Understanding Social Media

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Social Media

If you are a business owner you need to have some understanding of social media. The traditional mediums in marketing are slowly losing relevance and reach. 

The puck is headed in a certain direction and unless you are heading that way, you will be left behind. To survive in the coming years as a business, you need to learn the language of social media but don’t worry as this is still new territory and very few are well versed.

Even if you are not a business this article will help you get a handle the world of social media. We hope to prevent you drowning in the swamp of decisions that you will face on social media.

It is a constantly changing landscape but knowing some foundational concepts will be a great start for you. 

The Patterns of History Predict the Future

If you look at the history of media you can see a pattern where new forms of distribution takes over its predecessor.

Radio took some of the audience from print, TV nabbed the audience for radio and the internet has stolen a huge chunk of the audience from pretty much all the platforms.

The speed at which this is happening is notable fast. It took about 38 years before millions had TVs. It took TV 13 years to get an audience that big and it took Instagram…a year and a half. Welcome to social media. 

Life Today

Social media has altered everything whether you like it or not. It has changed communication, relationships, networking and finding jobs.

I have friends who have told me that they find social media addictive and it is proven that there is a small dopamine spike when we get a notification that someone has liked one of our posts.

Social media is powerful and it can be used for good. 

Do you feel confused and overwhelmed by social media?

Whether you like it or not social media is going to be here for a long time so it is worth putting some effort into understanding it. 

Social media is both an art and a science and if you are a business you have to strike a balance with the heavy hitting tools that are at your disposal.

Some go in too hard by spamming people with their content and products, others are too afraid to ask for the sale. 

You may be a small business who doesn’t have huge social media following. You may have just opened an account and started to post but you don’t really know how to get it going. This article will give you some insights that will help you at any point in your journey. 

GUIDE TO SOCIAL MEDIA

We hope you’ll find this guide helpful. It does not cover the technical side of social media but it looks at the strategies and things you should consider when you are running your channels.

We want to help you to take control of your social media rather than it control you. Please get excited with the huge potential you have to reach new audiences!

Ok ready?…let’s crack on!

Disclosure

Some of the links in this article are affiliate links. This means that at NO additional cost to you, we will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. If you do click through and make a purchase THANKYOU!

What is Social Media?

"Social media is the collective of online communication channels dedicated to community-based input, interaction, content-sharing, and collaboration”. 

It’s called social media because it is meant to be social, keep that in your back pocket at all times because the more humanity you put into your content, the better the results you will get. 
 
Putting out content is now is very easy for anyone, which is why the internet landscape is so cluttered.

Anyone can create and upload content on the same platforms as a huge company. This makes for a very interesting picture because the playing field has been levelled with a reduced barrier to entry.

Let that sink in because if your eyes are open you will see we are living in a time of huge opportunity.

You as a business owner or budding entrepreneur can create lasting
and scalable relationships with your customer base using social media and you can, if you choose, compete with the giants. 

Is Social Media Just a Fad?

No would be the short answer. Now for the longer answer with stats. 

Over the last seven to ten years, there has been huge growth in the popular social media platforms. This is really just the start and the need for social media in business will only become stronger.

Below are some stats…for those who like stats.

– Facebook has over 1.19 Billion users per month
– 1 in 5 adults (18-24) use Twitter daily
– 9 billion photos are uploaded to Facebook each month
– Twitter is adding 300k users per day
– YouTube reaches more US adults than any cable network
– 92% of companies use social media for recruitment
– Women 18-29 are the power uses on the web
– There are 2.3 billion active social media users
– Instagram has roughly 600 million active users per month

Recommended Reading

Below is a quote from a great book called “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook” by Gary Vaynerchuk. This book is essentially a guidebook for how to post on social media and gives you strategies on how to approach it.

If you are experienced in this field you will know a lot of this but it is always good to remember the fundamentals of business and marketing.

“Now that the infrastructure is built and the plumbing is in place, it’s time to learn how to use the system to achieve your business objectives, and to put more time, energy, and dollars into the place where the consumers actually are, and not where you wish they would stay. ” Gary Vaynerchuk

Why Does My Business Need Social Media?

Whatever your business, in the world we live in today, your customers are online. They interact on social media with their friends searching for new information, recommendations and entertainment.

If you don’t turn up to the party (figuratively speaking) your competitors will.
 
Social media is a huge opportunity. We live in a time where you can go and hear what your customers think, interact with them and add value to their lives.

This is an opportunity to get close to your audience and reach them in a genuine and authentic way which will help you gain the data necessary for “insights-based business decisions”. 

“The purpose of business is to create and keep a customer”. Peter Drucker

Before You Create Content

Ask yourself a few questions

  • What behaviour am I trying to move people into, and for what business reason?
  • Of the social channels out there, which ones lend themselves to the specific products or services I offer?
  • Who are my target customers, and what do I know about their online behaviour? If you don’t know do some research.

