The start of a new year always seem like the perfect time for reflection, planning and...but here in New Zealand it's summer! Great weather (ideally); some people are still on holiday, while some people work half days; kids are not back to school yet and...the weeks pass. Now we are already in February and when most small business owners finally got ready to get stuck in, this week in Auckland we found ourselves in a new Level 3 lockdown...
Personally, I'm a big believer in continuous improvement, and I named my company Kaizen Kiwi for that reason. So my top tip is: I urge you to at least make a rough plan for the year ahead, and then continuously improve on it; tweak it as you go, as opportunities come up, and as you get the results from your efforts. Do more of what is working, do less of what is not working, and keep on measuring as you go! More about testing and follow up below.
I urge you to make a rough plan for the year, but to continuously tweak it as you go and as you get the results from your efforts.
Saying that, we all need a little help, and most business owners are time poor... So, in order to assist you with your planning, after reading several articles on the subject, I have put together a list of my Top 10 Tips for Social Media in 2021. Enjoy!
1. QUALITY OVER QUANTITY - Always
We need to collectively get over the notion that we need to constantly post on social media, send newsletters and generally be in our clients faces all the time. Quality will always win over quantity, and in some cases, too much communication will make some of your clients hit that unsubscribe button. You certainly don't want that.
These days, people are subscribed to many newsletters, follow a large number of social media accounts, and when all of these companies send notifications all the time we can easily get overwhelmed. The risk is that your customer turns off, unfollows or unsubscribes. Not only that, your message will get lost in all the other messages you are sending, and nothing stands out. As it turns out, most people are happy to receive one newsletter a week, and only more if you have something special to share (like a new product, a product back in stock or a sale).
Social algorithms prioritise relevance over quantity, which means that more posts don’t necessarily equate to more engagement. Figuring out what it is your audience really wants to hear from your brand is what will fuel your social engagement.
One area some people tend to post too much in is Instagram Stories and the stories that appear first in a users feed are from accounts they engage with most. Comments, likes, and DMs all count toward your place in a user’s feed, not just how often you post. Users are also shown Stories by location, so using location hashtags in Stories is becoming more common, and might be something you should look into. More about Stories below, but quality over quantity is the mantra here too. Also, if you post 15 stories in one day, who can sift through all that content and get excited about one or two of them? The risk is that your client scrolls past the one that potentially could have led to a sale.
2. Best Practise for Using USER GENERATED CONTENT
Posting content generated by your followers, showcasing your products, services, or just using your unique hashtag is a great way to show other followers that your customers are enjoying your products/services. Many businesses are (understandably) selective with what they post in their feed, especially on Instagram, as they may have a specific aesthetic or style they are aiming for. Posting UGC to your Stories therefore is a perfect way to keep your feed clean, while at the same time sharing the love. Do it! Most likely the follower you have posted about will then repost your story to their Stories, and round and round we go, spreading your brand awareness further. For free I might add..
3. TAKE A STAND for Something you Believe In
Want to support a charity? Are you passionate about the environment? Want to support women-led enterprises? Do it!
And most importantly, tell your followers WHY these causes are important to you and WHY you want to support them. In 2020, the concept of the conscious consumer emerged with for example 57 percent of shoppers willing to change their purchasing habits to help reduce negative environmental impact (according to a recent IBM retail report). Consumers are now actively seeking out local and independent businesses that reflect their values. This couldn't be more true in New Zealand, where "Shop Local" and "Support Local" movements are stronger than ever. Made in New Zealand is something to push, but only if your products are of course.
For Black Friday last year, one of my clients who owns a children's store with toys, clothes and design items decided that instead of jumping on the bandwagon of "buy, buy buy", she wanted to give back. So instead of "Black Friday", she ran a "Give Back Friday" campaign, with 10% off in her shop for her customers, and at the same time additionally gifting 10% of profits to the Auckland City Mission Present Appeal, providing Christmas gifts to children who would otherwise go without. She could have given her clients the full discount, but she chose to support a charity she believed in, and her clients were not only totally onboard with it, but loved her brand even more for it. Supporting this charity made sense for her business, and her customers got it. They got the why.
Communication of the WHY is key. You will build a stronger bond with your customers this way. But be genuine, as people will spot any fake "support" just trying to tag onto a holiday or a cause that is in the news. And as much as we love taking the opportunity to communicate support around days such as World Cancer Day for example, if you are seen as "supporting" one new cause every other week, your audience will probably notice, and seriously wonder if it is genuine. It might hurt your brand as a result, so be careful.
In New Zealand, "Shop Local", "Support Local" and "New Zealand Made" movements are stronger than ever. If your products are made in New Zealand - make sure to communicate that.
