Social media can put real power behind your company’s brand. From generating leads to boosting customer service to building awareness, it’s a necessary tool to connect with your customers and boost your bottom line.
And a growing number of businesses—nearly three-quarters of them—are getting social. More than half of them post something every day. Who’s driving this trend? Women (74 percent) and millennial (79 percent) business owners, primarily.
But with so many platforms and styles out there, what are the best strategies for getting the most bang for your buck (and your time)?
1. Diversify your social media presence
In social, as in investing, a diversified portfolio is the surest way to achieve your long-term goals.
Your best bet is to start with Facebook. It remains a powerhouse and has the most users of any social media channel. The numbers don’t lie—Facebook has nearly 1.62 billion daily active users. Your audience likely spends some time there.
But don’t rely solely on Facebook for your social presence. Stretch your wings and get on the platforms that make the most sense for your company. Fewer than half of small businesses spend time on Twitter, Instagram, or YouTube, and less than a third use Snapchat or LinkedIn, so you have the potential to get out in front of the field.
But before you dive in, check and see where your target market spends its time. For example, LinkedIn is great for B2B, and Snapchat is ideal to hit up Gen Z. Be strategic—if you find your customers aren’t on a particular channel, don’t waste your time there.
2. Post (and respond) regularly
First impressions are key to growing your social following. If a potential customer stops by your page and only sees posts that are weeks old, chances are they won’t return. Fresh content is the catnip that keeps them coming back for more. Keep an eye on what your competitors are doing. If they only post weekly, up your game to semi-weekly or even daily.
And posting is only half the battle. A key part of social media is, well, being social. Great content will inspire your audience to react, and it’s essential that you be there to respond, whether the feedback is good or bad. Nearly half of consumers claim that they are more likely to buy what you’re selling if you’re responsive on your social feeds.
But beware of overpromotion. Of course, you want to talk about the great work you do, but 46 percent of shoppers will unfollow you if you give them too much of a hard sell.
3. Embrace the ephemeral
Brief is the new black. Your younger consumers (Gen Z and millennials) are increasingly drawn to story-focused messages that only last for 24 hours. This type of messaging commits to and captures the moment, drawing your audience in and encouraging them to act now.
The key to effective ephemeral messaging is frequency. One offer may go away tomorrow, but if there are others in the queue, your audience will continue to look for what’s next. Instagram and Snapchat are masters of this form.
4. Make friends with influencers
Want to jump on the fastest-growing way to find new customers? Ask ordinary people to promote it to their friends and followers. It’s cheap, fast, and it works.
Nano-influencers are particularly hot right now. They have 2,000-10,000 followers and will give you 22 times the number of buying conversations and up to 11 times the ROI of a traditional ad. They’re probably already your customers; you just need to reach out and ask.
5. Automate when necessary
Small business owners wear a lot of hats. You can’t be expected to do it all, so if social isn’t your thing, it might be time to hand control over to algorithms.
Companies such as Hootsuite, Crowdfire, and SocialPilot let you schedule posts in advance. But be careful of the set-it-and-forget-it mindset. Social media is by nature a fluid medium, easily affected by changing tastes, current events, and, well, publishing mishaps.
6. Get your customers involved
The more your followers repost your content—and, ideally, create their own—the more powerful it becomes. How powerful? Eighty-eight percent of consumers trust recommendations from friends, and a whopping 90 percent count them as the primary reason why they might buy something.
7. Grow your social with the right tools
The more your social footprint grows, the more likely your followers will become customers. Though there are countless ways to grow your social media presence, it is important to have the right tools in place to maximize its effectiveness. This is when your POS steps up to the plate, armed with customer data to propel your social media campaigns to new heights.