8 Tips to Quickly Master Social Media for Businesses & Entrepreneurs

Much has been written on the Buffer Blog about social media strategy.

In the last month alone, we've covered (in great detail) everything from Facebook Messenger marketing and managing multiple social media accounts to creating remarkable content and the rise of micro-influencers.

One thing that often gets overlooked in all of the detail is a more general approach to social media for businesses and entrepreneurs.

What should businesses be thinking about? What are long-term trends that businesses can feel good about investing in? What makes for truly good social media content?

Let's dive in!

In episode #65 of The Science of Social Media, hosts Brian Peters and Hailley Griffis cover successful social media for businesses and entrepreneurs. After chatting with hundreds of businesses, we've dwindled it down to eight super important social media tips that businesses and entrepreneurs should consider on their way to social media success.

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1. Make a commitment to social media

The first thing that businesses and entrepreneurs can do to find success is make a commitment to social media.

Like any other form of marketing, social media for businesses can be a real challenge. It's hard to grow an audience, create great content, and increase engagement. All too often we see brands giving up on social media after just a few months.

We've found that it takes eight months to one year to really get the hang of social. Not only to get a consistent content stream going, but to figure out what your audience resonates with and what they don't.

It all starts with planning. Create a social media strategy and write it down in order to hold your business accountable. Your strategy should include a basic company mission statement, content plan and goals. And most importantly, a powerful statement on "why" people would follow you on social media, what kind of content you plan on creating and posting, and what you hope to achieve.

The first thing that businesses can do to find success is make a commitment to social media..

2. Show off your personality

The second social media tip for businesses and entrepreneurs is to always (authentically) be you on social media.

Take a second to think about the brands that you follow on social media…. What makes them special? What makes you follow them?

Chances are that there is something special about the content they post or the way in which they post it. We're guessing they have a personality and aren't just brand robots pushing out content.

Creating a great social media presence isn't only about showing the value of your product or service to your audience. It's about connection and experiences. The best brands out there share a common point of view with their fans.

One of our favorite examples of this idea in action is Merriam Webster Dictionary. They're a dictionary and they're seeing tremendous success on social media.

Success on social isn't about showing off your product. It's about connection and experiences.

3. Listen to customers rather than promote

Tip #3 is that great social media programs are built around listening to customers, not promoting to them.

The way we like to think about it is that social media offers an incredible, open-ended platform that businesses can use to communicate and engage with customers. That's why we recommend using it that way!

Social media is becoming a customer service platform and people are coming to expect it. The tricky part is, the better you get at social the more engagement you'll get, and in turn, the more comments. So be prepared for an influx of love from your fans!

The other side is that your customers are the best source of inspiration for content. Lots of businesses are sitting on a never-ending gold mine of content ideas by simply looking at their frequently asked questions, or what people are asking on social media. If you're stuck on what to post, look to your customers first for ideas before anything else.

You can also listen to competitor's customers as well, as funny as that sounds. Tools like Twitter Lists, BuzzSumo, Facebook Pages to Watch, Google Keyword Planner, and YouTube are all great places to find what's working in your industry.

Great social media programs are built around listening to customers, not promoting to them.

4. Focus your efforts on a select networks

Social media networks are like shiny new objects. We want to be everywhere at once and try everything because we're sure that this network will be the one for us. But the fact is we're all strapped for resources. So if you try to focus on lots of social networks then you're setting yourself up for a long road ahead.

We tried! At one time we were everywhere. We were on all of the standard networks along with lesser-known networks like Anchor, Beme, Tumblr, and Whale. What we found was that we were getting average results across the board. Not to mention it was taking full days to post content to each platform. It wasn't sustainable.

It may seem counterintuitive, but focusing all your efforts on the two to three platforms which give you the best return on investment. Crafting content unique to each platform is critical.

For example, let's say we write a blog post about social media marketing. Writing the copy that will get attention and clicks on LinkedIn is much different than what works on Facebook, which is dramatically different than what works on Instagram, Snapchat, or Twitter.

