How Social Media Works for Businesses [Explained By an Agency]

**This article was originally written in 2013. Due to the changing social media landscape over the years , the article was updated on July 2nd, 2020. 

Social media has become an integral part of everyday life. From using Facebook to log on to different sites to tweeting at customer service for tech support, we are constantly on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. In fact, The Pew Research Center has estimated that as of February 2019, 72 percent of Americans use at least one social media site. This prevalence of social media usage among the vast majority of consumers makes it truly invaluable to companies.

It is the best way to connect to people who already like your brand and to reach out to potential new clients and customers. However, getting started on social media can be daunting for a business owner not well versed in the industry. Do you start on Facebook to gain likes and advertise services? Or Twitter to gain exposure and give your brand a voice? There are a ton of things you can do to optimize your social media presence and fortunately, we’re here to help! At The Media Captain, we’re obsessed with making the most out of social media marketing. Check out some of the lessons we’ve learned about how social media can be used effectively for businesses, then try them out for yourself!

Establish a strategy

Social media is extremely expansive, so it’s important to approach social media marketing with a plan. It may be tempting to just go in and start posting, but that may end up being a detriment. Without a clear plan established, you may end up putting out disjointed and confusing content that distracts from your brand’s message. Before your first post, you should take some time to create a comprehensive social media strategy. This strategy includes several steps. 

  • Set your objectives- This can be very broad, including creating new channels, gaining followers, or increasing page view conversions into sales. Having a clear goal in mind will help you prioritize your methodology.
  • Research- Study your competitors. What are they doing well? What are they struggling with? This information can be invaluable when developing your own marketing strategy.
  • Find your own voice- While studying and emulating competitors can lead you in the right direction, if you depend on imitating competitor’s social media marketing, yours will end up falling flat. It’s important to develop your own voice for your brand and stick to it. 
  • Establish a schedule- There’s a fine line between posting too much, and not enough. Too many posts will lead to your followers muting your channel, and too few will find them forgetting about your brand. Study how similar industries use social media, and base your posting schedule around that. 

Determine which platforms to use

Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms out there, which may lead you to believe you should be on it. However, that may be a misconception. If your target consumer is middle-aged or older, using Instagram may be a misallocation of effort. Each social media platform has strengths, weaknesses, and primary users, and it’s critically important to pay attention to them. Now, this isn’t to say that you should forget platforms that aren’t most popular with your consumer’s age range, just be mindful and put more money behind the platforms that reach your target audience best. 

Understand your target audience

One of the reasons social media marketing can be so effective is the ability to target specific audiences. Using social media analytics you can see exactly who interacts with your content, their age, location, and nearly everything else. Through this, you can learn more about who is using your product, and adjust your marketing accordingly. Once you’ve determined the people using your product, it’s time to expand. 

Develop your own voice and use it

One of the best parts of social media marketing is the ability to speak directly with your consumers. Whether that’s working with them to solve a problem or increasing engagement, it all helps to establish trust in your brand. People are much more inclined to put their faith in a company if they see that they are actively listening and interacting with other patrons. People want to interact with their favorite brands. Retweeting a fan’s post will get them excited about you as a company, and will get you free exposure as they talk about it. When interacting with consumers, it’s important to consider your company’s voice. Are you going to be concise and to the point? Lighthearted? Informative? Developing and maintaining a consistent voice will encourage customers to engage more. 

Encourage Engagement

Engagement is free advertising. On Twitter, retweets get seen by followers, on Facebook posts are available for everyone to comment on, and on Instagram stories can tag other pages. There are a variety of ways to use these channels to encourage client engagement. Consider giveaways for tags, so users are more likely to tag your brand in their posts. Polls are easy to establish and easy to participate in, all while learning more about your users. Respond to tweets and comments, and more people will continue the conversation. All this results in more exposure, free advertising, and better information about your customers. 

Curate your content

When it comes to social media, quality is much more important than quantity. Too many posts can lead to followers unliking your brand or muting you, while too few makes you forgettable. It’s critical to focus on creating good, accessible content to encourage interaction. Visuals, imagery, infographics, and other easily consumable content will drive user engagement more than anything else. The quality of your content speaks to the quality of your company. 

Social media is such a unique way to communicate and interact with your customers and clients. It allows you to create a personality for your brand, and share content that furthers engagement and awareness. And every industry can benefit from it! Contractors can share images of their most recent renovation. Manufacturing can share interesting facts and information about their market. No matter what field you’re in, your business can benefit from some form of social media.