We all know that social media plays a key role in the success of a business. With the growth of the internet, communication and social connections have moved online.

From marketing to official press releases, no business can fail to use social media whenever there’s information to be shared.

But this use can sometimes seem complicated. Many businesses struggle in running social media accounts as they attempt to catch up with their markets.

If you are one of these, worry not.

Yes there are numerous things you need to learn if you’re to take full advantage of social media. However, with a little direction on the basics, you can easily get started.

Instead of trying to learn as much as possible, get started with the information provided in this article.

We have broken down the essentials and communicated them in simple language. This will help you easily remember and implement them.

Remember to add your comments below and share your experiences.

1. Identify Your Audience

The first thing you’ll have to do in business is identify your target audience. This is a smaller group of people within your larger target market.

Your target market is comparable to your industry. An industry is large but is specific in the things it deals with. Thus the hospitality market is different from the manufacturing market.

Both these are industries and include many other smaller portions. Those smaller portions are called niche. So within a larger market, you will choose a niche and focus on it.

Everything you do should be targeting your niche market. From participating in the current discussions to directing conversations, this group is what you will have to focus on. But before focusing on it, you have to first identify it.

Put differently, you have to choose it.

Choosing your audience can be a challenge if you’re not sure what business you want to do.

But if sure, then this becomes easy. There are primarily two ways of going about this:

1. Solving an existing problem – every business seeks to solve a problem and this is a sure way of having customers. People face many problems in their lives and they need solutions so as to have easier or better lives.

If you can identify a problem and set out to solve it, then you’ll have customers. All those interested in the solution will automatically form your target audience.

2. Giving what you have – sometimes, you don’t have to first identify a problem then proceed to solve it. You can start by just offering what you have then fine-tune it to suit the market you choose to target.

For example, you may have good negotiation skills and love bringing people together. Seeking to benefit from the skills, you can decide to start a business in the market where you think you’ll enjoy yourself most.

Maybe it’s the market of mergers and acquisitions.

Whatever industry you decide to get into, your skills are what you’ll be offering as a product.

As situations arise, you can then learn what to focus on and develop skills specific to that area.

2. Develop Your Solution

Since the basis for being in business is to solve problems, then that becomes step number two. And having identified your target, now you have to identify their problem(s).

Problems are also known as pain points and it’s crucial that you get these right. If you don’t, you might end up with a solution that has no market since it doesn’t solve the real problem people have.

Understanding your customers’ pain points needs an open mind. Do not embark on this process with a preconceived mind. This will prevent you from factoring in your customers’ experiences and stories.

There are several ways of identifying your customers’ pain points:

  • Questionnaires – these are a common way of collecting information. You can give them to your customers at the point of contact with your business. That can be your store or blog. You could also send them via email.

One thing to keep in mind about questionnaires is that they should not be too long.

The questions you ask should also be easy to understand. If people feel like they’re taking too much time answering questions, they can abandon the exercise.

  • Interviews – you could also organize for interviews. And just as with questionnaires, keep them short. Remember that you want to get critical information about your customers. As such, you have to come up with the right questions for the interview.
  • Surveys – these are easy to handle nowadays, especially online. These will however require a business blog so if you don’t have one, you’ll have to start there. You can still send these through email. One great service which can help you with this is Survey Monkey.
  • Customer feedback – your customers are always talking. If you listen to them carefully, you’ll be able to get valuable insight about their opinion of your business. Decide to make collecting customer feedback a part of your company’s customer experience

3. Identify your audience’s social media platforms

Social media is one of the most engaging mediums you have for relating and communicating with your customers.

A lot of influence happens on social media and it’s social nature makes it easy to gain new customers and sustain old ones.

It can however be a futile exercise if you work hard to gain a following but are on the wrong platform. To avoid that, you have to operate in the platforms where your audience is active on.

Since there are many platforms and different markets and audiences, it’s upon you to find out where you need to be. In most cases, you’ll need to be on at least three platforms.

Regardless of your target, customers usually operate in more than one platform.

Let’s look at an example situation where you are targeting a specific generation with your product. We will look at the various platforms which different generations regularly use.

Through this, you’ll see the importance of identifying the platform used by specific audiences.

