It’s no secret that social media is a key marketing tool.

Anyone who has ever seen a brand shine with customer service on Facebook, post a viral tweet that makes their reach stratospheric or introduce shoppable functionality to their Instagram posts knows they are harnessing the power of social media to their advantage.

Vanity metrics - top line numbers, big audiences, growth in percentages - are great to look at, but looking beyond that is key – how are we using social media to acquire and convert potential customers. Social media is big business, so here are some tips to get started.

How do you put a price on a relationship? Social media is all about interactions, communities, fostering real conversation and connection leading ultimately to developing relationships. Most of this is done person-to-person, but business to customer (B2C) uses the same channels and same model, too. But where business is concerned, there needs to be a return on investment (ROI) for the time spent fostering and growing these digital relationships.

Analysing customer behaviour, trends and crunching the data is key to informing future marketing strategies. Though content builds brand awareness with the hope that it has a knock-on affect on sales, some pieces of content cannot be quantified as influencing your sales, but there are ways social media can be analysed for the figures needed.

Choose the RIGHT Platforms, Not all of Them

Just because there are 15 social media platforms you could be using to your advantage, doesn’t mean you should. Social customer acquisition is about choosing the perfect platforms for your business to drive sales, not about being on every one imaginable. Building audiences and a community across a couple of key platforms is worth more than spreading yourself too far and too wide trying to keep up on every channel.

Content Remains King

Here are just some of the content marketing rules you could adopt:

  • Create unique content that speaks to an engaged audience and hits a niche in the industry.
  • Include some visual communication like emojis, Gifs, native video, memes to hit home key messages, tone and create a buzz.
  • Collaborate with, champion, endorse and overall engage with key content creators and influencers.
  • Add images to everything, not just Instagram. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn are all visual-led platforms now.
  • Use all the tools available – Twitter polls, Facebook Lives, Instagram Story Q&As. Don’t stick to the traditional social media marketing trends, always adapt and keep pushing the limits and using the tools available.
  • Focus on customer service as a priority.

Direct Conversion

Brand awareness via social media is key, but there’s also direct conversion to be made from social media. Use Facebook and Instagram, for example. Facebook has the addition of an in-built shop function where clicking from your page will take prospective customers to shop and check-out for a seamless purchase of your product(s) on-site. Instagram also offers shoppable content, whereby tagging the products in images on the grid or story delivering customers directly from the content posted to the purchasing process.

This has the power to transform the e-shopping sphere, by mapping the purchasing process right across the social media channel and in some cases restricting almost the entire transaction to the social media channel in question. You should also map and monitor direct links from Twitter, Facebook and Instagram or Snapchat (“Swipe Up!”) and measure the effectiveness.

Respond to Customer Experience

Bad news travels fast, far and wide. What’s more, bad customer service gets a lasting reputation. As social media offers every single one of your customers a voice and platform, make sure you keep on top of any customer experience issues and respond swiftly and effectively. It goes both ways though, customers can ‘rate’ you on Facebook, so a good customer service record also follows you in the digital sphere. Customers want to share their good experiences and recommend you to their friends, family and connections.

Having support available on social media platforms is also key – quick responses to queries, additional information of prices and availability when prompted, explanations for minor complaints, it’s worth keeping on top of these but always be prepared to take it over to the phone or email when required so that it doesn’t overshadow your content mix. People don’t like using traditional methods for customer service anymore. Long waiting times on the phone, unanswered email complaints; social media should be instant and that’s what customers want.

Measure, Plan, Adapt, Grow

Use social listening tools to see what your customers are saying, who they are, where they came from and where they’re going. You can also track competitor activity too, map out social influencers and key figures to approach and have a good breakdown and understanding of who your audience is and how best to market to them.

Google Analytics is a powerful too that should be constantly monitored to track activity – segment it to monitor social traffic related to all the major social media platforms.