5 Tips on How to Make More Effective Use of Social MediaIf you do any kind of reading about marketing at all, you’re going to see tips about using social media as a part of your strategy. There’s a simple reason for that–social media marketing truly is becoming a necessity for businesses across all industries.

Many business owners are reluctant to believe this, though, because they’re stuck on two big myths about social media. If you’ve let either of these two beliefs keep you off of social media, it’s time to make a change and fast if you don’t want to lose out to your competitors:

1. “Only women are on social media. My target market is men, so I don’t need it.” Turns out that 47 percent of social media users are men and 53 percent are women. Regardless of which gender you’re targeting, your customers are using social media sites.

2. “Only 20 somethings are on social media. My target market is older, so I don’t need it.” The truth is that two-thirds of users on Facebook alone are middle aged. The average age of users is 37.

There really is no avoiding social media, particularly if you have an online business; however, it’s not enough to just put up pages and profiles. As with any other type of marketing, you need the right strategy to ensure success. Here are 5 tips to help you create yours:

1. Do Some Research.

There’s no sense investing all of your time using social media sites that your customers never sign into. Doing a little research to find out what sites they utilize the most can save you time and money.

For an online business, the simplest way to find out which social media sites your customers use is to send them an email survey and ask them. Give them an incentive to reply like a small discount or a free gift with their next purchase. Use a free survey site to compile the data. Provide them with a list of all of the major sites. First, ask them which sites they use. Then, ask them which sites they’d like to follow or interact with you on.

 

2. Keep an Eye on the Competition.

You wouldn’t let your competitor put up billboards all over town without taking steps to start putting up some signs yourself if you had a brick and mortar business. The same holds true for an online business. You want to make sure you’re using the same sites they are. Visit their websites and see which social media sites they link to. Then, check out the following:

- Activity. What are they posting? How often are they using the site?

- Interaction. How many people like their posts? How many shares do they have? Which types of posts get the most likes and shares?

- Followers/Views/Fans. How many people are actively following them? Which sites do they have the most followers on?

- Promotion. What are they promoting the most?

As you study these four aspects of your competitors’ social media accounts, you’ll quickly start to see places where you could do a better job than them. Seize those opportunities quickly.

 

3. Offer Exclusives.

You want to incentivize people to interact with you on social media, and that means offering exclusive deals. Post a weekly coupon online that only a follower can use. Let social media followers purchase a product that’s likely to sell out ahead of other customers. Get creative and find ways to make being your follower or fan appealing.

 

4. Provide Value.

Constantly plugging your products is a great way to lose followers fast. The key to successful social media marketing is to provide content that your followers are likely to be interested in along with marketing content. For example, you can start a blog on related topics and share links to your articles or post articles from other sources on your website. Start discussions or polls. Post photos and videos. Mix up the content to keep things fresh and exciting.

 

5. Make It Easy.

Make sure that you make it easy for your social media followers and fans to buy from you. It may seem like common sense, but far too many online businesses end up linking to their home page rather than a product page or over-complicate special offers. Also, keep your posts relatively short. Remember, many people use their phones to access social media and will only see the beginning of your message if it’s too long.

Keep in mind that a social media marketing strategy will evolve over time. You’ll need to keep track of what works and constantly look at what doesn’t to keep your investment in social media marketing providing you with good returns.

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