3 smartphones, each displaying Instagram, Google My Business and Twitter icons.

Introduction

Welcome to The Ultimate Guide to Effective Social Media for Business! Whether you’re new to social media, or just looking to refresh your knowledge, you’ve come to the right place.

This guide aims to help you get started, feel comfortable, and be successful with social media for your business. Whether you are excited or dragging your feet when it comes to your online presence, we can all agree it is immensely important. Making sure you have the proper tools and knowledge is essential; the ever-changing world of social media can be far more complex than it may appear at first. But have no fear – this comprehensive guide is here to help!

What are you waiting for? Let’s get started!

If you haven’t already done so, don’t forget to subscribe to our blog to receive publishing notifications.

 


CHAPTER 1: Why Businesses should be on social media

As individuals, it’s easy to understand why we’re so obsessed with social media. It helps us to stay in touch with friends, keep up with current events and news, fills our spare time, allows us to network, be entertained and gives us the ability to share parts of our lives. Social media use comes down to a simple basic desire: the need to connect with others. Luckily, technology and the internet have made it so we can connect with anyone, anywhere, at any time.

Why Social Media for Businesses?

But what about businesses? Now that we have a better understanding as to why we as individuals are on social media, it’s time to shift our focus to your business. If your business isn’t taking advantage of social, you’re missing out on a fast and effective way to reach a huge audience. Not to mention, if you as an agency aren’t providing these services, you’re missing out on a low-cost way of earning revenue. Here are the many ways in which social media can help your business connect, engage, and grow.

  • Increase Brand Awareness: Did you know that there are 3.4 billion people that use social media? That’s about 45% of the earth’s population. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not just young people using it either. 48% of Baby Boomers, 77% of Gen X, and 90% of Millennials are using social networks to stay connected. What exactly does this mean? It means that there are a lot more people your business can reach in comparison to traditional methods. Think that users only connect with brands they know and love? Over 50% of people say they use social media to research and discover new products! With the average person spending over two hours per day on social networks, there are a lot of opportunities for your business to be found.
  • Humanize the Brand: In order to connect with potential customers, your business needs to show the human side of the brand. Social networking allows businesses to create real human connections. Your business can be one of those personal connections.
  • Become a Thought Leader: Social media offers the opportunity to establish brands as thought leaders. Posting content that showcases your expertise helps develop trust amongst followers.
  • Stay Top of Mind: Social media is powerful in keeping businesses top of mind with consumers. Every time a user logs in or opens an app it is an opportunity for your business to connect. When making a purchase, recent social media posts can help consumers with their decision.
  • Increase Website Traffic: The power of social media doesn’t stop on the networks. Sharing great content from your blog to social channels can increase readership. Additionally, posts and updates can lead users to the website through a link.
  • Customer Service & Support: Finally, social media can be an excellent customer service and support tool. It allows users to ask questions in real-time through a variety of channels that were previously not available. Businesses can respond instantly and deal with any comments, queries, or concerns. These responses can be more personal and unique to the individual or situation.

It’s important to note that social media doesn’t work in the same way that traditional marketing efforts do. With traditional efforts, the goal is almost always to increase sales, and while that is still a goal with social media, it’s about a lot more than that.

Social media is about connecting with customers, growing an audience, building relationships, and driving engagement. If businesses are successful in achieving these efforts, converting followers to customers will be much easier.

 


CHAPTER 2: Important Social Media Terms

Whether you’re new to social media, or you consider yourself a digital native, there are a few key terms that should be defined early on. Unless you spend every waking moment on social media, it can be tough to keep up with the terminology.

Here’s what we think you need to know:

  • Audience: Your audience on social media is the group of people you’re able to reach with your content. This includes your followers and anyone who sees or interacts with your posts in their feed.
  • Average response time: Average response time is a social customer service metric. It is the average time it takes a brand to reply to questions or complaints on social media.
  • Bio: Your social media bio is a short description of your profile that tells people who you are. It’s also a great place to share links to your website or other accounts.
  • Boosted post: A boosted post is a Facebook post that you put money behind to increase its reach. These posts differ from Facebook ads in that they start out as organic posts and then get additional paid reach based on your spend.
  • Brand Awareness: Brand awareness is the level of familiarity consumers have with your brand.
  • Clickbait: Clickbait is content that uses manipulative copy to convince users to click on it. Clickbait tends to rely on exaggeration and withholding information to push people into clicking. When creating social media posts, businesses should avoid using overt clickbait.
  • Conversion rate: In social media terminology, the conversion rate is the percentage of users who see your post and then take a specified action. That action is called a conversion, and it could mean purchasing an item, signing up for a newsletter, downloading an ebook, or a variety of other acts.
  • Dark social: Dark social is web traffic coming from social media that analytic tools struggle to track. This is often due to users sharing links privately on social in chats or direct messages.
  • Direct messages: A direct message on social media is a private message sent directly to a user’s inbox.
  • Engagement rate: Engagement rate is a social media metric that tracks how actively involved with your content your audience is. Typically, a higher engagement rate means your post was more compelling.
  • Follower: A follower is a user on social media who have subscribed to see your posts in their feed. Both personal and business accounts can have followers. Your number of followers, or follower count, is a key metric for seeing how your audience on social media is growing or shrinking over time.
  • Hashtag: A hashtag (#) is a way of connecting your posts on social media to other posts on the same subject or trending topic. By searching for a specific hashtag, users can find all public posts that have it.
  • Impressions: Impressions are a social media metric that measures how many times your post has been shown in users’ feeds. Unlike with reach, you may count multiple impressions for a single user if they have looked at your post more than once.
  • Reach: Reach is a social media metric that tells you how many people have seen your post. It differs from impressions in that even if a user sees your post multiple times, they still only count as one person reached.
  • Remarketing: Remarketing is the tactic of serving targeted ads to people who have already visited or taken action on your website. In terms of technical execution, remarketing is the process of using a javascript tag (known as a pixel) to place a cookie in the user’s browser.

