Social media has become an inseparable part of the marketing strategy of nearly every business.
Before social media, businesses would have to spend a lot of money on advertising in order to promote their website. While SEO did provide a way of generating organic traffic at lower costs, it still required large amounts of content and patience to see real results.
Social networks allow you to get your brand out there and interact with your target audience. It’s not magic and it’s not easy, but it’s one of the best tools a smart business can use to promote its website and build an online presence.
You can read Part 1 of the How to Build Your Online Presence series here.
Before You Start: Social Media Tools
Before you create a social media strategy and start posting online, you’ll need a few social media tools to back you up.
If you’re building a website from scratch, you’ll need to define the exact social media features you want your web developer and designer to create for you.
If you’re using a website builder, things are going to be much simpler and easier. Most site builders have plugins, apps, and built-in features that support social media activity.
Wix, for example, has an app store where you can add free and paid apps that allow you to add very useful features to your website. You can add like and share buttons for popular social networks, social feeds to share your Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram feeds, among others, and even Facebook comments.
Other site builders, like Strikingly, don’t have an app store but do have various social sharing features like adding social feeds, editing the way a Facebook share looks, and adding ‘like’ buttons.
If you’re using WordPress, or a WordPress-based site builder like BoldGrid, you have access to pretty much any social media feature you can imagine due to the thousands of WordPress plugins available to you. Not all of them are free, so take the time to try them out, read about them, and see which ones are best for your website and social media strategy.
Creating a Blog
Having a blog on your website and uploading great content on a regular basis has many benefits. It helps your SEO efforts, it establishes your brand as a leader in your industry, and builds trust in your business. It also helps with your social media activities for two reasons:
Having your own interesting content to share is a great way of showing your target audience how interesting you are.
By writing content yourself and sharing a combination of curated and original content, you can get more traffic to your website.
Adding a blog to your website is easy if you’re using a site builder. All website builders have blog features, including WordPress, Wix, Strikingly, BoldGrid, SiteBuilder, and more.
When using a website builder, you’ll be able to use a simple, user-friendly dashboard to add your posts. WordPress, for example, is so convenient that even companies that build their websites from scratch with developers use the WordPress dashboard for the blog and content management.
Do Your Research
Creating a social media strategy takes time, and it all starts with doing quite a lot of research. There are three things you should be very well acquainted with:
Your target audience
Researching Your Industry
Find out what the most popular sites are in your industry and stay updated on the latest news. Learn about all of the big conventions and trade shows, and see who the biggest influencers and bloggers are.
Your industry is a big crowded room, and you need to know every single person and corner in that room in order to move around more freely and easily.
Researching Your Target Audience
If your target audience is very broad, try to divide them into smaller niches and groups. Learn everything about your target audience as if you’re trying to get to know an actual person.
Where do they hang out online?
What do they love talking about?
What social networks do they use most?
Who do they follow and what do they share?
What problems do they have and how can you solve them?
These are only a few of the questions you can ask, but you get the idea. Think of your target audience as a person and try to define their character and behavior.
Researching Your Competitors
Researching your competition is important because you have to know what you’re up against and you can learn a lot from what your competitors are doing.
Deducing what is working and not working for them helps save you a lot of trial and error. What social networks are they most active on, and do they have a strong and engaged following? What type of content do they post that is shared the most?
Make Things Easy for Your Fans
Here’s where your social media tools come in. You want to make it as easy as possible for your fans to find your content and share it.
That means adding social media share buttons to every single post on your blog so that they can easily see how to share with their friends.
Make sure that your website visitors know what social networks you’re on by adding visible buttons inviting them to follow you and add you on the different networks.
When posting on social media, tell your readers what you want them to do. This can make a huge difference in your engagement rate. Ask them to share, tell them to comment or like. It’s important too that you know what exactly you want to achieve every time you post to social media.
Being Active on Social Media
Social networks are the online equivalent of a big room for social gathering. Each room has its own set of rules; things you should and shouldn’t do. It’s important to get to know the networks where you’ll be active so that you don’t make any big mistakes right at the start.
Choose only one or two social networks to target and invest time in being active there. Don’t just post about yourself and your business. Talk to your target audience, see how you can help them, get to know them, and show them that you care.