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April 12, 2016 | Kaylen Baker
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Strategies for Enhancing Your Business Online

Building a brand on social media is vital to being a successful competitor

Strategies for Enhancing Your Business Online

Navigating the fast-paced world of social media can be intimidating, especially to beginners. However, social media outlets, like Facebook and Twitter, offer endless opportunities to market your company, brand and products to millions of people with just the click of a mouse. Social media outlets can assist with marketing, obtaining new customers and maintaining relationships with millennials, in addition to contributing to your overall business branding strategy. In today’s business world, you run the risk of being left in the dust if you do not use social media to connect with customers.

Define your goals

Launching a successful social media campaign takes well-defined goals and direction. That’s why it is imperative to sit down and think about what outcome you are hoping to achieve. Are you looking to increase awareness for your company? Generate new sales? Boost traffic to your website? These are all great goals to have when looking to launch a social media campaign. However, each one needs a different approach to be successful. Carefully planning tactics to achieve each goal will ensure your success. 

Market your brand

In today’s Internet-based society, there is an unlimited amount of information at your fingertips. With so many people fighting for the attention of potential customers, social media can give you a way to stand out from the crowd. 

“Social media gives you a platform to differentiate yourself by building your brand and business in a way traditional advertising cannot,” said Lyndsey Murphy, digital media specialist at the American Farm Bureau Federation. “Social media is an extremely cheap way to advertise and allows you to personally connect with your customers.”

According to Statista, a statistics and study portal, Facebook has 1.44 billion active users and twitter has 236 million active users. That is 1.676 billion people worldwide you have the ability to reach on social media platforms! Unfortunately, not all of these people are interested in the feed and grain industry. Luckily, social media has the tools to narrow down the large field of users and allow you to reach those who share a common interest in your company.

The first step in finding your target audience is to consider demographics. For example, in the feed and grain industry, it is safe to say your ideal customer is not a female teenager in an urban location. Trying to get people to “like” or “follow” your page — unless you’re confident they may have interest in what you offer — is an uphill battle that is not worth the fight. Instead, focus on the people you can win over. Look at factors such as age, location, gender, income, occupation and marital status. Finding your ideal customer will help you target future clients on social media platforms and through campaigns. 

“Knowing your audience is the most important part of growing your page,” said Sara Anderson, online community coordinator for Southern States Cooperative. “It is important to think about your audience and then come up with a strategy to connect with them.”

Understanding your ideal customer is also imperative to fully market your brand so the customer feels like they “have to have it.” What are the values and morals of your customer? What features of your product would appeal to them? When would they use your product or service? How does what your company offers fit into their lifestyle? Determining these things is important so you can appeal to your customer, increasing the value of your business.  

Build your page

Once you have created pages for your business on social media platforms, it is time to grow them! Your contacts are valuable resources. They are the people who support you and want you to succeed; invite them to like and follow your new pages. A quick email blast with a link to your social media pages can be an effective way to draw interest to your social media platforms. On Facebook, you can invite your friends to like your new page. Make sure you link your website to your new social media platforms. This allows people visiting your website to be directed to your business on other outlets. 

Once you have established your fan base, it is important to continually grow your reach. Posting relevant and useful content that your fans find interesting can provide positive results to increase your engagement with customers and fans. 

“In order to build our page, we post on Facebook every day,” said Kristi Olson, marketing and communications manager at Landmark Services Cooperative. “We post content that is valuable to our customers with the hopes they will share it on their page. This increases our reach and company exposure to their friends, which can lead to more likes.” 

Posting relevant content and keeping your page updated is important because it shows followers, fans and supporters that you are a valuable source of information. If customers know they can find information from you, they are more likely to visit your page often and recommend you to their friends. 

Posting during times of increased social media use is also important to building your page. If more people are online when you post, more people will see what you are doing. For an increased number of clicks on links you post, try posting from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. If you want increased engagement on your posts, try sending your content out from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. These are the best times, on average, to post to social media. However, every audience is different. Play around with your posting times and see what works the best for your company. 

Another way to build your page is through paid advertising. Although creating accounts on Facebook and Twitter is free, you can pay to have advertisements placed in the newsfeeds of prospective customers. This is where target marketing comes in. Target marketing is a concept where you can pick who your social media campaign is presented to. You can choose your budget and how long you want the ad to run, using your target demographics to select who you want to see the ad. This puts your material in front of the right people, leading to likes and follows on your social media platforms and the possibility of increased business. 

Tell your story 

Social media allows the unique opportunity to connect with thousands and share your story. In the agriculture, feed and grain industry, this is extremely important because of consumer push for transparency. 

“Social media helps with branding, story-telling and transparency,” Murphy said. “It gives agriculturists an opportunity to share their wealth of knowledge, can showcase their experiences, and spur business.”

Social media can also provide your business with the opportunity to educate your followers and friends. You can reach a large number of people with just the click of a mouse and help them learn about industry trends, facts and updates. 

“At Landmark Services, we love social media for the educational aspect it provides,” Olson said. “We have a great group of employees that help us with blog posts and updates about what is going on in the field. With social media, we can share our message fast with our followers.”

Social media also allows you to connect with current and potential customers on a personal basis. People respond well to posts that share their morals and values. Show your following that you care about providing a high-quality product and service to make their life easier. This also increases brand loyalty. Research has proven that people choose the products they do because they feel a connection to the brand. Reaching out on social media can build that personal relationship and keep customers coming back. 

“We have found that social media marketing for our brand is really about connecting with our audience,” Anderson said. “Our goal is to give them a place to share their questions and experiences with us and the community of customers we have built and will continue to build on our page.”

Managing multiple platforms

Social media can be time-consuming, so it is vital to properly manage all the platforms you are using to maximize the outcome of social media campaigns. Fortunately, there are several social media management programs readily available to help map out when and where content will be posted. 

Hootsuite is one of the most comprehensive social media management tools on the market with over 8 million users world-wide. The program offers many tools that allow users to map out their social media action plan and interact with friends and followers. Hootsuite allows you to view streams from multiple social media networks at once, including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and WordPress. The program also enables you to monitor what people are saying about your company, products and brand, which is vital information when launching new campaigns, information, products or news. Additionally, you can post updates on multiple streams from Hootsuite directly, as well as reply to new messages, posts and tweets. The program also sends you free monthly analytic reports straight to your inbox reviewing how your page is performing. These reports include data on the number of clicks per day your page is receiving, the geographical locations of those viewing your page, and the most popular links you have posted. These details share important information about your audience, allowing you to build your brand to the people who matter most. 

“It is important to understand your audience, what is important to them, and then share your information in a way that will be meaningful to them,” Murphy said. “Consistency is key when it comes to maximizing the abilities of social media.”

There are several other social media management tools on the market that offer management options, like TweetDeck, Sprout Social and Buffer. If you are serious about maximizing the power of social media to build your company and brand, you should consider using a management site. These tools offer value in terms of organization, planning and analytics, which can make a huge difference in building a successful social media presence. 

Final strategies

A strong social media presence is vital to connecting with customers and supporters of your company, especially millennials. We are living in a tech savvy world, and an online presence is a necessity to be a successful competitor in the marketplace. 

Building a strong social media presence can be overwhelming. However, with careful planning and a well-crafted strategy, it is easy to make your voice heard through a variety of social media platforms. Defining your goals, marketing your brand, building your page and telling your story will ensure you are successful in navigating the world of social media.

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