It can be difficult to quantify the effect of your social media strategy on your sales. The waters are murky; conversions are more often indirect and the real value of a strong social presence is the more nebulous 'personality' of your brand. Regardless of how you define its value, though, a proper social media strategy is well worth investing in. Before you set out on building a loyal troop of followers online, consider these four tips for an effective, consistent strategy.
Identify your target demographic
Where many companies falter is in casting their net far too wide. Being present on all social media is great but unless you have the resources to effectively manage a plethora of accounts, the message risks being diluted. Facebook is the universal social media - it spans demographics like no over and is present in almost every country in the world. But outside of the world's second most popular website, a more targeted approach can be effective.
Consider more than just the big two - Facebook and Twitter. Promoting a fashion brand? Use Pinterest. Promoting a B2B company? LinkedIn. And these distinctions can be further developed; 85% of Pinterest users are female, for example, so those men's shirts are probably best marketed elsewhere. Luckily, the demographics of particular social media sites are easily accessible, so identify yours before assuming that more means better.
Find your tone and hone it
Perhaps secondary only to identifying your target demographic and the social media they use, is finding your tone. Different tones suit different products - travel companies, for example, tend to be lighter in tone than financial institutions - but as long as the tone is both strong and consistent, they don't necessarily have to naturally match. More jovial personalities tend to get higher engagement (and hence more shares), but doing it poorly is a surefire way to come across try-hard.
A great example of a playful social presence is Skittles, whose Facebook page has over 24 million 'likes' and whose content is well shared. Their tone is relaxed, comic; not every post has to be hilarious for a jovial presence to work. Paddy Power's R-rated Twitter feed is followed by 569,000 Twitter users - leaps and bounds ahead of the competition - thanks to a commitment to comedy and a tone so consistent you'd wonder how their social media team have a day off. These kinds of account give a company a human face, a personality to veneer the number crunching and stuffy boardroom meetings at play under the surface.
Use visual platforms
Social media campaigns are often more successful when they employ various mediums rather than the occasional tweet or Facebook post. Snapchat grosses 8 billion daily video views, for example, and the non-intrusive nature of having a company as a contact on the media sharing app renders it more appealing for the user. Again, it is a question of demographic; if your product is designed for the over-50 market, Snapchat would be an essentially useless medium.
Video, more generally, is a fantastic opportunity for full engagement. The most effective marketing videos are 15 seconds long or under; Instagram caps ads at 15 seconds and promotional Facebook videos will autoplay if under that length - a great way of grabbing the idle scroller. It's not a long time in which to tell a story, but if you manage to create an engaging, concise video ad, you have the best chance of conversions. User-generated content is also an often under-valued source of strong visual content. It is more viable for already established companies, but can be leveraged by all if done well. Coca Cola's 'Share a Coke' campaign - where they invited customers to, you guessed it, post a picture of them sharing a Coke - was one of their better recent marketing strategies.
Build a story
This is where the difficult task of converting your social media presence into sales requires some creativity. Self-promotion is all very well, and directly inviting followers to buy your products will doubtless see some return, but there is more value to be drawn from building a story around your brand. Slow Watches, for example, have developed a philosophy surrounding their products and they use it to underpin their social media marketing; 'Can a watch change your life?' is an effectively emotive opening gambit. Doc Martens, similarly, run a well-followed blog covering everything from punk festivals in the Netherlands to bands that have appeared on their 'Stand For Something Tour' - which is, in itself, a wonderful marketing move.
Your story should, of course, contain your product in some way. Saddleback Leather describe themselves as a 'people business cleverly disguised as a leather goods company' and their social media strategy reflects this. Their Instagram account focuses primarily on adventure, with their bags appearing all over the globe. A story is an effective indirect sales driver, and appeals to more than just a customer's wallet.