 


CHAPTER 3: Defining a Target Social Audience

Before you start creating engaging posts, it’s important to define your target social audience. Many businesses provide perfect products and services but aren’t able to succeed on social. Why is this? Their content isn’t able to reach the proper audience. Too often we make campaigns and plans hoping that every audience will be receptive to it. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Before you start planning your next, or first social media campaign, it’s important to define your target social audience.

Why is it important to define your business’ target social audience? First, It ensures you’re creating the right content for the right people. Second, it helps you to better understand how to create content that actually connects and benefits readers. Finally, and probably the most exciting reason, it helps to increase conversions.

Defining a Target Social Audience

Now that we understand the importance of defining a target social audience it’s time to get to work. But how exactly do you go about defining a target social audience?

Look at the current customer base

When beginning to develop a social audience it’s important to take a close look at your current customer base. Who is already purchasing and celebrating your brand? Look for common characteristics and interests. It is very likely that other people like them could benefit from the product or service.

Analyze the product or service

The next step is to take a close look at your current offering. What products or services are you currently selling? What features provide the biggest benefit to consumers? Understanding how people are using the current offering helps to identify the key selling factors and valued aspects of the business.

Check out the competition

Another important step in defining the target audience is to check out your competition. To get a good idea of how your industry is interpreted online, it’s probably a good idea to see what others are doing. Who is the competition targeting with their social media strategies? You may even find a niche market that they are overlooking.

Choose specific demographics

It’s important when defining the target social audience to use specific demographics. Consider the age, gender, occupation, and location of consumers who would purchase your product or service. Whatever demographics you choose will be the basis of how you form your social media strategy so try to be realistic.

While identifying demographics, make sure to include psychographics. These more personal characteristics are super important when it comes to your social audience. What are this audience’s opinions, attitudes, values, and behaviors? Don’t forget to include the way the audience uses social media!

It’s important to note that there are many assumptions we can make that have the potential to damage the effectiveness of the target social audience. Avoid thinking that the social audience is just like you. The audience may have similarities, but they’re not necessarily the same person. Make sure you are developing the right audience for your business by taking the time to think about each of the above steps.

 


CHAPTER 4: What Networks You Should Be On

Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, oh my! Wait, what’s Snapchat all about? Is Google My Business a social networking site?

How do you go about deciding which networks are best for your business? Well, like any good marketing strategy it’s not about doing all the things, but about doing a few things properly. Crafting relevant social posts for a variety of networks can be difficult and take up a lot of time. Additionally, if a social network is inactive it can reflect badly on the business.

To make a strategic decision, it’s important to keep your target social audience in mind. This will largely affect which networks you choose on behalf of the business.

So what are the networks your team should be considering? Here’s what you need to know:

Facebook

This social networking site is one of the oldest and most widespread. Facebook is a far-reaching platform that boasts 2.23 billion monthly active users from every corner of the globe. Businesses can choose from a variety of options, including professional pages, paid post promotion, and native advertising. This platform has users of all ages, of which 53% are female. However, Facebook’s senior (55+) demographic is growing at a rapid rate.

Facebook is a great network if your business operates in a foreign market. Unlike other sites, Facebook is used all over the world. This network is also great for businesses that work in small/niche markets. Facebook is home to many “groups†where people with unique interests congregate.

Facebook is best suited for text and image or video combinations. Posts without a visual element are not as successful in terms of reach and engagement. Are you looking to promote local events and build a community? Facebook is a great network for just that.

The biggest challenge? Facebook has a low organic reach. If you’re not looking to spend money to boost your posts, they will have a lower reach.

YouTube

You’ve probably heard a lot of buzz around YouTube. With 1.9 billion monthly active users this social media giant cannot be overlooked. This platform has users of all ages, of which 63% are male.

