5 Ways To Take Your Social Media Strategy To The Next Level In 2016

From fine-tuning your hashtags to getting creative with your content mix, now is the time to experiment with social media as you develop your brand’s authentic voice for maximum engagement.

Just how important is social media for lead generation and customer relationships? More important than SEO and word-of-mouth advertising, according to Wasp Barcode Technologies’ “State of Small Business Report.”

Small businesses rank social media as their third most important marketing tactic for reaching new customers, closely behind email (#1) and having a website (#2).

As of 2014, 72 percent of B2C marketers have acquired a customer through Facebook. Depending on your target audience, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and even Pinterest are all important networks for building brand recognition, connecting with customers, and generating new leads.

Are you ready to take your social media game to the next level? Once your business has mastered the basics, like picking the right platform and creating a regular posting schedule, it’s time to get serious about content production, customer engagement, and social media management. Here’s how to post like a pro and take your social media marketing to the next level:

1. Offer better customer service with “social care”

Luggage didn’t make it to your final destination? Tweet the airline. Can’t get a new product to work? Tweet the service provider. Welcome to the new age of social care, where angry, frustrated or dissatisfied customers reach out to businesses via social media– and expect a prompt response and solution to their problems.

Like any customer complaint, how you handle the complaint is just as important as the final outcome. Even if you can’t fix the problem immediately for your customer, acknowledge and respond to the complaint right away.Do damage control: move the conversation off public social media as quickly as possible by following them and inviting the customer to DM you for more details. (They can’t DM you if you’re not following them)

Then, you can direct problems to the right department whether it is a technical issue for your support staff or a refund / exchange request for your product team. The speed of response is critical! Acknowledge the problem and let the customer know you’re taking immediate steps to rectify the situation.

2. Hit the right content mix

Ideally, you should aim for the “80/20” content mix: 80 percent relevant, shareable posts and 20 percent persuasive, call-to-action posts. This mix is critical to achieving a sustainable, engaging social media presence.

The 80/20 rule is based on the business management principle that 80 percent of your outcomes come from 20 percent of your inputs. In plain English, this means that roughly 20 percent of your content will make up 80 percent of your sales.

For the 20 percent of your content that’s all about self-promotion, lead generation, and advertisement– go all out and let the world know how fantastic your brand is! But the other 80 percent needs to be all about your customer. What problems do they have? What industry trends are relevant? How can you bring value to their day?

3. Evoke emotion

From tearjerker Super Bowl ads to hilarious viral videos, effective marketing leverages emotion to increase engagement, convert leads, and drive sales. Every like, share, favorite, retweet, or share is a direct reflection of how a customer wants to be perceived by the public, reports Nextiva.

Pride is another emotion that Nextiva recommends marketers keep in mind: “Each Like, Share, Favorite, etc. is a reflection of what each user wants to share with the public, and is creating a sense of pride for themselves. It may not be an obvious choice to create posts that would elicit pride, but they can be very effective.

”As you develop your brand’s social media content plan, think about the emotion that each post will evoke. Facts, while useful, are also boring. Bring some interest and insight to your information by using your authentic voice. If you make them laugh and make them cry, you’ll make them remember you, too.

4. Get found with the right hashtags

Now that you’ve mastered your content mix, don’t ignore the power of the hashtag for maximum search visibility. First, a word of warning: there’s a fine line between hashtag strategy and hashtag spam. Find that line and stick to the strategy side.

Limit yourself to no more than three hashtags per post. Brand-specific hashtags are okay, but choose short ones and use them consistently to build recognition and a following. Tap into a larger conversation by choosing hashtags that are related to a promotion, current event, or seasonal trend. Not sure which tags are most popular for your industry? I like hashtagify.me for tracking trending tags.

5. Tell a long-form story over multiple posts

Yes, snackable content still rules the web. But like every good balanced social media diet, there’s a place for long-form storytelling, too. From Serial to VICE, Millennials are embracing long-form content for its authenticity and powerful emotional connection.

Brands are telling long-form stories over multiple posts, like Nike’s fitness-centric “Margo vs. Lily” YouTube series that has its own parallel Instagram campaign.GE dabbled in its own podcast series last year with “The Message”, a Sci-Fi series that hit number one on iTunes.

As your business experiments with different content channels and formats, consider adding long-form storytelling to your content mix. In a world of snackable content, sometimes we all need an antidote to 140-character messages.

Bottom line

Don’t let your social media game stagnate. From fine-tuning your hashtags to getting creative with your content mix, now is the time to experiment with social media as you develop your brand’s authentic voice for maximum engagement.

Article Written By: Brian Hughes