning during the middle of the week. Overall the best times to post are still during weekday times, but it most definitely is worth considering if your audiences are among those reaching for Instagram first thing in the morning or last thing before they go to bed.
- Twitter – early morning seems to be very popular for Twitter users. They are probably waking up and taking a moment to catch up on the biggest news, gossip and updates from their areas of interest. The peak times of engagement also carry up to mid-day and begin to decrease slightly through the late afternoon and evening, then finally dropping off as late-night approaches.
Again, mid-week on Tuesday and Wednesday are your top days to post on Twitter. The engagement surprisingly drops off on weekends, however there is still that morning check-in occurring on both Saturday and Sunday.
- LinkedIn – considering LinkedIn’s business users, it’s no surprise that activity is much higher during workdays. Activity heightens on Tuesday’s as people get through the Monday rush, and activity decreases after 3 pm. As expected, on weekends the activity is fairly low, as people take a break from their devices and desks on Saturday and Sunday.
When someone follows your social media page they are interested in your business and looking to receive updates. They want to know what products and/or services you have to offer as well as get information about upcoming launches or events. It’s vital that you’re providing the right content for them.
Initially you will need to test the water by sharing different content and seeing what is popular with your audience. You can see the popular content by what has the most impressions, engagements, and shares. Once you’ve discovered the types of content your audience responds to, keep creating content that they engage with.
Scheduling & managing content
An easy way to manage your social media presence is by creating your content and scheduling them in advance.
There are social media schedule templates that you can access online. At Consortium we plan social media schedules monthly, creating the content halfway through the previous month. Then we use Hootsuite to schedule the content in advance. Hootsuite is an online social media management tool which is very easy to use.
Posting on social media is great and the initial step to an online presence, but you will also need to be logging onto your social media platforms to engage with your audience further. It gives you an opportunity to develop a relationship with your audience through responding to their comments, following them back and engaging with their content.
Paid advertising is a whole other level when it comes to posting on social media, it enables you to target a specific audience. A great example of paid advertising is Facebook ads. Do you ever scroll through Facebook and an item pop’s up that you are thinking of buying? This is due to Facebook ads; it is known for its ability to reach an exact audience and being the most targeted form of advertising. You can advertise to people by age, interests, behaviour, and location, so Facebook ads are great to use if you really know your customer and want to engage them.