If you have a business, you likely spend a lot of time finding the latest social media marketing tips. And for a good reason.

There are now 4.2 billion active social media users – almost twice as many as five years ago. These users spend an average of 2 hours and 25 minutes on social channels every day.

These nearly 2.5 hours are an incredible opportunity for companies to:

  • Build brand awareness
  • Develop customer relationships
  • and even make sales directly through social platforms.

Here are all the social media tips you need to start marketing your business in 2021.

Bonus: Get a free social media strategy template to plan your own strategy quickly and easily. Also use it to track the results and present the plan to your boss, teammates and clients.

12 essential social media tips for businesses

1. Start with a plan

It's easy to use social media for business purposes. We all use social media in our daily lives, so the tools provide some level of convenience.

It doesn't cost anything to create a Facebook Page for your business, post on Instagram, or create a presence on Twitter.

But before you step in in their footsteps first, remember: Every good business strategy starts with a good plan. Yes, you can use social tools for free. However, the time and effort required is still an investment in your business.

Without a plan, you don't have a clear goal for what you want to achieve. That said, there is no way of knowing if you will get a return on that investment.

Take the time to create a social media plan in advance. This ensures that all of your social endeavors support certain business goals.

Here are some strategic social media tips from our guide to creating a social media marketing plan:

Set goals and objectives for social media

Create goals that follow the SMART framework. They should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely.

Align your goals with metrics that really make an impact on your business. For example, you could aim to get customers or increase your conversion rate instead of just collecting likes.

Research the competition

How do your competitors use social media? While you don't want to copy them, learning from what others have done can cut your learning curve significantly.

A competitive analysis can help you find out what works and what doesn't for other companies like yours.

Perform a social media audit

If you are already using social media, now is the time to take a step back and evaluate your existing efforts.

We have an easy-to-use social media review template to walk you through the process.

get inspired

You've looked at what your competitors are doing online, but what about other companies? Be inspired by the success of companies in all industries.

Where do you find these success stories? Visit the business section of most social networking sites and find useful case studies.

This blog can also be a great source of inspiration as we always have plenty of examples. And just pay attention to what your favorite brands are doing. What Makes You Click, Follow, or Buy?

Create a social media calendar

A social media calendar allows you to post the right content on the right social channels at the right time. It should include a plan for your content mix.

Try to start with the 80-20 rule. Use 80% of your content to educate, educate, or entertain your audience. Use the other 20% to promote your brand or sell your products.

2. Decide which platforms are right for you

Don't make assumptions about where your audience spends their time online.

Your instincts might tell you that if you are targeting Gen Z, you should skip Facebook and focus on Instagram and TikTok. However, the data shows that almost a quarter of Facebook users are between 18 and 24 years old.

Facebook advertising audience profile

Source: Digital 2021

When selling to baby boomers, the social environment may not seem like your top priority. But it should be. Facebook and Pinterest are the top networks for boomers. Adults over 65 years of age are Facebook's fastest growing audience segment.

You might think that TikTok marketing doesn't fit your brand. But established brands with audiences far outside of Gen Z are also experimenting with this platform.

@Washington Post

I've got my hands full somehow.

♬ Original sound – Betches

Remember, TikTok recorded 56 million new app downloads in December 2020 alone.

We have compiled demographic information for all major social networks. Use this option to see where your audience is spending their time online. Remember, however, that this demographic is only an overview.

To ensure that you are using social media effectively for business, you need to do your own research. This will help you understand how your specific audience is spending their time online.

Choosing your platforms doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing approach. You can use different social channels to target different audiences or achieve different business goals.

The average internet user has 8.4 social media accounts so you can connect with them on different platforms for different purposes.

For example, you can use Facebook to build your audience and generate leads, and Twitter for customer service.

3. Know your audience

One reason why corporate social media is so effective is because it allows you to target your audience at the micro level. But first you need to understand who your audience is.

Start by gathering data about your current customers. Then deepen yourself with social media analytics. You will soon understand who is shopping from you online and who is interacting with you.

With Hootsuite Insights Powered by Brandwatch, you can uncover detailed information like top hashtags, recommendation pages, and even specific social authors for terms relevant to your business.

Once you have defined your target audience, you can create buyer personalities to help you understand the best ways to speak to your target audience. We have a free buyer personality template to get you started.

4. Expand your audience

Once you have a clear picture of who your audience is, you can revisit your social media plan. It's time to look for ways to reach out to more people like her.

For example, when lockdown measures resulted in more people looking for ways to spend their time at home, The Great Courses Plus changed its Facebook advertising strategy to quickly expand audiences.

They created an expanded free trial offer and promoted it to a wide audience in the United States. They then used an equal audience to reach new audiences in Canada, the UK and Australia who were similar to their best existing customers.

Great Courses Facebook's advertising strategy

Source: Facebook

This expanded audience strategy resulted in a more than tenfold increase in average monthly subscriptions.

You can also use social media to expand the audience for your local business. For example, you can use Hootsuite Geo Search Streams to monitor and act on local conversations about your business. You can then reach new potential customers who are already in your geographic area.

