With its widespread adoption and growth over the last two decades, social media has changed the way we interact and connect with each other, the way we share our thoughts, ideas and experiences and the ways by which we consume content. Likewise, social media has played a massive role in promotion and marketing, with businesses now furthering their brand identities and voices using various social media platforms.
The statistics show the reliance on social media by businesses to promote their brand and attract new customers. According to Infusionsoft, a whopping 71% of small businesses planned to use social media content to attract new customers in 2018. The relationship between businesses and consumers go both ways. It was found in a survey conducted by Sprout Social Index that 57% of consumers follow a particular brand on social media to learn about new products or services while 47% follow to stay up-to-date on company news.
The takeaway here? While businesses are actively using social media to promote their products and services and attract new customers, consumers are also using social media to connect with their favourite businesses and brands to learn about their latest offerings.
Of course, simply having a presence on social media alone does not guarantee success. A business needs to conduct research on its target audience, platforms it should be using to market to its audience, the type of content it should be posting and how frequently it should be posting it. Moreover, a business needs to identify its unique brand style and establish its own brand voice using social media.
Tip #1. Define your Audience
To use social media effectively, a business needs to first define its audience. A business’s target audience is a group of people that the business has identified as likely customers, based on shared demographic traits such as age, gender, socioeconomic status and geographic location.
Identifying the target audience allows a business to allocate its marketing resources more effectively by crafting marketing strategies based on the target demographic and methods of reaching its core audience.
The first step in identifying the target audience is thinking about the needs that a business’s products or services will meet. This can vary business to business. A jewelry store will have a target demographic that is vastly different than a small business owner of a burrito shop located next to a college campus.
If the product or service is general in nature, a business will not need to conduct extensive market research to identify its target audience. For example, a grocery store that serves the community will appeal to a wide demographic due to the essential nature of its products. On the other hand, if a business’s products/services appeal to a specific audience, then a business might need to gather data on its customers so it can focus its marketing efforts accordingly.
For example, an antique store in a wealthy neighborhood might have a target demographic of wealthy seniors between the ages of 60 and 80. The owner of the establishment, having recognized this, might use a peer to peer (P2P) marketing strategy whereby he has certain antique pieces on display at social gatherings and formal occasions, thus spurring conversations between attendees about the antique pieces on display and the store itself.
Social media has tools to facilitate the identification of a business’s target audience and collection of invaluable customer insight. A business can use customer insight tools on their platform of choice to identify the age, gender, education, income levels, location and interests, among other things, of users commenting, liking and interacting with their posts. Alternatively, businesses can have users opt into email survey campaigns on their website in exchange for coupons/special promotions. In short, there are countless ways in which today’s business can define its audience.
Tip #2. Platform of Choice
Once a business has defined its audience, it needs to choose the platform that is right for its business and its audience. This is a daunting task for many small businesses due to a lack of clear marketing goals and the wide number of social media platforms available today.
Before choosing a platform, a business should set specific goals, whether it be attracting new customers and increasing brand awareness, reaching out to existing customers and getting their feedback via complaints, questions and concerns or learning more about the needs, wants and habits of its customers.
Once goals have been set, a business needs to know the demographics of users on different social platforms. For example, 72% of American adult internet users use Facebook to some capacity, out of which 77% are women and 66% are men. The most prevailing age group on the platform is the 18 to 29 age group (82%). Researching demographics helps a business understand which platforms its target audience is using, which, in turn allows for more tailored and effective marketing efforts.
With advanced insights available today at the click of a fingertip, business owners can get a good picture of the average person using a particular platform. Through customer surveys and market research, businesses can identify where their target audience is hanging out.
Different platforms are good for different reasons. For example, Facebook, with its massive two billion monthly users worldwide, is good for generating new leads and can be used as an advertising platform to target specific audiences. If, let’s say, a new boutique business opening beside Square One wants to connect with members in the community, it can simply open up a new product page on Facebook, invite people to join and offer promotions and discounts to those that are social media members (Ex: Use of special code words promoted in groups for discounts).
