How Businesses Can Use Social Media To Find And Win New Customers

72% of ALL internet users are now on Social Media and with 26% of sales coming from recommendation on social media, what are you doing to stay ahead of your competitors? Social Media is a minefield, and one which most businesses owners struggle to navigate. One of the biggest problem you will face is getting your business and brand to stand out from all of the “noise” that happens inside of each social network. I have a 7 step process that will help you achieve the Social Media success.

1. Know Your Business

The first step to social media, is not social media. Before you turn to social media marketing, you first need to understand your business. For example; you are in a lift with Richard Branson. He turns to you and says “what do you do?”. You have less than 30 seconds to describe what your business does. What would you say? Think about what makes YOU unique as a brand, whether it be the products you sell or the service you deliver; use it to your advantage. Why should a potential customer chose you, over a competitor of yours?

2. Know Your Customer

Understanding your customer will help you refine exactly how you position yourself online. Whilst you may think that everyone who is interested in your business is your customer, you need to think niche. Think about their problems. Regardless of whether you have been in business for 24 hours or 10 years, defining your target customer is a crucial part of your journey. Part of defining your target customer(s) is giving them a name, and defining their characteristics. Defining your target customer is not just about identifying their marital status, where they live or what their hobbies are. We are in the era of “experience” economy and we now have to give our customers an experience they fall in love with.

To give you an example, both Uber and Airbnb have grown to be multi-billion pound companies because the one thing they do really well is providing a great customer experience whilst also fulfilling a need. With this in mind, you need to put yourself in your target customers shoes. What is their first thought when researching your industry? How do they progress from here, and most importantly; what is their final question they ask before spending their money?

3. Determine Your Goals

Determining a goal is a key part to the success of your Social Media activity. Without having a goal, you will find it difficult to understand whether your marketing efforts are giving you a return on both investment, and engagement. Here are three goals of mine, and how I measure them for success.

#Goal 1: Building A Community

I have spent the last 12 months building a closed community of my audience who have engaged with me, and bought a product/service of mine. I have grown this private Facebook group to just short of 400 members and whilst this may not seem like a lot considering I have a database of 17,000+ email addresses, this group is invite only, and full of nurtured customers of mine. This community is more important than the “fans” on my Facebook Page because they are engaging with me every single day.

#Goal 2: Increasing Brand Awareness

According to a 2016 Social Media survey, the biggest reason why marketers use Social Media is for brand awareness. The average person will spend close to two hours a day on Social Media, which is why brand awareness is a key goal of mine for my Social Media efforts.

#Goal 3: Boosting Engagement

Engagement is the second most important metric businesses use to measure success. Boosting engagement will increase brand trust, recommendations and perception online. The likes of Facebook and Instagram are now prioritising posts with higher engagement, showing them before posts with less engagement. Think about how you can take the above, and apply it to your business. Can you build a group of your target customers that you can engage with on a daily basis, sharing content that will help them solve their pain?

4. Choose The Right Social Networks

If you could understand which social network(s) shares your target customer demographic, would this help you find and win new customers? I look at each social network and their demographics to better understand what social networks I should be using to target my ideal customer. Here is a breakdown of some key statistics for each social network.

Facebook: Facebook now has over 1.65 billion monthly users, and 84% of adults use Social Media. Facebook have recently launched their “Facebook Live” feature, and this will come as no shock considering 100 million hours of video content are watched on Facebook daily. Since the launch, there has been a 700% growth in video views, with people spending 3x longer watching a LIVE video than they do watching a recorded video. Think about this, and how you could create videos to share with your audience online.

Twitter: Did you know that 80% of Twitter's usage is through mobile? According to Statista, 22.5% of Twitter users are between the ages of 25 - 34, followed by 35-44 year olds at 19.5%, and 45-54 year olds in third with 17.9%. Regarding Twitter users and their gender, Females account for 51%, and males at 49%. Twitter usage has dropped slightly, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel as 37.5% of UK Social Media users, actively use Twitter. 81% of millennials check Twitter at least once per day which shows that daily usage from millennials is still high.

