As a millennial, I often hear how my generation uses social media for its primary form of communication, how we are always on the internet and how we are always attached to our phones. Well… that is true but it isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
We now have access to unlimited information, online shopping, entertainment and communication channels and can access them all at the touch of button. The world of social media is ever-changing and businesses are taking advantage of it.
Since the majority of the millennial generation are digital natives (meaning we were born/brought up in the age of digital technology), businesses have focused on using social media to target this generation.
What is social media and why should businesses use it?
Plain and simple, social media is a way for people to communicate and interact online. Since there has been such a big boom in the number and popularity of social media sites, it is a little more complicated than just connecting with your old high school friends.
The way the web is used has shifted from a “one-to-many” to a “many-to-many” method of engagement. This shift has created opportunity and responsibility for businesses. They can now collect data from their consumers through their social media profiles and can engage directly with their consumers in a very transparent way.
Here are a few social media platforms & some interesting usage facts:
- With over 1.71 billion active users, Facebook is currently the most popular social media platform.
- A study by Zephoria Digital Marketing, shows that Facebook’s highest traffic time occurs midweek between 1-3 p.m.
- User engagement rises by 18% on Thursdays and Fridays (sounds like great time to post, hint hint).
- There are 83 million fake profiles on Facebook.
- Every 60 seconds on Facebook: 510 comments are posted, 293,000 statuses are updated, and 136,000 photos are uploaded.
- Since its launch in 2006, there have been over 1.3 billion Twitter accounts created, but astonishingly only 550 million of those accounts have ever sent a tweet.
- 80% of Twitter’s active users access the site via mobile app.
- 83% of the world’s leaders are on Twitter.
- The average number of followers is 209.
- An estimated 209 million users are actually bots.
- Has over 400 million active users.
- 3.5 billion photo likes every day.
- Over 60% of its users log in daily (making it second for being the most engaged network after Facebook).
- 48.8% of brands are on Instagram. By 2017, this is predicted to rise to 70.7%.
- Over 40 billion photos have been shared on Instagram.
- 60% of all smartphone users are now on Snapchat.
- Millennials accounts for 7 out of 10 Snapchatters.
- 150 million people use Snapchat.
- It would take 158 years to watch every Snapchat story.
- Snapchat ads are viewed up to a million times per day.
Three benefits of using social media:
Builds meaningful relationships with your consumers: Social platforms allow you to respond directly to your consumer. Building these relationships will help build brand loyalty and advocacy.
Provides Instant feedback: If your consumers are happy with your products/services, you’ll know. If they aren’t happy with product/services, you’ll know even quicker. The internet allows things to be shared at the click of a button. Which allows businesses to know exactly when things are going right and when they are going wrong.
Blends in with your marketing strategy: You know that inbound marketing strategy that you created? It wouldn’t be anything without social media. Social media encourages external links to your content and is a great place to showcase your content. It is also very tightly entwined with SEO, a strong social media presence can improve your search rankings.
The business use is different than the individual use, here’s why:
When it comes to your personal social media accounts, there are no rules. You can post or share anything that you like or even things that you don’t like.
As a business it is a little different. You should be professional, use proper grammar, edit and brand your photos and share things that align with your company’s personality. Choose which channel you use based on the social media sites that your target audience is using and consistently interact with them.
Social media etiquette:
- Avoid autoresponders: Social media allows you to build a personal relationship with your consumers, don’t mess that up by automating it.
- Respond to comments in a timely manner: People usually expect an immediate response when they are on social media, so always have someone monitoring your social channels for interactions and always engage with the consumers who reach out.
- Maximize your shareability: The more people that share your content, the higher the exposure and ranking in search results.
- Don’t go crazy with hashtags: Even though hashtags can provide your posts with more visibility and a greater reach, they can also be very distracting. Remember, location tagging can be just as effective.
- Minimize your sales pitch: Don’t make every post promotional! Utilize the 5-3-2 rule. Five posts should be relevant content shared from other sources. Three posts should be engaging, original content that you create. Two posts should humanize your account. Examples would be a ‘behind the scenes’ post or an ‘inside look’ into your company.
- Don’t buy followers (or friends): You want to be engaging with real customers, not fake accounts. It also goes the other way, don’t follow meaningless accounts just for the numbers. Follow people who provide content that you are interested in and align with your company.
So how does a business succeed at social media?
Drill down your content. Analyze your analytics, maximize your social listening efforts and find out what your consumers are looking for and then create content that they will love and share!
- Educational: People love to learn. The reason why Pinterest is so successful is because it provides you with endless recipes, DIY projects, life hacks, home improvement ideas, etc. Literally anything that you could ever want to do is on Pinterest.
- FAQ’s: Answer questions that people have about your industry. Take the real estate industry for example, buyers and sellers have a million questions about the process. Take advantage of the lack of insider information and answer those questions.
- Discover: Show your consumers new and unique ways to use your products/services.
- Local Information: Share community news, upcoming events, or fun things to do in the area. People will most likely be compelled to share your content if they have a functional or emotional attachment to it.
Provide customer service. Social media allows customers to leave feedback and reviews about your business. Not all of these will be positive, so use that opportunity to improve your customer service reputation. Like I’ve mentioned earlier in this blog, social media allows you to build a relationship with your consumers. As that relationship gets stronger, they will be more likely to stand up and advocate for your brand.
Listen to your consumer’s wants and needs. Social media allows businesses to have more access to their customers than ever before. This can have a huge impact on product development.
Use it for growing your company. Social media doesn’t just help you engage with your consumers but it can also help you identify potential employees. If an ideal candidate likes your business’s Facebook page, then why not reach out to them. Social media can also be utilized to encourage networking within the company. There are many companies that use social media as part of the corporate culture to get employees to interact with each other.
See it in action: Sh*t That I Knit
This Boston based company was founded by Christina Fagan after she decided to leave her job and start her own clothing company comprised primarily of items that she knitted.
Christina grew her company through the use of social media, more specifically through her Instagram account.
So how did this creative, 25-year-old entrepreneur do this? She excelled at publishing engaging content that her audience loved.
Let’s start with the name of her company, Sh*t That I Knit. Right off the bat the name makes you chuckle, it’s shocking and grabs your attention, not to mention it bluntly describes the products that she sells.
Next, lets go to the content on her Instagram account. Her feed is filled with beautiful images of people wearing her products, her personal life, tips and she even has some humorous posts in the mix.
After skimming through her Instagram feed, I felt compelled to check out her website. It seems to have a good balance of promotional content and engaging content. Her blog features articles about “Real-Time Knitting on Netflix,” wallpapering her bathroom, and so on.
Because of her company’s name, she can get away with posting jokes and humorous content. Who wouldn’t expect funny posts from a company called Sh*t That I Knit? Take this political post for example, for other companies this kind of post could be extremely risky.
She also seems to have the frequency of posting down. In the last week she posted on Instagram roughly 15 times (about twice a day). There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to frequency of post. As long as your audience is engaged, post away.
Almost every image on her Instagram account featured a knitted piece of clothing or the brand name/logo. There is very consistent theme to what she posts, which helps increase brand awareness.
As you can see, social media can play a huge role in your businesses success and in some cases, like Christina Fagan’s, it can help build your business. Social media has earned its place as an essential part of the marketing strategy and will continue to evolve along side modern technology.