by Phoebe Jowett, Contributor to Digital Doughnut
First, we should start by addressing the elephant in the room: 2020. I think it’s safe to say none of us will be sad seeing the back of that year. But while 2020 brought us a year of sadness, change, and isolation, a lot of good has come out of it – and a lot of learning, whether that was learning how to bake the perfect banana bread or adapting your marketing strategy to meet the new demands.
As the pandemic swept the world, it brought with it a change in buying habits. With lockdowns and tier systems being put in place throughout the year and shops being shut across the country, everything became digital. This meant marketers were under more pressure to deliver customers a full buying experience, from awareness to purchase.
It meant more time had to be spent listening on social media for trends to get involved with and discover what your target audience was talking about. The importance of engaging with followers and industry related content grew hugely, with users craving human-to-human interaction more than ever before.
But how can we use this knowledge to influence our social media marketing strategies in 2021?
In 2021 you need to be thinking about one main thing: your customer. Social media users crave genuine, human interactions, and evidence suggests they are more likely to buy from brands that appear trustworthy, genuine, and human. In a year filled with isolation, the increase in this behaviur comes as no surprise.
This makes leveraging the information you know about your buyer so much more important, using this to influence your content creation and social strategy. Plus, you need to be able to stand out from the crowd in the fast-paced digital world of ‘Tik-tokkers’ and creators.
But don’t worry, you don’t have to go through this alone as I’ve collated the top things you need to nail in order to market your business or brand successfully on social media in 2021.
With a business social media presence, you should constantly be asking yourself – why? Why do I have social media? Why is this content valuable to my buyer? By establishing the reason for having social media accounts for your business, you can then understand what needs to be done to achieve this.
Asking yourself these key questions means you can establish goals, giving your content direction and purpose, ensuring your social media marketing efforts remain beneficial to your business.
These goals should directly align with your company’s business goals and wider objectives, in order to fully achieve and measure how your content is performing. From your business and social goals, establish Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), guiding which key metrics you will look for to give evidence of your content performing well – or not.
There is no problem with setting top-level goals, such as to increase brand awareness, provided that you then outline some smaller steps and attainable goals to help you achieve this. Plus, as cliché as it sounds, make your goals SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound).
You can then document these goals so the whole of your team and company understands what you are gaining from having a social media presence and everyone knows what to look for and what you are trying to achieve.
Create Great Content
The only way to succeed with your social media marketing strategy in 2021, is by creating content that provides true value to your audience. An essential first step in this process is to establish a buyer persona for your business. A buyer persona is a documented analysis of what the ideal customer you are trying to attract to your business looks like.
When creating your buyer personas think not only about the standard demographic details of your potential buyer, but also about the psychographics. Think about their interests, what drives their engagement, and what sort of content they would be most interested in.
By understanding what this person looks like, the challenges they face (both personally and at work), what they enjoy learning about, how they absorb information, and what platforms they are most active on, you can then produce content that is going to truly engage this individual.
As an example, if you run a makeup brand that’s just released a new anti-aging moisturiser, you know it’s mainly women over the age of 40 who will be interested in your product. Now that’s not to say 25-year-old men will not be interested, it’s just saying that statistically speaking women over the age of 40 are more likely to purchase your anti-aging moisturiser.
Once you have your overall social goals, and your buyer persona, it becomes a case of creating content that leverages your knowledge of the persona in a way which helps you achieve your overall goals.
Some of the tactics you should be using in your content creation this year include: keeping on top of industry trends and creatively and quickly responding to them. Achieve this by keeping an eye on your competitors and trends, this might reveal what sort of content you need to be creating and will also help you to establish where you rank in your industry.
For example, Instagram’s release of ‘reels’, their in-app version of TikTok, has kicked off a huge trend on Instagram that social marketers should be using to their advantage.