Identifying your own goals will help you decide which type of social media channel makes the most sense for your efforts. Clarifying the desired behaviours you want from your community members will help define how you go about engaging with them. 

The Social Media End Goal

The end goal of your social media should be to build relationships. That may seem counter-intuitive but that is where a lot of people miss the point.

You are trying to build the voice of your brand and part of that is to communicate to your audience that you want to connect.

Create real connections with people and the relationships you build with your customers will help build the foundations of how your business can flourish. 

The Benefits of Social Media

Information can be shared through social media at an amazingly fast pace, and users are increasingly turning to social channels to share information in real-time. This information often takes the form of opinions, so if you’re listening to your audience, social media can become an invaluable source of insights and feedback.

Your posts can be used to test run product ideas and can provide valuable development feedback. It is worth stressing that even though you have the chance to get feedback, you need to discern what feedback is worth listening to. 

Social Media Integration

Your social media should be a fully integrated part of your business, not something additional that has no real link to it. You should do this by integrating your social media efforts from the start of your business.

If your social media presence is there from the start, your business will benefit from additional contact points as you grow and this will also serve as live customer feedback. 

A social presence will also have a lot of impact for your business when it is done in an authentic and considered manner. If you make social engagement a central part of your business operation, rather than an afterthought  you have a better chance of seeing its potential.

The main issue we have seen with integration is that social media requires more time and effort than most people realise and are willing to commit to. 

What Are The Different Types of social media platforms?

All platforms are not created equal so you have to do some research and understand the voice of each of them. For example, YouTube (which some call a content platform rather than social media) is video-based ‘long format platform’ and that might not be what you need or how you are looking to interact with your audience. The stage of your business will show you where to put your efforts. 

The main two channels you will use online are platforms you own yourself like blogs, forums or social networks you post onto. The other channel are owned by a company like Facebook or Twitter where you will you manage your presence on their “real estate”.

Both of these channels should be used as there are different touch points to reach people and some would argue that you should aim to have a presence on all of them. 

Which Network Should I Sign Up For First?

Depending on how much you know about social media, you may already have some platforms you post to even if you don’t run a business. For everyone and every business, the needs will be different but in our opinion, it is worth signing up for all of the platforms you will use even if you don’t post on them straight away.

This will protect you from digital squatters. A site you can use for this is knowem. This site allows you to register your brand name across more than 500 social networks. This will help to ensure that your name will be registered where it needs it to be, regardless of which platform you end up deciding is right for your brand.

Give First

When you create a place where customers/audience can engage with you need to post valuable, authentic resources within your niche. By doing this your audience will start to trust what you are saying and invest in the resources you are promoting. The more you give, the more you get back; that is a universal law. 

The trick is to give first and then people will want to invest in what you are doing. People invest in stories and social media is a powerful platform to tell yours. 

What Content Should You Publish & Share?

A common mistake that many people make is to make most of their content about promotional updates. This is an echo of the traditional marketing world but things have changed; you should build your marketing efforts on trust, engagement, and community. There will be times when you can promote your products and services with your content but consider broadening your scope a bit and make sure you give first.

Below are some options for types of content you could produce. 

HELPFUL CONTENT

Add value to the followers by sharing content that will make their lives easier. These can be industry tips and tricks or insights you have that will help your community. 

INSPIRATION

These types of posts can be to uplift your audience. Sharing this type of content regardless of your business will draw the right people to you as they will see you that you are not just trying sell to them.

SOCIAL CONVERSATIONS

Every post doesn’t have to stem from your original ideas, you can bounce off content that other people are already posting. Social media is about conversations, so jump in and be a part of them.

COMPANY CULTURE & NICHE CULTURE

Give a sneak peek into the culture and community within your business. This will help to humanize your brand. By pulling the curtain away just a little bit you will also intrigue them. 

JOB OPENINGS

Social media can be a way to find new talent. Job seekers are increasingly using social media as a way of learning about companies and their open positions. 

RESPONSES

At the beginning of your social media efforts, you want to be as engaged as possible by responding to comments and answering any questions.

As your community grows this can be harder to maintain but remember that connection is the name of the game so the more you can stay top of this, the less disconnected your audience will feel.

ASK FOR HELP

Once you have built a good rapport with your audience you can start asking them questions directly. You have to earn their allegiance by building value and investing into the relationship.

You may want to ask for product feedback, testimonials or feedback on your social media content. If you have built a good relationship with them, they will want to help you. 

Things To Keep In Mind When You Create Content

KEEP IT SIMPLE

Wherever you post, keep your message and your content simple. That is the best way to not confuse yourself and your customers. If you still feel lost, look at how other brands who you look up to are doing it but keep in mind…a lot of them are still trying to learn this so be bold and carve out your own path!

