Social Media Marketing for Companies
Not only since in January due to the change of the Facebook algorithm a wave of uncertainty sloshed through marketing offices worldwide, it is clear: Social media is an essential part of communication strategies of today’s companies. The various functions of social networks offer entrepreneurs unique opportunities to interact with customers and give their own company a face.
At the same time, successful social media marketing requires a continuous flow of creative ideas, quick reactions to followers and fans as well as the right feeling for current topics and trends. This effort can quickly be underestimated. Not least because social networks and their functions are in a constant state of flux. That’s why today’s blog post is about what to consider when building a successful social media strategy.
Get to know your target group
Defining your own target group is the first step when entering the social media. Social media is based on communication and exchange – therefore the question who exactly you want to address is of crucial importance.
As a starting point, it is worthwhile first of all to fall back on existing data about your regular customers. Try to characterize your typical customer and ask yourself which content might be relevant for him. Tools such as Google Analytics can also provide insight into your customer’s area of interest and demographics. Derive relevant topics from search queries and preferences of your target group. Information about age, profession and educational level will also help you to find the right tone for your posts and, for example, to decide whether you prefer to call your followers “duzen” or “siezen”. Age is particularly important when estimating which platforms your target group is registered on. A detailed overview of the preferences of the various age groups can be found here.
The concrete user behaviour of your target group in the social media should also not be disregarded. Does your user community only read passively and collect interesting information? Do your followers want to get into conversation with others and exchange opinions? Or does your target group consist of particularly active users who primarily produce and share their own content? The way your target group uses the social media gives you valuable hints for the design of your own posts.
Draw as concrete a picture as possible of your desired target group for the start of your social media campaign. This image can then be further refined using the various analysis tools of the social networks. With the profile information, contacts and likes of your fans you can get to know your target group better and better and adapt your content accordingly.
Set up a concrete social media strategy
Like every other component of the marketing mix, the start with social media marketing requires clearly defined goals. At the beginning there is therefore the question: What exactly do I want to achieve with my social media campaigns?
One objective can be, for example, the retention of existing customers. This means concentrating on using social media to keep customers in mind and ultimately encourage them to buy again. Invite your customers to network with you and stay present. Show gratitude for loyalty through special promotions, vouchers or share relevant additional information about your products and services.
In addition to customer loyalty, the social media strategy can also focus on increasing brand awareness. With 2.62 billion users worldwide, the Social Web provides access to an enormous pool of potential customers. In particular, the ability to filter according to location and interests makes it easier to address exactly those users for whom your company is relevant. The main goal here is to attract attention and attract new fans through particularly interesting, creative and relevant posts. Due to the like and share functions of networks, content does not spread as quickly anywhere as in the social media. By designing your posts in such a way that other users talk about them and share them with friends and acquaintances, you can gain new followers and increase your profile.
Last but not least, a social media profile enables you to give your company its own voice. Social media are based on communication and exchange and by sharing your company values, you create an individual brand personality with which potential customers can identify. This can take the form, for example, of insights into everyday company life, statements on current events, or casual and humorous postings. Signal that you are interested in a dialogue with your customers and remain as authentic as possible. In this way you create credibility and trust – a basic prerequisite for turning a follower into a customer.
Plan content and number of posts
Regular maintenance is particularly important for the successful implementation of your social media presence. Regardless of whether you post daily or once a week, the most important thing is to stay on the ball.
The creation of an editorial plan is helpful here. Consider in advance for a period of 6-12 months which and how often you want to switch activities to your accounts. Mark also directly special days or events, which could be relevant for your enterprise. These can be classic holidays such as Christmas or Valentine’s Day, but also industry-relevant events or a planned product launch.
Even a simple calendar in Excel helps to give your profile a clear line and to distribute the tasks clearly. On the basis of your plan you can then estimate the time and personnel expenditure at the same time. So you can immediately see whether a new position is needed for your project after all.
Fill your plan with a mix of contents that relate to your company and its performance and offer added value to your customers. Focus on providing useful information and sharing interesting or entertaining topics. Explicit advertising contributions should make up only a small proportion of your social media profile. Also pay attention to varied media forms and vary between text, photos, videos, GIFs or links. Because also in the social media applies: A picture says more than thousand words.
In order to plan even better, professional tools can also help you to create your posts in advance and post them automatically later. Here, however, it is important to remain flexible in order to be able to continue to respond to the current events of the day.
In order for your posts and activities to have the desired effect, it is essential that they reach the user. What the user ultimately sees in the newsfeed is determined by the algorithm of the respective network. Decisive for being classified as valuable content is the degree of engagement, i.e. the degree of interaction between your followers and your content.