Keep watch of the discussions your competitors’ followers are having, what questions do they have and what drives their engagements? Use this to enhance your content creation but be sure to not just copy what somebody else has done, recreate these ideas in your own unique way and make sure you’re adding value. Remember, users enjoy genuine content produced by real people who value their needs, keep this in mind when getting creative.
Another top tactic to be utilising is video content. Video humanises your business and allows users a quick and easy way to understand a topic or engage with a discussion. Incorporating video content into your social media strategy shows customers there are real people behind your brand, encouraging longer time spent on your page and more engagement with your content.
In addition to embracing trends and video content, be sure to adopt a mix of paid and organic social posts as this will ensure you are utilising everything each social platform has to offer. Following on from this, make sure to create different content with different messaging for different social channels. Each channel is different and therefore should be treated as such.
Find creative ways to connect posts across your channels, but present them in differing ways, playing up to the typical user habits on each platform.
Each Social Platform is Unique
It’s true, you should be using each social channel differently, rather than just scheduling the exact same content for every platform. This is even true of Facebook and Instagram because, while owned by the same company and while they both encourage you to share posts between the channels, they both function very differently and attract different audiences.
You need to understand the different styles of each platform and make your content as engaging and accessible for your buyer persona on each of these as possible.
It’s as simple as this…if you are trying to target a 55-year-old C-level executive who works for a finance company, chances are you won’t find them on TikTok doing the latest Jason Derulo challenge.
You NEED to focus on the channels where your buyer persona is most likely to be active and engaged which, in this case, is most likely to be LinkedIn. Pick and choose your channels carefully, if you have a small team and limited resources, focus on only one or two platforms that are an inherent part of your buyer persona’s life.
Adopt a Customer-Centric Approach, if You Haven’t Already
As mentioned previously, your customer should be at the centre of everything you do, influencing every social media marketing decision you make. Make your brand appear personal, human, and genuine, encouraging discussion and engagement across your channels.
Engage, engage, engage!!!
Realistically, social media has the word ‘social’ in it for a reason. How can you expect people to engage with your content if you aren’t engaging with anyone else’s?! It’s a very simple piece of advice that’s difficult to master. When running a social channel, a great way of building authority and gaining followers/interest from people within your target market is to comment, like, and share other relevant content.
By commenting on posts and adding value to them with interesting insights, you can potentially encourage the followers of the content you have engaged with to check your profile out and learn more about you and your brand.
The great thing about this is that if they are interested in the post you have commented on and engaged with in the first place, chances are they will be interested in what you have to say as well, increasing your awareness, share of voice, and potentially even leading to sales and enquiries in the long run.
A few pieces of advice when doing this:
- Avoid engaging directly with competitors, you don’t want to appear to be stealing their followers and using their content.
- Make sure to add value to a post through your comment, don’t just engage for the sake of it.
- Never put anything negative, only ever look to add to the conversation or put a different point of view across.
- Expect people to do this back to you, so make sure what you are saying on their post, you would be happy for them to say on yours.
Whilst you may not want to follow or engage with competitors, it is a great idea to keep tabs on them. By watching your competitors’ social channels closely, you might be able to gauge industry trends, and even upcoming events or product launches they might have planned. This will also allow you to understand where you sit within the industry and how you can be doing better. Competition makes everyone step up their game.
Create a Community
Engage with your followers and focus on creating a community of loyal, likeminded individuals, enthusiastic about your brand. This means responding to every comment and message. Research shows that users value companies that listen and respond to their comments, whether these are complaints, praise, or questions.
However, when it comes to trolls – users who clearly have malicious intent – or those clearly just in your comments to provoke an argument, don’t engage and don’t respond unless this is a misunderstanding and you feel they may be able to learn from it, otherwise don’t give them the attention and argument they are craving.
Encourage User-Generated Content (UGC)
With research discovering that 83% of buyers saying word-of-mouth influences their purchases, UGC is one of the best ways to increase trust, loyalty, and conversation around your business and also increase active users.
