2018 Best Practices: Improving Your Social Media’s Business Reach

By now, we can all agree that social media for business is no fad. The benefits of actively engaging colleagues, prospects, customers and investors from around the world cannot be denied. If you own or manage a business, whether it's large, small or in-between, you probably already have Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages. But are you getting the most out of your social media efforts?

If you're like many business owners, you’re likely uncertain about the best way to use Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to best advantage. To gain maximum benefits you have to have an understanding of how each platform works before you can build an effective strategy.

social media trends 2018

Facebook for Business

Facebook is typically the first platform mid- to small-businesses use. Setting up a business page and instant engagement is fairly easy. But are your posts reaching your target prospects?

Facebook is an attractive marketing tool because it's easy, but also compelling is the fact that as of the fourth quarter of 2017, 2.2 billion people use the platform. That number only includes active users, or, in other words, those who logged in during the last 30 day period.

Of those 2.2 billion active users, 1.4 billion log on to Facebook every single day. It would be crazy not to have a Facebook presence, wouldn't it?

But where does Facebook stand within the realm of business marketing? Facebook was made for community building. With a business page, you can quickly engage with customers, prospects and colleagues.

When used effectively, Facebook gives viewers a picture of your business beyond the logo. People who view your page see the faces behind the facade. They get a feel for how you conduct business and handle difficulties. It's almost as if they walked into your store and met you face-to-face.

To engage, build community and grow follower numbers, you have to provide high-quality content, fun and personal interactions. Your Facebook business page has to become a place viewers love to come back to and share with their friends. What can you do to encourage engagement?

Here are proven ways that work:

  • Post questions. Ask your followers to engage in conversation. Perhaps ask what their favorite dessert or color is. If you can come up with general questions that relate to your business even better. As people reply, respond accordingly. Make it fun.
  • Hold contests: One of the quickest ways to encourage likes and shares is by holding contests. Prizes don't have to be big to create engagement. One local restaurant offers a free menu item each week. To enter, users have to like the contest post, comment and share. It doesn't get much easier.
  • Let followers answer questions: When you're asked for advice, encourage followers to chime in. Ask how others handled a specific problem.
  • Engage in community activities: Perhaps a local family lost everything in a fire. There may be a GoFundMe page, a bank account setup or donation drive.  Alert your followers directly to specific ways they can help. Better yet, set up a donation drive yourself and encourage follower participation.

Finally, include a "Call to Action" button that links to your website, blog or online store.

Linking In to LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the largest networking site for professionals and businesses. With an effective LinkedIn profile, you can build brand awareness, generate leads and form strategic partnerships. LinkedIn is the ideal platform for growing your business.

An effective profile opens a lot of doors. Here's what you need to make your LinkedIn profile stand out:

  1. Add images: Business profiles with company logos receive six times more traffic than those without. Also add a cover photo that relates to your business somehow for additional interest. Use the recommended image specs for each.
  2. Use keyword-rich copy:  LinkedIn company pages are Google-friendly. Include key phrases and words that describe what your business does and its industry focus.
  3. Complete every available field: Transparency is crucial. Include company location, key people, founding dates and contact information.
  4. Target specific audiences: Use showcase pages to spotlight products or services targeted toward specific audiences.
  5. Post and share content often: Posting daily company updates, sharing industry articles and thought leadership commentary as well as your own company news invites conversation and encourages word-of-mouth.
  6. Optimize content headlines and intros: Grab their attention at the get-go with snappy headlines and introductions that make readers want to read on.
  7. Include a clear call-to-action: Tell the reader what to do next — go to your website, read your blog or visit your online store for more information.
  8. Analyze your progress: LinkedIn provides analytic tools that keep track of follower engagement and activity levels. Use them to tweak your content and refine strategies.
  9. Update as needed: Make sure the profile reflects the current company status.
  10. Encourage team members to follow the company page:  When employees with their own LinkedIn profiles follow the company page it not only creates a better picture of the company in general, but extends reach.

Short and Sweet With Twitter

Twitter is the other big social media platform. It's a great platform for extending reach and building your brand. Twitter is a more of fast-paced news venue that uses a form of microblogging. Posts must be 280 characters or less.

As with the other platforms, upload your logo, add an eye-catching cover photo and complete the company profile. Consistency throughout your online presence is fundamental.

After you activate your account, follow other Twitter users. Only follow those relevant to your business, such as customers, business partners, industry leaders, suppliers and peers. Take it slow. Twitter flags overly aggressive follows.

The best way to learn how to use Twitter is to observe how others use it. Look for posts that catch your interest and emulate what works.

The Takeaway: Social media platforms differ in focus, but to use them successfully, remain consistent in your branding, use images, include a call to action and respond quickly to comments. Emphasize building community not the hard sell.