Why do so many business owners think that if they post something on social media, people will flock to them, bang down their door, and buy everything they're selling? "Build it (or post it) and they will come" is not accurate anymore, especially in 2018.

So why is all the focus put on what is being posted and nothing else? Because that's what is easy to see. Everything else takes a little effort, but that's the difference between treating your social media channels as billboards and using social media to actually socialize with potential customers and clients to generate leads. Whether it be Facebook, Instagram, or countless others social media channels--it's time business owners pay attention to more. 

Provide customer service.

This is what gets a consumer to trust you. The time your manager takes to respond to questions and engage in conversation could (and should) drive sales.  

"Your social media is your storefront where customer relationships happen," said Karla Campos, founder of Social Media Sass, an influencer marketing company. "Sure you can have great graphics, but if you are bad at customer service, it's definitely going to have a negative effect on your business. We should pay attention to private messages, customer concerns, and customer sentiment."

Time everything just right.

Strategy and timing are part of the full equation. Flexibility and going in a different direction while staying on point is a strong trait to have as a manager.

This means you shouldn't schedule everything and call it a day. Be live. Be social in real time. When you're watching your favorite show and you see the hashtag to use on Twitter, it means nothing if you're watching the next day on DVR. You don't want to be late to the party on social media when things are happening now.

Go beyond branding.

Basic brand knowledge, decent imagery, and good writing skills aren't enough.

"Without the strategic pieces like targeting, creating profiles aligned with your ideal audience, regularly reading and responding to the analytics behind which posts engage (or don't) and why (or why not), posting is not only a waste of time but a waste of money," said Jamie Prince, founder of Flourish, an integrated communications agency. 

Facebook and Instagram offer great insights. There are also third-party resources you can use, but why pay for them when the social media giants are telling you how people are reacting to your content for free? Seeing what people are liking, how they're engaging with it, and when it's all happening are vital for moving forward with your strategy.

Listen.

If you're just pushing out content, you're basically the social media equivalent of a person who won't stop talking. (Who wants to listen to someone who only talks, and never listens or responds?)

Social media is not a billboard on the highway for people to drive by and look at. If someone posts a question, answer it. And don't wait a week to do it. Answer it within 24 hours. Make it a point to log onto your accounts once a day to see what people are saying. They're telling you what they like and don't like by their interaction, or lack of, so listen.

Respond ... and be social.

It is a two-way conversation with your audience, rather than a one-way conversation, that was owned in the past by traditional media.

"An effective and holistic social media strategy includes having a dialogue with your fans," said Dian Oved, a marketing strategist behind Empower Digital who works to verify big names on social media. "Asking them questions, responding to comments, and paying attention to what is trending on social media is extremely important."

Generate leads.

Remember when I said you can't just post and think people will buy whatever you're selling? That's because people have been trying that for years. Now, you need to pay those platforms if you want to be seen, especially on Facebook.

Spending some money to create a good strategy with images or video and target your ideal customer or client online can bring in quality leads over time to nurture, then convert.

Work with others.

When you post on your platforms, you're only reaching your audience. By teaming up with other brands who serve the same audience, you're expanding your reach.

When you invite influencers or members of the media to post on their social media accounts about you by tagging you or promoting you in another way, it acts as a third-party endorsement. 

Look at data.

The great thing about social media, both organic use and paid, is the access to data. You can see what works and what doesn't and then you can modify your strategy.

"Even the most creative brand needs to utilize data analysis tools, most of which are free," said Monica Dimperio, founder at Hashtag Lifestyle, an agency that connects luxury brands with influencers. 

Years ago, posting for the sake of posting may have worked. Today, social media is like a science and needs to be approached as the complex marketing giant it is.

Published on: Feb 20, 2018