Whether you consider yourself a pro at social media marketing or the mere thought of it makes you break out into a cold sweat, you can always improve your strategy by creating a social networking plan of attack and sticking to it.
There’s a reason why social platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are worth billions of pounds besides the entertainment they provide: the millions of people looking at their screens, sharing and retweeting what they find interesting, are all customers of one brand or another. And they’re potential customers for your brand, if you have the right plan to grow your sales through targeted social media marketing. Whether you love or hate social media, formulating a strategy and growing your customer base using social platforms is a fact of life for ecommerce businesses. There’s nothing for it but to take the time, get stuck in, and embrace the dark side. But how does one even begin?
Attracting new customers, retaining existing customers, turning a certain percentage of your page views into sales, changing public perception of your brand are all reasonable goals. However, these goals all require different actions, so think about what you want before you start working to achieve it!
Know your audience. Have a picture in your mind of who your customer is before starting any target social media campaign so that you can focus your efforts on the platforms that they are most likely to frequent. LinkedIn users tend to be business people with degrees, while Instagram users tend to skew younger, with most users being under-25s.
What are your established competitors doing right, and what are they doing wrong? Which of their posts have the most likes, and what kind of posts are people sharing? Which posts generate the most discussion, and how can you mimic these successes? By seeing what brands in your industry are already doing, you can get a feel for what works and what doesn’t, avoiding their mistakes before you even start!
After you’ve done the basics, it’s time to get down to the hard work of creating your own social media strategy and, most importantly, sticking to it!
The most important thing to decide is what kind of content to post and when to post it. Here, it’s useful to consider each social media platform individually and create content that’s optimised for each one.
As we’ve discussed more in depth in a post about Tips To Get More Likes On Facebook, Facebook users love pictures. In fact, they post over 350 million pictures a day, and on top of that the Facebook algorithm favours photo posts over almost any other type of post (status-and-link posts, for example). The only thing that the Facebook algorithm is more likely to post on a feed is a text-only status post.
Twitter, on the other hand, doesn’t have an algorithm -- your tweets appear on your followers’ timelines as soon as you post them. That means, among other Twitter tips, you’ll need to schedule your tweets at the right time. Some people choose to publish theirs right before or right after the hour in order to target people getting out of meetings.
Tweet at 11:57 or 12:02 instead of at 12:00, for instance
If your target audience is younger, that may mean working a late-night post into your schedule. Also, since Twitter runs from moment to moment, fast responses are also a must when customers tweet you with questions or customer service requirements.
Google+ may seem like a mystery to most people, but it’s actually much more straightforward than other social media platforms because it’s a topical network. Users are already grouped into Communities according to the music, hobbies, or food that they love, so becoming an active member of Communities that make sense with your brand will give you a huge head start in terms of getting Google+ users to engage with your brand. You can even start your own Community!
For Pinterest, ensure that everything you post is aesthetically appealing -- it is, of course, about creating a virtual inspiration board, so make sure you’re posting inspirational and aspirational photos! Any original photos you upload should have your brand’s logo to build brand recognisability.
Instagram follows the same rule, as it’s an entirely visual medium, but the audience skews much younger. That means beautiful, cute, and funny images are king -- just make sure everything you post makes sense with your brand and appeals to your target audience! Don’t forget you can create images with text on them to communicate specific promotions to your audience, or just offer quotes and words of wisdom
All three social media diagrams are produced by Business2Community
For every social network, it’s important to remember that customers want engaging, useful content -- not a hard sales pitch. Nothing turns users off like the feeling that they’re being sold something. Instead, engage them in conversation, offer funny pictures to break up their workday, show them some behind-the-scenes footage of what it’s really like to own your own online boutique, or share your knowledge and expertise in the form of tips.
Once you’ve decided where and what to post, start scheduling your content! Decide how much to post per day -- the ‘sweet spot’ varies from platform to platform, and will require some trial and error -- and make a schedule so that your whole team knows what’s going on and when the next bit of content is expected.
Apps are an easy way to manage social media and schedule posts, with apps like HootSuite making it easier than ever to put in a bit of work, schedule everything, and put your social media accounts on autopilot for the rest of the day if necessary. Remember that users typically use social media on their commutes to work, during 11am and 3pm lulls during the workday, and after dinner. However, because of the global nature of your online boutique, timezone differences will play a factor so there’s no hard and fast rule.
Create an editorial calendar that clearly outlines what dates and times you will be posting blog entries, Facebook updates, Instagram pictures, and so on.
Example of a social media weekly calendar
Really, the only way to perfect your editorial calendar is through trial and error. And how do you decide, after all the trials, where your errors lay? Analytics!
Social media stats are a universe unto themselves, with entire firms dedicated to unlocking the mysteries that the numbers tell us. Luckily, there are tools that anyone can use to figure out what’s working, what’s not, and keep from making the same mistakes over and over.
Google Analytics, for example, can help you see where the traffic to your online store is coming from. Do they get there through searches, Pinterest or Facebook the most? Meanwhile, Facebook Insight tells you when your followers are online, how many people are seeing your posts, and who is interacting through which posts (through liking and sharing) so that you can see what kind of content is most successful.
Example of social media data produced by Google Analytics
HootSuite is a free app, but the Pro version offers in-depth analytics for other social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram. However, there are hundreds of free third-party analytics tools so, whether you can afford to pay for a service or not, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to analytics tools and should choose the one you find most intuitive.
Don’t forget to turn these analytics reports into action! If your editorial calendar looks the same week after week, you’re not monitoring your performance enough. Always ensure that you’re using stats to change your social media campaign in a way that will help you achieve your goals. Put out more of the content that is working, and scrap content that has low user engagement. Find out what social media networks are giving you the biggest return on your time investment, and decide whether you want to focus more on that platform. Numbers don’t lie, and they won’t steer you wrong!
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