A Realistic Look at Social Media Marketing in 2017

Are you one of the thousands of brands getting overshadowed by businesses that are Insta-famous? You don’t have to get lost in the shuffle on social media – nor do you need to devote tons of hours and resources to your efforts.

There is a happy medium that can help you master Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram without breaking a sweat (or the bank). As a small business, optimize your endeavors to see a real impact from social media marketing in 2017.

The Realities of Social Media in 2017

According to a new survey by Clutch, 24% of small businesses do not use social media, with 8% stating they will likely not use it in the future.

These are surprising statistics in a world seemingly dominated by social news and accounts. Numerous studies have proven the effectiveness of social media marketing in terms of boosting brand awareness, gaining popularity, targeting customers, and cutting marketing costs. Yet almost one-fourth of small businesses have yet to jump on the bandwagon. This begs the obvious question – why?

It appears that many businesses are drastically underestimating the abilities of social media to improve sales, acquire leads, and seal conversions. Some brands have gotten stuck on the idea that social media “likes” don’t matter, and thus this type of marketing is a waste of time.

Others may mistakenly believe their target audiences do not use social media – a harmful misconception many studies disprove. Pew Research Center reveals 69% of the public uses some type of social media, with usage by older adults increasing in recent years.

Regardless of the reasons, in 2017 small businesses have no excuses not to join social media. It’s free, easy to use, and can lead to incredible returns on time and energy investments.

With the right tips, tricks, and tools, your social media marketing campaign can be the best thing your company does for brand awareness all year. At the heart of successful social media marketing lies the ability to balance your time – spend enough to see a real impact, but not so much that you let your other efforts fall on the backburner.

Spend the Right Amount of Time on Social Media

While scrolling through social media, you’ve likely noticed certain brand names appear over and over again, while others become lost in the fray. These are the companies that have struck the ideal balance between spending too much and too little time on social media.

Many small businesses dedicate enough time to social media to say they have a presence, but not enough to see a genuine impact from their social media efforts. Here’s how to solve this problem:

  • Allot time to each account. There is no one-size-fits-all formula for how much time to spend on social media. Analyze your social media marketing success on each account and dedicate a corresponding number of hours to each. If you believe spending more time on Twitter will help those numbers catch up to your Facebook account, make a change accordingly.
  • Keep up with the hottest social media platforms. Since the shutdown of Twitter’s video platform, Vine, many people have expressed concern over the future of Twitter. Meanwhile, Instagram’s audience has grown to more than 600 million users. Keep up with the latest social media news and trends to make sure your brand is posting on the latest and greatest platforms of the day.
  • Test and make adjustments. The social media sphere is constantly changing. Take an analytical approach to how often you share content on social media. Start by posting frequently, then gauge the engagement of your audience and the effectiveness of your efforts. Scale back or ramp up your social sharing according to your data. Constant vigilance is key to staying on top of your social media game.

Knowing how often to post on business social media accounts is not an exact science. It depends entirely on your brand, the success of your past efforts, and how much time you’re willing to put into this type of marketing.

However, marketers universally acknowledge the importance of not letting your accounts become inactive. An inactive account can hurt your brand, as it may make users believe your brand has gone out of business or does not care about its followers.

Make the Most of Your Time on Social Media

Once you’ve joined social media, don’t waste time on efforts that won’t make a real impact on your company’s success. Instead, maximize your returns on investment with smart social media marketing. Social media success centers on shareable content. The more users share your content, the wider its reach and impact. Content shares broaden your audience, improve word-of-mouth advertising, and make your brand more popular organically. Tips to create shareable content include:

  • Tailor content to your audience. Personalize your content for a specific niche or audience to improve the odds of sharing. If readers feel you’re writing for them, they will share it with their friends and family because it’s relevant to their lives.
  • Provide tips and solutions. Readers love a good tips list. They’re browsing the web searching for solutions to common problems. When in doubt, go with a simple “How To” article, or one that lists tips for problems your target audience faces.
  • Make sharing simple. Make commenting and sharing easy by linking your site with all your social media accounts. Use hashtags to make it easy for readers to comment on the topics you are discussing. Facilitate sharing in all possible ways.

The key to social media success is engaging with readers and encouraging them to share, like, and comment on your posts. Brand engagement is what drives new leads, conversions, and consumer loyalty. Consumers want a brand they can connect with on their favorite social media platforms, comment on, and start a conversation with. Be this brand by posting shareable content.

Decide if Other Efforts Make More Sense for Your Brand

There is no debating the importance of social media marketing for modern brands. However, there is a fine line between effective social media and a waste of time. Some small businesses confuse engaging an audience with posting frequently.

The amount you post will not matter if your users don’t respond. Instead of obeying the school of thought that more is more, review your social media efforts and use data analytics to decide just how often you should post. You may come to the surprising conclusion that your time is better spent elsewhere.

Do not ignore other marketing channels in lieu of social media. Email marketing, for example, is excellent for generating more leads, improving sales, boosting conversion rates, and reducing marketing costs. For some companies, email marketing is a better investment than social media since it is more direct.

For others, focusing more on face-to-face marketing and customer service may be a better option than spending hours optimizing social media accounts. This is not to say you don’t need social media marketing – simply adjust your efforts according to your specific needs and business goals.

Get Social Media Right

When you think about brands that are doing social media right, what is it that sets them apart? In most cases, they are closely in tune with what their audiences want. Nike is the leading retailer on Instagram with 71.6 million followers and counting.

Nike uses an expert mix of photo and video content to advertise its products, interview celebrity athletes, and shine the spotlight on lesser-known athletes. What really boosts its popularity, however, is the brand’s use of the clickable link space on its homepage to feature a landing page. Nike knows what its users want, and delivers again and again.

Whatever you do, don’t waste time on social media campaigns that aren’t delivering results. Measure your success, make changes, and continuously optimize your efforts for the best returns on investment.

Learn the perfect social media schedule for your company, whether that’s multiple posts a day or taking a break from social altogether to focus on other campaign venues. What works for your brand may not work for your competitors and vice versa. Find the system that suits you.

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Stephen Moyers

Stephen Moyers is an online marketer, designer, avid tech-savvy blogger. He is associated with Los Angeles based SPINX Digital Agency. He loves to write about web design, development, online marketing, social media and much more. Apart from writing, he loves traveling & photography. Follow Stephen on Twitter & Google+.

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