YouTube is a great choice for you if you are already skilled in producing video content, as this is the only form of content posted to YouTube. If you have a physical product with awesome features, this platform is best suited for you. Do you solve problems for your customers? YouTube might be a good fit. This network helps to solve problems with how-to tutorials.

The biggest challenge? Making YouTube videos takes a lot of time and resources. If you don’t have the ability to do this, it might not be a good fit.

Instagram

With over 1 billion monthly active users, Instagram is quickly becoming a big player in the social media world. However, it’s important to note that the primary audience is Millennials and teens. However, its international following is similar to that of Facebook. The platform’s primary demographics are those aged 18-29, of which 68% are female.

If your target social audience involves either women or Millennials, this network is a must. If your brand offers a product unique to women, this is the perfect place to promote it.

Instagram is all about images. In order to be successful on this social networking platform, you need to be able to produce high-quality images and videos. If you are already a visual brand and position yourself as very personal, Instagram is for you. It’s important to note that users can be picky. If brands do not post high- quality images, it can reflect poorly on the brand.

The biggest challenge? Instagram requires creativity. Not all images are created equal and to excel with this network they need to be unique and stand out.

Did you know? Social Marketing has direct to Instagram scheduling and publishing! Plan Instagram posts in advance and then sit back while Social Marketing publishes them automatically. It’s the perfect way to drive engagement and grow your reach.

LinkedIn

This social networking platform is very business-oriented. LinkedIn is a great way to connect with other businesses and professionals. With 590 million monthly active users there is plenty of opportunity for your business. LinkedIn’s primary demographic are those aged 25-54, of which 56% are males. This means if your social audience is slightly older, this could be a good fit.

If you operate in the B2B landscape, LinkedIn is a must. This is especially true if you sell B2B within small or niche markets. This platform is excellent for lead generation, and unlike other forms of social media, its primary purpose is a business connection. Companies are searching for businesses and services like the ones you offer. Are you recruiting? LinkedIn is the place to be.

Unlike other platforms, LinkedIn relies less on media content and more on text-based updates. This network is a great place to find connections and employees, but not the most ideal place for large-scale marketing campaigns. It’s important to note that images and videos are still accepted and encouraged through this platform.

The biggest challenge? Users of this social media platform aren’t as active as they are on others. Many users don’t post or check the site daily. Therefore, if you are trying to reach people in a timely manner, it’s probably not a good fit.

Twitter

This platform is unique amongst social networks. This is large because of the heavy sharing aspect that Twitter boasts. This provides you with the opportunity to have a far reach. Smaller than others, Twitter has 326 million monthly active users. It’s primary demographic are those aged 18-29, of which 53% are male. It is a great network to be on if your audience is teenagers or Millennials. Funny, thought-provoking, and interactive content does well amongst these groups.

Twitter is largely a text-based social networking site. Users can only ‘tweet’ 280 characters per post. While images and videos are accepted, the majority of posts are text only. If you rely heavily on images to get your message across, this network may not be for you.

Twitter is an excellent platform for news, public relations, and connecting with influencers. When an event is going on or a hashtag is trending, it can be a great way to join the conversation and make a mark on behalf of your business.

The biggest challenge? Since there are so many tweets posted every minute, the posts themselves have a short lifespan. If your social media strategy involves posting only once a week, this network is probably not for you.

Pinterest

This platform is all about the images. Pinterest allows users to ‘pin’ or save pieces of information using images, videos, and sometimes GIFs. Pinterest boasts 250 million monthly active users. Unlike the other social networking sites, this one is 80% females, of which the median age is 40.

Users search for pins largely by images, so if you have the resources to display high-quality images, this may be the platform for you. Do you have a blog you post to frequently? This could be a great place to share it. Pinterest is excellent in driving traffic for blogs and e-commerce retailers.

The biggest challenge? At times, custom images are required, which can mean more work for you. In order to stand out, these images need to be sharp and beautiful.

Snapchat

You may have heard a lot of buzz around this social networking platform; it is one of the newest, after all. With 310 million monthly active users, this network has taken the world by storm. However, because it is newer to the market it has been mostly adopted by younger demographics. In fact, 69% of its users are between the ages of 13 and 17. If your target social audience is under the age of 21, this platform could be the perfect fit.

‘Snaps’ or messages sent out through this platform disappear after 24 hours. This means that businesses on Snapchat must provide frequent content. However, the quality of that content is not as important as with other platforms.

The biggest challenge? Since content disappears after 24 hours, there is no one place for users to go to learn about your business. If this sounds difficult to you, you’re not alone. Very few businesses use Snapchat, especially small ones.

Google My Business

Time for the most abstract social network: Google My Business. How does it differ from the other networks? Well, it’s sort of a cross between a listing and social network. Once users verify and optimize their account, it will be easier for customers to find them. They can also now post about their business. Great posts for this network? What’re new, events, products, and new offerings. These posts will be published on Google in the same area where users are searching for your business.

