By now most businesses know that social media is a useful marketing tool. However, many business owners still don’t know how to use social media to effectively promote their products or services.

When I ask clients about their social media strategy I often find that they just create an account continuously post links to their products.  Then wonder why they don’t have any followers and no one visits their links.

If you don’t have a sound social media strategy then you simply aren’t going to get the results you are hoping for.  It’s easy for social media to become a wasteful time sink.

If you want to produce more business through social media, then consider some of the tips below and you’ll be heading in the right direction.

Build Up Your Followers

social media followersSome companies will get organic followers just from years of branding.  Smaller companies or brand new businesses have to work much harder to get followers.

While content sharing is the foundation of social media, I tend to focus heavily on building connections when I start a new social media account.  This involves following other accounts, participating in communities and being active in the platform.  If I’m away from my desk or travelling I get on my phone and go to work.

As followers grow, spend more time adding valuable content, which then helps produce more followers.  It’s difficult to produce a lot of content at the start and gain any traction.  I never understood these businesses accounts that have 30,000 tweets or posts but only 100 followers.  That’s a lot of work for minimal exposure.

Don’t Try to Do it All

social-dontFocus on just a few social media platforms.  Facebook and Twitter should be used by every business.  After that, it really depends as on the type of business you run.  If you sell products, there is a good chance you’ll have success with Pinterest and Instagram.    Businesses in the career services field can kill it on LinkedIn.  Many tech businesses seem to see great results with Google Plus, especially if they take advantage of Google Hangouts.

And of course, if you can integrate video into your business, then YouTube has as much potential as any other platform.  If you see results from one particular platform, then stick with it.  I know of several 7 figure businesses that produce 90% of their revenue just on one platform.

This doesn’t mean to totally abandon the smaller platforms. Just don’t spread yourself so thin that you spend 80% of your time on small networks and 20% of the time on the big ones.

Be Authentic. Add Some Personality

be authentic socialToo often businesses get on social media and try to “win” their audience.  It’s important to be authentic. This may sometimes mean admitting mistakes and making amends. Showing some integrity can often build an exceptional level of trust.

You may want to introduce your staff or share your background.  Don’t’ be afraid to add some personality and humor.  Just because you run a business doesn’t mean you have to be dry and boring.

Don’t be afraid to let loose.  Gary Vaynerchuk is one of the most popular marketing personalities on the web.  He’s a highly respected social media influencer that’s not afraid to slap you in the face and tell you to “wake the f*ck up.”

Yes, there are some businesses that need to avoid that type of language, but there are 1.2 million people that don’t care that curses because it helps emphasize the message. Every business is different and certainly some businesses can’t get away with it.  Others can.

Use the 80/20 Rule in Your Delivery

product delivery 80 20 ruleYour posts should to provide followers some sort of value even if its entertainment value.  This could be a blog post, link to outside article, interesting comment, photo or video.

Content marketing is about sharing and people aren’t going to follow you or share your information if everything you post is about your business.  No one wants to see “buy buy buy” even if they love your products.

It’s OK to ask for business.  The ultimate goal is to build trust and sell your product or service while also providing value.  So how do you promote your product without being push?  That’s where the 80-20 rule comes in.  Marketers have found that its ideal to post at least 4 valuable pieces of content for every one promotional post.

Build a Community

build a communityJust posting content isn’t enough. Become part of the conversation. Try to be quick to answer comments or participate in any discussions.

Encourage your audience to help one another. Offer a safe place or a fun place to congregate online. Create something that matters to people.

This is much easier said than done. Building a community takes a lot of work.  Eventually this community can become a trusted source of consistent business. People will associate your brand with this community. In many cases, the active members of your community will even become your biggest promoters.  For example, I’m a member of Jon Loomers Power Hitters club.  If you want to be awesome at Facebook Ads, I suggest joining. (p.s. I’m not affiliated nor do I get any kind of commission if you join. It’s just that good).

Analyze Your Results

analyze your social media resultsIf you aren’t looking at measurables then you have no idea if you are getting anything out of your hard work. Make sure you are tracking your page views, outbound links and engagement rates. You need to know when someone visits your site and buys your product from your social channels.

Use Twitter Analytics and Facebook Page Insights to get an idea of which topics get the best engagement.   At some point, you will want to move on to more advanced social media analytics and automation tools.   The folks at WeRockYourWeb.com wrote a great post reviewing features of these social meda management tools.  Check it out here. (I use sendible but have heard good things about AgoraPulse)

Try not to get too tied up in the raw numbers. The important part of analysis is learning if your actions produce leads or sales. You can also find out what types of content your audience likes the most, so you can delivery that type of content in the future.

Be Patient

While social media is essentially free, it takes time, effort and often resources to build followers.  Stick with it, and you’ll end up with a trusted source of business for the long term.

Of course, if you need any help, don’t hesitate to get in touch!