Using social media to grow a business

1. Set SMART goals for your business’s social media marketing.

You want to have a clear understanding of your business objectives from the beginning. This will help you form a plan that includes: Which metrics are the most valuable for your business to track. Who you’re trying to reach with your content. What kind of content you should post. The right time to post your content. How your efforts will help you attain the goals you set.

2. Research which social media platforms are the most likely to reach your target audience.

Consider what type of content is most popular on various platforms, as well as which demographics make up your target audience. Use this information in your research to identify which social media sites your target audience is most likely to use. These are the most popular social media platforms to consider: Facebook. Instagram. Twitter. YouTube. LinkedIn. Pinterest. TikTok. Snapchat. For example, if you have a B2B business and your target audience is likely to use LinkedIn, then your business will benefit by maintaining a presence on that platform.

3. Create social media accounts for your business on the platforms that are most popular among your target audience.

Sign up for a business account on applicable platforms to gain access to extra features like paid advertising and additional analytics, such as impressions, engagement, reach, and more. You can finish setting up each account by: Providing useful information in the About Us section, such as contact info, hours of operation, and a direct link to your website. Describing the products or services that your business offers. Following other accounts within your industry, such as businesses you’ve worked with before or would like to collaborate with in the future.

4. Design branded profile images and banners for each of the social media accounts you created in the previous step.

Align your account names, logo, profile pictures, profile banners, and content on your platforms with your business’s unique branding to appear professional, consistent, and easily recognizable to your audience. For example: Add your business logo as the profile picture on each of your social platforms. Create a banner for Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or LinkedIn using an eye-catching image or design elements that align with your branding. Create a small watermark logo that you can add to the corner of your social posts or ads. Some examples of businesses that have branded their image across their social platforms well include Nike, Airbnb, and Blue Apron. Their logos are instantly recognizable, and their branding is consistent in all their content.

5. Develop a content strategy to create engaging content that your target audience will find valuable.

While developing your content strategy, consider: Gathering content inspiration by looking at the type of content that successful businesses and competitors are posting. Creating a social media content calendar to help your team keep track of post topics and deadlines. Researching the best time of day to post, such as when your target audience is most active on a particular platform. Sticking to a consistent posting schedule for your content. Diversifying your content with a mix of text, graphic, image, and video posts. Tagging accounts that relate to a piece of content in your post captions. Sharing content from other accounts that will be valuable for your own audience.

6. Increase the organic reach of your content using hashtags.

Hashtags can be used to join trending topics, tag local events, create buzz around a brand, and more. Some best practices for using hashtags include: Research hashtags that relate to your industry and ideal customers. Use a variety of general high-volume hashtags, which can help make your post visible to a broader audience, and specific lower-volume hashtags, which can help you reach a narrow but niche audience. Create branded hashtags, this might include a simple hashtag with your business name, or a special phrase used to promote a contest or giveaway you are hosting. Join trending conversations by creating timely content around a trending hashtag. Don’t overuse hashtags, this may affect your content negatively in social platforms’ algorithms and reduce visibility of your posts. Vary the hashtags you use from post to post, repeating the same hashtags in every post can negatively affect your content in the algorithm.

7. Engage with your audience through likes, comments, and direct messages to improve your relationship with them.

Whether the comments and messages you receive are complimenting or complaining about your business, it’s important to respond in a courteous, professional manner. You can do this by: Answering questions promptly to provide a good customer service experience. Acknowledging concerns and offering a solution to fix the issue. Liking or responding to positive comments with a personalized message.

8. Incentivize more likes, comments, and shares on your content by hosting periodic contests or giveaways.

Contests and giveaways help grow your audience by: Increasing engagement for your content. Building awareness for your brand with a wider audience. Encouraging customer loyalty with special prizes. For example, you might host a giveaway that requires each person to enter to win by tagging a couple friends in the comments of your post.

9. Maximize your reach by using paid advertising to display sponsored posts to targeted audiences.

Investing in paid advertising can boost the efforts of your organic strategies, and may be necessary for social media success on platforms like Facebook, which are increasingly pay-to-play. Boosting content through ads may help by: Choosing the specific types of people the ads will be displayed to, such as followers of your brand, certain demographics, people within a set location radius, and retargeted customers. Increasing the potential reach of your content by thousands of people. Bypassing the limitations of posting organically on social media to help put your content in front of more people. Ensuring you reach your ideal customers at the most opportune time for them to take action.

10. Use the analytics tools built into each social platform to track performance metrics and identify whether your methods are working successfully or if they need to be improved.