Did you know that over 56% of small businesses haven’t claimed their Google My Business Listing? That’s pretty crazy when 86% of consumers use the internet to find a local business. It is difficult to pinpoint specific Google My Business statistics, however, it is safe to say that if consumers will be searching for your brand, you should be posting through this platform.

Images accompanied by text and links do the best through this network. If you have frequent events, an insightful blog, or new products, this will most likely be a good fit.

The biggest challenge? The expiry date. Posts published to Google My Business are removed after 7 days.

Build your audience and grow your business on social media. Plan and publish your content for Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Linked, and Google My Business, all from one easy to use composer in social media marketing.

 


CHAPTER 5: Finding Your Voice

Social networks like Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn are amazing tools for you to connect with your customers and find new ones. When we get social media interaction right, the results can be instant and wonderous. Unfortunately, if used improperly, social media can spell disaster for your business.

The content that is posted to your accounts says a lot about your brand and values. For this chapter, we aren’t as focused on what you’re saying, but with how you say it. Your brand voice directly affects how your business is perceived.

By properly identifying your brand voice, you will be able to craft social posts that sound unique and familiar to your followers. It will also help you to be consistent and give a clear understanding of what to expect.

What exactly is a brand’s voice?

Every time you talk, write, design, post, and respond on behalf of your business you are connecting with others using your brand voice. Brand voice is comprised of four elements.

  • The first is character/persona; Who does your brand sound like? If it were a character, who would they be?
  • The second element of brand voice is tone; What is the general vibe of your brand?
  • The third is language; What kinds of words do you use in your social media and online conversations?
  • The final aspect of brand voice is a purpose; Why are you on social media in the first place?

Why identify your voice?

Besides needing to maintain consistency, why is it so important to identify your business’ brand voice? Well, it helps to communicate your brand’s mission and values humanize the brand and help to develop trust and rapport. You don’t want to be talking to your followers like they’re money. You want to identify and outline your voice to provide authentic communication. Additionally, followers look for consistency with the brands they follow. If the way you communicate doesn’t achieve this, you will lose followers.

A well-defined brand voice will allow you to:

  • Streamline responses and reactions
  • Help make your business recognizable and identifiable
  • Help build trust and loyalty through the deliverance of a consistent message
  • Help to target your audience
  • Develop a unique style and personality
  • Build a community around your brand

Voice vs. Tone

Before we continue, it is important to understand the difference between voice and tone. When discussing this topic these words get thrown around a lot.

  • Voice: the expression of your brand’s personality. This can be explained using adjectives to describe your brand communication style. For example, your brand could be: funny, sweet, or sassy.
  • Tone: This is how your brand voice is applied. Depending on the number of networks you’re on, it can differ across social channels or even situations.

Essentially, there is one voice for your brand and many tones that help to refine that voice. Sometimes it can be helpful to think of the brand voice as the mission statement and the tone as an application of that mission.

How to identify your voice

When it comes to identifying your business’ voice, it can be helpful to include key members of your team. This way, everyone gets to showcase elements of the brand personality that already exist.

Find your adjectives

What adjectives would you use to describe the business? Pick 10. From this list, pick 4 that stand out and have the ability, to sum up, the brand persona. Not sure which adjectives fit? Think about how you want followers to perceive you. People tend to follow brands that are honest, friendly, helpful, funny, trendy, politically correct and snarky.

Identify where followers will hear it

Another important step in identifying your business’s voice is to know where it will be heard. Do you leave comments on customer posts? Or do you respond to every single private message? Most brands showcase their voice in replies, calls to action, captions, direct messages, bios, and visuals.

Develop a brand persona questionnaire

If you’re looking for an in-depth way to get into the ‘mind’ of your business it can be helpful to develop a brand persona questionnaire. This consists of a variety of questions that will help identify key stakeholders, important messages, and the ways you prefer to communicate. Some important questions to ask are: what are your values? What sets you apart from competitors? What reputation do you want? And, who is the audience?

It’s important to note that on social media most brands tend to be less formal and more relaxed and ‘human’. After all, people are more interested in following people and personalities than boring businesses.

 


CHAPTER 6: How To Write Great Copy

Have you ever stared blankly at your screen trying to figure out what to write? You’re not alone. Many of us struggle with how to write the perfect social media content. How long does it need to be? Are emojis still cool? What kind of content do followers want? Crafting the perfect post is not as easy as it looks. The way you write social posts for your business can affect the authority of the post and more.

Although it is more accessible, the copy of social media messages matters just the same as big marketing spends. If you’re making multiple posts a day, it can be even more difficult to craft an impressive message, as you won’t have as much planning time. However, good copy matters because every post you make reflects on your brand.

