Social networks have, to a large extent, defined the way we work and live. Not only do these conversational tools ignite debate and broaden networks, but in a very real sense they nourish a collective consciousness, an understanding of what it means to be alive in the world right here, right now.
From a business standpoint, there’s never been a better time to harness the power of this 21st-century medium to gain clients and generate leads. We’re not talking about showy brand waving: we’re talking about using social media to get clients on the phone and through the door. To leverage apps used by billions to acquire new business and make meaningful connections.
Sounds easy, doesn’t it? But the truth is, while the rewards are great, getting social media marketing right can be a challenge. There are a myriad of powerful management tools and services available, an array of techniques and stratagems which promise to put your brand in front of prospective clients and capture their interest. Social media platforms, lest we forget, are crowded spaces. How can you make yourself heard above the noise? How will you differentiate your brand? And is landing your dream client actually realistic?
Here are 4 actionable tips to ensure your social media strategy gets the results you crave.
1. Build Your Following
It may sound obvious, but growing your audience online is fundamental if you wish to attract real world clients. And not just on one platform either, but across all key channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn etc). Do market research, find out where your audience is, and tailor your online strategy accordingly.
Nurturing organic reach is certainly possible but requires time, effort, creativity and consistency. Mainly it demands an appreciation for what constitutes valuable content (Analytics is your friend), as well as an intrinsic knowledge of your audience’s expectations. Few businesses do organic search well, and social media is increasingly becoming a pay-to-play platform, necessitating investment if you want to appear in the feeds of those out of your network. According to a recent study carried out by marketing firm HubSpot, Facebook users now see just 2% of followed organic pages in their feeds, with the rest coming from paid advertising. If your goal is to make introductions, kickstart conversations, generate leads and get referrals, social advertising is a must. Which brings us nicely to Tip #2.
2. Use Ads
Promoting your business via social media can seem overwhelming, but if done correctly you’ll quickly realize the net gains to be made. By carrying out highly targeted campaigns, you can reach the people you want when they’re most active, and garner a steady stream of likes, comments, shares and sales. How? By serving them highly relevant advertisements influenced by data, of course. When you throw money into paid promotions and advertisements, you’re essentially purchasing prime digital real estate, an opportunity to impress or otherwise engage with a potential client on their chosen medium.
Russ Ruffino, founder of clientsondemand.com, sees Facebook ads in particular as an invaluable client acquisition tool. ‘The whole idea that you need to spend 6 months or even a year building an audience, creating trust and inspiring loyalty, is somewhat outdated – you don’t need to do any of that stuff if your social media marketing is proper. You can take someone from click to client in less than 48 hours. It’s become the backbone of our business and we’ll do 15 million dollars or more this year using that strategy. It’s the best and most powerful one out there.’
Ruffino isn’t the only one crushing social selling. Cohesive, visually appealing ads are a mainstay for both Fortune 500 companies and small growing businesses. Social advertising has gone from strength to strength in recent years, with increased conversions and reduced cost of acquisition. According to a report by Zenith Media, global social media ad spending rose 21% to $58 billion in 2018 while video ad spending shot 19% to $32 billion.
3. Interact and Engage
While ads are obviously your best bet for sales and leads, overlooking the nuts and bolts of daily social media management would be a huge mistake. Sending content out into the ether, then expecting to relax while the requests or sales roll in, is similarly fanciful. Communication, after all, is a two-way street and particularly on social media, followers expect to partake in a dialogue. This doesn’t mean you observe impeccable etiquette and respond favorably to every single comment you receive, but it does mean cultivating your audience by taking a more active role and driving positive interactions.
Keep the likability factor in the forefront of your mind, and make a concerted effort to stimulate engagement by adding value to conversation. Post consistently, including at weekends, and capitalize on the enthusiasm that greeted previous updates. Avoid simply spamming by showcasing a diverse catalogue of educational or informative content, paying particular attention to tone of voice, and make use of imagery and videos which bolster click-through rate. Follow a schedule that fits into your workflow and doesn’t overwhelm your followers. Lastly, streamline your various endeavours with a comprehensive social media management dashboard such as Agorapulse, Hootsuite or Buffer.
Your responsiveness, friendly manner and suite of interesting, humorous or otherwise share worthy content will ensure that followers remain engaged with what you are doing and will, over time, build both brand loyalty and your own credibility.
4. Become an Industry Expert
Whatever your business, you probably want to be the best. If not the best in the world, the best in your area, the best in your sector, the best among your closest competitors. Conveying that on social media channels is essential if you hope to compel prospective clients to sit up, take notice and buy.
Content, therefore, should exhibit what you can do, explain why you’re different and relate why your experience lends you a distinct advantage over others in the field. This is particularly important in a highly competitive industry. You can gradually establish yourself as an expert by posting useful, on-topic content such as blogs, webinars, podcasts, e-books, graphics, quotes and YouTube presentations. Content that offers genuine value to potential customers and is crafted in such a way as to reinforce your brand messaging and underline your USP.
Selling a product is one thing, but the old adage about “buying a story” is relevant on social media, which is essentially one long, sustained story unspooling across the vast digital landscape. Make yours worth hearing.
Investing your ad money in social media is a no-brainer. Getting it right requires more thought, both in terms of intelligent targeting and compelling content creation. The great thing about social selling is that there’s no barrier or limit to impede progress, providing you go about growing your audience the right way. Find your niche and exploit the right platforms: your dream clients are just a click away.