Digital Marketing • 9th May, 16
Yet another little titbit we really don’t need to tell you: social media is, in many ways, defining the future of businesses. And that extends well beyond business that are actually related to social media, and beyond that small minority of freakishly lucky entrepreneurs that get their start on social media; in this day and age, if a business does not have a measurable, noticeable, properly maintained presence on social media, they can more or less give up any hope of attaining anything that the modern entrepreneur could call “prominence”.
If your business is going to be relevant, it’s got to have a social media presence. Social media, after all, is a personification of everything that the modern business world is: fast-paced, efficient, ever-changing, defined by trends, and built on the younger generation. And it’s got to be a social media presence that works for the brand – slapping your logo on the profile picture won’t do it.
So, to kick you off, we’ve listed here a few pointers for just how a business can maintain a good social media presence. Just, you know…to give you a fighting chance of not being swallowed up by the sheer tide of modern economics.
Pinning Peak Hours
Social media’s like a major highway: it’ll very rarely be empty, but there’s time when it’ll be especially bustling; and certain folks use it at certain times. Except, you know, the highway exists in multiple time zones and minors can use it.
Anyway – one of the first steps to getting a freshly established business’s social media presence noticed is to narrow down precisely when the best times to post are. Of course, what with the universality of social media and the leaps and bounds of mobile internet access, there’ll always be someone online; but the stream of new posts is pretty much non-stop, and if you want yours to be noticed, you’ll want to make sure they’re posted at a time that a decent number of folks – and specifically folks who your business is aimed at – are online.
Of course, it’s tricky to pin down. Your best bet is to simply observe for a while – to follow social media accounts of businesses similar to yours, and to keep an eye on when their posts get the highest number of immediate responses. Hashtags related to your business, too – keep an eye on precisely which ours they really stream through.
And, obviously, unless your business is global, don’t forget to consider those time zones – if your business is, say, limited to South Africa, it won’t do you much good to post when the relevant hashtags are trending in the US.
Know what internet folks love even more than lists? Pictures. Cat pictures, memes, sometimes other stuff…point is, getting noticed online is frequently a matter of visuals.
And contrary to popular belief, that does not only apply to companies that have pretty things to show off. Sure, if you’re in the jewellery business, you won’t have any shortage of glitzy-looking snapshots of your wares to throw all over your social media account; but really, you can sell something as abstract and un-shiny as life insurance: pretty pictures aren’t any less important to your social media presence.
Really, now: it doesn’t matter what you’re selling; when you’re online, pitch it with pictures. Get an Instagram account; include pictures with your Tweets; stick something eye-catching in the profile picture of your company’s LinkedIn account. It quite genuinely doesn’t matter what the image actually is – as long as it’s got some appealing colours, it can be a stock picture or a nicely framed shot of your office. All that matters is that it’s the sort of picture that can fulfil its very simple purpose: getting clicks.
It’s a pretty simple principle: the internet, as anyone born in the last forty years is well aware, is a constant bombardment of fresh information, and much of it is going to slip past us. How do we decide what to pay attention to? A lot of the time, it’s what’s prettiest. It’s frequently not even a conscious thing; we’re just more likely to click on something colourful, for the simple fact that it grabs our eye more. A lot of folks will deny it; but for marketers and business owners like you, there’s little point in ignoring such a simple, if slightly embarrassing fact.
Sure, your business and brand has far more to it than a few pretty pictures; we’re certainly not denying that. But the deeper complexities of your brand really won’t mean much to prospective customers if you can’t get them to hang around long enough to learn about it.
There is, in short, no shame in persuading potential customers to stop by with a shiny veneer, and then demonstrating to them why they ought to hang around a bit longer. Sometimes, you’ll show them, if it glitters, it really can be gold.
Too Many Channels Spoil the Network
Simply put: when it comes to running your online presence, don’t overextend yourself. Running a business, we don’t need to tell you, is demanding enough; and as important as a brand’s online presence is, one must, as with everything else, ensure that the time and money one spends on it is a worthy investment.
And, well, the fact is, in most cases, pouring a load of time and money into representing yourself on six or seven social media platforms is…not a good investment.
Now, we’re certainly not downplaying the importance of spreading yourself out – when you’re kicking off a new business, especially, sniffing out as many potential new customers as possible feels like something that needs to be done above all else.
Thing is, though, if you stick up a channel for your brand on every social network out there, and push yourself to do fresh posts for every single one of them, it’s going to have much the same effect as forcing yourself to post a new Tweet every ten minutes: you’ll rapidly run out of things to post about, resulting in your business being represented by a series of forced, vapid social media posts that inspire in potential customers a great many things, none of which are an inclination to do business with you.
No, what’s best is to pick one or two social media channels – ones on which you’re most likely to snag the attention of the highest number of folks in your target demographic. Precisely where that might be is, of course, entirely dependent on the nature of your business – though we will say this: there are few businesses or businesspeople out there who aren’t on LinkedIn, and few…well, anybody who doesn’t pay the occasional visit to Twitter.
Of course, do represent yourself on other channels too – cross-post your Tweets to your Facebook page, keep your Google+ looking neat, and whatnot. But make sure that all your other online representations, in one way or another, redirects your potential clients toward your main channel – or perhaps your website, if driving them there is the ultimate goal.
Being present on every social network ever may be trendy; but even for up-and-coming businesses, not every single trend is worth following.
There’s no getting away from it: you, like any reasonably ambitious business owner, want your brand to be a little more than a brief blip on the radar of the modern business world. That’s not going to happen without a consistent, properly maintained social media presence.
The digital age may have made maintaining a social media account convenient, efficient, and doable pretty much anywhere; but representing a business on one hasn’t gotten any easier. You need to do it, and you need to do it well; your business depends on it to attain the prominence it deserves.
But whenever it seems like an obligation, keep one thing in mind: twenty years ago, the average businessman would have killed for the sort of quick, easy publicity that social media affords a business.