Tips for writing the best social media copy

Make grammar a priority

In a world where important conversations are happening through a few lines of text, using proper grammar is incredibly important. Bad grammar reflects poorly on the writer and your business. This can diminish credibility and the loyalty your followers have to the brand.

Keep readers coming back and continuing the conversation by using proper punctuation and grammar. Before publishing or scheduling your next post, make sure to read it over multiple times. Not sure if you caught everything? Get someone else from your team to read it over.

Be Compelling

When writing copy for your business, you’re competing for the attention of your audience. One of the best ways to stand out? Tell them what’s in it for them. You could describe an amazing benefit your followers will receive, pose an interesting question that mentions additional benefits, or display an exciting statistic. This way the user understands the relationship and wants to come back.

Understand active vs. passive voice

When writing copy for social media posts you want to avoid using a passive voice. What exactly are the differences between active and passive voice? With an active voice, the subject performs the action described by the verb; with passive voice, the subject is acted upon by the verb. Using an active voice creates a more engaging copy.

Be clear and concise (write to a sixth-grader)

Ever read something filled with technical jargon and become completely lost? Same. People skim on social media, so long-winded, complex posts don’t really work. When crafting social posts we want to avoid that. A good tip is to pretend you’re writing the post for a sixth-grader to comprehend. This will force you to write clearly and concisely. If followers don’t understand your posts, they will scroll past and not engage. As the writer, do the work and make the post digestible by any audience—your followers will appreciate it.

Invoke curiosity

The whole point of creating social media posts is to create a conversation. Write in a way that makes people want to click through or make a comment. If you’re linking to another piece of content, you don’t need to tell the whole story in your copy. Leave some details unanswered, while implying your link will answer their questions. However, it’s important to not use clickbait. Don’t make wild claims that you can’t back up in the click-through content. Another great way to invoke curiosity? Ask your followers a question. This way they will be motivated to make a comment and open a dialogue with you.

The Perfect Post Is Waiting to Be Written (By You!)

Social Marketing has all the elements needed to craft the perfect social post. With easy access to RSS feeds, emojis, GIFs, and stock images, you’ll never hit writer’s block again. Build fans, find customers and engage with the community all from within one incredible platform.

Use emojis

Think emojis are just for text messages? Think again! Many of your followers use emojis in their daily virtual interactions. In fact, 92% of people use emojis. Emojis are a great way to catch the attention of a follower and break up blocks of black text. However, it’s important to not overdo emojis. Stick to one or two per post.

Think audience first

Followers will get frustrated with your brand if there are only posts about your business. It’s important to write in a way that puts your audience at the center of the story. Easy way to do this? Say ‘you’ more than ‘us’.

Avoid making post after post about the business. Try switching it up with industry-relevant content and posts about the community. At Green Stick Marketing, we recommend following a 30/30/30 rule. You should aim to publish around 30% industry posts, 30% business posts, and 30% community posts. This will provide followers with a range of interesting content to keep them engaged. When in doubt, think about explaining the benefits to your potential customers instead of just the features.

t’s important to note that it isn’t necessarily beneficial to post every single day of the week. If your follower count is low, this could potentially frustrate them. A good place to start? Post three times a week, start with Monday, Wednesday, Friday. Try this out for a month or two and then evaluate. From there start either adding or taking away days as needed. When in doubt, consistency is key! If you post on the same day at the same time each week, followers will begin getting used to, and in fact, expect posts from your business.

Keep your social media active, even when you’re not

Maintaining an excellent social presence doesn’t mean you need to be glued to your computer. Save time by scheduling your social media content across your social networks with Social Marketing’s scheduling feature! Schedule your content for an entire month and rest easy knowing you won’t have to worry about posting new content for weeks.

Be positive

We previously discussed the importance of tone in your social strategy. Well, that tone is translated to followers with the copy. Curious about what tone you should be showcasing? Studies have shown that positivity in social media wins in online interactions. So how do you showcase positivity on social media? Use exclamation points, positive language/words, reference community members, and engage with the community through questions!

 


CHAPTER 7: Importance Of Images

The next, and arguably the most important aspect of social posting is the images! Did you know that visual content is 40 times more likely to get shared on social media? This means that the images you attach to your social posts need to really stand out. How do you do that? Let’s get into it.

Stock photos

Not everyone has access to photographers or the time to create their own images, although that would be the most ideal. Therefore it’s important to understand just how to use stock photos; I urge you to use stock photos with caution. Many resources will even go as far as to tell you not to use them in any situation, but I wouldn’t go that far. Stock image sites are created for exactly this purpose.

I ask you to use caution, however, because many images on these sites can look very stock image-y. If you’re confused as to what that means, think about the image of a group of employees celebrating yet another ‘win’ at their office, we’ve all seen it, or something similar; and if you’ve seen it, most likely your followers also already have. This makes the brand appear to be less genuine.

