By Faye Eldridge Founder of FYAMI – Business Growth Consultancy
The business world as we know it has changed. Prior to the pandemic, companies would be out networking, face to face, building their sales pipeline through events, exhibitions, seminars etc. But now many of those channels have dried up, albeit temporarily, in this new normal.
As physical face to face opportunities lessen during the pandemic, companies are relying ever more on social media to get noticed and to grow their sales pipeline. Consequently, online activity has increased making it much harder to be heard and noticed.
To stand out online, companies must firstly have a clear understanding of their brand, their audience, the style and tone of their communications, and most importantly, what they want to achieve from their social media.
That way you know who you’re reaching, how to engage them – with the right tone and voice – and how you want to be viewed by customers and staff. This then forms the basis of your social content strategy.
Involve customers and staff
Once the strategy is formed, contact all your existing customers. Simply drop them an email and let them know you’re going to be more active on social media. Ask them what type of content and information would help or interest them, what they want more or less of, and share your social handles so they have the option to follow you.
Knowing what customers like is key to a successful social strategy which not only attracts an audience but keeps them engaged. After asking your existing customers, then consider who in your social network could be potential customers and what content they’d like to see? Do your current customers engage online and what do they talk about? Who do you have in your network that could be potential customers?
Getting answers to these questions will ensure that any content is relevant to your target customers while ensuring your posts get more likes. Audiences like to be informed. They like to be entertained. And they like to have answers to their questions. Compelling content will help your business stand out and be valued.
For example, you may be an accountancy firm with a twist, wanting to get away from the stereotypical accounting image, to be seen as fun and interesting. With this in mind, the firm could devise a social media content plan that reflects this image like useful tips in a short video, with subtitles or frequently asked questions in a colourful infographic.
Make the most of your current network and consider partnering with others to do online video collaborations to enhance your reach. Or together, run an online roundtable event inviting customers, partners, prospects. Visuals, videos and audio work very well in capturing people’s attention.
Encourage employees to be advocates too, to engage and share key posts which will increase the impact and visibility of your content.
There are great live streaming tools such as LinkedIn live, the latest video feature on LinkedIn which helps businesses connect with their communities in real-time – and with a professional twist. Lie video is rapidly growing in popularity among business executives but you need to register for LinkedIn Live as it’s currently only available to certain members.
Mix up your video with others forms of content from blogs, posts, videos, news etc.. that you can schedule on social media management platforms like Hootsuite or Buffer and to go out daily. There is no point posting once and then again six months later. By that time, your audience will have lost interest in your company with a more active competitor having caught their attention.
Consistency as well as regularity is also important when it comes to effective marketing. For example, plan to stream at a set time each day, week, or month. That way, your followers will know when to expect your next video. You can also gain interest this way by informing your followers what day/ time you’ll release your next video as anticipation works well in marketing.
Spark a reaction and action
Once you’re ready to start sharing content, invite your audience to comment and engage by asking questions. If they comment, ensure to acknowledge or answer their post. Do you encourage those in your network and your customers to engage with you online? Do you ask those in your network for video collaboration opportunities?
Ensure links to the company website are within relevant posts to drive up website traffic and include strong call to action messages in the video and posts to prompt your viewer to do something such as ‘click here to action something,’ or ‘click here for 40% off,’ as an example. You can also make the most of downloadable content like ebooks or reports to capture customer details – sites like LinkedIn offer paid for lead capture forms.
Consider social media workflows and lead management tools such as HubSpot which helps manage those who fill in lead forms on your website. You can also use this for social media sharing and to manage your lead contacts.
Tweet your competition
A good tip but one some companies shy away from, is to tweet your competition. This has been known to increase engagement. You may have also heard of the term social media ‘brand threads’ where you tweet something and encourage others to reply? Gymshark for example, started a funny Halloween brand thread with a tweet, ‘the scariest thing about working at Gymshark is anyone finding out you don’t go to the gym. Your turn.” They then tagged brands like Asos, Aldi and KFC for comment.
These same posts can also be shared across multiple platforms, but Instagram and Pinterest do require strong visuals. To stand out and capture followers, posts should be tailored to suit the different style of platforms with a slightly different message.
However, for companies short on resource and time, turn to tools such as Hootsuite or Loomly. These automatically share the same content between LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook – not ideal but better than not being active across the key platforms your customers are on.
Build time in for digital knowledge sharing. Once content is posted, send your network a direct message with a link to your latest guide, visual or video, for example, so they can’t miss it. But only do this occasionally and rotate it across your network as you don’t want to be branded as a company that spams.
The more you engage on the social media platforms your customers are present on, the more inbound messages your company will receive. The important thing to remember to stand out is to ensure your content is authentic and useful to the audience. You can post website links to landing pages and ‘offers,’ on social media accounts, and it’s also great for building anticipation of a new product or service that’s due to arrive. But it must be a balance and not all about sales otherwise rather than stand out, your followers will soon switch off.