It's easy to create a Facebook page for your brand. It requires even less effort to create a Twitter or Instagram account. The challenge lies in creating an active, engaged following to eventually turn into loyal customers.
As Facebook's 15-year anniversary approaches, it continues to come up with new ways to amplify your brand's products and services. For instance, Business 2 Community identified private social messaging and direct social commerce as important trends to follow this year. Additionally, the Search Engine Journal explains that content is a huge driver of engagement alone.
Online audience engagement should be a top priority for any business, regardless of size. Business News Daily chatted with a few professionals to learn how to make your social media strategy more efficient and effective.
Build a good rapport with your followers
According to Sprout Social, more than 50 percent of consumers (across all age demographics) follow a brand before purchasing a product. Therefore, your brand's content can make or break a customer's decision to conduct business with you.
"Many businesses approach social media as a one-way street and inundate their potential consumers with transactional messaging in efforts to drive sales," said Ben Hordell, founding partner at the DXagency digital marketing and advertising firm. "To remedy this, companies must think [about the] customer first ... to determine what the consumers would want out of their relationship on social, and work from there."
Sprout Social also says 60 percent of baby boomers look for promotions on social media. As you'd expect, customers become disappointed seeding through an array of tedious promotional content without any type of discount to be found.
Prioritize one-on-one customer communications
If a customer reaches out to you on social media with a question, don't let it go unanswered, especially for more than 24 hours. Sprout Social says 30 percent of millennials engage with a brand on social once a month, which means your interaction has the potential to make an even larger impression – either negative or positive.
While crafting an individual response takes time, it's all part of providing top-notch customer service in a timely fashion. Writing up a promotional post can wait if it means getting a customer the answer they need, said Andrew Caravella, vice president of strategy and brand engagement at Sprout Social.
"The expectation is that, just like email, telephone and even in-person interactions at brick-and-mortar locations, customers want and need to be acknowledged [on social networks]," Caravella told Business News Daily. "That ability to be seen and heard, in turn, works in favor of marketers, because people are actually much more receptive to brands that take the time and effort to answer their queries on social [networks].
"Brands should indeed allocate customer service resources to the platform where their customers are most vocal, but they shouldn't let that attention compromise effort on another channel," he added.
Know and own your brand voice
Social media experts often talk about defining your brand's voice. This means finding a tone and personality that suit your brand, its mission and its values, and making sure all of your social media posts embody it.
"A common mistake I see is when a business tries to go beyond their natural brand voice and try to be funny or edgy [about] current events," said Justin Garrity, former president of social engagement platform Postano and current associate vice president of Sprinklr. "Oftentimes, it totally falls flat and does not align with a business's overall brand. The best brands on social media have a voice that is authentic to who they are and who their fans perceive them to be."
Devon Wijesinghe, CEO of social marketing platform Insightpool, agreed that brands should remain authentic in their messaging, especially when it comes to using popular memes and slang terms. Companies need to be very careful about this; otherwise, they risk alienating their customer base.
"[Don't use] slang language in marketing messages, especially when it doesn't fit the audience," Wijesinghe said. "Businesses should speak the same language as their audience."
Focus on a few channels to curate a special community
New social networks and apps seem to pop up all the time, but that doesn't mean your business has to be on every single one of them. It's better to have a well-executed, active presence on two or three social networks than a mediocre presence on each popular channel. Sprout Social reminds brands that every generation is now on Facebook, so brands should prioritize their presence on that network above others.
"Being on social is about building a community," Caravella said. "If you're just getting up and running, pick a network or two that best fit your audiences, and devote time and energy to cultivating a community on those networks. Rather than unattended profiles and scattered responses, customers will appreciate the dedicated efforts, communication will persist, and your organic following will grow."
Additional reporting by Nicole Fallon. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.