• Ryan Haynes

Social media tips for 2021

Updated: Aug 23

How to Bring Your Social Media to Life


With 3.78 billion people using social media - almost half the world’s population - it’s something you can’t ignore as part of an integrated marketing strategy. But how can you use social channels to reach your target audience and just what should you be sharing with them?


Go Where Your Audience Is


Facebook remains the world’s largest social media site by registered users, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right channel for you. LinkedIn is the leading b2b platform, but are your buyers actually using it? Consider who your target audience is and what channels they use.


Is your software company prioritising B2B sales to HR departments? Do you run a tour operator, specialising in travel in China? What your business sells and to whom should shape what channels you prioritise. If you’re not sure where your audience is, survey your current database on their social media use for a guide. Otherwise build your buyer profiles and speak to existing customers. With social media, just as with all marketing activities: listen first, plan second, create third, and finally - engage.


Overview of Social Media Platforms


There’s literally thousands of social media channels ranging from the niche to the tech giants like Twitter and YouTube, so do your research and go where your audience is.


LinkedIn remains king of the B2B market, with YouTube and Twitter also working well for many business types. With the power of sheer numbers, Facebook and Instagram are the leaders for B2C in the Americas and Northern Europe. Pinterest is often home to design gurus producing everything from beautiful baked goods to exquisite wedding dresses; that’s because its visual style appeals to those sectors. If you do business in China, consider QQ and Wechat.


Social still includes forums, and community networks - so maybe it’s time to go ultra niche for the audience you need to speak to. People will go where they get the best insight and resources, so don’t assume anything.


Organic viral reach isn’t what it was. Today, TikTok is all the rage, but before long new profiles will be fighting the noise and traction will fall. So make sure you have the budget to invest in boosting posts and target specific audience groups to maximise visibility. Even if you have a strong following, not all of your audience will see your posts, let alone engage with them. The median engagement for a Facebook post across all industries is a mere 0.08%, whilst Instagram tops it at 0.98% - however that’s down about 25% in 2021 compared to 2020.


Where Less is More


Think quality over quantity: producing regular content on fewer channels is better than spreading yourself thinly across multiple social networks. Don’t waste time creating content that won’t be seen by the right people for your business, or even creating a profile on a channel that isn’t relevant to your audience.


Ideas for Social Media Success


There’s not a ‘one size fits all’ approach to building social content, and - despite what some agencies may try and sell you - there’s no guarantee that your content will go viral, making you a household name overnight. But there’s some essential steps that every business should consider when devising a social media strategy:


1. Create a plan: The old adage from Benjamin Franklin has never been truer than with social media: “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” Social media can turn into a rabbit hole if not treated like any other marketing channel: you must have clear objectives and a strategy to get there if you’re going to be successful on social. And make sure messaging aligns to all your other channels; don’t let it be a lone ranger.


2. Content is not about your sales messages: Good social media marketing is about engagement. You don’t want to be ‘that’ person at a dinner party who no-one wants to sit next to because all you can talk about is your job (unless you’re a cat groomer, in which case you will already own the internet!).


Likewise for your online persona: you don’t want to be ‘that’ company that continuously bangs on about your special offers and your latest products. The hints in the name - be social!


Engage with people who are talking about you or events relevant to your wider business. Join in wider conversations around topics relevant to your wider business sphere. Show your personality - both of the brand and, most importantly, the people behind it.


3. Tap into the trends: Whilst having a plan (see step 1) is key, you also need to be prepared to throw that plan out the window! When Weetabix suggested adding baked beans to its cereal, Twitter exploded. Other food companies quickly jumped on board, mocking the combination, with even British police forces and the US Embassy joining the conversation. That was content they couldn’t have pre-planned, but by reacting quickly - and with humour and personality - companies were able to extend their reach on the back of Weetabix’s virality.


Most social channels have a ‘trending’ feature to allow you to see what’s current, and there’s a number of online tools to assess the reach of hashtags.


4. Be visual: A picture is really worth a thousand words. People spend an average of 144 minutes a day on social media. Having strong imagery - both static and video - will help grab their attention as they scroll through their social feeds over lunch.


Invest in good photography and video, particularly if you’re a luxury brand. For smaller businesses or those with a more quirky brand, don’t be afraid to use self-produced content. It often doesn’t need to be perfect, but it may need to be quick to tap into wider trends.


5. Sharing is caring: Have great feedback from customers? Did you win an award or feature in a national newspaper? Share content from other channels such as your PR efforts or blog post on your social networks. Not only does this help your audience share your successes, it can drive traffic to your own website. The reverse is also true - tell people where they can find you on social by sharing your channel icons on your website, in your marketing emails and on email footers.


Final Thoughts


Social media is the most fluid of all marketing channels. You can control what you put out there but you can’t control how people react. It’s a window to your brand, not the shop floor.


Your content should showcase the personality of your brand and its people, not exist just to push sales messages. Speaking with a clear voice and presenting content that is authentic to your brand are key for building a network.


Be active, know your audience and your goals, so you can work effectively towards achieving your social success.

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