By A. Athuraliya

When I started my business, social media channels like Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn were all the rage among online marketers. Although I was not new to any of these networks, to market my business through them, I had to start from scratch.

Today I’m going to share how I used social media to grow my business – particularly the most effective hacks that worked for me as an entrepreneur who was just a beginner.

Facebook is a Great Way to Kick-start Branding

Facebook, the almighty social network, was where it all started for me. A single business page, dedicated to my business. Once I set up my Facebook page – filled in all the necessary information such as business name, contact information, open hours, business logo etc., I created a Facebook marketing strategy.

The strategy was created to achieve 3 goals (these were common to the other social media marketing strategies as well);

  • To increase followers
  • To promote my brand and increase its credibility
  • To get followers to engage with what I share

To achieve these goals, it took me sometime, not only because I had just started my business and my brand was still little known among my target audience, but because it really does take time when it comes to building a brand through Facebook.

So you need to be patient and consistent. And make use of these hacks that I used to achieve the 3 goals above.

1. Publish Posts Consistently

Share posts – articles, blog posts, images etc. – related to your industry and to your target audience frequently.

These could be created by you, or created by an expert in the industry. If you get good engagement from your audience, you can go ahead and boost that post so that it would be seen by a wider audience, attracting more followers to your page.

2. Upload/ Share Videos Related to Your Product or Service

Videos are preferred by audiences of all types. Like with blog posts or images, when sharing videos you need to make sure that they are relevant to your product or service and to your customers.

It would be more effective if these are videos made by you (Have a phone? You can get to it right away!), but videos shared by credible sources could work too.

Plus, Facebook live videos now let you connect with your audience in a whole new level and you should take advantage of it.

3. Sharing Mini Infographics/ Infographics Weekly  

Infographics combine graphics and content and present valuable information to the viewers in a stimulating way. Compared to blog posts or images, they are more effective in boosting engagement.

These infographics you create could be based on blog posts you write, research, surveys, reports etc. or on a trending topic.

4. Making Use of Facebook Ads

Facebook ads let you find your potential clients easily. Whether it is to boost sales to your website, increase downloads to your app or increase brand awareness, you can do this effectively with Facebook ads.

Select the audience you want to reach out to (based on age, location etc.) and set the budget and pick a format (photo, video, slideshow etc.), and start running your ad campaign.

What’s great about Facebook ads is that you can track how your ad is performing and make adjustments accordingly.

5. Branding Content that You Share

I always brand any image, infographic, video etc. I create and share on Facebook. What I mean by branding here is, using a watermark or the brand logo so whenever my followers share one of them, it would help expose my brand to a whole new audience.

6. Sharing Something on Special Occasions

These special occasions could be the New Year, Christmas, Halloween or the World Population Day. You can create a post, a mini infographic etc. and share it with your followers.

Since they are timelier, content related to these special occasions could even go viral. So choose your subject matter wisely and create something unique, and keep a calendar marking the special days throughout the year.

Twitter May Take Time, but It’s Worth It

As with Facebook, with Twitter also I had to start from the beginning. Creating an account under my business name, I completed the profile, adding details about my business and a logo of my business. Then came customizing the background design of the profile; this should reflect your brand.

But this alone will not generate leads or help you grow your business with Twitter.

  • You also have to Tweet great content. What you Tweet about decides the number of followers you are going to have. Make sure your tweets are conversational and allow your followers to engage. These could be questions, updates on your product/service, links to valuable content to your followers etc.
  • You also have to reply to your followers. Engaging with your customers and being responsive not only helps build credibility, but it helps you gain new followers who could become potential leads.
  • You also have to keep an eye out for the hashtags that you use. Hashtags play a major role in exposing your tweet (or brand) to potential customers outside your community. Choose which hashtags you include in your tweet wisely.  Whether they are trending, relevant to what you are tweeting about etc. should be considered all the time.
  • You also should use images when tweeting links because it is a guaranteed way to improve engagement. Visuals grab and retain the attention of audiences better than plain text.
  • You also have to make sure that you tweet at the right time. The right time? Yes, the right time is when your target audience is most likely to be online.  This could boost engagement from your customers dramatically.
  • You also have to be careful about who you follow. In addition to following your customers, you can follow your business partners, industrial experts, peers, other businesses in your neighborhood etc.

LinkedIn is a Unique Brand Building Platform

Being the world’s largest professional network – with 450 million professionals- LinkedIn has proven to be very effective in social media marketing and brand building.

This is how I incorporated it to build my business and raise brand awareness.

  • I created a LinkedIn Company Page in addition to my personal LinkedIn account, where I took care to not only promote myself, but also my business in the bio and through articles I publish on LinkedIn Pulse. The Company page lets you effectively present your company, what it specializes in and what makes it unique to prospective customers.
  • Sharing daily updates, articles (written by industry experts and written and published by you on your personal LinkedIn account) opinions or questions through your page is a great way to get your brand noticed by the right professionals in your industry.
  • Getting the right followers to your page starts with your employees. Get them to add the business page to their personal profiles. And they can be advocates in promoting the page among their followers.
  • LinkedIn Sponsored Content lets you share your company updates with target audiences. This is an effective way to raise brand awareness, increase your followers and gain potential customers.

Google+ is Different than Other Social Media Platforms

Compared to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc., Google+ is quite different, and you cannot expect the same result on building your brand on it as you do with other platforms. But in terms of brand building, it is still as effective as others.

In addition to having a completed Google+ profile that gives a quick overview of my business to anyone who comes to my page, one more thing worked out for me in the department of gaining more followers and exposing my brand to more potential customers.

Joining Google+ communities and sharing valuable content that is related to my product.  

In Google+, sharing high quality content related to your brand is much more effective through communities. Google+ communities bring together (categorize) likeminded people, and this makes it quite easy for you when choosing an audience to share content with.

Join communities in your niche and try to build trust by engaging with them through comments or by sharing valuable content.

If you get good engagement from your customers on Google+, you can go ahead and create your very own Google+ community, allowing your followers to share their content with you as well.

Pinterest and Instagram is for You If You Got Something to Show

Both Instagram and Pinterest are visual sharing social media platforms, and they bring brand building to a whole new level.

As visual marketing is becoming more and more effective in promoting brands to customers, establishing your presence on these media has become critical.

What I learnt using each of these platforms is that although both are image based, the way users interact with them is different. And you should keep this in mind when creating content for them.

While I always strive to create content that would give the followers a more personal look at my product on Instagram, I promote content that would help my followers understand how to use my product, or tips to make things easier for them, on Pinterest. While I always use quality images via these platforms, by using suitable hashtags, I manage to increase their visibility.

Depending on the content you create, your social media marketing goals and your customers, you can decide to go with one or both of these platforms to build your brand.

Any Other Brand Building Tips with Social Media that You Want to Share?

Building a brand online takes time, and even though social media platforms are used by almost everyone, it would still take time to establish your brand through them. Being patient and following a consistent strategy, which is built around who your customer is and your end goal, is the only way to get there!