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Don’t let fear of the “social media trolls” or concern about the number of hours you may need to invest in content creation stop you from reaching TONS of potential customers. Whether you’re a social media newbie or a seasoned content creator, the goal of the “Ultimate Guide to Leveraging Social Media for Business Growth” is to empower you to incorporate social media into your marketing strategy and grow your business exponentially, while saving you time, money, and energy.
I’m always amazed at how few businesses include social media as a core component in their marketing strategy, especially since it’s the only guaranteed place you can reach nearly every potential customer. On average, an internet user spends 2 hours and 24 minutes per day on social media (and usually on multiple platforms). So, social media really isn’t optional anymore, no matter the size of your business.
Social media is essential, but you don’t have to take my word for it:
• Currently, 82% of the entire US population is on social media.
• 92% of all businesses with at least 100 employees are on social media.
• 71% of consumers who have had a positive experience with a brand on social media will recommend the brand to friends and family.
• In a study conducted by CouponFollow, 48% of participants admitted to making a purchase through social media.
What all this means is that if your business is NOT on social media, you’re missing out on a huge marketing opportunity, and, more than likely, you’re allowing your competitors to sway your customers.
The ABCs of Social Media Marketing
Most social media beginners get so overwhelmed with the number of social media platforms available, the constantly changing tech atmosphere, and the stress of content creation that they blow off social media altogether – Don’t! Instead, refer to the ABCs of social media marketing (Attract, Build, Collect). When in doubt, this simple acronym should guide you in the right direction.
A is for ATTRACT your audience
To attract your audience, you’ll first need to choose the right platform or platforms (I’ll get to this), create engaging content, take advantage of hashtags, and lastly, consider paid ads.
Defining Your Target Customer
Before you can attract your audience, though, you need to ensure you know who your audience is. And, as creepy as this may sound, with social media, you can and should get as finite as possible with the details.
Seriously, you haven’t defined your customer well enough if your description doesn’t sound a bit like this:
“Our target customer is a stay-at-home mom who spends her morning getting her two kids, between the ages of 2-10, ready for school. After this, she heads to exercise class, and afterward, takes a trip to the grocery store. Her shopping list includes items on sale this week, as well as “family value packs.” Back at home, she preps food for the week to the sound of Food Channel in the background, from which she often gains meal inspiration. Once the kids are back home, she preps them for their extracurriculars, soccer and baseball…”. Need I go on?
This customer description may sound over-the-top, but with nearly unlimited targeting options on social media platforms, it will be what sets you apart from the competition when it comes to attracting your audience.
Choosing Social Media Platforms
There are SO many social media platforms these days that truly, the ones I’ve listed in the next section don’t even make a dent. However, these are amongst the most popular, and for the sake of brevity, I’m sticking to them. Keep in mind, if you’re just starting out, I don’t recommend taking on more than three social media platforms at a time. You need to get comfortable with content creation and frequent posting before taking on more. Additionally, you might be hurting your chances at audience growth if you take on more, especially if you’re posting the same content on each, causing your audience to split.
That being said, consider a primary platform and 1-2 secondary platforms. The primary platform should be where you post the most content and the most frequently, while the other 1-2 secondary accounts should keep you visible but shouldn’t require quite as much time and energy. For example, Facebook could be your primary platform where you post five times per week with a combination of motivational posts, product promotions, and linked content to your website. Then, Linkedin could be your secondary platform where you only post 2x a week and only linked content to your website.
A Brief Overview of 9 of the Most Popular Social Media Platforms
Below, you’ll find a very brief summary of audience members on each listed social media platform. However, I highly recommend checking out Hootsuite’s website for more in-depth explanations of each, as they have fantastic write-ups featuring current platform demographic statistics.
Facebook is by far the largest and most used platform with over 2.8 Billion monthly users. It also has the broadest range of ages with 72.8% of users aged 18-44 and 10% of users aged 65 and older (by the way, the number of senior users on Facebook has grown exponentially since the onset of the pandemic). Also, 2/3 of Facebook users visit a local business page weekly.
Instagram leans towards a slightly younger audience than Facebook, with most users being between 25-34 years old and the 2nd most prominent group of users being 18-24 years old. The audience is pretty evenly split as female to male ratio goes. Something cool about Instagram is that 90% of users follow brands.
Linkedin is more geared towards your B2B (Business to Business) marketing, with it being the designated platform for professionals. If you’re using social media for hiring, it’s also an excellent platform for attracting talent.
Twitter is geared towards a younger, predominantly male audience. To be honest, it’s not my favorite platform for business because, unlike Instagram and Facebook, where you can delete harsh comments from others, you can’t do that on Twitter. I feel like it’s a more aggressive platform, and it’s hard to create a “pretty” feed. HOWEVER, if you want to take a stance, Twitter is the platform to do it on. Note that the most effective way to grow a following on Twitter is to comment and “retweet” on other’s feeds.
TikTok consists of 48% 18-29-year-olds. Ads tend to do well on TikTok, especially if you can get your message across in the first 3 seconds. And by the way, you can post ads on TikTok without necessarily keeping an active TikTok feed, although it’s helpful to do both. Consumers spent more on TikTok than on Youtube, Disney+, and Netflix last year.
Snapchat is also geared towards a younger audience, with 82% of users aged 34 or younger and primarily female. Users on Snapchat are a whopping 60% more likely to make impulse purchases.
Youtube is the second most used platform behind Facebook. The issue with it is that you have to be okay with only posting videos and doing so consistently. There’s a pretty wide range of ages that use Youtube. 70% of users admit to purchasing a product from a brand after seeing it on Youtube, so it’s great for advertising purposes.
