How to Use Social Media to Grow Customers
By Kelsey Tweedly
Last updated on April 11, 2019
Wondering if social media is the right marketing strategy for you? It just might be. On the other hand, if it’s not where your target audience is, you’ll waste quite a bit of time developing, executing and growing a presence that won’t yield results.
That’s why it’s crucial for businesses and associations to have clearly defined target audiences as part of their yearly marketing planning. This will be the best way to determine if social media is the right marketing strategy for you. If you know who they are, you can then determine which social media channel(s) your audiences interact with and are most active.
At the same time, younger Americans (especially those ages 18 to 24) stand out for embracing a variety of platforms and using them frequently. Some 78 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds use Snapchat and a sizeable majority of these users, 71 percent, visit the platform multiple times per day. Similarly, 71 percent of Americans in this age group now use Instagram. Close to half, 45 percent, are Twitter users.
Although Facebook and YouTube take the lead when reaching overarching consumers, LinkedIn is the top social media site for making connections with business professionals and B2B sales and marketing. With 546 million users, it is one of the most popular social networks in terms of active users. Available in over 24 languages in more than 200 countries, the website focuses on business connections and industry contacts for employers and working professionals.
Before you build your social media marketing strategy, you should be asking yourself, “does your ideal customer socialize and engage?” If your answer is yes, the next question to answer is, “where?”
Here’s where you’ll need to spend some time researching demographics, groups and competition. This will gauge the overall interest. Also, join different groups to grow your understanding of how many people are in that market, then read and listen to the sentiment of those groups to determine intent, challenges and engagement. At that point, you’ll be armed with data that will enable you to make the decision to jump in or steer clear.
If your data shows that your business or association would benefit from social media, here are ways you can use it to grow your customers:
Build a community and engagement
Social media has proven to be a major disruptor in marketing, by creating new opportunities to build a community and followings that can rally around a common cause or brand. Growing a community was more difficult in the past, due to time and territory. Geographic boundaries made it more difficult for people with common interests to gather.
Social media has blown away the boundaries and created spaces for every imaginable micro-community to have its own gathering place. This is good news for even the most remote niches and product specific outreach. Having direct access to a community used to be impossible and only scratched the surface with surveys and focus groups. Now your brand can have real-time feedback on every new product or promotion, allowing your marketing team to be responsive in today’s social community environment.
Create original social media content
Creating original social media content is a must! True, curating content is great. However, you won’t grow until you’re creating your own original content.
Original social media content can include blog posts, photos and videos. Then you can utilize them to increase video sharing and photo sharing. First, start with a content marketing strategy for what you are going to say, shoot, photograph and/or write.
Original content is much easier for your community/fan base to share. Although they still can share the curated content, it’s really only helping the content creator to grow. You want to be in the position of others curating and sharing your content, since you’ll have your branding and messaging in it. This also will help to establish your credibility, as well as position you as an authority.
Engage with your audience
Too often, I see businesses and associations simply broadcasting messages at their fans and followers instead of sincerely engaging with them. While you may be large, your customers want to know that there’s a human on the other end of the line. By simply asking questions, you can start to generate engagement with your social profiles and pages. Just remember the human aspect and think about engaging in the following ways:
- Answer questions promptly. Once you ask a question, your audience will want to know that you heard them.
- Acknowledge the comments and reply to them.
- Start a conversation! This will draw more people in.
Taking that one step further, you can boost social media engagement by:
- Analyzing what posts have worked
- Incorporating holidays and/or trends
- Employing tagging
- Reciprocating by responding back to comments on social networking sites
Leverage social media advertising platforms
These social media platforms collect information on you to build out your profile, keep track of all the things you like/dislike and groups you join. Their databases are stacked with information and key connections. For example, leverage Facebook’s Custom Audiences and Look-a-Like Audience, to increase your reach to pages that have similar characteristics to your current fan base and email list.
One of CMA’s customers, The New Jersey State Nurses Association (NJSNA), acquired our services to build awareness of the association and reverse a five-year membership decline. NJSNA advocates for 125,000 registered nurses and quality health care in NJ.
The goal was to grow membership and enhance the association’s overall visibility. They also wanted to increase their recognition in the nursing and healthcare industries, as well as with state news and national media.
In response, CMA launched a public relations campaign, which penetrated state news and national media. Moreover, CMA grew NJSNA’s digital footprint through social media, alongside a newly-designed responsive, mobile-friendly website.
CMA also implemented search engine optimization (SEO), to streamline awareness and membership growth. The social media campaign generated 1.03 million impressions and 2,549 referral visits to NJSNA’s website. Its membership grew by 47 percent.
The key to any social media campaign is to truly understand your target audience. That includes who they are and what they want, in addition to sharing information and engaging in conversation. Social media is an effective way to connect on a deeper level, get real-time feedback and engage with your target audiences in a personal way. In the end, success in social media will come down to one thing…the strategy employed, to convert fans and followers into leads and prospects.
Are you interested in learning more about how social media can grow customers? Contact us today, to begin the conversation.