It seems that, only a decade ago, social media was only used to connect with your colleagues, relatives, acquaintances, friends, and family no matter where in the world you all are. They all started out as a place where you can update where you are currently, what you’re up to, what kind of things you’re into, etc. It all revolved around personal use for everyone.

Nowadays, social media is used for all sorts of activities, from catching up with your friends to updating yourself to what’s going on in the whole world. For businesses, social media is a powerful marketing tool that helps them connect to thousands of people in their market, fellow players in the industry, and even influencers that can help them penetrate the market better, especially in 2018. Best of all, it’s a relatively cheap option — it costs nothing to sign up for and maintain a social media account.

Sadly, not all businesses make it big with social media, and it usually boils down to a lack of knowledge on how toactually use social media to sell their products. To make sure your business does not fail in its social media foray, here are four things you need to keep in mind at all times:

Know your consumers’ behavior, then adapt.

One of the most common social media mistakes that businesses can make is thinking that they need to sign up for every platform. They often do this to make sure that they are targeting most of their intended audience. This, however, is counterproductive. Depending on what niche you’re trying to penetrate, they will have a particular platform or two where they can be found. This is something you need to find out, so you can focus all your energy, time, and resources into the strategy you’ll be applying based on the social media platform you should use.

For example, if you are an online clothing store, you might find your audience more on Instagram than Snapchat as good photography can entice clothes buyers to purchase. In that case, you’ll want to read up on how you can use Instagram effectively for your business, such as what hashtags you can use, how to curate a Feed, and even how to measure your Analytics. Observe how your customers behave in the platform they frequent and tailor your strategy to take advantage of this behavior effectively.

Create and optimize the right content.

Audiences follow business accounts for the content they post, which is why it’s essential that you can develop original, engaging content that will attract their eye. Reposting or sharing third-party material is an excellent way to make sure that you still have something to show them even if you currently lack in your content. However, don’t rely on this too much — it’s more imperative to stimulate conversation and establish yourself as someone they’d want to follow for your unique content.

Depending on the social media behavior of your audience, you’ll likely have to post on certain times that they’re more active, post and comment in a certain tone or format, or even post more on a specific kind of media works best with them (and the platform you’re all on).

And remember that your audience is following you primarily because they want to connect and receive content they care about, so promotional posts mostly need to take the back seat. Too little and you run the risk of making them forget what else you can offer them; too much and you’ll make them feel like you’re only attracting them for a sale.

Don’t forget that organic content is not your only weapon in the tricky social media marketing game. Tools found in Facebook Advertising and similar features found in other social media platforms can help you get your posts to people who fit your audience profile who may have not yet heard of your business yet.

Build and engage with your network.

One of the hardest but most rewarding parts of using social media for business is establishing a network. Not only does it involve all the other aspects that play into the management of a social media account, but it also needs a huge investment of time and energy. There’s no easy way or shortcuts to gaining an organic following unless you’re willing to pay for a service that will give you followers, whether they’re fake or not. Even the most accomplished social media account went through this grunt work.

Regularly check your social media streams for any mention of your business and related keywords and make sure to engage with those posts, especially if they are questions. If someone asks about a potential service you’re providing without directly tagging you, they’ll still show up in your search results, and you can give them the answers yourself. Retweet or react their comments about your posts. Share their opinions. This will help make your audience feel like they are valuable members of your network and your customer base. And an excellent social media service experience with you will make it more likely that your customers will recommend you to others.

Connect back to your objective.

Building a large following that likes your posts and listens to you all the time is still nothing if it doesn’t fulfill your goal: an improvement in sales. Everything up to now was about building a level of trust between you and your prospective customers so they are more willing to listen to you when you’re finally ready to offer them something. After all, customers are more likely to buy something when a friend has recommended them to something instead of a salesman incessantly pushing an offer to their face.

Press your luck (and advantage) by showing them where they can go next, where they can find the answers to the problems that they have through CTAs (call to action). Direct them until the end — don’t just assume that they’ll eventually connect the dots. Some social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram have CTA buttons you can use to make the redirection easier for you and your customers.

Also, don’t forget to make the purchasing process challenging to accomplish. The more unnecessary steps your potential customers will take, the more likely they’ll lose interest in the transaction because of the hassle you’ve put them through.

Social media is a powerful tool for any business because of its reach and the large chance of boosting your sales and getting profitable ROI from it — if you’ve used it correctly. The most important way to making sure this happens is to build trust, loyalty, and a genuine relationship with your would-be customers, and the rest will fall into place. Good luck!

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