Pinterest is a great place to be if you’re selling clothing, furniture, or anything that may have to do with DIY or projects. Almost 9/10 people use Pinterest for purchase inspiration.
Google My Business (GMB)
I wanted to touch on Google my Business because it’s becoming key for ranking high in Google even though it’s not a typical social media platform. I would recommend it as a secondary social media platform for anyone. Businesses with complete GMB listings are twice as likely to earn trust from customers.
Okay- onto content creation. Super simple: Unless you have endless creativity and all the time/money in the world, I highly recommend Canva for social media content creation. It’s free; You can purchase the pro version for $10ish per month if you want, but it’s not necessary. You can literally search “Facebook posts,” and it will display a ton of pre-made templates for you. From there, you can mess around with formatting, font style, and colors to create something that aligns with your brand. Additionally, Canva just rolled out a scheduling feature that allows you to schedule and post content directly to multiple different social media platforms, which is super cool!
*Full Disclosure: I am a Canva affiliate, so if you do become a Canva Pro member, I may receive a small commission. This won’t affect your price in any way but will help support my small blog so that I can continue writing posts like this one! My promise to you is that I’ll never recommend a product I don’t fully believe in or stand behind. I use Canva daily and seriously think it’s AWESOME.
I just want to touch on hashtags quickly. They’re not relevant on all platforms, so here are some dos and don’ts.
• Do use hashtags on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram
• Don’t use hashtags on Facebook (it’s a feature, but studies show that users don’t respond favorably to hashtags on Facebook)
• Do use up to 11 hashtags
• Don’t use the maximum number of hashtags available to you
• Do use relevant hashtags to your product, brand, location, target audience
• Don’t use over-general hashtags. I’d be VERY surprised if #pretty gets you any new followers…
The idea is to use hashtags that your target market may be searching for in the explore sections of the platforms, so they stumble upon your relevant content.
Especially if you’re still building your network, paid ads or boosted content might be a great way to gain an initial following. There are lots of tutorials online on how to set up paid ads, so I won’t go into details here, but here are a few tips:
• Take advantage of related interests (this goes back to our value shopper that watches Food Network)
• Use audience layering, meaning you can target moms aged 24-38 and people in general who like value shopping rather than targeting one or the other
• Create a look-alike audience if you collect email addresses at your business or on your website by uploading a CSV file during the ad creation process when possible. This process allows the social media platform to match emails to social media users and then find users that share similar interests with your customers for precise targeting. *Facebook is excellent for this!
• You don’t have to reinvent the wheel for ads. If you have a high-performing post on your feed, “boost” it.
B is for BUILD Engagement
“Build” is where you work on engaging your current followers. To do this, you’ll want to create a content calendar, establish yourself as an expert by writing informative posts, answering FAQs, or hosting live sessions. You’ll also want to build confidence by openly engaging in comment sections, i.e., remind your audience that there are people behind your brand. And finally, be true to yourself and your brand. There’s a massive attraction to authenticity on all social media platforms.
Using a Content Calendar
If you only take one thing away from this guide, take away this: Use a content calendar! You can do this simply on excel or download a printout online, but there are three scheduling platforms that I use and LOVE, which work well.
1. The first is Sendible, which is my favorite scheduling tool. It gives you the ability to upload and schedule to pretty much any social media platform under the sun, including Google My Business (which I’ve not found with any other scheduling platform). It also has fantastic reporting tools, which I’ll elaborate upon later.
2. Next is Canva, which I’ve already discussed. It has a beautiful content calendar feature now that auto-posts on a few different platforms. It doesn’t include any reporting tools currently, but again, the beauty of Canva is that you can create posts and immediately share or schedule them using one program. It’s also highly affordable.
3. Later.com is another great content scheduling tool. If you’re planning on primarily posting on Instagram, Later is what I recommend because it includes the Link In Bio feature, which allows your audience members to click on any post from the link in your bio to get to your website. It also has a really cool preview feature that lets you switch posts around to create an aesthetic Instagram feed. It does allow you to post on many other social media platforms as well, including Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and Pinterest.
Some things to take into consideration when content scheduling
You should be posting at least 3-5 times per week. After a few months, you can use your analytics to find your frequency sweet spot. You may find that three is better than 5, but in general, the more posts, the better. Be sure to map out holidays as well. It’s always awkward when you get on social media and realize everyone’s posting holiday-specific content except for your brand. And lastly, keep your feed aesthetic. You want your feed to flow well; This isn’t quite as important on Facebook/Linkedin/Twitter, but it for sure is for Pinterest and Instagram.
I always recommend themed posting days like Motivational Monday, Product Promotion Day, FAQ Friday, etc., to make planning easier. AKA, the less you have to think about what to post, the better!
C is for COLLECT Data
Social media is ultimately a tool to convert potential customers to ACTUAL customers, so be sure you’re making the most of it by using analytics and referring people to your website or landing page. Some key components to track are:
Views– How many people see your content
Clicks- How many people are clicking into your content and getting to your website
Comments- How many people are talking about your post, tagging others, etc.
Engagement- This could be comments, likes, or shares, basically any post-interaction
Reach- How many people your post has reached through your page or from shares
As I’ve mentioned, Sendible is my favorite tool for analytics. Its reports break down audience growth, best times to post, page impressions, engagement, reach, and audience demographics. Although I wish I were a Sendible affiliate because of how much I use the program, I am not, nor am I sponsored by Sendible in any way. I just LOVE IT.
Social media is a fantastic way to reach potential customers and, if you use the strategies outlined above, convert them to ACTUAL customers and brand ambassadors!
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