KEEP YOUR EYES & EARS OPEN

You should be watching and listening to see how your content is being received. That is the great part of social media and it will give you the clear direction of how you should proceed. 

PLAY GAMES

No, no, not in any Machiavellian way! People love competitions and being rewarded. The way you do this will be individual to your business but be creative and think of how you can give value through your competitions and increase your reach. You could match up behaviour and goals with reward systems, a lot of restaurants and cafes do this with loyalty cards. 

CROSS PROMOTE

If you don’t have the manpower for multiple platforms the best start would be for you to start on one social media platform and build it up. Once you have a decent size following you can cross-promote onto a new channel.

Keep in mind that it does take work to keep more than one channel active, so avoid a disjointed experience by being consistent with what you post on each social media channel. 

KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE

Be relevant to the industry you are working in. People will come to you if you are sharing content that they are interested in and is relevant to your niche. 

BE HUMAN

The social media game, is a game of connection. If you think about meeting warm people in real life they are funny, real and empathetic so try and bring that into the content you post. The more you connect with your audience the stronger the link you will build between them and your business.

ADD VALUE

Do all of the above three things but always remember that you want to add value while you do it. You are not just the homie (friend) chilling in the room with your people and you don’t want to be that annoying salesman who won’t take no for an answer. 

You are building a network and trying to establish your brand. You can do this by offering assistance, answering questions and by going out of your way to make someone’s life better. Experiment with this and find the balance that works for you. 

BE AWARE OF CURRENT AFFAIRS

You don’t need to post about what is going on in the world but if there has been a major tragedy and you own a candy floss company and you are running a special, it might be worth holding off with that campaign and posting something more relevant. Saying that…candy floss could offer some light relief.   

GO VERTICAL AND HORIZONTAL

Think about your customers’ other interests and things that are indirectly aligned to your niche? This will not only mean you show others sides to your brands’ personality but it will open you up to other communities who may have some interest in what you do. 
 

FOCUS ON WHAT IS IMPORTANT RATHER THAN WHAT IS POPULAR

It’s easy to get distracted. There are new apps, tools, and networks that pop up on almost a daily basis, and you could easily spend your time checking them out.

You have to strike a balance between being a tools-obsessed marketer and having your head in the sand. It’s better to do fewer things effectively than many things ineffectively. However, you should also keep your eyes and ears open for the up-and-coming social trends; there will be a time when it makes sense for you to jump in. 

How Often Should You Post?

There is no right or wrong answer to the question of “how often should you post?”. This all depends on who your audience is, what expectations you have given them and the type of business you are in. The best thing is to test, test and test. What we will say is that you want your posts to be frequent enough so that your audience knows you are active on that channel. 

One problem a lot of people have is that they have great content and products/service and but no one sees it. If you don’t understand how social media works you will be another person aimlessly posting content for no one to see.

Understanding how to post, when to post, what tags to use is very important otherwise your hard work will be wasted.

Measure Your Progress

The beauty of social media and online marketing is that you can measure almost everything you do. You should keep in mind that this is only useful if you know what to measure and why.

Your analysis is to help you collect data for your next steps. This will be specific to the content you are posting and what you are trying to achieve with it.
 
Below are a few things that you can track. 

FOLLOWERS & FANS

This is the most common stat that people watch and look for. We would say that you shouldn’t place that much emphasis on this as you can have 50K followers and very little engagement. 
 

ENGAGEMENT

This is a more meaningful metric as it indicates how and how much people are interacting with your content. 
 

TIMING

Wherever you post you should experiment with what times you put your content out. You may have a section of your audience that are in different time zones, so be aware of that too.

Some businesses only post at office hours which might not be the best time for the demographic they are trying to reach.

CLICK THROUGH RATE (CTR)

This a metric that most online marketers will be familiar with. It can be very valuable to measure outcomes from your content. The click-through rate will tell you what is working and by how much. 

Your Next Step

If this article was your the first time you have really thought about social media we hope it has got you thinking about the great potential at your fingertips.

This post was just to get you started, there so much more to learn about this subject and it keeps growing.

If you are intermediate to advanced using social media we hope this has reminded you of the things that you are doing well and give you some new things to consider. 

The next stage is something we would say on any subject and that is to invest in resources to increase your knowledge.

What we have covered here are themes to consider but there is a whole world of technicality that you will also need to know to be effective with social media. 

A great course we have invested in is by the Knowledge Society called “The Social Media Marketing Program”.

This is a fantastic course that has a lot of great content  (80+ videos) with some of the leading entrepreneurs teaching you how to run your social media.

The course covers things like creating your brand voice, how to set up mutually beneficial collaborations between social media influencers and small businesses, creating sales funnels with your social media, how to automate some of the process and a lot more.

This course is marketed to people who want to start a social media marketing agency but if you run a business you should get some training on social media so that you know how to build that part arm of your enterprise.  

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