Strategies to Help Improve Your Social Media

Go beyond the basics on the Big 4 – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Check out these fresh strategies and hot tips from online marketing pros to help you take your social feeds to the next level.

Social media is no longer new, and by now, most small businesses know the basic rules of engagement: Respond to customer comments promptly. Keep your political views offline. Focus on the social networks that give you the best return. Create a posting schedule to ensure you have fresh content to offer all year long. Establish benchmarks and track analytics to make sure your posts are effective and reach their intended audience. And so on.

Instead of rehashing these general guidelines, we asked experts for some specific advice to enhance your social media savvy, whether you’re using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or all four.

3 Tips for Facebook

1. Join a Facebook group. Bryan Clayton, CEO of lawn care company GreenPal, gains new customers by joining local Facebook groups and chiming in when someone asks for lawn service recommendations. The tactic has a 60% success rate, he says. Those who rely on local business or cater to a niche, like horse shows or motorcycle clubs, can follow Clayton’s lead and seek out relevant groups for similar results.

2. Buy an ad. The way Facebook structures its algorithms, it’s tough for a business to get noticed without shelling out cash, experts say. Luckily, Facebook ads are cost-effective and better than they were, says social media marketing expert Tracy Petrucci. “There are many B2B details you can access now,” she adds. “You have control over what you spend, and you can be creative in your messaging.”

3. Experiment with Facebook Live. Livestreaming is one of the biggest trends in social media this year. Consider starting a regular video series with design tips, and then promote it to create a community of listeners, says Muhammad Saad Khan, content marketing expert at Cloudways. Promote the live video beforehand and optimize the archived post afterward to maximize views.

3 Tips for Twitter

1. Use hashtags wisely. See what’s trending online and which tags your potential customers are likely to see and be interested in. RiteTag and other similar websites give you real-time feedback on hashtags, letting you know which are hot, oversaturated or dead. Don’t jump on every trend, says Aristotle Eliopoulos, social media specialist at Toronto digital agency 9thCo. “Relate it back to your business or your message and products,” he advises.

2. Connect with influential people on Twitter. You may be surprised by who responds. “People look up to influencers and follow their recommendations,” says Luca Alessandrini, digital marketing specialist at Online Optimism. Marketing to online names is almost as good as word-of-mouth referrals, he adds.

3. Tweet at the right time. It’s hard to attract attention over the nonstop Twitter feed. You’re more likely to get noticed at certain times of the day. Buffer, a social media scheduling app, analyzed 4.8 million tweets and learned that tweets sent in the early morning receive the most clicks, on average. Evening and late-night tweets receive the most favorites and retweets. Experiment to find the timing that brings you the best results.

Be More Visible Online

Chris Ruvo, senior writer for Wearables’ sister publication Advantages, shares a few tips for boosting your brand’s visibility online. Among his suggestions: Start a blog and regularly update it to boost your status on search engines. Read more here.

3 Tips for LinkedIn

For business-to-business salespeople, LinkedIn can be a powerful tool to help you win referrals and reach out to prospects. Here are three ways to use the professional networking site to your advantage:

1. Use SlideShare to create infographics and slide decks to show off your expertise. LinkedIn purchased the visually themed network with 70 million users back in 2012, and it integrates seamlessly into LinkedIn’s interface. According to David Karel, head of B2B marketing for LinkedIn, SlideShare content shows up well in organic Google searches. “You can reach large-scale audiences, and visuals are so powerful when it comes to messaging and sharing your content online,” he told the Business Journals recently.

2. Ask for an introduction. Many B2B buyers are turned off by the traditional cold call, but have a much more favorable impression of salespeople introduced by someone in their professional network. When you’re researching a new prospect, first check to see if you have any shared connections, then ask that person to introduce you online, says Christie C. Newman, a sales and marketing manager at SERVPRO. “Personal relationships and your business reputation are the easy way to get in the door,” she adds.

3. Keep it professional. Cute cat pictures and silly videos are better suited for Facebook. For LinkedIn, focus on highlighting your credentials and expertise. Share valuable information and trends in relevant LinkedIn groups, and regularly post noteworthy articles in your feed to keep an active and engaging presence on the site.

3 Tips for Instagram

1. Show off your work. Apparel decorating is a very visual industry, which gives decorators an edge when joining photo-based networks like Instagram. “Instagram allows our clients and prospective clients the chance to see an overall view of our current and past work,” says Lucas Guariglia, owner of Rowboat Creative (asi/313715). “Anyone tapping into our social media feeds can get an immediate sense of our aesthetic, philosophy, work ethic and exactly what Rowboat Creative does.”

2. Try out new features. Lately, Instagram has been rolling out business tools, data analytics and the ability to turn posts into ads. The newest is Stories, similar to a feature offered by rival Snapchat. Instagram Stories lets people share photos and videos with a lifespan of no more than 24 hours. It’s worth experimenting with some of these features, if only to stay current with marketing trends.

3. Use time-saving tools. “In order to grow your following on Instagram, you’ll need to actively find users who are using hashtags relevant to your brand and interact with them,” says Carlo Barajas, founder of Surface SEO. He recommends using a third-party app like Instagress, an automation tool that promises to mimic natural behavior, as a way to make this process more manageable.

3 Tips for Pinterest

1. Create a virtual showroom. Screen-printing and sustainability consultant Marshall Atkinson believes Pinterest is undervalued, compared to other social networks. It’s a great medium to create a virtual showroom with examples of your work and products, he says. “You could have different boards with different product categories, and you can crosslink them, like ‘Like what you see? Check out the T-shirt board!’ Send a Pinterest link with examples so people can tour your boards. That way, they’ll see that you do different types of work,” Atkinson adds.

2. Enrich your email marketing. Even if Pinterest does little to affect your bottom line directly, Petrucci says, it’s a great way to enhance your email marketing, which has three times higher conversion rates than social media. “What if a featured Pinterest board was part of your monthly newsletter and it was the most clicked-on item?” she asks. “We don’t expect the sun and moon from [Pinterest], but we know it’s working in other ways.”

3. Be patient. Unlike other social networks, posts on Pinterest have staying power. In fact, pins have an average lifespan of three-and-a-half months, compared to a Facebook post that gets around four hours of leverage, says Jess Bahr, director of paid social for SocialFlow. “Especially for anything visual, Pinterest has the biggest return on marketing dollars,” she adds.

Is Snapchat Worth It?

Of course, the Big 4 social media platforms aren’t the only ones out there. For example, for shops that frequently post video tutorials, YouTube remains a viable choice. These days, though, all the hype is reserved for the upstart Snapchat, the messaging app with over 100 million daily active users that’s built on the premise of disappearing photos and no linking capabilities. So why exactly should your business be on Snapchat?

The best reason is because this fast-growing platform is rapidly expanding and evolving. While 86% of the app’s users are 34 and younger (and six out of 10 users are younger than 25), its 35-and-over user base grew by 84% last year. Equally important, Snapchat has incrementally unleashed features that broaden its appeal, including its significant 2.0 update this March. “This year is when we start to see the shift,” says Roy Harmon, director of marketing for Such Ads!, a Snapchat advertising agency. “With the latest update, they’ve turned their product into something that older people can relate to.”

While Snapchat’s original purpose involved sending photos and video to other friends, the company now has “Stories,” a dedicated content page that allows users to aggregate posts (or snaps) and make them viewable for a 24-hour period. It’s a key feature for professionals, who no longer solely need to engage followers one on one. Instead, they can create a daily updated feed that their biggest fans can check out anytime they want. And Snapchat users are dedicated: Videos on Snapchat generate 10 billion views a day. – C.J. Mittica