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Social media marketing is one of the best ways to reel in audiences both new and old. In fact, social marketing has a much higher lead-to-close rate than outbound, rated at over 100% higher. That’s because it opens up so many doors and opportunities for businesses big and small. To grow quickly and steadily, you need to be able to reach a wide audience that is continuously evolving. Without an active social media presence, this is an incredibly difficult – if not impossible – prospect for many organizations. Small businesses especially, benefit from the added exposure social media networks like Facebook and Twitter can offer.

That explains why over 84% of B2B marketers use social media in one form or another. It gives you a much broader reach than other types of marketing, boosts on-site SEO, builds brand loyalty and fosters close relationships with your local community and supporters.

Of course, it’s not just a matter of if you’re using it, it’s a matter of how. You could have an incredibly robust and longstanding presence on social media, yet see little to no gains concerning your audience and loyalty. Why? Well, the short answer is because you’re probably doing it all wrong.

So, how do you do it right?

1. Find the Ideal Platform

It may seem like a good idea to spread yourself across as many networks as possible. After all, there are so many choices. There’s Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat and many more. The problem is, you probably don’t have the workforce, time or other resources to devote to all of the above networks. Your focus, instead, should be on one or two of the most ideal platforms for your target audience.

More importantly, use statistical and customer data to discern which platform is right for you. There are multitudes of other platforms that constitute as “social” that you may overlook. Online gaming and surrounding social forums or discussion boards are other forms of social networking most brands forget to focus on.

The average US internet user spends about 33 hours per month on the Internet,  with 8 of those hours dedicated to social media or social communities. We certainly know they’re putting in the time. That’s not the concern here. The real question is where they are using that time. Which networks? Which platforms and devices? How can you best reach them?

The good news is that there are a variety of analytics and modern statistical tools to help you discover this information and put it to use. A lot of it also falls in line with ingenuity, like FX Networks brilliant use of the character Chip Baskets on LinkedIn to promote a new dark comedy airing on the channel.

2. Connect with Your Audience

So many marketing blogs and news networks peddle delivering quality content that your audience “deeply cares” about. That is remarkably important, but the topic of your content also matters. For example, if 70% to 90% of your social posts are promotional, no one is going to pay any attention. Having one or two promotional and self-interest posts scattered in is great. Too many, and you over saturate your channels, leading to customers ignoring or blocking you out entirely.

Social media at its core is about connecting with your fellow community members. As a business, you should be communicating and reaching out to both local and remote customers. Find out what they value most in your products. What have they come to expect from you, and how have you garnered their loyalty?

Most importantly, humanize your brand by sharing information about company culture, internal events, businesses processes and more. Social media is also about personality, and adding a human element will resonate with your followers. GE’s old – but good – 36SecondScienceFair campaign on Vine and Tumblr is an exemplary case of this strategy working out for the best.

3. Do Use Visual Content, Particularly Video

There’s a reason networks like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+ and many others thrive on visual content. It’s because people love it. 37% of marketers say that visuals are the most important type of content they use, second only to blogging. Additionally, 74% of social media marketers rely on visual assets, which includes images, infographics and similar media, in their marketing campaigns, ahead of blogs at 68% and videos at 60%.

You’ll notice that in that last statistic both images and video hold a significant share. That’s because visual content resonates most with audiences. Social users the world over love to watch video and image-based content. It’s time you started incorporating it into your social campaigns if you haven’t already. More specifically, create unique, engaging visual and video content that your customers will consume, enjoy and share readily.

4. Drop the Online Only Attitude

Believe it or not, social media also has a local or physical presence in many cases too. Facebook and similar networks allow users to “check in” via location data to stores, businesses and restaurants. In this way, users are still online, but doing it while interacting with the real world. Take a page from their book and do the same.

Strike out into the world and your local communities and organize events. Spread the word about these events and invite patrons via your social media channels and discussion boards. The president of Mericle Commercial Real Estate Services, for instance, joined up with worldwide leaders from Isuzu to celebrate the grand opening of the Center of Excellence. He shared his experience on LinkedIn and Twitter too.

Not only does this lend credence to the idea that their business or brand cares about the community, but it also shows them actively out and about interacting with their neighbors. It builds trust, loyalty and, most importantly, lasting relationships with both partners and customers.

Another company that does an excellent job of engaging with local communities is Airbnb. For an example, take a look at their “We Are Here” campaign.

5. Look to Your Peers

In business, competition is everywhere — even in the most unlikely of places. You could have two seemingly unrelated companies in separate industries, competing over the same customers. That’s why it’s a much better plan to concern yourself with the activities of all your peers, as opposed to just your closest rivals.

Did a local mom and pop shop hit upon an incredibly successful viral campaign recently? Pay attention and take note of what they did that made their campaign special. Why did their customers and audience react so well to the content? What did they gain? What did they lose from doing this? These are all important aspects of marketing, in general, that often are overlooked because we have our heads down, focused on our current strategies or processes.

Notice a brand that is particularly great at capturing YouTube views? Reach out or watch their strategies and try to implement the same things for your own YouTube campaign. The opposite is just as true. Take note of everything, including the positives and negatives, and use that data to fine-tune your processes.

6. Mobile First

Mobile internet traffic surpassed desktop for the first time recently, and it will continue to hold a large share of the market for the foreseeable future. That’s because mobile devices and modern smartphones are incredibly convenient. They put the power in the user’s hand, giving them more freedom to engage, consume and interact when and where they want to.

In your endless campaign to boost social exposure, don’t overlook or ignore mobile users. Concerning websites and brand portals, the impact is undeniable. You need a mobile-friendly version of your site or storefront. How does that translate to social?

A large majority of social users are browsing via their mobile devices. That means optimizing content, text, visuals and everything else for the mobile user. Yes, networks like Facebook handle a lot of this automatically for you. It’s still up to you, however, to deliver quality content — especially visuals — that doesn’t bog down or interfere with their experiences.

 

Whether you’re just starting out on social media or have been running social campaigns since the early days of Facebook, these tips can help you reach your target audience more effectively. The bottom line? Meet your customers where they are and connect with them on a personal level with your content. Do that, and you’ll start building an online following in no time.

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