Growing a business is a little like growing a vegetable garden for your family. Like a gardener, a business owner nurtures and grows a loyal customer base slowly over time. And one of he best ways to grow your sales these days is to make use of social media marketing in your day to day conversations with your audience.

Paying attention to what your audience does on social media can help you:

  1. understand your current, and future, customers better,
  2. find out what they like and don't like about your products and services,
  3. give you ideas for tweaks and new products that will add value to your offer in the future.

In this article I am presenting an overview on how to use social media for the purpose of marketing your business. Will you learn everything there is to know about this topic here? No. Social media marketing is too huge a subject to be covered in just one article.

But this first article will help you understand a little more about the major social media platforms, how it makes sense to focus on one of them initially, and how to engage with your audience. In the future I will publish more in-depth articles giving insights on different angles of social media marketing. Make sure to subscribe to my newsletter so you won't miss them.


What is social media marketing?

Social media marketing is the art and science of promoting your products and services on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Linked In, and YouTube.

Why does it make sense to promote your products there? Because these platforms have a wide reach and are front and center in the lives of millions of people every day.

But, how big are these social media platforms?

Social media platforms are very large

Facebook is the largest social media company in terms of user base. It has over 2.8 billion monthly active users, and it's popular with all kinds of age groups and demographics. Facebook also owns Instagram.

Instagram has 1.2 billion users monthly. We are talking about "active" users who engage with the platform by regularly "liking", and "sharing" posts. Instagram was built mainly to share photos and videos, and has a younger audience compared to Facebook. Another platform that caters to a younger audience is Twitter.

Twitter is a "smaller" platform, at about 330 million active users. Its user base is made up mostly of people who are interested in news and current events. It's geared towards short form content, and quick engagement.

But, what if you sell to other businesses?

Have you been to a business networking event in your town? Linked In is similar, but online.

Linked In, owned by Microsoft, is a growing community of 740 million members. Its focus is on professional networking. If you sell products or services to other businesses, Linked In is the place to be. On there you can easily reach decision makers and corporate executives.

Finally, let's get to the number one video sharing platform: YouTube.

YouTube, owned by Google, is the largest video sharing platform, with over 2 billion users. Video content is used by businesses that sell to both consumers and other businesses in order to entertain, educate, and showcase their products and services. YouTube channels can also be businesses unto themselves, making considerable money on advertising when they have a large following.

There are many other more specialized social media platforms that can be very valuable as a vehicle for promoting your business. We will take a look at those in future articles.

Now that we have an idea of the main platforms available, let's see how you promote your business on them.


How to pick the platform that's more beneficial to you

From the descriptions above, you can quickly realize that social media platforms are not created equal. Each one of them caters towards a certain type of audience.

Since promoting a business on social media takes time and resources, at the start you should focus primarily on the one platform that caters to an audience that's most similar to your own.

Do you sell to other businesses? Linked In is your guy.
Do you have hip products for teenagers? Use Instagram, or Twitter.
Do you provide services that need to be explained to customers? Think YouTube educational videos.
Is your audience more traditional? Go on Facebook.

The key to success in starting a social media marketing strategy is in focusing on the platform most used by people in your demographics target first.

Demographics can help you focus

Most products and services don't cater to everyone, but only to a small group of customers who share some common traits.
These traits can be collected in demographic profiles to segment your audience.

Demographics refers to the characteristics of a particular group of people who buy your products or services, or engage with your content.
Factors are: age, gender, education level, income, location, interests, behavior, and others.

If you already know your customers, you probably already subdivide them into groups based on demographics even for your traditional advertising.
The same concept works for social media. Reach the group you are interested in on the platform where they are more likely to gather, and speak with them.

If you sell high-end products, and target a demographic of older, wealthier individuals, find the places where these individuals spend their time online.

Likewise, if you sell B2B services to corporations, you can research the watering holes members of this audience frequent all day.

Green beans

Survey your audience

An easy way to figure out which social media platform members of your target audience spend their time on is to ask them through surveys or focus groups.

Once you find out where most of your audience spends time scrolling and clicking, create an account for your company on the same platform, and start posting valuable content to increase the number of followers. Spend some time daily to engage with them.

What does "engaging" with followers mean?

Engaging means interacting with your followers on the platform chosen.

This can take many forms, but generally involves liking and responding to your followers' comments on your posts, and replying to direct messages in a timely manner.

Keeping an eye on their conversations with one another will enable you to discover issues that can be addressed by your existing, or future, products and services and may be the starting point of a conversation.

A feature that most platforms provide is polls and surveys which are a good way to ask for feedback and suggestions from your followers. By asking thoughtful questions you can engage with your audience, and start a conversation. You can also gather data on customers' preferences, find potential issues, and gather ideas for products to be developed in the future.

Another way to engage with users is to comment on, and share, posts they make that are related to your offerings. This is a form of acknowledging and thanking your audience, and making them feel more willing to share similar posts in the future.

Promote live events

Some businesses also host live events in order to answer questions directly in Q&A sessions. These kind of events are important for marketing in general, because they build up expectations and give a sense of community and participation.
They also have a set date, which acts as a deadline and creates pressure to attend.

Recorded live events become pieces of evergreen content that can be shared periodically on your website and on social media.


Provide valuable content

Remember that, throughout all your social media interactions, you should be providing helpful information and valuable resources first and foremost.
Don't try to be too salesy. People get annoyed quickly by sales pitches online, and you are just one click away from being unfollowed.
Aim to have a ratio of 5-10 pieces of helpful content to one sales pitch.

Your goal is to build strong relationships with your followers over time by connecting with them, making them feel heard, and sharing value.

In summary

In this overview article we have seen:

By working patiently every day to provide good value and engagement with your audience you will be able to grow a healthy and fruitful relationship with your customers and reap a bountiful harvest when summer comes.


Stay tuned for further in-depth articles about marketing on social media platforms, and subscribe to my weekly newsletter so you don't miss them.