If you don’t want your stock images to look like stock images it can be helpful to use unusual search words. Words like “funky†or “retro†might turn up something different. Use a specific color or even the “era†like 1920 or 1980. You can also add search phrases and keyword terms like “bright backgroundâ€. A term like “Instagram style†will instantly show up images with Instagram style filters or lighting. Get creative.

Not sure where to start? Some great free stock image sites are Unsplash, Pixabay, and Pexels. If you have the budget and are looking for more specific stock images, it may be helpful to spend some money through Shutterstock, 123Rf, or Adobe Stock. 

Buying stock photos for the first time often comes with a lot of questions. Maybe you’re not quite sure how to use stock photos legally and ethically, or you want to advise your team, students or colleagues how to use stock photos correctly. If you’re struggling to understand the legal rules for using stock photos for your project or are overwhelmed with information about the legal and ethical implications of using stock images – our friends Stock Photo Secrets has a guide that’s got you covered.

 

Graphic design

Whether you are using stock images or your own photographs, graphic design is the important next step. Now, I’m not saying you need to blow the entire year’s marketing budget and hire a full-time graphic designer. What I am talking about is the ability to add text or logos to an image. This will help to brand your style. With even just a few elements of graphic design, your followers will have better brand recognition. This can be especially useful on Instagram, as images are the first thing a user sees.

While you don’t need to hire a graphic designer, it’s important to take note that this does take a bit of time. While you don’t need to be a pro, it is an extra step to the process. A helpful tip to save time in the future? Create a template that you can easily just slot a new image into. This could include your logo and some brand recognizable coloring or shapes.

Example social media graphic promoting 40% off

Not sure where to start? A really great (and free) resource is Canva! This program allows you to easily create templates and design beautiful images. It is also very easy to learn and use, absolutely no design experience necessary. If you have a little bit of money to spend in this department, it might be useful to get a photoshop program that allows you to do more.

Style consistency

A topic that has come up time and time again in this book has been consistency. As you may have guessed, consistency is just as important for the images you use. Think about some of the biggest brands and their social presence. For example, Coca-Cola uses mostly red and white in their posts, this makes it easy for followers to identify which posts are from Coca-Cola before even looking at who posted the image. Consistency gives followers proper expectations from your businesses’ social media strategy.

Think of your social media images as an extension of your brand voice. The first is to keep in mind that your content, tone, and voice should reflect the branding and feel of your business and the message you want to send to your audience. Pick a style and stick to it. Pull from the work you did to develop your voice back in chapter 5. As mentioned above, it can be incredibly useful to build a template that you can reuse in order to maintain consistency.

A catalog of social media examples promoting a variety of retail sales.

It might be helpful to create a social media style guide for your business. This can be especially helpful if multiple employees have access to the networks you post to. A style guide will ensure that everything posted is consistent and on-brand. This guide would document your brand’s tone and voice and include posting guidelines for everyone to follow.

If your tone varies too much day to day it can be confusing to your followers. Additionally, without a consistent image style, your page will have a hard time attracting and connecting with followers.

What makes a good image for social media?

Now that we’ve discussed some important aspects of social media images, it’s time to talk about what it is exactly that makes a good image. The first rule of thumb? Try to always include people in your photos, images with faces receive 38% more likes. Here’s what else you need to know:

Framing and composition

Framing and composition are some of the most important aspects of creating appealing images. Proper framing allows the image to grab the attention of followers. Have you heard of the rule of thirds? The rule of thirds is a guideline which applies to the process of composing visual images.

The guideline proposes that an image should be imagined as divided into nine equal parts by two equally spaced horizontal lines and two equally-spaced vertical lines, and those important compositional elements should be placed along these lines or their intersections.

It’s important to note that the rule of thirds doesn’t just apply to landscape-oriented photos. You can also apply the rule of thirds to vertical photos. By placing your subject at an intersection the image is suddenly more engaging. Another important aspect of framing and composition? Depth levels. If either the background or foreground is blurred it makes the image more dynamic.

Resolution

Another important tip is to pay close attention to the resolution of your images. While most people on social media use their mobile devices, people still do a view on desktop and laptop computers. The last thing you want is to put out a blurry image. This could reflect poorly on your brand. Images need to have a higher resolution to appear crisp and high definition on a bigger screen.

A good rule of thumb? Files with at least 1000 pixels are a good place to start.

Effective editing

As discussed earlier in this chapter, editing images can be very beneficial. It allows you to capture aspects of the image that you weren’t able to get from the original shot. However, if editing is overdone, it can spell disaster.

Luckily, social media has made it possible for photo editing to go mainstream. There is nothing wrong with filtering for creative purposes, often times a filter is a way to add artistic expression. However, there becomes a point at which filtering and editing become a little over the top. In order to make your images ‘pop’, without exploding them, try enhancing a few of the following:

  • Adjust your photo’s shadows and highlights to give it a look true to real life. Since our cameras can only see in stops of light, the shadows and highlights are usually too dark, or overexposed in high contrast lighting.
  • Slightly bring up the vibrancy, not the saturation, when attempting to make your image more colorful. Over-saturation is a tell-tale sign you over-edited the photo.
  • Crop your image to achieve the rule of thirds, and straighten the alignment so your horizon lines aren’t crooked.

