Seven social media marketing tips for your business
Businesses of all sizes use social media to attract new customers, build their brand and engage a wider audience. But what’s the best way to use the different social media channels? How do you get started? And what tips and tricks do the social media professionals recommend?
We spoke to Joe D’Souza, Social Media Manager at Virgin Media O2 Business, for his advice on how smaller and medium-sized businesses can use social media. Joe is responsible for all of Virgin Media O2 Business’ social media channels, including LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Here are seven tips from Joe.
1. Understand your audience and the channels they are on
An important starting point for planning out which social media channels to use is to understand your audience, and how they are using social media.
‘You don’t necessarily need to be on every social media channel. The starting point should always be understanding which channels your audience are using and how that varies between different segments of your customer base. You’ve really got to do your research. If you’re clear on the channels you can use to engage with your audience, then the advantages can be huge.’
2. Play to the strengths of each channel
Knowing the differences between LinkedIn, TikTok and other social channels for audience engagement can help businesses find out the best way to use each channel to talk to their customers.
‘Every channel has different strengths. Many businesses use Facebook as a shop window displaying lots of key information such as their location, website and opening hours, so it helps connect with the brand. Twitter is good for having conversations with customers on topics of interest and helping build up communities. LinkedIn is slightly more formal in tone but has some great tools for engagement like groups and polls. And of course, TikTok is completely different, with far more visual and engaging content.’
3. Interact with your customers
Social media allows businesses to have direct conversations with their customers. To get the maximum value out of social media, Joe believes you need to be involved in an active dialogue with your audience.
‘Social media is a place to engage and interact with customers and prospects. It’s not a broadcast platform for one-way communication. It’s an excellent opportunity to have conversations with your audience on topics and issues that they’re really interested in and help build up a sense of community. It’s always worth spending time researching what these topics are.’
Joe emphasises that interacting on social media can then lead to valuable insights.
‘You can experience first-hand valuable feedback from customers via interaction, both positive and negative. Sometimes that can give you insight into what improvements need to be made. On the flip side, you can also find testimonials and advocates for your brand, and encourage people to share their stories.’
4. Show there’s a human behind the brand
In driving a conversation and engaging with your audience on social media, striking the right tone is important.
‘As a general rule, it’s good to be a bit more relaxed on social media and let that human side come out a bit more, although this will depend on your brand and tone of voice.’
For B2B brands showing a more ‘human side’ means you can appeal more directly to the people who work at the businesses you’re engaging with.
‘When you’re a B2B company, you’re not talking to the brand, you’re talking to the stakeholders and employees who work at that business. They are the customers you’re trying to talk to – it’s kind of like B2B2C. This is absolutely critical when you’re dealing with complaints so people know there is someone behind the account talking to you.’
5. Ensure your senior executives are authentic
Your leaders can also use social media for strong impact, but their interactions need to be relatable in order to resonate with their audience.
Joe explains ‘When your senior executives are posting on social media, the number one rule is that it needs to be authentic. You can brief them on how to post and suggest content, but you should try to avoid taking over an individual’s social media channel completely as you may lose that authenticity.’
6. Use the right tools
Running social media channels can be time-consuming. Thankfully there are a number of tools and apps that can help, some of which Joe regards as critical.
‘A scheduling tool is essential. This will help you to schedule content in advance, saving time and effort. There are quite a few on the market such as Loomly, Hootsuite and Meltwater. These allow you to spend a couple of hours scheduling all your content for the week ahead. You can add all your imagery and approved copy in one session, and that will save you a huge amount of time.’
Keeping track of what people are saying about you on social media also helps teams to derive valuable actionable insights.
‘It’s crucial to understand the sentiment of the responses to your social media posts. If the majority are negative, then you many need to take action. A sentiment analysis tool like Clarabridge or Onalytica can help. They can also help you with social listening to understand what customers are saying about you on social media in general.’
Finally, keeping an eye on your analytics can also support improvement.
‘Your analytics package can show you which posts are performing well and what your stats are. That’s really crucial to enhancing performance.’
7. Put the effort in to gain value
Managing social media channels requires commitment. Joe emphasises the importance of ensuring you actively manage any channel that you set up.
‘Don’t open up any social accounts or channels that you can’t maintain. There’s nothing worse than an underused channel! It’s better to start small rather than set up three channels all at once that you can’t support.’
Ultimately, the value that your business receives will reflect the effort that has been put in.
‘You get what you put in on social media. Don’t expect to post once a week and see a huge return. You have to dedicate time and effort to make social media a success for your business.’
Please note that O2 do not necessarily recommend or endorse any of the apps or sources mentioned in this article.