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ISocial media is everywhere. Wherever you go, people of all ages are posting photos to Instagram, tweeting, or writing a status update on Facebook. It’s hard to find someone in today’s world who doesn’t use some form of social media.
Social media is not only a tool for individuals, but is also an invaluable way for you as a business owner to track what your customers like and don’t like about your website, blog posts, approach to branding, and more.
However, all these benefits do not come without risk. It’s extremely important to make sure you remain in control of what data you’re sharing with others, and that it’s never used against you to hack into your accounts or gain valuable information.
Taking all of this into account and crafting a careful analysis of social media data can boost your company’s marketing efforts. But first, it’s essential to be familiar with the basics of social media marketing.
What You Need to Know About Social Media Marketing
Think of social media users as a bunch of people on a busy city street. You need to find a way to make sure your company’s content attracts their attention. There’s no point in creating great content if no one ever sees it. Utilizing social media marketing best practices is a great way to get started.
Choose the Right Networks
Choosing the right networks is a great first step in pursuing social media marketing. It’s important to note that your business doesn’t have to use all social media platforms to be successful. Being familiar with the demographics of your target audience and the average user of each social media platform is key.
For example, if your business targets young people, you’ll likely want to prioritize platforms like Instagram and Twitter over something like Facebook, which attracts an older user base.
Diversify Your Content
The next thing you’ll want to do is to make sure you diversify your content. Social media users generally have short attention spans and plenty of content to choose from, so you’ll need to work hard to boost your social media engagement and keep your audience entertained.
If 99 percent of your posts are promotional pushes for one of your products, your potential customers will likely be turned off and focus their attention elsewhere. However, if you also utilize custom graphics, blog posts, photos, and news articles, your target audience will feel more engaged and therefore more likely to respond when you do decide to employ a promotional push.
Find a Consistent Brand Voice
Another way you can attract an engaged following through social media marketing is to find a consistent brand voice. You want your brand to have a personality that’s in line with the mission and goals of your company. Consistency makes you trustworthy, and that quality alone can help you stand out of the crowd.
Create a Content Calendar
All this consistency and diversification can become hard to keep track of if you don’t have a way to organize it. Creating a content calendar is the single best way you can make sure your social media marketing strategy is staying on track.
A content calendar not only allows you to craft posts ahead of time, therefore giving yourself the opportunity to thoroughly think through each posts, but it also helps you remain consistent in your publishing. A brand that posts religiously three times a week is going to fare much better than a brand who posts once every other week in July and then five times a day in August.
Use a Social Media Management Platform
So you’ve established a content calendar, but how do you keep track of all these posts once you’ve crafted them, and how do you make sure they’re getting posted on the right days at the right times? Using a social media management platforms makes all of this quite easy.
Programs like Hootsuite or Buffer allow you to manage multiple platforms, track analytics, respond to comments, schedule posts, and more. Instead of visiting several websites and tracking your posts on each one, centralizing all this data into a social media management platform is much more effective and efficient.
Analyze and Improve
The final thing you need to know about social media marketing is how to use data to analyze and improve your efforts. If you know which posts perform well and which don’t, you’ll have a pretty good idea of why and what you need to do to change that. Analyzing these metrics will help you better engage with your target audience.
Don’t forget that social media is constantly evolving and that you’ll need to be up to date on best practices so you can stay ahead of the curve and not get lost in the vast sea of posts and updates.
How Social Media Helps Capture Quantifiable Data
So what’s the use in collecting a huge amount of data through social media analytics? You can leverage that data to help make important business decisions.
Gone are the days of recording the number of likes and comments on your posts and calling it a day. Today’s analytic technologies are much more advanced and can help your business in more complex ways.
Social media data can tell you how much people identify or sympathize with your brand, if they’ve recently had a life-changing event that might open them up to new purchasing opportunities, and a host of other things. And you should use that social media data to generate new leads.
If you can use social media data to specifically identify your audience and even predict its actions, you’ll be well on your way to improve the standing of your company through effective social media marketing.
Protect Vulnerable Personal Information From Hackers
If you’re doing it right, you’re relying heavily on social media marketing and data to make sound business decisions. That means this information is extremely valuable.
In an age where you often hear of data breaches and hacking, typically of major companies, it’s more important than ever to protect yourself and thus your customers. Using the best practices for protecting vulnerable information, you can protect your data and your business.
Know What Hackers Are Looking For
First, you’ll need to know what hackers are looking for. Think about how much personal data is on the average social media account – phone numbers, email addresses, details about where you work, how old you are, even where you live. Some users will even have credit cards linked to their social media accounts. Unprotected social media data is low-hanging fruit for hackers.
Use Strong Passwords
As a business, you need to take online security seriously. That starts with strong passwords. Easily identifiable personal or business information will not cut it, leaving you vulnerable and at risk for a cyber attack. Creating a unique password for each account and not reusing passwords across platforms is a great place to start.
Be Careful What You Share
Once you have strong passwords, you’ll still need to be careful what you share via social media and over unsecured wifi networks. Don’t conduct any business over public wifi connections and when in doubt, be skeptical. If something seems slightly off, it probably is. The last thing you want is for all your hard-earned data to fall into the wrong hands.
Social Media Data: Conclusion
By knowing the basics of social media marketing, learning how social media can help capture quantifiable data, and knowing how to protect your vulnerable personal information from hackers, you’ll be well on your way to using social media to its full advantage for your business.
Jori Hamilton is a writer and journalist from the Pacific Northwest who covers social justice issues, healthcare, politics, and the workplace. You can follow her work on twitter, Linked In, and her portfolio.