5. Build relationships

The unique benefit of social media marketing for small businesses is that you can speak directly to customers and followers. You can build relationships over time rather than asking for a sale beforehand.

That said, you can certainly use social media to get an upfront sale, as we explain in tip 7.

More than 44% of internet users use social networks to research brands. Part of that discovery is figuring out who you are as a brand and what you stand for.

If people are engrossed with your organic content or ads, getting back involved is a good idea. This helps build trust and form a loyal following. When fans share and like your content, you will move up in the social algorithms and get new, free visibility.

For most Facebook users, there are more than 1,000 potential newsfeed posts at the same time. Engagement is one of the signals Facebook uses to predict which of these posts users are likely to see. As you build relationships with your followers, they are more likely to see your posts.

By cultivating relationships, you can also build a loyal community that will result in ongoing sales over time. New customer acquisition is great, but don't downplay the value of customer loyalty.

In the Hootsuite Social Transformation Survey, 69% of respondents said social media helped maintain customer relationships during the very diverse marketing era of COVID-19. And Twitter data shows that 70% of people say it is important for bands to increase positivity in the moment.

How can you build relationships without replying to follower comments on your posts? Try these strategies:

Create a Facebook group

Facebook groups are another great way to build community and brand loyalty.

For example, the New York Times Podcast Club Facebook group is "a book club for podcasts." With more than 37,000 members, the group establishes the NYT as a point of contact for information that goes beyond current news.

It also motivates members to listen to the selected podcasts each week to avoid dropping the listener.

Connect with other entrepreneurs and influencers in your niche

Do you think your company is too small to work with influencers? Micro-influencers and nano-influencers with only 1,000 engaged followers can effectively increase brand trust.

As a bonus, they are often in the budget range of smaller brands.

Lively lingerie brand has partnered with influencers, including those with a small audience, to promote their bralettes and skin care products.

Using analytics-based tests, the company found that influencers' ad motifs advertised in their own profiles had a 75% higher conversion rate and a 50% higher return on ad spend.

Mention followers in your posts and stories

Collecting user-generated content through competitions and branded hashtags is a great way to source quality material for your social feed. UGC is also a powerful source of social evidence.

Even better, share (and tag them, of course) your followers' content on your social channels to build relationships with some of your biggest fans.

When a fan tags you on an Instagram story, you'll receive a notification in your direct messages. Make sure you share again – it's an easy win-win situation.

Use the built-in interactive tools of the social platforms

From Twitter polls to interactive stickers in Instagram Stories, there are many ways to trigger certain interactions with your followers.

For example, Panera Bread launched a relationship building campaign this summer to raise awareness of its new coffee subscription. They announced they would be giving away free coffee all summer if 500,000 people voted yes in their Twitter poll.

Would you like an unlimited free reward all summer? 500,000 votes for YES by June 22nd. And it's up to you, America. # FREECOFFEE4SUMMER

– Panera bread (@panerabread) June 16, 2020

The survey received more than 588,000 responses.

"We are a brand built on strong one-to-one relationships with our customers," said Kelli Nicholson, director of brand marketing for Panera Bread. She told Twitter the campaign was an important way to evaluate whether the coffee subscription program was something that customers would appreciate.

6. Pay attention to trends

We're not saying you should jump on every meme that goes viral. (Please don't jump on every meme that goes viral.)

However, it's a good idea to keep an eye out for social media trends so you understand what people are looking for when they log on to their social channels. This allows you to create appropriate content that will resonate over time.

State Farm Insurance has an ongoing Pinterest campaign that features informative content related to making important life changes like buying a car or having a child. Since these moments tend to influence insurance needs, it's an obvious match that has helped the insurance giant bond with Millennials and Gen X.

Last spring, when travel shifted from a global affair to a much more local experience, road trips were a hot topic of online research. State Farm created a series of Pins about road trips and how the company helped keep its customers safe during uncertain times.

The top five reasons why people are now using social media are:

  • To keep up to date with news and current events
  • Find funny or entertaining content
  • Refuel free time
  • Keep in touch with friends
  • Share photos or videos with others

January 2021 reasons for using social media

Source: Digital 2021

Always think about the current needs of your audience. What worked last year may not work today.

Social listening is an extremely valuable information gathering tool that helps you understand what your audience (and potential audience) want to hear from your brand.

This is one of the reasons why two-thirds of respondents to the Hootsuite Social Media Trends survey said social listening rose in value in 2020.

We've created a complete guide to using social listening for your business.

7. Sell your stuff with social commerce

Social media marketing has evolved into social commerce in recent years: the ability to sell your products directly through social channels. And business is booming, with a global market value of $ 89.4 billion in 2020.

By June 2020, 18.3% of adults in the US had made a purchase on Facebook and another 11.1% had made a purchase on Instagram.

Adults in the United States who made a purchase through select social media platforms

Source: eMarketer

You can now use social shopping tools to sell your products and services even without a website.

We break down all the details in individual posts that explain how to use Instagram Shopping, how to sell with Facebook Shops and how best to use Instagram Live Shopping.