It's an obsession-like focus on a particular platform that allows you to hone in on successful tactics.

Social media networks are like shiny new objects. Businesses want to be everywhere at once!

5. Remember that success follows passion

Our last tip on the "strategy" side of social media for businesses and entrepreneurs is to remember that passion helps generate truly great and memorable content.

Success on social media is a long road. As we mentioned before, it took us minimum eight months of hard work to get to a point where we felt good about our social program.

Imagine if those 8 months were filled with posting content that we didn't care about!

The only way to ensure long term commitment and that social media doesn't become a burden is to follow your passion. The nice thing about social media is that your content doesn't have to be directly related to your brand or industry. Meaning it doesn't have to be what everyone else is doing.

We suggest that as business owners you pick a topic that they love and are truly passionate about.

Success follows passion on social media. Post content you're passionate about to avoid burnout.

6. Experiment with video marketing

Content Ideas:

Video marketing is one of the most talked about topics in social media right now and so we'd love to share a few strategies that you can use to create awesome video content.

Many marketers tell us that they struggle with "what" to create video about. The best solution we have for you when it comes to "what" is to start with what works. Sort your blog content in order of most traffic and create videos around those topics.

Again, use Facebook Pages to Watch to figure out what kinds of videos your competitors are making and generate topic ideas based off of that. Use your customers as resources. Look outside of your specific industry to your favorite brands. The key is to start with what works and gain some confidence.

Best-Practices:

In terms of video best-practices, there are some scientific factors that people are more likely to interact with. One is video length. On Facebook, for example, the highest engaging videos are between 60–90 seconds. The second highest are between 30–60 seconds. Same holds true for Twitter. So keep your videos short and to the point. Save the best for first, if you will.

If you're going to feature a person (or group of people) in your video, you'll need a good lavalier microphone, natural light from a window, and a tripod. Sound, lighting, and camera stability are key in creating a quality video.

If animated or text-only video are more your style (which we do a lot here at Buffer) all you'll need is great resource for stock video, quality background music, and a video editor. My two must-have sites for stock video are Pexels and Videvo and Animoto is our go-to video editor.

There's never been a better time to get started with video than right now on social media.

7. Get the most out of your content

One of the most key aspects in social media marketing mastery is to get the most out of your content.

Businesses and entrepreneurs have so many things going on at once that it can be easy to forget that it's not always necessary to continuously send out brand new content to be successful.

From what we've seen at Buffer, the more you can repurpose and make your content feel fresh in a variety of ways the less content you'll actually have to put out and the more success you'll have.

Experiment with creating shareable graphics throughout the post that people can use on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. You can also create a series of Instagram Stories to help promote the post. Or you might try creating a short video for Facebook summarizing the post (or even a more in-depth YouTube video!)

Every piece of content you create should have at least 2–3 other pieces of shareable content to accompany it. That way if the link doesn't resonate then the video might. Or if the video falls short, maybe it makes for good Instagram Stories.

Every piece of content you create should have at least 2–3 shareable assets for social media.

8. Boost organic content to a targeted audience

What's great about social media for businesses is that you don't have to be an expert in order to see success with advertising.

Unless you have a team running your social ads or you're able to invest a lot of time running experiments, you could end up wasting a lot of money on paid advertising.

The way we like to think about it is that organic social media posting (traditional posting) is the perfect testing ground for paid ads and boosted posts. In other words, you're using organic reach to determine what posts you should put money behind.

The best part is that you can target specific users within many of the social platform ad managers.

For example, let's say your goal is traffic to your website and you've identified a top performing post.

You can create an audience that is most likely to also enjoy that post. That could be a Lookalike Audience that is similar to your website visitors. Or maybe it's an audience who has shown interest in your competitors. It also could be an audience based on demographics like location, age, or mobile device type.

You can then exclude traffic to your website in order to eliminate people who are already familiar with your brand.

You don't have to be an expert in order to see success with social media advertising.

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