Everything you should know before getting started on social media

Having grown dramatically in recent years, social media platforms have revolutionized the way people communicate, get and consume their information. Today, 83% of adults in Québec use at least one social media, and 45% of them sign on more than once a day (Cefrio, 2018).

It is undeniable that these platforms have changed the daily lives of both individuals and businesses. No wonder you are interested in the subject and asking yourself what social media can do for your organization!

In this post, we will examine the benefits of using social media for companies, the commitment that this type of work represents and the various steps to follow to get started on these platforms.


Why be on social media?

When used correctly, these platforms can definitely help you achieve your business goals.

Today, consumers want to be heard and feel involved in business decisions. Social media is the ideal way to get feedback about your products, services and image. It allows for two-way communication and direct exchange with consumers, who also want to deal with companies that demonstrate their concern for people, have similar values to theirs and make an effort to develop a relationship with them. Social media gives you the opportunity to share content that meets this need and creates value around your product or service.

Remember that the majority of the population uses social media. So it enables you to reach a large pool of potential or current clients, no matter their age or interests. Finally, these platforms offer brands various advertising placements at a generally lower price than traditional media.


An important investment

Presented like this, social media seems to be the miracle solution to help you achieve your goals. But, note that, as we mentioned earlier, it’s only when used well that you can benefit from its full potential.

Even if creating a LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram account is free and only takes a few seconds, you can’t forget that getting started on social media represents an important commitment for your business. Developing and implementing a social media strategy requires a lot of resources, whether time and/or money. What’s more, social media should not only be considered as a complementary tool for some of your marketing campaigns: it should be used as a tool in its own right in your communications plan. Several companies active on social media have employees dedicated solely to community management. Others prefer to entrust this work to specialized agencies. In short, planning, content creation, strategic monitoring, community management and performance evaluation require a lot of work.

It is also important to budget in order to sponsor some of your publications or launch advertising campaigns. Even if registration is free, the evolution of the algorithm of certain platforms makes it increasingly difficult for companies to grow their number of followers and the reach of their posts in an organic way. For example, Facebook tends to reduce the visibility of posts from companies with a lot of followers and increase the visibility of content that generates high rates of engagement, just like Instagram and LinkedIn.

All this to say that you shouldn’t get started on Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram without being prepared! Just like any other marketing effort, your presence on social media requires planning and strategic vision.


So, should my business be on social media?

At the risk of disappointing you, there is no one answer to this question. Everything depends on your marketing communications goals and your target audience. For all the benefits mentioned above, we definitely believe that social media provides relevant channels for businesses, but each organization is different, and there is not just one way to communicate. If your research tells you that your target is on social media and you think you have interesting content to share, go for it!

However, this doesn’t mean that you absolutely have to be on EVERY social media. Select the platforms which reach your target audience and are the best for the type of content you want to share.

For example, LinkedIn is a platform geared towards professionals. It allows companies to remain in contact with their various stakeholders, to recruit, develop their employer brand and find potential business-to-business (B2B) clients. You shouldn’t use it as you would Facebook, a much more laid-back social media that businesses use to generate interaction with their brands and learn more about their customers. Using Instagram or Pinterest can be a good idea if you sell products or services with a high visual potential. If this isn’t the case, it may be a better idea to go with other platforms.

It is important to be realistic about the number of social media platforms that you will be able to feed with content. The most important thing isn’t to be everywhere, but to know how to be relevant where you decide to be. In short, it is better to go with quality, not quantity.


Where to start?

We know that getting started on social media can appear time daunting. Indeed, there are a lot of things that you have to think about, and it requires planning. Here is our six-step process to help you get started on the various social platforms.


1. Develop your strategy

The strategy is the starting point for any marketing communications initiative—social media is no exception. The strategy is a guideline, which helps you to concentrate your efforts towards achieving your goals. Here are some points to consider when developing your strategy:

  • What are my goals?
  • Who is my audience? What are their social media consumption habits?
  • What added value can I offer to my subscribers?
  • What do I have to say or share that is relevant?
  • How many hours and how much money am I ready to invest?

