How to Boost Your Social Media Strength
Social platforms — like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Twitter, TikTok, and YouTube — have not stopped growing in popularity. The Digital 2020 Global Report confirms that active social media users have now passed the 3.8 billion mark.
Without a doubt, social media is a vital tool for building your personal or business brand, connecting with potential or existing customers, and advertising your products or services.
But the problem is that all the online noise these days makes it harder and harder to get noticed, much less gain a loyal following.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through the best ways, in 2020 and beyond, to ramp up your social muscle, for a sustainable Return on Investment (ROI).
Avoiding Common Mistakes
Have you only used social media, so far, for keeping in contact with your friends and family? Are you now looking to use it for monetization, but don’t know where to start? Here are some useful articles to get you started on the right track:
- A Beginner’s Guide To Social Media Advertising
- Want More Eyeballs? Social Media to the Rescue
- Why Social Media Should Be Your Secret Business Tool
Now let’s look at the most common mistakes people make with their social media approach, whether you’re a newbie, or have existing profiles that aren’t really getting anywhere.
Spreading Too Thin
All too often people and businesses sign up to every social media platform they can think of, then either post weak or very intermittent content. In other words, they’re probably spreading themselves too thin.
You’ll see much better results if you go with quality over quantity. Focus on building traction with consistent activity on one or two platforms, then branch out later. Also be aware that you don’t necessarily need to have a presence on every mainstream social platform. Different types of brands, products, and services do better on some channels than others. Take the time to research where your competitors and target audience have a strong presence.
Neglecting Smaller Details
When it comes to social profiles, out-of-date info may seem insignificant to a busy entrepreneur. But the small details can have a big impact on impressing people enough to trust your brand. Be scrupulous about keeping all your details up to date and in good shape, including a logo that looks 2020-fresh.
These days it can be hard even to get your posts seen, so you want to be sure you put your best foot forward. This includes consistent branding across all your channels, from your website (if you have one) to your online avatars and social profiles. Also, ensure they’re all linked together. These things may seem minor, but they build strong brand recognition over time.
And going back to the point about spreading yourself too thin, be sure you don’t schedule so much content for your social platforms that it ends up with typos or weak writing because it was rushed. This can do more harm to your social presence than if you didn’t post at all.
Another mistake the inexperienced make is posting only about their products or services. The key to building a loyal following on social platforms is providing content that people enjoy or find useful. As with all the best marketing, focus around customer needs, rather than your needs.
It’s also a good idea to post content from your industry. The goal is to establish your brand as a knowledgeable industry leader. This builds brand trust far more effectively than telling people how great you are.
Being engaging is what it’s all about. The general rule of thumb for social content each month is around 20% promotional posts, 40% engagement posts, and 40% educational posts. Ultimately, if you keep what your target audience wants at the forefront of your mind at all times, all your posts will be successful at engaging their interest.
2020 Social Trends
There are a number of interesting trends and statistics from Hootsuite and SmartInsights to help steer you in the right direction within the current social landscape. Here are some of the key findings:
- Ever Shortening Attention Spans — the average social media user now has 8.3 different social accounts (16-24-year-olds have 9.4). One in four people are starting to cap their daily social media time. People typically spent three hours, 24 minutes on social media daily (for ages 16–24 it’s three hours). All of this means people have increasingly limited amounts of time and attention to give, so you need to make it count.
- Escalating Social Ad Spend — this is forecasted to increase 20% to $43 billion USD in 2020. The competition is fierce, and individuals or small businesses can’t match the big budgets that larger companies have to play with. So it’s crucial to create content that is optimized for what people are searching for, delivers what they want, and engages them enough to keep coming back for more.
- A Fine Line — 70% of social users expect brands to be globally conscious and take a public stand on issues. But 55% of also people say they would boycott brands whose views don’t align with theirs. It’s very much a double-edged sword. Learn how to navigate this: Brands Creating Change in the Conscious Consumer Era.
- Brand Discovery — 52% of online brand discovery happens in public social feeds. That’s a huge figure when you consider how hard it’s getting to drive people to an individual website (everyone and their cat seems to have one these days). That’s why it’s so important to put your best foot forward in your social presence.
- Specialization — social users are increasingly turning to specific platforms for specific networking activities. It’s crucial now to find out where your particular audience goes, and what type of content or activity they’re looking for on each platform.
- Shift to Private — 63% of people these days feel most comfortable sharing and talking about content in private messaging services like Facebook Messenger (1.3 billion) and WhatsApp (1.6 billion users). This is a big opportunity to stand out in an area that’s not saturated yet. Learn more: How to Create Successful Facebook Messenger Ads and WhatsApp Marketing for Business: A Guide to Getting Started.
Three Golden Rules
There are three key steps that will take your social media presence from treading water to strong, ongoing progress. If you keep these Golden Rules in mind at all times, you can’t go wrong:
Gather business intelligence
With so much online competition, it’s vital to make the time for ongoing research. Having a clear strategic plan is what delivers good ROI results on social activity. Take a deep dive into these areas:
- Competitors — what’s working for them? What are their weak areas? What platforms do they put most of their efforts into? How are they marketing their products or services? What do their top performing ads look like?Your objective is to learn from them. But don’t simply copy your competitors, because the way to gain loyal customers is to offer them something they don’t get elsewhere.
- Audience — stay on top of what your target audience likes and doesn’t like, what tone of voice they best respond to, where they hang out the most, and what type of content they enjoy on each type of platform. Audience behavior can change as swiftly as bird swarms depending on what’s trending, so be vigilant.
Keep things interesting
Modern social media users are spoiled for choice. It’s not going to cut it anymore to simply post content that’s more or less the same on each platform. To grow a following, you’ll need to post something unique on each social channel.
The best way to do this is to maintain a Social Calendar. The way that pros go about it is to build a bank of content that’s ready to publish at the touch of a button, so they can get on with other things. It’s easy to get caught up and fall behind on social activity, this prevents that.
Ecommerce pros also make sure that they build strong campaign content into their Social Calendar around important retail dates, like Valentine’s, Black Friday, or Christmas. They’ll start ramping things up a month before the big date, to make sure they stand out in their audience’s minds as a place to get great discounts or other enticing offers.
All in all, the more consistent you are with posting interesting content, the more you’re building a solid foundation for a loyal following. And once you gain a customer’s loyalty, they will also recommend you to their colleagues, friends, and family.
The whole point of social media is communication, which is a two-way street. Put time aside each day, even if it’s twenty minutes, to respond to your audience when they comment or like your posts. While being professional of course, show people you’re not just a cold business entity. Be a human being they can relate to.
It also goes without saying that you definitely don’t want to react angrily if you get any trolling behavior, because that only encourages such behavior. Always be polite, and own up to any mistakes you may have made. If you can calm an angry customer, people will be impressed by your integrity. Social alchemy is a powerful thing.
We’ve explored the main mistakes that newbies or the inexperienced make, which stall the growth of social media presence — signing up to every social platform instead of focusing on quality, not realizing that little details can seriously impact brand trust, and forgetting that the content you post should be focused on what your audience likes (not what you want to sell them).
Looking at the 2020 Social Trends we described will help you get your finger firmly on the pulse of where social media is going, so you can stay ahead of the curve.
Never forget the three Golden Rules. If practiced consistently they will definitely bring you strong results. Gather ongoing business intelligence so you can take strategic action. Keep your content interesting to continuously engage people. Develop a connection with your audience by directly and authentically communicating with them.
To learn even more, listen to the interesting audio talk with our global Social Media Director, Pino Bonetti, about the secret sauce for raising your profile on social.