Instagram: Last year, Instagram overtook Twitter in terms of global users (300m on Instagram, and 280m on Twitter). 90% of UK Instagram users are under 35, with a high amount of these female that are likely living in urban areas. Instagram is a 50/50 social network in regards to gender however female internet users are 38% more likely to use Instagram compared to men at 26%. Instagram still has 300m monthly of which 90% is less than 35 years old. Current statistics show that 51% of Instagram users access the platform daily, and 35% say they look at the platform several times per day. Instagram released a new feature called “Instagram Stories“. Instagram Stories is benefitting from the large active user base Instagram itself enjoys, and now has 100 million daily active viewers. Rivaling the likes of SnapChat; Instagram Stories is here to stay, and has given instagram an upper hand in the world of Social Media.

Pinterest: Pinterest launched in 2010 and in just two years, it had increased its traffic by 789%. As you can expect, Pinterest’s demographics are less balanced than Twitter or Facebook with 62% of users female, and 38% of users male. There have been reports suggesting a stronger female usage up to 80% but no solid evidence to support this… yet. Did you know that 88% of all Pinterest users purchased a product they pinned and a further 49% have purchased 5 of more products they pinned?

LinkedIn: Still the B2B social network leader, LinkedIn has over 60 million views every month in just the UK. There is a slight shift in regards to age and gender demographics with only 21% of users under the age of 35 and 79% of users are males. Two new members join LinkedIn every second, there are 187 million monthly unique visitors and 40% of LinkedIn users check their account on a daily basis. LinkedIn is also used in over 200 countries and is available in 20 different languages.

For me, LinkedIn is one of the most engaging social networks which is partly down to LinkedIn Pulse. Did you know that more than 1 million LinkedIn users have published long-form content, with 160,000 long-form posts being published weekly? Just posting a piece of content with an image will give YOU a 200% engagement rate increase.

Google+: Google+ has over 400 million users worldwide, with 70% of these users male, and 30% female. 54% of Google+ users log into their account to stay in touch with friends whilst a further 42% use Google+ to interact with brand content. The average monthly time spent on Google+ is 7 minutes, with an average visit duration at just under 4 minutes.

YouTube: YouTube is the world's second largest search engine, and boasts 167.4m unique YouTube users per month. There are 400 hours of YouTube video’s uploaded every 60 seconds, 58.2% of U.S internet users have a YouTube account. In an average month, 80% of 18-49 year olds watch YouTube. YouTube is a male-dominated network at 62%, with females at 38%. User statistics based on age are as follows: 18-24 - 11%, 25-34 - 23%, 35-44 - 26%, 45-54 - 16%, 50-64 - 8%, 65+ - 3%, (unknown age - 14%).

5. Creating The Perfect Content

There are so many amazing tools out there that will help you find, and curate content that is relevant to your industry, whilst also interesting for your audience. Just talking about yourself, and your business will no longer work. You have to talk around this, and the best way to do this is by using a tool like Feedly. Feedly compiles news feeds from a variety of online sources for the you to customise and easily manage in one central place.

6. Have A Plan

Now that you know your business, target customer and the demographics around each social network, you now need to design a plan. For this to work for you, you need to understand when you should be posting, and how often. If Twitter is a network that you know will work for you, consider posting 5 times a day, throughout the day. I know that this might seem like a lot, but you should only be focusing on the social networks that will give you the best return on investment and engagement. Create a plan that will help you collect and store content for a period of 7 days. I have a great template for you to use, which can be downloaded completely free of charge here.

7. Build Trust Through Consistency & Engagement

Social media is more than just pushing out your own content. For people to see you as a thought leader in your industry and someone who can be trusted, you need to engage in a two way conversation. What are you doing online that increases engagement with your audience? Having a two-way conversation online and encouraging engagement will build trust. The more open you are, and the more you use Social Media as a customer service outlet, the most likely your audience will feel safe, and be one step closer to purchasing from your business.

It takes 8 times for a potential customer to “touch” your business before they buy. With this in mind, what are you doing to shorten this process? That’s why Social Media is SO important because it shortens the buying process, and turns a potential customer into a paying customer that much quicker.

Warren Knight

Come down to The Business Show to hear more from me on how to really utilise Social Media for your business. I will be speaking in Keynote Theatre 2 on the 17th May at 3:30pm, and in The Digital Marketing & Optimisation Theatre on the 18th May at 1:15pm.