Ideally, you should build up your own community with your profile page over time, with which you are in a lively exchange. If your contributions arouse real interest, your followers will become advertising ambassadors by sharing your company’s contributions and discussing them with other users.
Encourage your followers to interact with you and other users. Address your fans directly and ask their opinion, for example through surveys. Tap into a hot topic or use features like Facebook Live Video to chat with your users in real time. But always make a meaningful reference to your company – a simple call to link, comment or share is punished by the algorithms.
Especially important: Always react quickly, competently and friendly to your followers. As fast as a post can go virally, the minds in the comment columns can heat up because of supposed trifles.
As a smaller company in particular, it can also be useful to look beyond one’s own nose. This means that it is not only a matter of attracting visitors to one’s own site, but also of building up a network by sharing, likening and commenting on other contributions and thus gaining reach.
Which social media platform is the right one?
Once it has been clarified when and what should be posted, one last question remains: Where do I want to share my content? The Internet contains a multitude of social networks, some of which differ greatly in terms of functions, structure and user group. Therefore, at the end, we briefly present 5 of the most important social media platforms:
With 30 million active users per month, Facebook is by far the most popular social network in Germany. Facebook’s audience is tending to get older and older: users aged 30 and over are showing a significant increase, while teenagers are increasingly switching to other platforms. For 67% of companies, Facebook remains the most important platform for social media marketing. If you want to reach as many people as possible, you can’t avoid Facebook. The platform is also worthwhile for more regionally operating companies thanks to its location function. With a company page on Facebook, a wide variety of content can be shared with followers, even in real time thanks to the live video function. Facebook also offers an easy-to-understand advertising tool in the form of the Ad Manager. Due to the large amount of data that users enter on Facebook, highly individualized ads can be placed.
Compared to Facebook, its subsidiary Instagram has a much younger user community: 84% of 14 to 19-year-olds have an Instagram profile.
In terms of content, Instagram clearly focuses on the visuals. Companies should pay more attention to the aesthetics and quality of the photos and videos they share. In order to reach the desired audience, the relevant keywords are then set in the form of hashtags. Instagram is particularly suitable as a photo sharing platform for lifestyle and leisure products such as clothing, cosmetics, gastronomy and cars. The platform has become even more attractive for e-commerce with the new “Shop-the-Look” function, which allows users to switch from the post office to the web shop with a single click.
LinkedIn / Xing
LinkedIn and its counterpart for the German-speaking region Xing are platforms on which employers and employees network with each other. Employer branding allows companies to present themselves on their business profile as attractive employers in order to recruit new, qualified employees. This can be done either through job advertisements or by contacting potential candidates directly. The professional network in the B2B area can also be expanded and maintained by connecting with customers and suppliers. The profile pages of LinkedIn or Xing can be followed by interested readers and can serve as the company’s mini website.
Twitter is a so-called “microblogging” service that allows you to share short messages, pictures or videos limited to 240 characters.
Twitter’s greatest strengths are its topicality and rapid dissemination of information. In Germany, the network primarily serves as a source of information on current events. The most popular accounts are therefore public figures, athletes and media sites.
Companies usually use Twitter in the B2B sector. Here it is particularly worthwhile to post information-rich content in order to network with other media and marketing experts and gain reach through retweets. Similar to Instagram, Hashtags are used on Twitter for the targeted placement of tweets. Some companies also take advantage of the fast-paced nature of Twitter by offering a kind of enhanced customer service via the chat function and tweets.
On the video platform YouTube, various video clips can be uploaded and linked and shared in other networks. For companies, the trend on YouTube is away from the classic advertising clip and towards emotionally activating image videos or personally designed tips and tricks in the form of tutorials. The potential of creating one’s own content on YouTube becomes clear in a study by Statista in which 51% of respondents stated that before making a decision to buy, they occasionally found information up to and including YouTube. Although the video portal ranks second among the most frequently used networks worldwide, the commercial use of YouTube with one’s own content in Germany is, however, rather low. This can often be explained by the relatively high cost of own video productions.
In the rarest cases it is a must to play all available channels. Especially for smaller companies, it makes sense to initially decide on a social network. Ultimately, the choice of the right social media platform depends on the individual company goals and the desired target group.
Social networks have become an integral part of everyday life for most consumers. Facebook, Instagram & Co. are not only used for entertainment and communication, but also serve as a source of information and help for purchasing decisions. Social media therefore offers companies the opportunity to specifically address new customers, increase their reach and strengthen customer relationships. It is therefore worth investing time and resources in the development and maintenance of your social media presence! Rely on content with added value and an appealing brand personality – always with your target group in mind. In this way you can show your followers what your company stands for and win loyal fans who can eventually become new customers.