4. Don't forget to TEST, TRACK, MEASURE and ANALYSE!
If you don't track and analyse your results, you really don't know what works. Most of us enjoy the creation of the content, and the feedback from your followers more than data crunching, but I cannot stress this point enough. If you don't know what works, you don't know what to do more of to grow your business. Try posting at different times, using different hashtags, or create different segments for your mailing list and send campaigns to, and then track your results through Google Analytics. What worked, and what worked less well? Do more of the first. It's that easy. But if you don't know what works, well; you won't know...
5. SHARE THE DATA with your team
Often, the person in charge of social media and marketing will be in their own marketing bubble, and might as a consequence, and without thinking of it, keep the data to themselves. By making sure it gets shared it with everyone in the team instead, from sales personnel, to customer service teams and all the way to the person in charge; it ensures that everyone knows what is going on, what is working, and what isn't. Especially customer service teams benefit greatly to know what posts, newsletters and social media marketing campaigns are running currently, as they will be the ones facing the (potential) client. Which leads us to the next tip.
6. Prioritise your SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE
Some companies are so focused on posting content and planning for future posts, that they forget to respond to comments, messages and reviews. When your audience has a question, complaint or a compliment, the first place they’ll turn is social media and everyone is watching how you interact with your audience on social. Therefore, your response says a lot about what kind of experience you’re cultivating for your customers. Has someone left a bad review? Answering with kindness, without passive / aggressiveness will show your customers that even though someone had a bad experience (after all, it is impossible to get everything right all the time); you really care, and are trying hard to rectify what went wrong. The customer is not always right, but calling them out on it online says more about you as a company than about them as a customer. Always be kind.
I like to set up automated responses on my clients Social Media Accounts with a link to where on the website they can find answers to some questions (such as a FAQ page), and a phone number if the query is important. This means that while they wait for you to come back to them, your potential customer will have at least some information, and something they can act on. Data from Sprout Social shows that 40% of consumers expect brands to respond within an hour of reaching out on social media, and monitoring your current response rates can tell if you’re on the right track or need further improvement in this area. Setting up a customer support plan with guidelines for your employees can also help greatly if you are a slightly bigger company with more employees, ensuring that your whole team is on the same page.
Data shows that 40% of consumers expect brands to respond within an hour of reaching out on social media.
7. People have extremely SHORT ATTENTION SPANS, so stop the waffle!
Honestly, they key is short and sweet. The more succinctly you can get your message across, no matter if it is in a post in your feed, stories, or in your newsletter, the better. Solve your clients problem for them. Ideally, provide a solution to a problem they didn't even realise they had! But don't keep rambling on about it, get to the point - and FAST!
8. Don't forget to set up your INSTAGRAM, FACEBOOK & GOOGLE Shopping
Setting up Facebook and Instagram Shopping is key in 2021, if you have still not got around to it. People have very short attention spans these days (see above), so the faster you can get them from seeing something they like on your social channels, to buying it from you, the better. Facebook and Instagram does this, and you can set up collections, shopping guides and a whole lot more that will help your potential customers see what you offer and how you solve their problem. You should also at least have had a think about Google Shopping (no, not Google Ads, Google Shopping), know what it is and how it works and investigate if it will work for you and if it is worth investing time in. Yes I know, you are time poor.
9. If you don't have one already - implement a LOYALTY PROGRAM
Perhaps not falling directly under Social Media Marketing, but definitely related, Loyalty Programs are a must these days. Retaining customers is key, and it will continue to be key in 2021. With so many brands screaming for our attention, it is easy to get distracted. Therefore, making sure your clients get something out of shopping with you (in addition to your fantastic customer support, great offers and fast and accurate shipping) is key to retaining them. A loyalty program does that, as it rewards shoppers for continuously giving you their business. It doesn't take much to loose a customer these days, and so by giving them points or actual dollars that they can use on future purchases, you have a better chance for repeat customers. And you can easily integrate this in your newsletters and other marketing material.
10. Consider which SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS TO FOCUS ON
We all know that handling your social media channels can feel like a full-time job. For it not to consume you totally, I suggest to consider where your customers are, and focus on those platforms. Is your target group more active on Snapchat? Do they hang out on Facebook? Looking for inspiration on Instagram? Or, if you target professionals, perhaps LinkedIn is your platform. Whatever you do, and whichever platform you choose, remember to not post from one platform to another, but to (if you have to) at least copy paste the content over. Instagram and Facebook handle and like hashtags completely differently for example. And content that might work for audience on Facebook might not be suitable for the people who follow your page on LinkedIn. Even if you don't use all channels the same, do register the same name over all platforms though, to ensure consitency, and avoid someone else using "your" name. For Kaizen Kiwi, I use both Facebook and Instagram sparingly, Facebook mainly to post and repost articles from myself and clients, Instagram for inspirational images and "behind the scenes" work with clients, while my dedicated LinkedIn page is much more directed to professionals I currently work with (or want to work with).
As a last reminder:
Make an extra effort to help your customers in 2021, solve their problems and generally be there for them. Be kind and sympathetic - they'll reward you for it.