Now that we’ve settled into the new year, it’s a great time to consider your social media marketing plan and make sure it’s as solid as it should be.

For most organizations, social media has become “business as usual,” but, as you no doubt know, it’s always evolving. Algorithms are frequently updated to keep connections feeling authentic, and new users are finding their way to different channels every single day. As such, it can be difficult to keep up. 

By the same token, the corresponding challenges make it easy to write off building out a detailed social media strategy—particularly if you don’t serve those often considered to be major social media consumers. 

That can be a big mistake, as research shows that social media has increasing sway over the purchasing decisions of individuals from virtually every demographic. Thus, it really pays to play your cards right. 

Consider this a quick primer on some of common misconceptions and missteps that can limit social media marketing success, and how to harness the invaluable opportunities a thoughtful strategy can present.  

Your customers and clients are definitely online. We’ve heard business leaders mention time and again that their buyers aren’t on social media, but the stats say otherwise. Today, there are over 3.7 billion people of all ages, stages and walks of life on at least one social media platform—yes, including your clients and customers. That means you have to be there too.   

Choose your platforms carefully. With that said, not every social media platform will be right for your brand or your unique goals. For example, some social media channels—like video-sharing network TikTok—tend to reach younger audiences, while others—like Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube—capture the attention of older internet users. 

Moreover, different platforms serve different purposes (you probably reach out professionally on LinkedIn, for instance, turn to Facebook for connection, and tune in to TikTok or Instagram for entertainment). A little research and reflection will tell you which ones best suit your needs, and where your current and prospective customers and clients spend much of their time online. 

Once you have those insights, continue to follow the data. If a particular platform isn’t serving you once you’ve taken the time to establish a presence on it, don’t be afraid to move on. 

Know that when it comes to building a following, breadth and depth matter. Keep in mind, too, that while whom you attract matters, not every follower has to become a client or customer to be worth your while. Those who seem to fall outside of your target market most likely have connections within it. That means they too provide you with an avenue to reach your ideal audience. 

And of course, you cannot underestimate the benefits of likes, shares, comments and more when it comes to driving brand awareness. 

Ask for help. With that in mind, don’t be afraid to ask for help. When brands request likes, shares, comments and other interactions, their followers are often happy to oblige. Engaging in such a way also enhances your reach, improves the conversation and increases the likelihood that potential buyers will find you—meaning you can get major mileage out of a single post. 

You also don’t have to do it all on your own. Social media monitoring software can help you keep a finger on the pulse of your channels and respond to followers in a timely manner without needing to be logged in twenty-four/seven. 

Reap the benefits. The benefits of building a meaningful presence on social media go far beyond connection. More than half of consumers actually use social media to research products and services, and according to Facebook for Business, 83 percent of buyers report using Instagram to find the stuff they’re looking for. In addition, a whopping 87 percent report that they took action after completing their research! When you offer the information they need in the places they are spending their time, you’re positioning yourself to make a sale. 

Keep this old adage in mind: People buy from people. It’s been around forever, but it still holds true. People buy from people, not businesses. Social media presents an excellent opportunity to show who you are as a brand, and thus connect with the people who will ultimately be placing their order. 

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