One reason I started this column for Floor Trends is because I saw a need to offer social media marketing insights to a broad audience. Rather than answering folks one by one, I wanted the chance to share actionable information and ideas with many people at once. Though businesses and professional circumstances run the gamut, I get many of the same inquiries from the people I meet, those frequently asked questions—FAQs—that come up so commonly.
Here are a few of those questions I’m asked most often, followed by my responses.
1. How do I use Instagram to really help my business?
Instagram is a visual, mobile platform with over 1 billion monthly active users. Among those 1 billion users, your customers are there—scrolling, liking, and interacting with accounts they follow at an engagement rate 58% higher than you’ll find on Facebook. Hopefully, you’re already in the mix with an established business profile and regular posting.
To make Instagram do good things for your business, you’ve first got to have a clear purpose and strategy defined. Who’s your target audience on Instagram? In determining this, think of their geographic location, as well as their demographics and interests. What do you hope happens from Instagram engagement? Often, retailers are hoping to get more people through the front door or, at minimum, to compel people to get in contact through direct message, email, or phone call. Find the answers to those questions, and those will serve as beacons for your Instagram activity.
From there, pinpoint your local, ideal audience as much as possible, and add calls to action to inspire the desired response whenever is reasonable. Pinpoint your audience by using local and topic-specific hashtags that they follow. Also, offer pro-active engagement from your account to the accounts of local influencers and media outlets; this may help get your biz on the right radars. Additionally. consider some paid campaigns that will be served up to your potential customers based on geo-location and other helpful targeting options. In just about every post, invite some kind of action such as “come in today to see the new collection”, “comment below to share where you’d this new flooring in your home”, or “join our email list for exclusive specials.”
Post consistently. I recommend posting at least once a day, going with content that has a pleasing, somewhat predictable aesthetic (lighter, brighter posts often get more engagement than darker tones) shared at a similar time each day. Audiences are drawn to accounts that post with regularity, so create that kind of connection with your followers. Include Instagram Stories in your posting strategy, as they’re an excellent way to stay in front of key audiences.
2. How often should I post on social media?
This is one of the questions I get asked most often—even by biz people who readily admit they struggle finding content to share. There seems to be a concern about over-posting that may stem from perspectives gained from personal use of social media (anybody have an over-sharing friend on Facebook? We never want to be that person, right?). The reality is that business use of social media is a totally different animal than personal use. If you focus on marketing strategies and desired results, you’ll find your posting schedule—as well as the kind of content you share—will come more naturally.
Rather than fixate on frequency of posting, it’s more important to direct energy to the quality of posts and how content fits into an overall, ongoing program that’s intended to build relationships and inspire loyalty. Do you have something worthwhile to share? Then share it! Of course, apply common sense. You wouldn’t want to post too much within in a short amount and cannibalize your own news and updates. You also shouldn’t post just for posting’s sake; you earn attention and spark interaction when your posts are relevant, interesting, and crafted to support of your marketing goals.
I understand it’s helpful to define expectations regarding frequency of posts. As a foundation for the clients my company represents, we set a once-per-day posting minimum on all social platforms that have news feeds (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkdedIn) and weekly attention for Pinterest and Houzz. We often end up sharing content more than once a day because news and items of interest present themselves at random, unexpected times. We supplement posts with use of Stories on Instagram and Facebook, as well.
3. What are ways we can better manage our social media marketing?
First of all, it’s time to treat social media as a core aspect of your marketing. It’s not peripheral. It’s not “just for millennials” (not at all, by the way…stats for our industry show that some of the strongest engagement happens with women 45+!). Social media is a very high profile and important way that your brand becomes known, liked, and trusted. It’s a powerful way you can promote and grow your business. And this means you likely should not hand the responsibility over to the youngest person on staff simply because he or she grew up with smartphones and social platforms. Please remember that social media is a barrier-free, frontline connection with your customers. It’s often not only the first, but the only, impression people will have of your business. You shouldn’t hand that responsibility off to a newbie.
I recommend you create a real strategy and structure for your social media and digital marketing. To do that and do it well, you need to stay educated and have a working knowledge of latest modes of marketing; this will help you know who to enlist or hire to manage it well. Next, be ready and willing to invest to do it right. You need savvy staffers who not only understand how to functionally use social and digital tools but who also understand your biz goals and your audiences’ mindsets. You will need to pay for automation tools to help your marketing team work smarter and faster. You’ll benefit from a promotional budget that will accommodate paid campaigns across social and search platforms.
In short, I implore you to stop letting opportunity pass you by. I see so many flooring retailers who are doing well enough without concentrated social and digital strategies that they’re not motivated to take the next steps to increase opportunities. Reality is, the train has long since left the station. If you don’t get on board soon, you’ll miss out.
What are your burning questions about social media and digital marketing for business? I’d love to answer them! Reach out to me on my website, irenewilliams.biz, or direct message me on Instagram: @irenewilliamsbiz.