Like a customer review, UGC speaks highly of your brand, enabling a wider range of users to see your content and engage with it. People tend to trust recommendations from friends and influencers – real people – more than they trust a brand or company.
Utilize the People Within your Company
There are two sides to this, with the first being that by getting the support of everybody within your company, you can give yourself a boost in the algorithms of social platforms. Social media algorithms are a way of sorting posts in your feed based on relevancy to users, as opposed to publish time, with social networks prioritising what you see in your feed first based on the likelihood that you actually want to see it.
Now the core of this relates to if your content is valuable and if people are finding it interesting, which in the most part is determined by things such as how often a post has been liked, commented on, replied to, shared or retweeted, and saved, with things such as time on post and post clicks also playing their part.
By asking people who work within your company to do all of these things to your posts whenever they see them, the algorithms will detect this and begin pushing your post further up people’s feeds and increasing the likelihood they will be seen. Almost like giving you a jump start.
This can then turn into a cycle, as if your content is good quality and of high value, users will organically like, comment on, share, and save it anyway, further pushing you up feeds and increasing your impressions and exposure amongst new audiences.
The second part to leveraging your wider team is that as these individuals work for you, they will most probably be like minded individuals who are connected with, follow, or are followed by other like-minded individuals.
The result? Your business and your brand is connecting with more individuals across a wider range of networks who are probably very interested in what you have to say and will find your content valuable, all of which can play a major part in helping you achieve your goals.
The final piece of this puzzle is using your own personal branding to build awareness for your business’ social media presence. If you as an individual are admired by others and your followers see you work for a company which is producing great content, they will likely want to explore more.
By developing and growing your own reputation within your industry on social media, you can simultaneously develop your business’ as well, by helping to promote content to like-minded people in your network.
Data and Insights
When it comes to social media there are hundreds of different metrics, all of which serve a different purpose, but it’s critical you find the data which works best for you and your goals. Your data tells a story and it’s your job to unpick the meaning behind this before relating it back to how this can help you achieve your goals.
It’s vitally important that you are regularly reviewing your social media content to see what is providing value to users and what just becomes another post in someone’s feed. This can be determined through metrics such as engagement rate and impressions with my personal favorite being engagement rate.
The benchmark for engagement rate is 2% but unless you are getting nearer to 5% you are just slipping in with the rest of the pack. In the loud world of social media, you need to be standing out, so don’t settle for engagement rates of 2/3%, aim for 5-10% and strive to always be providing the best content in your industry.
Continually look at insights on your social media platforms. To do this you might want to adopt a software that collates all the relevant data from each social media channel you own. Alternatively, you could manually do this yourself. If you’re feeling stuck, after following the advice in this article be sure to check out our blog on 4 top tips for social media marketing.
Look at the data and measure this against your KPIs and business goals. See which types of content are performing well and which aren’t. Use these insights to influence your social strategy for the future. Try and learn something from every post that will help you achieve your goals.
Every post gets impressions, engagement, and much more, so try and figure out what has made that post so great, or alternatively what has prevented the post from doing so well, before then using this data to inform your next moves.
Time to Smash 2021
In reality, the main points to take away from this are – customer, content, and analysis. Keep everything you do customer-centric, focusing on being human, genuine, and trustworthy, while engaging with your community and industry relevant content. Create content that pleases your buyer, try and show them that you have the ability to solve a problem they may have. Provide them with value. And finally, analysis.
Analysing the results of your content is imperative to success with social media marketing in 2021, whether you use the insights provided on each platform or if you prefer to have it all collated for you using software. Doing this will help to inform any future content decisions you make and will ensure you are creating quality content that your audience will love.
Don’t be afraid to experiment and enjoy using social media for business, be sociable and engage. Create amazing, unique content that drives discussion and provides value to your customers. Follow this guide, and I’m sure you will smash social media marketing this year.
Article originally appeared on Digital Doughnut.
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