It’s important to note, that the more you edit an image, the lower the quality becomes. Otherwise, the file size for the image would be outrageous. This is why it’s important to practice effective editing.

Use contrasting color

Want to skip the editing but still have images that pop? You can do that with color! When taking images, find objects that have very different or contrasting coloring from the background. The same goes for people. Your models should dress in solid colors that differ from the color of the backdrop, after all, you don’t want them to fade into the background.

Use your phone

You might be thinking, sure all these tips are great, but I don’t have an expensive high-quality camera. Luckily, we have incredible cameras sitting in our pockets. Yup! That’s right, your cellphone has the ability to take incredibly high-quality photos.

When taking images with your phone, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, be aware of the light, you don’t want your images to be overexposed. To control the exposure on most phones, you can tap the screen. You can also press on the screen to focus on a specific object or person. It’s good practice to tap on your subject before taking the image to make sure they’re in focus. Most phone cameras also have a setting you can turn on to show a grid, this makes it super easy to follow the rule of thirds.

Once you’ve taken the image, there are tons of free photo editing apps you can use to enhance your images. While this is on mobile, we still want to remember the editing tips from previous. A great free mobile editing app is Snapseed. It allows you to edit images without reducing the quality of the image!

 


CHAPTER 8: Goal Setting

Did you know that only 8% of people who make New Year’s resolutions actually feel successful about them? The biggest reason resolutions fail is because they are too broad or outlandish to be attainable. Goal setting for social media is similar. If you aim too high in too short of a time frame, you’re just setting yourself up for failure. Setting goals and then monitoring your progress is an important step to help you get from where your business is now to where you want to be across all relevant channels.

Why set social media goals?

Time is one of the most valuable resources that you have. If you are already spending a lot of time on social media for your business, you’ll want to know that your time is being well spent. You want to know that the efforts you are putting in are yielding the best possible results.

Setting goals and understanding important metrics are incredibly important. Goal setting can also help make sure the work you are doing is aligned with your company vision. Think of it as a roadmap to help get your business exactly where you want it to go.

Without goals and metrics, you won’t know if your strategies are working. With the help of goal setting, you can adapt and iterate on your strategy to be successful.

How to set social media goals

Now that we understand that goal setting is crucial to the success of your social media strategies, it’s time to find out how. Before you move on to any of the below steps, it’s important to decide what is important to your business. Sure, some vanity metrics can be exciting to track, but can you tie these to your business goals? Take a look at your overall business strategy to make sure you’re creating goals that will align. Once you have an idea of what types of goals are going to be important, it’s time to get started.

Start SMART

A common goal setting technique is to use the SMART guideline. SMART is an acronym for: Specific: Your goals should be clear, simple, and defined.

Goals that are specific have a significantly greater chance of being accomplished. To make a goal specific, consider the 5 Ws: Who (who is involved in this goal?), what (what do I want to accomplish?), where (where is the goal to be achieved?), when (when do I want to achieve this goal?), and why (why do I want to achieve this goal?).

Measurable: You want to set goals that have one or more measurable metrics.

Your goal must-have criteria for measuring progress. If there are no criteria, you won’t be able to determine your progress. Ask yourself: How many/much? How will I know if I have reached my goal? What is my indicator of progress?

Achievable: Is this goal going to be achievable with the resources you currently have?

A proper goal must be achievable and attainable. You should stretch the goal enough to feel challenged, but make sure it’s defined enough so that you can actually achieve it. Ask yourself: Do I have the resources and capabilities to achieve this goal? What might I be missing? Have others been successful with this goal in the past?

Realistic: Will it be possible to achieve your goal?

Similar to the above, your goal also needs to be realistic to ensure success. Your goal is likely realistic if you believe that it can be accomplished. Ask yourself: Is this goal within reach? Is the goal possible given time constraints and resources? Are you able to commit to achieving this goal?

Time-sensitive: Every goal you set should have a time frame.

Your goal must be time-bound in that it has a start and finish date. If the goal is not time-constrained, there will be no sense of urgency and motivation to achieve the goal. Ask yourself: Does my goal have a deadline? When do you want to have your goal achieved?

Define objectives

When defining your social media objectives, start with broad goals that you would like to achieve over the entire year. From here, you can start to break this goal down into quarterly or monthly digestible goals.

Some common, broad social media goals could be: increase brand awareness, improve ROI, or develop a loyal fanbase. From here, you can break these broad goals down further. Within ‘increase brand awareness’ a SMART goal could include increasing follower count from 150 to 400 on Facebook by June 20th, 2020.