Baby Boomers

Baby boomers is the name given to the generation of people born between 1946 and 1964.

Given those years, as at 2019, the oldest baby boomer is 73 years old while the youngest is 55 years old.

Some of the characteristics of baby boomers include:

  • The were born during a time of economical prosperity
  • Mentally focused
  • Disciplined
  • They have a strong work ethic
  • They value face-to-face interactions

These characteristics explain many aspects of their lives. For example, their strong work ethic has made them valuable in the workforce.

As they are currently retiring, many businesses are worried concerned. They can’t find younger people who are willing work as the boomers used to.

Of course it’s not that younger employees can’t do the work well, it’s just that different backgrounds bring up people who think and operate differently.

So, what social media platforms do baby boomers interact on?

According to a survey by Statista, up to 70% of baby boomers use YouTube while 68% use Facebook.

If you are then to target this audience, these two are the platforms to focus on. From the graph below, you can see the huge difference between the top two platforms and the third one.

Other popular platforms like Twitter and Snapchat have a small membership of 17% and 9% respectively.

Source: Statista

Source: Statista

Generation X

This generation is also referred to as Gen Xers. They were born between 1965 and 1980.

Here are some of the characteristics of Gen Xers:

  • They were born during a time of significant economic hardship
  • Lost much wealth in the great recession
  • Do not like ads on social media
  • Do not struggle to embrace digital media
  • Use shopping lists and are likely to make informed choices

Just as with the boomers, these characteristics define their lives in many ways. And this can be seen in the social media platforms they regularly use.

Quite similar to the stats on baby boomers, Facebook and YouTube are the most popular social media platforms for Gen Xers. However, if you look more carefully you’ll notice some differences. The figures are different when you look at usage numbers.

For example, whereas 68% of boomers use Facebook per month (on average), for Gen Xers it’s 77%. Whereas 70% of boomers use YouTube, for Gen Xers, the number is 82%.

Although other channels are less used by boomers, Gen Xers also frequently use WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Instagram.

These numbers should guide you on where to focus your efforts. You can run more campaigns on one platform if you know that it will give you better results due to high usage.

Generation Y (Millennials)

This generation has been the subject of much public discussion. Millennials are the individuals who are most misunderstood. They were born between 1981 and 1996.

Some of the things which have been said about them include that they are lazy and that they feel entitled. Of course, these statements come from people who have had an opportunity to interact with them.

However, you have to understand that millennials are here being judged on the basis of the characteristics of boomers.

Some of the characteristics of millennials include:

  • They are multitaskers
  • Socially connected
  • Tech savvy
  • They value reviews and recommendations from their networks
  • They love experiences

These characteristics define everything about their lives; from work relationships to romantic ones.

But as others struggle to understand them, they understand themselves and desire to work with those who appreciate them.

This is why there is a shift in the workplace culture in many organizations as businesses look to accommodate a young and rising workforce.

For social connections, millennials have their own preferences. This is where you see big differences between them and baby boomers.

As we have already seen, what you need to look at is not just the ranking of the social channels.

You should consider the numbers representing the use of individual channels.

A quick glance here will show you that the top 5 platforms are the same for both generations X and Y though the individual numbers are different.

You will notice that Snapchat hasn’t ranked anywhere among Gen Xers while it has a following among millennials.

Millennials also interact on Pinterest while Gen Xers don’t.

As long as you do your research about your target audience, you’ll get the information you need to make the right decisions.

Generation Z

This is the last generation that has been categorized. It consists of people born between 1997 to present. This categorization means that there might soon be another generation being named.

Some of the distinguishing characteristics of Gen Z include:

  • Work for money (don’t necessarily love their jobs)
  • Look for instant gratification
  • Are competitive
  • Diversity is the norm
  • Prefer some independence

Here is some data about the platforms Generation Z interact through while on the internet.

If you have seen little differences in the above three generations, then here is the big one.

Although YouTube is still top, Facebook is nowhere to be seen. Despite being a small player in the lives of the above generations, Snapchat now takes a bigger share of the social media world.

So far, you can see that the generation that is significantly different from the others is generation Z. This is because they have largely grown up using digital devices.