8. Mix your formats

Make sure to switch your social post formats from time to time. If you usually publish GIFs, try a JPG. If you typically post still images, try a video.

Some video tweet inspiration ✨ pic.twitter.com/TyEMgyZyeb

– Twitter Business (@TwitterBusiness) August 25, 2020

Use all formats in any social network, e.g. B. stories, roles or live videos.

In this way, you will learn, for one, which formats are best for different types of content (more on this below) and for different social networks.

For example, the common wisdom is that posts with images always do better. But Hootsuite recently ran an experiment where tweets in plain text outperformed those with an image or GIF.

I tested different types of tweets to see how they work (in terms of engagement) through the @hootsuite channel.

By far our most successful posts were linkless posts. No CTAs, no websites, nothing. Easily share thoughts or helpful information in plain text.

– Nick 🇨🇦 (@AtNickMartin) December 4, 2020

This wasn't the case a few years ago, and Hootsuite would never have made this discovery if every tweet included an image.

Here's another reason not to stall: The Facebook algorithm uses "Content Type Diversity" to ensure that a person's news feed has a good mix of content types. Changing your formats can increase the reach of your content.

If you want to use images and don't have a great photo library of your own, stock photo websites are a great source of free, high-quality photos to use in your social posts. Don't use random images that you find online. This is definitely not okay and can get you into serious trouble.

Finally, make sure that all of your posts, regardless of format, are inclusive and accessible. For starters: add alt text to the images and make sure the videos have subtitles. And make sure your audience is fully represented in the images you share.

9. Focus on quality rather than quantity

The sheer number of small business social media marketing options may seem overwhelming – but you don't have to do all of them. It's more important to create quality content on a few key channels than it is to be present on every single network.

Most importantly, make sure your social posts add value. If you are just bad luck and selling, people will be very little motivated to follow you. Remember, social marketing is about building relationships.

Be human. Be honest. Post great content. This is important and cannot be faked.

You can't do everything and there is no need to try. Reach your audience in places where they already spend time online.

Focus on making really good use of a social channel or two, at least to start off. Once you master these, you can build on what you have learned and expand your efforts.

10. Use the right tools

The secret to using social media effectively is to use tools that automate or simplify much of the work.

There are tons of tools you can use to increase your productivity. That means you can take advantage of corporate social media without having a large social media team.

Here are some of our favorites.

Engagement management

Social media isn't a broadcast system – it's a way to connect with customers and fans.

Using social media management tools like Hootsuite, you can centralize all mentions and messages directed at your company into one dashboard. Then you can respond and get involved without logging into each of your individual social media accounts.

Analytics

Having all of your analytics in one place can give you a better picture of your overall social endeavors.

Brandwatch's Hootsuite Insights is a great way to see how well you're capturing the conversation in your room. With Hootsuite Analytics, you can generate detailed reports on your performance across social channels.

graphic

If you're struggling to create eye-catching images for your posts, turn to tools that can get your job done.

VSCO, A Color Story, and Canva are some of our favorites. For more photo editing tools, check out our post on how to edit Instagram photos.

Content maintenance

It can be difficult to come up with new content every day to share. Content curation can help. The art of sharing high quality contributions from others (with credit, of course) is the art.

This can be a great way to add value to your followers and keep them busy. Tools like BuzzSumo and Pocket can help you find and organize content to share. For more content curation tools, check out our beginner's guide to content curation.

11. Use scheduling and automation to free up more time for engagement

We talked about creating a social content calendar at the beginning of this post.

Once you have this calendar set up, you can pre-create your social posts and use scheduling tools like Hootsuite to automatically post them at the right time.

This way, you can use a block of time per day or even per week to create your social content. It's far more effective than letting social contributions distract you from other tasks throughout the day.

You can also use automation tools like chatbots to reduce the number of hours you spend on social media marketing.

12. Track and refine your performance

When executing your social strategy, it is important to keep track of what is working and what is not. You can then optimize your efforts and improve the results.

The above analytics tools will give you a great picture of your social endeavors and keep track of which metrics are most important to you.

Once you have an idea of ​​how your strategy is working, it's time to look for ways to improve. A / B testing allows you to make small changes that will increase your success over time.

For example, land development advertiser Newsome Interactive LLC found through testing that "Learn More" was the best call-to-action for its Facebook ads that got clicked through to Messenger.

It wasn't that "More Info" was getting the most clicks. Instead, it's best for users to fill out a full chat sequence and contact form so Newsome can collect qualified leads.

Jasper Highlands Facebook Messenger A / B Tests

Source: Facebook

"Chat Now", on the other hand, resulted in certain questions being asked and the chat sequence being canceled before it was completed.

Regardless of the size of your business, you can use social tools to better connect with your audience, reach new prospects, and increase your brand awareness. When the options seem overwhelming, just start small.

When you find out what works, you expand your efforts and your audience. One of the great things about social media for small businesses is that you can always use the tools in any way that makes most sense for your business and budget.

Save time and grow your small business with Hootsuite. From a single dashboard, you can post and schedule news across all of your social media channels, engage your followers, and monitor what people are saying about your brand online. Try it for free today.

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