P18SocialMedia
February 15

Social Media for Business

Social media is beginning to reach its potential as a marketing tool. Businesses are finding they can use social media channels to sell their products or services while maintaining an authentic voice that social media is famous for. With 2015 now in full swing, we predict that companies that make the most of social media -like Twitter- to help grow their customer base will take advantage of these top trends this year, including better aim, integration, predictive analytics (and a bit of good, clean fun.)

Targeting audiences: Instead of trying to reach the masses to find a handful of customers, the idea is to specifically target several small, tailored groups of people via the social media channel that your business is most likely to reach them on. That way, you can reach more people who are relevant to your business and more likely to become customers. Learning about your target audience will help in fine-tuning the types of content you will share with your followers. Think about your ideal customer and which types of content trigger the most engagement. Images and videos perform exceptionally well on social media, followed by links to interesting, informational blog posts. On Twitter, your company can target specific audiences by using the @reply to engage customers one-on-one, or Tweet-to-Tweet, allowing you to tailor your message, send a direct response and create better grounds for established customer relationships. Promoted Tweets (see next section) are a paid way for companies to promote their content to a specific audience, extending their reach.

Blending paid and owned content: As marketers have perfected their social media strategies, they have found that blending their paid and owned media together lets them get their content out to more people while keeping costs down and still maintaining an authentic voice. Some good uses of paid content on Twitter are developing Promoted Tweets to drive traffic to a downloadable piece of content, a company blog post or to increase awareness about a new product. One thing to avoid with Promoted Tweets is overly self-serving content as it’s likely to be rejected by the very audience you’re trying to reach. Any good marketing campaign should include organic interaction with customers and potential customers as well as paid content. Examples of owned content include Tweets from your company’s Twitter account that shares your latest blog post, provides an exclusive offer via a digital coupon or retweets of content that complements your business. Working together, paid and owned content can build engaged audiences who interact with content and influence their friends to do the same. Striving to find the perfect blend of paid and owned media will be the challenge in 2015.

Enlisting employees to help share: Employees want to advocate and be the voice of your brand, but often businesses are hesitant because they’re fearful of social media. However, when employees are sharing their company’s social media content on their own channels, businesses cash in with a higher organic reach and engaged employees who feel passionately about the company. Most businesses know or can find out who their potential spokespeople are – those most active on social media and who understand the rules of engagement. How should a business organize this effort? Start by making sure your employees feel good about your company’s values and the goods or services it offers. That way, customers recognize that your employees are happy, and they’ll feel good about buying from you. Provide training to help employees identify opportunities to advocate the company brand and encourage customers to interact with your company on your social media pages.

Understanding customers better: Until now, cost and complexity have limited small businesses from benefitting from predictive analytics and machine learning. Using social media software with predictive analytics can help you find Tweets that are relevant to your business. By observing Tweets a business owner replies to (finds relevant) and applying a variety of machine learning algorithms to those Tweets, a Twitter marketing tool, like SocialCentiv, predicts which Tweets are most likely relevant to that customer, saving time and money versus manual searches.

Laughing it up!: Social media marketers have found that one of the best ways to resonate with their followers – many of which are Millennials – is to be silly and give them a good laugh. Businesses can achieve this through pictures, videos, contents or even corny jokes. That being said, humor has boundaries – make sure that jokes are within good taste, tied to the business and relevant. And be sure that you choose those people within your group who are best qualified to communicate humor within those boundaries. One such example of humor done well is BarkBox’s humorous Pawliday contest.

On social media, like Twitter, is not just about gaining more followers, but engaging those most relevant customers and potential customers. Capitalizing on these top five trends early on, and continuing to use them throughout the year, can make a huge difference in taking your social media marketing – and your customer engagement – to the next level.

Bernard Perrine is CEO and cofounder of social marketing application SocialCentiv, patented software technology that helps businesses find new customers on Twitter. You can reach him at [email protected].

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