Social Media Marketing Since most New Zealanders use one or more social media services, consider using social media as a tool to increase sales to both current customers and potential new ones. Social media can be used as part of your marketing in the following ways: If you can get customers to ‘follow’ you on social media, it allows you to keep in contact, create engagement, and build better relationships with them. You can increase sales by letting customers know about new products, events, or promotions. You can purchase paid advertisements on social media networks and target these advertisements so they are only shown to certain audiences. You can place a ‘tracker’ on your website that can be used to target social media advertisements to social media users who have visited your website. Some social media services integrate online shopping services. You can also just make posts showing products and add a link to your website or contact information so that customers can buy them. Which Social Media Services Should You Use? The graph below shows the most popular services in New Zealand. Note that, whilst YouTube is used most often, it is video-based, and for many businesses, the main way to use it is through paid advertising. Other services such as Facebook and Instagram offer more scope for most businesses to connect with audiences. (Social Media Use in New Zealand 2018 (Statista.com)). Factor to Consider: Don’t make the mistake of trying to use too many social platforms at once. It’s best to start with just one, and when you’ve got the hang of it, and if it’s getting results, think about expanding to another. Even if you are a social media pro, don’t use more platforms than you can realistically manage on an ongoing basis. When choosing which services to use, first find out which services your target market use. Facebook is used by people of all age groups, but younger people are often not as active on it as they are on other platforms. Other services, such as Instagram, have a younger user base, while Pinterest’s user base is mostly female. Facebook. This is the world’s most popular social network with about 2.2 billion users (about 30% of the world’s population). You can start your own page, which can be followed and commented on by other users. For example, you can promote new products or run competitions for your followers. You can also create events and invite people to attend them. Twitter. This service allows you to share very short posts called ‘tweets’ with people who follow you. Other users can then ‘retweet’ them to their own followers (with or without comments). For example, you can promote specials. Twitter has about 330 million users. Instagram. A photo (and short video) sharing platform. Users can take photos and videos, which are then shared with followers. This is very useful for letting customers see your products and is a popular option for businesses in the fashion and entertainment industries. Instagram has 800 million active users. YouTube. A video site, where users are able to follow each other. For example, you can post how-to videos or product demonstrations, or simply create paid advertisements which are shown on other users’ videos. YouTube has about 1.5 billion users. LinkedIn. A social network for business users. It is not useful for communicating with the general public. Instead, it is for connecting to customers that are businesses, networking with other business owners, keeping up to date with industry news, and connecting with potential employees and contractors. LinkedIn has 467 million users. What Should You Post on Social Media? Below are some things to keep in mind when posting on social media. Post regularly. Effective use of social media requires you to make regular posts – never leave a social media account idle for long periods. Post at least a few times a week, but don’t overwhelm your followers by posting more than once a day. Don’t go for the ‘hard sell’. Social media is about being ‘social’. Focus on building a relationship and adding value to your offering. Don’t just focus on selling (although this is appropriate when using paid advertisements). Make meaningful connections. You need to build trust with your customers. They’re more likely to become regulars if they know you care about what they think and feel. It’s not all about promotion. You can comment on other topics of interest to your audience. You can follow businesses similar to yours to see what they’re doing well. Try to avoid commenting on current events. Don’t get involved in political debates. And don’t encourage followers to like other pages unless you are certain it isn’t going to damage your reputation or offend followers. Vary your content. Use different types of content to get the attention of different customers. Videos and images are more engaging than text-based posts. Repurpose your content. It’s not necessary for you to come up with completely new content for each individual platform you choose to use. However, there should also be some reason for people to follow you on more than one platform. Some differences in content will reward your followers, and encourage them to follow you elsewhere. Keep your content short. Make sure your posts are snappy and ‘snackable’. Social media is consumed in small doses so you need to be careful not to bore readers. Make your content easy to find. That is, it needs to be searchable. You can do this by using ‘key words’ and things like ‘hashtags’ that people will be searching for. Make sure your content is something people will want to share with their friends. Social media is about your followers doing much of the work for you. Be responsive. When a customer (potential or existing) comments on, likes, or questions your business, respond quickly and thoughtfully. This will help you to engage with your customer base and build brand loyalty. You can use social media to offer incentives such as competitions, special offers, and free samples. Link to your website. If you have a business website, use social media to drive customers towards it. Read over any posts to make sure they make sense or aren’t likely to be misinterpreted by readers. Double-check your spelling. Ask a staff member or friend to read it before posting. Paid Social Media Advertising Campaigns Paid advertising using social media is a good way to attract members of your target audience and increase sales. You can pay for: Boosting some of your most popular posts, so that they reach a greater audience than just people who follow your business account. Advertisements that appear in people’s newsfeeds (or ‘timelines’), in YouTube videos, or in the side bars of social media sites. The main advantage of paid advertising on social media is that you can make use of its targeting features. Social media services ‘know’ a lot about the demographics, tastes, and interests of their users. This allows you to precisely target your advertisements at the people you really want to see them. For example, you can create an advertisement which is only shown to people who live in a certain town, are in a certain age bracket, and who have specific interests. You can even target your advertisement to only be shown to people who have visited your website before, and are therefore familiar with your business (or are perhaps already customers). Another advantage of paid advertising on social media is you can work with a small budget. You could, for example, set a budget of $10 per day for a certain number of days, or a total budget of $100, and then only choose to increase your budget if you are seeing results. Examples of social media advertising services include sponsored ads on Facebook, promoted tweets on Twitter, carousel ads on Instagram, display ads on LinkedIn, and snap ads on Snapchat. Below is a list of links to the advertising pages of some of the main social media services: Facebook Twitter Instagram Snapchat LinkedIn Pinterest Tip: Facebook for Business (https://www.facebook.com/business) shows you how to set up a business page and how to undertake advertising on Facebook. The two are tied together. While your page helps people connect with your business, Facebook ads can help them discover your business. Measuring Effectiveness You will be able to measure the effectiveness of your social media posts and advertisements through feedback about the number of people who see the posts, and the number of clicks, likes, retweets, and other engagements the posts get. In addition, you can analyse the effectiveness of your social media presence using ‘analytics’. It is particularly important to do this for paid advertising. For instance, you could test several advertisements, each using a small budget for a limited time, in order to decide which advertisement to use as part of your main campaign. Some analytics packages cost money, but there are free options available. For example: Facebook Insights lets you track interaction on your Facebook page. From this you can determine things like the best time of day to post and what type of content is popular. Facebook Insights can be accessed from a tab on your business’s profile page. LinkedIn also has an analytics tab. This can provide you with metrics and trends about your business page, as well as about reader engagement. If you’re using paid advertising on LinkedIn to boost posts, you can compare the level of interaction with that of posts you haven’t paid for. Google Analytics, while not focused on social media, can also be used to examine your social media activity. This includes the number of page views earned from social media links and how well your website and social media accounts are working together. Key Point: Social media is a cheap, effective, and easy-to-use way of maintaining a relationship with customers and encouraging them to buy more.