A visual platform like YouTube or Instagram is great for marketing toward younger audiences with a penchant toward the Internet and digital technologies. For example, a drone supplier can promote its latest gadgets by uploading videos captured by the drone on YouTube or running a marketing campaign on Instagram. Another popular visual platform is Pinterest, which relies on user-uploaded images to drive other users to plan their purchases. For example, a bridal photographer can promote their services by uploading pictures of a recent wedding shoot on the platform.
Tip #3. Content is King
After having selected its platform, a business needs to identify the type of content it will post on social media. This, again, goes back to the business brand, its specific goals and the target audience.
Some content types can include:
- Articles/Blog posts
- Photographs and Videos
- Viral content (videos, memes, etc.)
- Product reviews/testimonials
A business needs to pair its goals, audience and platform of choice to create appropriate content. For example, an energy drink company might use Twitter to market to its young student demographic. To capture the attention of new consumers, it might decide to use a viral marketing strategy whereby it will engage with users using playful banter and post quirky, funny tweets to promote its latest products.
Contrastingly, an owner of a holistic bath product business might have identified their target demographic as 20-something college educated women. To market to the target audience, the owner might start a health and wellness blog that discusses the benefits of using natural products and promote the blog/business on social media.
A recent marketing trend we are seeing all over social media is letting users market a business’s products with user generated content. Social media platforms such as Twitter and Tik Tok, both of which enjoy high levels of popularity among Gen Z and Millennials, encourage user generated content. Marketers often promote social media challenges involving big brands. This is a particularly effective strategy as new studies show 79% of people say user-generated content highly impacts their purchasing decisions.
Tip #4. Consistency is Key
The importance of posting on social media consistently cannot be understated. Social media thrives on new and fresh content- by going weeks or months between posts, it is harder for a business to capture consumers’ attention since it is unlikely that they are seeing a business’s message frequently enough for it to stand out.
Posting frequently also helps a business cut through the noise; in the crowded social media space, businesses have to do whatever it takes to gain and hold consumers’ attention. The attention economy today requires products and services to be sold and marketed not only on their merit of practicality, cost savings and favourability among consumers, but also with symbolism and narratives that relay the brand most effectively.
Tip #5. Choosing a Brand Tone
Establishing an appropriate brand tone is an important facet of a business’s marketing strategy. The brand tone comes from the language and style used in a business’s marketing media.
The target audience is a big factor is establishing the right brand tone. If a business is marketing toward a young college crowd, then it can market using a funny, casual or informal tone. If, on the other hand, it is marketing to older professionals, then it should consider a serious, informative brand tone. Knowing the target audience preferences, lifestyles and likes/dislikes through research and analytics would greatly help in this.
Next, the brand tone should match the products and services offered by a business. If the business deals with sensitive issues, such as healthcare, finances and legal matters, then it should employ brand tone that conveys professionalism and gravitas. Sensitive matters such as these are not to be joked with, and so the brand tone needs to be respectful and serious.
For example, a law firm will market to its audience in a professional, informative tone that lets consumers know that they are in safe hands. Likewise, a health care provider will market to its audience in a way to let them know they are professional and reliable.
If, on the other hand, the business deals with less sensitive issues, then a tone of informality, casualness and fun can complement the brand well. For example, a children’s party store might market to children and parents using a informal, “fun” tone.
Lastly, the brand tone should be an extension of a business- it needs to be consistent with the rest of the brand identity. It needs to match, for example, the logo, design, website layout and even colours used by the business to convey its brand. A company that does this well is Mooala, which specializes in plant-based creamers. Its brand tone is consistent with its overall brand- the company does a good job conveying a light-hearted tone through the use of language, visual imagery and colours on its website, promotional media and product packaging.
So there you have it–5 tips to market your business with social media. As a tool, social media has immense power to influence consumers and add to a brand’s appeal. While it may be daunting for businesses to market on social media considering the work required, the results will certainly speak for themselves.