Answering these questions will help you, among other things, determine the ideal platforms to use, the best times to post, and the subjects to discuss. You will also have a better long-term view of what you want to do with your social media, which will help you to be proactive.

Important point: set goals in line with your business and global communications goals. For example, if you want to raise awareness of your company, set goals related to the reach of your posts. If you are looking to generate sales, focus on generating traffic to your website and monitor the conversion rate.

Tip: Create your accounts as soon as you know which social media you want to use. Even if you don’t start your activities right away, this will allow you to secure your company name on them.


2. Think about content

Content is the heart of your strategy, and it is what will determine its success or failure.

People will follow and interact with you if they feel you can offer them something. On social media, it’s best to drop an overtly advertising tone and find different ways to get people interested in your business. It could be by sharing knowledge, facts, news, inspiration, starting discussions—be creative! This is a much less intrusive type of advertising, which allows you to connect with people who are truly interested in your brand, business or industry.

Take the time to think about the values, messages and information you want to share on your platforms. Ask yourself how you can package this content in various formats to make it interesting (blog articles, videos, photos, stories, etc.). To help you organize your ideas better and work more efficiently, try to group all the topics you want to deal with into content categories.

Each category represents a theme that will fuel your content production. Once you have determined your categories, you will have a clearer vision of the content to share on your platforms. These categories will also facilitate brainstorming for new posts, and help you respect your editorial approach.

Tip: An editorial calendar is essential to plan, produce and publish your content. It is a tool that illustrates all your posts planned for the upcoming weeks or months. Visualizing your content over a period of time will help you to better prepare yourself, so that you will never come up short or bore your audience.


3. Produce and publish the content

When you have written down all your ideas and your editorial calendar is set up, it’s time to produce the content that you have thought about—write the articles, take the photos, select the visuals, or make the videos. Make sure that you create high quality material: let the experts deal with the visual or sound editing, use quality equipment and proofread your texts to avoid spelling mistakes.


 4. Manage your community

It’s not over once the content is posted! There is still a lot of work to do. You need to be there to answer followers’ questions, react to their comments, moderate discussions and manage private messages. This user interaction will help you create relationships with users and inspire their loyalty for your page. By the way, did you know that Facebook gives more visibility to companies that take the time to respond to comments from their followers?

Talking about followers, don’t forget that developing a large community on social networks can take time. So don’t lose hope if you don’t get 10,000 followers the first week! To attract loyal, active followers, make sure to create interesting posts that encourage sharing, be relevant, ask questions, share exclusive content and post regularly.

5. Evaluate your performance

This is a key step, since it is what will help you to adapt your content and strategy to improve your future performance. See what type of posts and themes create the most engagement (comments, shares, likes, clicks, etc.) and use them as inspiration for your upcoming posts. Also, explore other data you may have access to. For example, on Facebook, in the statistics section, you can see when your followers are the most active on the platform. This is interesting to keep in mind when planning your new posts.

In short, remember a strategy is never written in stone. You should always be flexible and able to adapt to your target’s interests or social media usage habits, without losing sight of your goals.

Tip: Don’t be afraid to do tests to find out what works best with your audience! Discuss various subjects, experiment with formats, post at different times in the day or week. Note what works well so that you can tailor your editorial calendar to your community’s preferences.


6. Experiment with advertising

Don’t forget to consider paid advertising campaigns when you are developing your social media strategy. As we mentioned above, the reach of your posts can be limited by various factors specific to each platform. Advertising campaigns and sponsorship are good ways to gain maximum visibility and reach new audiences. You can decide to feature a single post or to create complete campaigns by experimenting with the various advertising formats available (carousel, banner, slideshow, etc.).

What is practical with advertising on social media is that the targeting options are extremely precise, whether according to users’ interests, or their socio-demographic profile. Facebook even offers the option of reaching audiences made up of people with a profile similar to your followers. Another advantage: campaign budgets are very flexible. You can choose exactly how much money you want to invest in a given period of time.


Still there? We know, it’s a lot!

We hope that this article has enlightened you about social media and the way that your business can profit from it. If we still haven’t answered all your questions, why not give us a call? Our content marketing experts will be pleased to discuss your situation and what we could create together.