So you’ve heard that you need to start using social media for your budding business. The articles and statistics you’ve read have convinced you that social media is a key factor to the success of a business in today’s online world. 

You’ve probably set up Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, but at this point, you’ve been staring at the screen with a blank look on your face for way too long. You’re absolutely stuck on what to do next, am I right? 

Don’t panic, because in this article we’re going to cover all the basics of how to start out strong on social media and how to effectively use social media for your business. 

It all starts with the who, what, when, where, and why

Using Social Media for Your Business & How to Start

First Determine The “Why”: Why Are You Doing This?

Determine what social media success looks like for your business. Know your goals. This is going to ensure that you stay on track with using your social account to your advantage.

Harvey MacKay once brilliantly said, “If you have no destination, you’ll never get there”. That statement is super relevant to social media. 

Be specific in your end goal so you know when you get there. But what kind of goals are we talking about? 

Here are 5 of the most common goals that businesses set for their social media before they start:

  1. Grow revenue. Whether you’re signing people up for your webinar or selling vacuum cleaners, this goal is aimed at making moola. To make the goal more effective, make it more specific. “We’re going to sign up 50 people for the webinar by the 1st of next month.”
  2. Increase brand awareness. You want to get your company’s name out there so that people start to recognize your brand and get behind it. This is mostly measured by how many followers you have and how many of them are interacting and engaging with your posts. 
  3. Drive traffic to your website. Your website is the greatest, and you want people to take a look. Social media is a highly effective way to drive followers to visit your website. Putting a link to your website prominently on your profile description is one example of how to do this. 
  4. Generate new leads. The first step in the sales process (also known as the sales funnel) is to generate leads. From there you can nurture those leads towards their final decision of buying your product / choosing your service.
  5. Build a community around your brand. Your goal is to make your followers feel like they’re part of a community. Once you succeed in that, your followers will naturally start to spread the word about your business.

A good example is creating a Facebook group. Coca-cola has a Facebook group called Kindness Lives Here, where people can share feel-good stories. This group takes Coca-Cola fans and turns them into community members.

Next, Identify The “Who” (not the band): Who Are You Speaking To?

You’re going to want to get clear on who your target audience is. If you don’t start out with this information in the front of your mind, you’re going to fail to connect with your followers. 

Once you’ve determined your target audience you’ll be able to cater to them. You’ll be able to speak in a voice they can relate to. You’ll be able to create content that is relevant to their interests.

 If, for example, you have an eCommerce store that sells hip clothing for men, your target audience would be something like, “men, aged 22 – 36, interested in fashion and style”.   

The “Where”: Where Are You Going to Find Your Audience?

Does your target audience spend the most time on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram? Normally there will be a majority of your audience who choose to regularly use one specific social platform over others. 

Fashion students would most likely use Instagram more than other platforms, for example. This handy chart will help you figure out where your target audience spends the most time.

Now, Determine The “When”: When Are the Best Times to Post to Social Media?

Your target audience is more active on their favorite social media platform at specific times. If you post at these specific times, you’ll have much more of a chance of getting your message out, and getting more engagement. 

You don’t have to set an alarm for these times each day… it’s best to use a social media scheduling software like Hootsuite or Sprout Social. Here is a very simple overview of when to post on your platform of choice. 

Best Times to Post to Social Media Platforms

Facebook

  • For B2B (Business to Business) brands, the best time is between 9 am and 2 pm EST on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. 
  • For B2C (Business to Customer) brands, the best time is 12 pm EST on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. 

Twitter

  • B2B brands: between 9 am and 4 pm EST on Monday or Thursday, with 11 am to 1 pm EST being the optimum time. 
  • B2C brands: at 12 pm or 1 pm EST from Monday to Wednesday. 

Instagram

  • 12 pm to 1 pm EST, Monday to Friday. 
  • But it varies hugely by the industry you’re in.

Last, Determine The “What”: What Kind of Content Are You Going To Post?

Now that you’ve got all of the factors above clear in your head, you’re ready to begin posting. But what are you supposed to post? You know the answer is “good content” but what exactly makes good content? The best content has one or more of the following characteristics…

Engaging

You want to get your audience interested enough to join in the conversation with your brand.

Five examples of engaging social media content:

  1. Ask a fun question
  2. Ask a ‘true or false’ question
  3. Ask followers to caption a photo
  4. Ask your followers for their preference over 2 choices
  5. Ask your followers what they think your next blog post should be about

Shareable

You want to create content that is easily shareable between your followers and THEIR followers.

Five examples of shareable social media content:

  1. Start a giveaway that encourages followers to share
  2. Post an infographic
  3. Post a funny or amazing video
  4. Post a quiz that allows followers to tell their friends their result
  5. Ask your followers to “tag a friend” (make the post relatable and fun). 

Relevant

It’s no good posting anything if your followers can’t relate to it. Be sure to choose relevant topics to post about.

Five examples of relevant social media topics:

  1. Post about a trending topic in your niche (be careful to not get too opinionated)
  2. Share a how-to video on something that your followers find difficult
  3. Celebrate the season
  4. Celebrate a national day (I swear there’s a national day of anything and everything)
  5. Celebrate that the weekend is coming (even early in the week!)

Visual

Statistics have shown that visual posts (especially videos) perform much, much better than ones that are just words.

Five examples of visual social media content:

  1. Use Canva.com to make simple and visually appealing images to go with each post (Canva is free)
  2. Post an infographic (visual AND shareable)
  3. Post a surprising behind-the-scenes video
  4. Post a selfie of you at work
  5. Make a throwback post with an image from the past

Now get out there and kick some social media butt!

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