These differences in social media channels show the importance of finding out where you need to be in order to reach your target.

4. Create an online presence

Having identified where to find your audience, you now need to set up accounts on those platforms.

You will not be able to be social with your customers if you’re not interacting with them where they are.

Creating an online presence is not difficult, but it needs some knowledge and effort.

Here are some of the things you must have or do in order to have a solid brand on social media.

  • Build up your blog – social media is not all about Facebook, Instagram and the others. Social media starts at the blog level. A blog is the most basic place where conversations can take place.

You’ll be posting your articles on your blog and having a conversation with the readers through their comments. As such, if you have one, you’re on the right path. If you don’t, it’s time you develop a blog.

  • Have a logo – your logo is your identification badge. You need to have a blog for your business. Anywhere that logo is seen, it will be making your business visible.

Ensure that your logo is memorable in color and design. A unique logo is easy to identify and remember. This helps remain in the minds of both your customers and prospects.

  • Have a tagline – together with a logo, a tagline is necessary. A tagline goes hand in hand with your logo. It is a short statement which describes your business.

An example of a tagline is BMW’s “Sheer driving pleasure.” This short statement tells you that driving a BMW is sure to be a pleasurable experience.

  • Use keywords – keywords contribute to major success in marketing. These are words which are being searched for by internet users looking up information on your market. Keywords will be part of the content you publish online and can even form hashtags on chat platforms.
  • Connect with influencers – after doing all that you can do, you still need to get help from social media influencers. These must be people who already have a following and so they will act like contracted marketers.

All they will do is positively mention or talk about your product/service to their followers.

As their followers believe them and decide to engage your brand, you get the opportunity to retain them as customers. Ensure you have a loyalty program to help you retain customers.

5. Content creation

Being online means you have to engage with people and the first way of doing that is by talking. You primarily talk by sharing information which is helpful to the people you want to reach.

First, and certainly the best way, is to publish content on your blog then share portions of it and links on the chat platforms. Ultimately, you want your blog to rise in popularity so that internet searches can lead people to your blog.

This has the effect of painting you as an authority in your industry thus helping build trust for your brand.

There are a few things you need to consider and hopefully perfect so as to win the social media battle. And after winning it, sustain the victory.

These include:

  • Work on your headlines – the headlines of your blog articles are a big deal. You can’t expect to top the search results online if your headlines aren’t designed for it. If you’ve never known that headlines are crafted, this may surprise you. But if you do, then you know you have to keep working on them.
  • Create evergreen content – in terms of relevance, we can broadly distinguish between two types of content. That which is connected to certain time-bound events and those which seem general though still targeted.

An example of time-bound content is news analysis. Commenting on an event taking place on a certain day in your industry is also time-bound content.

Evergreen content on the other hand is one whose relevance goes beyond the initial time it was published. Evergreen posts can be read now or even fifty years to come because they have content which will not change, at least not much.

An example of evergreen content is an explanation of how tire pressure affects the stability and performance of a car. Such an article can be read by any driver many years to come and it will still be relevant to him.

  • Conduct surveys – just because you identified your target market and audience, it doesn’t mean that you now have enough information about your customers. You will have to gather more information from time to time.

As life changes, so do people and their preferences. To stay ahead of the competition, you need to change with your customers. Surveys help you know what they think and what kind of changes would serve their interests. Such knowledge will give you an advantage.

  • Embrace guest bloggingguest blogging is whereby you write blog articles for other blogs. This will be blogs in your industry where you can showcase your expertise to a different audience.

Writing for another blog increases your exposure, helping you build a bigger audience. You can also open up your blog for others to write. As long as the content is relevant, allow the bloggers to add more value to your blog as they also benefit from the extra publicity.

  • Stay current – the best way to be sure that your communication with your customers is relevant is to stay updated. Be knowledgeable about what is happening in your industry.

This will help you be able to advise your customers accordingly. Even if posting content or commenting, your knowledge will help make your comment more beneficial to your readers.

CONCLUSION

Social media is not difficult to master. If you follow these simple tips and implement them for your business, you’ll be on your way to establishing yourself online. Just get started and growth will follow.

A Sensible Social Media Checklist for Businesses

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