Make social media work for your business by using this guide

By Kelly Borth, Chief Strategy Officer at GREENCREST

Although social media has become mainstream practice for businesses, many executives are still uncertain how to put their best foot forward with social media strategy.

If done right, social media is the perfect platform to give your brand a personality, and build brand affinity and awareness. It requires clear objectives and a smart strategy in order to engage the right audience with the right messages.

As a marketing professional, I’ve witnessed the success in building online relationships, increasing social media website referrals, receiving valuable feedback from customers and generating leads. By instilling social media best practices, you, too, can reap the benefits — no matter your industry.

Create a social media-marketing plan

To begin, perform an audit and run a competitive analysis of your social media profiles and activity.

Next, develop a plan. Having a strategic social media-marketing plan is what sets great social media campaigns apart from campaigns that waste time and dollars.

Know your audience so you can post content they will find interesting, helpful or entertaining. What are your social media goals and objectives? Are you looking to increase your brand awareness or website traffic? Do you want to increase social media conversions and sales leads?

Brand your profiles

It’s important that you stay professional and on-brand — even on social media.

Take advantage of all the opportunities each platform offers businesses to brand themselves. Design an attractive and professional Facebook cover photo, Twitter background or LinkedIn banner consistent with your website and off-line marketing materials.

Develop content

When it’s time to develop content, there are a few social media best practices to remember:

1. Create a content schedule. When you create a schedule that designates when to post different types of content, you can develop content more quickly. Your audience will begin to expect certain posts on specific days. So, you might post a special offer on Mondays, a helpful tip on Tuesdays and behind-the-scenes pictures on Fridays.

2. Post daily. Many companies believe that posting once or twice a week is sufficient, but it dramatically reduces the people you’re reaching. Not everyone is online at the same time or when your post is made — a typical post has a lifespan of 30 minutes.

Some B2B businesses can get away with posting once per day, but most should post three to five times per day. Also know which hours your audience is online. Generally, business professionals are on social media before the workday, during lunchtime and after the workday.

However, LinkedIn may garner some relevant traffic during the workday, and Pinterest usually sees the best engagement late morning and mid-afternoon.

3. Don’t oversell or undersell. Apply the 80/20 rule when posting content and sales messages. Make sure 80 percent of posts focus on engaging your audience, such as asking questions and including a call-to-action. Your sales and promotional messages should make up about 20 percent of content.

4. Make it fun. After all, you’re on a “social” network. People are looking for content that is entertaining, informative or interesting. And most importantly, they’re looking for content that’s relevant to your business!

Adhering to these best practices will lay a good foundation for your social networking and engagement efforts — and lead to the results you want.

From Smart Business. Read more by Kelly Borth.