You could also choose to develop different objectives for different networks. We recommend setting only 2 to 3 goals per time frame in order to not become overwhelmed.

Define and track your goal metrics

Once you have set yourself a SMART goal, it’s time to discover how to track that goal. Each goal will vary in terms of the metrics to track. Let’s continue to use the ‘increase in brand awareness’ example. In order to reach this goal, you will want to pay close attention to follower count, post impressions and reach, and maybe even link clicks.

Set up a spreadsheet for yourself where you can easily track these metrics. Check back either daily or weekly to see how these metrics are performing over time. Once the time frame from your goal is completed, you will have all the important information you need to assess if you were successful or not.

Social media goals you should track

Connecting Social Metrics to Business Goals

Customer engagement metrics.

Not sure where to start in regards to social media goal setting? No problem! Here are some popular and important social media goals and the metrics to track to get you started:

Increase your social media ROI

In order to properly track your social media ROI (return on investment), you need to add up all of the costs associated with your social media marketing efforts. This could be everything from advertising spend, social media tools, and even employee hours.

Metrics to track? Conversions from social networks, product trials, landing page hits, and email signups.

Looking to improve these metrics? Consider A/B testing! A/B testing allows you to compare two versions of a single variable. For example, you could test two different images with the same copy and see which one helps to generate conversions.

Increase brand awareness

Did you know that the average person spends nearly 2 hours on social media every day? Social media is one of the best places to grab consumers’ attention. Social media has also enabled people like you to have a more quantitative understanding of their brand’s presence.

Metrics to track? Follower count, reach and impressions of your social media posts, mentions, shares, and retweets, if your business is on Twitter.

Looking to improve these metrics? Consider hosting a giveaway! Offer your followers a prize for liking the post or following your page.

It’s important to note that Facebook has very specific rules around running promotions or giveaways. For example, you need to make it clear that your giveaway has nothing to do with Facebook. You also are not allowed to allude that purchasing the product makes the chance of winning higher. Additionally, you cannot force someone to share your post, however, you can encourage them to share the post so their friends also know about the giveaway. Instead of asking users to tag a friend, which is frowned upon, create an engaging contest that people want to share with their friends. Note: you can still ask users to like your post or follow your page! Curious if your post will be flagged by Facebook or want up to date information on their policies? Head to Facebook’s Pages, Groups and Events Policies on their website.

Increase in-person sales

If you are a brick-and-mortar business, it can be extra challenging to understand or prove the effectiveness of social media efforts. A good place to start? Make sure that social media is incorporated into every part of your business. Develop signage both inside and out that asks customers to follow your business on social. Consider having your social tags on the bottom of physical receipts.

Metrics to track? Advertising discounts to social media followers (ex. “Mention this post and receive a free small coffee!â€), the number of posts tagged or checked in at your location, and the number of Facebook reviews.

Looking to improve these metrics? Create a photo contest! Encourage fans to post pictures to their social media feed or post a story (Instagram and Facebook) when at your business. Another great idea? Collect customer emails and send your fans fun photo challenges to complete, linking to your social profiles in the email, of course.

Develop a loyal fan base

Have you ever noticed that some products have fans posting about them without a prompt from the brand? This is the ultimate goal of many people managing their own social media. Those who post without being asked to are loyal fans and advocates that talk positively about the brand.

Metrics to track? Tagged photos, brand hashtags, stories that tag you (Facebook and Instagram), and the number of engagements per post.

Looking to improve these metrics? Work with micro-influencers! Micro-influencers are social media users who have anywhere between 1,500 and 50,000 followers whos profile is usually comprised of a focussed passion, topic or niche market. Working with micro-influencers helps to build authenticity around your brand and helps to encourage other followers to start sharing. The best part? Micro-influencers are often easier to access and cost less per post.

Drive traffic to your website

When it comes down to it, social media is really about driving real sales for your business. But what if you aren’t a traditional brick-and-mortar store? One way to track sales is through traffic on your website. This is an especially good goal to set if you have a blog that you link to through your social profiles.

Metrics to track? Traffic from social media, bounce rate of social media traffic, clicks, and shares.

Looking to improve these metrics? Consider linking interesting or important information in your bio! This is a great method to improve website traffic, especially with Instagram. On Instagram, you cannot directly link to a URL in the post copy, best practice is to put the desired URL in your bio and in the post copy tell users to ‘click the link in the bio for more details’. If you want to take it a step further, consider integrating a service such as linkin.bio.

These services allow you to share more than one link in your bio. This is great for providing direct value to your fans, instead of sending them on a wild goose chase through your website.

There you have it! Well, for now, anyway. When it comes to social media, it can feel like things are changing every single day. Think of social media as life-long learning, it’s important to keep up if you want your business to stay relevant. Luckily, Green Stick’s Master Your Marketing blog and other resources have you covered for all the newest updates in this landscape.

Now it’s time to put down this guide and get to work, happy posting!