The weather outside may be frightful, but social media is still as hot as hot cocoa during the holidays. Family gatherings, long shopping lines and extended time off funnels people to the one vice they can’t seem to break—checking social media incessantly.
This extra screen time provides an ample audience for retailers to engage with, which is perfect because small businesses typically have extra time and resources to spend on social media during the holiday shopping season…Not! We know you’re busy and need to focus your efforts on what will provide the most bang for your buck. So, how do you prioritize your marketing efforts?
Here at BrandGlue, a social media agency, we get a lot of questions from friends, colleagues, and even complete strangers about how to do effective social media marketing with limited resources. And the one thing we tell tell everyone who asks: Work smarter, not harder.
At the end of the day, businesses care about their bottom line. Rather than focusing on numbers of tweets or impressions, they care most about earning more money, as they should! This requires a careful consideration about how we spend our time and effort. If there’s one thing that separates the pros from the minor leagues in social media, it’s precision. You don’t have to do everything. You just have to do the right things, at the right times, and do them well. To help you get started with the right things, we’ve put together 4 tips to keep you from looking like a newbie on social media:
Know your audience
The first step to creating effective social media is to know your audience. Understanding who you’re trying to engage with will help you decide where, what and how to engage with them.
Ask yourself: Who are your customers? What are their interests? When are they using social media and on which platforms? What benefit will they gain if they follow, listen and engage with you on social? Answering these questions will give you a solid idea of which social networks to focus on, when to post and what types of content to push out to ensure maximum customer engagement.
Pro tip: if you’re working with limited resources and time, choose one to three social platforms to focus on. Post to those platforms as a brand that your customers genuinely want to connect with. Show that you understand them, care about what they care about and emulate the kind of lifestyle they want to live.
Know your goals
As Antoine de Saint-Exupery once said, and countless Pinterest pins have quoted, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” What are you trying to accomplish on social media? Set goals accordingly. These will inform your KPIs, or key performance indicators, that will help measure whether or not your efforts are actually working. Are you trying to drive traffic to your website? Decrease shopping cart abandonment? Increase customer loyalty? Improve customer experience? Choose your top two to three goals and decide how you will measure them.
A quick note on this: Don’t be afraid to fail. If something doesn’t work, stop doing it. Pivot. Try something else. Measuring outcomes will help you focus on what does and doesn’t work and market more effectively in the future.
Know your social platforms
Once you know your audience and goals, the next step is to understand the social platforms and craft your posts and schedule accordingly. Facebook is the social equivalent of water cooler chatter. Twitter is a quick text to a friend. Instagram is a rehearsal dinner. Snapchat is a Saturday morning in your pajamas. LinkedIn is meeting with a client. Just as you would behave differently in each of these contexts, you should also post and interact differently on each of these social channels.
Know social best practices
If there’s anything that can tank your reputation on social, it’s not being aware of best practices. It’s the digital equivalent of knowing how to dress for the occasion. Show up to a fancy restaurant in jeans and flip flops and you’re bound to get some rude looks. The same is true if you ignore some of these basic social media rules:
- Be human: In literature, this is called personification. Allow your brand to take on human qualities and feel human feelings, such as empathy, joy, and hope. Social media is, at its core, social.
- The 80/20 rule: Share out content that is 80% engaging and helpful, and 20% highlighting products and promotions. Start creeping above the 20% level and you risk people unfollowing you, never to see any of your social posts again.
- Good images and videos are key: The first thing people will notice is your image or video, so make sure they are high quality and engaging. Choose sharp and clear images. Then, customize them, brand them, and by all means, test them to see what your customers like best. The same goes for video, which is becoming a major player in social.
- Shorten links: Always use a link shortener like Bitly or Buffer. Long links can harm your engagement numbers. Plus, link shorteners allow you to measure clicks so you can measure ROI!
- Hashtags: Don’t overuse hashtags. Never use hashtags on LinkedIn because they don’t work, and only use them on Facebook for branding purposes. Don’t use more than two per tweet, and no more than eleven on Instagram. We could write a whole post on hashtags, but we’ll leave it at that.
- Pay to play: More and more we are seeing social become a pay to play game. There’s a chance your post could go viral, but it’s not honestly very likely. So, don’t bank on it. It’s similar to playing the lottery; you have to invest a lot of time and resources but have little to no promise it will yield any return. Instead, invest in social advertising. This is more like the stock market. There is definitely still risk involved, but it’s a more solid bet.
While social media might seem overwhelming, we can’t emphasize the importance of the above tips enough. Taking the time to learn these four techniques will ensure that you are working smarter (not harder) and set you up for much better success, garnering increased brand awareness and sales for your online store.
And always remember: If at first you don’t succeed, test, test and try again. Failure isn’t a bad word—it’s necessary to the learning process. Now go grab your piece of the ecommerce holiday pie on social media!
Have any questions? Ask them in the comments below and we’ll be happy to answer!
About the author
Beth Catron is the Lead Community Manager at BrandGlue where she is a brand ambassador for her clients. Born and raised in the Silicon Valley, she's always been early adopter of social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Instagram. When she's not championing social campaigns for clients on the interwebs, she enjoys cheering on Stanford football, going to concerts, and spending time with her family.