According to Statistica, the number of worldwide users on social media is projected to hit a whopping 3.02 billion active users per month by 2021. That’s one-third of the world’s entire population! So, it’s obvious that social media, more and more, is engaging the majority of the world’s citizenry.
That means if you own a business and you’re not focused on building a strong brand presence on social media this year, your customers already are or soon will be choosing your competitors.
That fact is intriguing to me, as a modern-day business owner. I’ve never questioned the value of having a social media presence, but I wanted to dive deeper into that realm to see what other views entrepreneurs might voice about the evolution of social media.
Along the way, I found that the problem most brands face with social media isn’t whether or not to take advantage of it, but how to take advantage of it. I’ve certainly fallen into the “information overload” trap myself. I too have become overwhelmed with the plethora of tips, tricks, secrets and strategies being preached left and right.
With Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube and other platforms — plus videos, blogs, etc. — as options for online marketing these days, an obvious observation is that brands are struggling to identify the most profitable social media strategy to use for their business. So, I singled out several eminently successful entrepreneurs to talk to about their recommendations for effective online marketing.
Here are the five strategies they suggested for using social media to fuel business growth this year:
1. Use Social Media To Drive Traffic To Your Ecommerce Stores
In a phone interview, Cody Neer, the CEO of several multimillion dollar ecommerce brands, highlighted how powerful social media can be for ecommerce entrepreneurs like himself.
“We use social media to drive traffic to over 300 of our ecommerce stores,” he told me. And most of his success has come, he said, from funneling his brands’ social media followers to those brands’ stores through paid Facebook advertising.
“Our brands are expected to cross $60 million in sales by the end of 2019 [with] much of that success thanks to social media,” Neer told me.
Takeaway: If you too have an ecommerce business, scale your business quickly by using targeted Facebook advertising to drive more traffic to your store. With over 1.4 billion active Facebook users every day, the problem isn’t whether or not your customers are scrolling.
They are, but that doesn’t mean they’ll find your Facebook page or convert to paying customers. You have to market to them in a way that makes them want to buy, and that’s achieved by targeting the right kind of people with the right kind of offer.
2. Use Plenty Of Videos To Keep Your Audience Engaged And Growing
Open your favorite social media platform; you’ll notice your feed is replete with video content instead of text and images. In fact, algorithms have changed, evolving to prefer video content over other content formats.
And that’s something the leading brands have noticed: A whopping 86 percent of businesses already use video on their website, and 77 percent use video on social media, according to Vidyard statistics.
As Tai Lopez, investor and advisor to multimillion-dollar businesses, told Entrepreneur, “Follow one simple formula for social media success: live a fascinating, authentic, adventurous life and share it through vlogging .” Added Lopez: “I’ve made more money with my iPhone than most people have made in their lives with high-tech equipment.”
Takeaway: There are dozens of ways you can use videos to keep your audience engaged and growing. Consider sharing an authentic behind-the-scenes look at your life. Document your company’s next product launch.
Show your followers what it’s like to work for your company, etc. The bottom line: If you’re not using videos on social media, your customers are becoming unengaged — fast.
3. Build Your Brand Using Influencers To Market Your Products For You
Josh Forti, social media influencer marketing expert, explained to me by phone how he’s used social media to organically grow over five million followers online for both his clients and himself.
“I’ve primarily used social media to build online audiences that serve as assets to brands,” Forti said. “If you can get your product or service publicly vouched [for] by a trusted authority in your niche, your sales can skyrocket overnight.”
What he was talking about, of course, was the growing use of influencer marketing: One study showed that 22 percent of marketers surveyed already considered influencer marketing the most cost-effective way of obtaining new customers.
Takeaway: Partnering with influencers on social media can be one of the most profitable decisions you make for your business this year. Influencers are now widely considered more relatable than celebrities. That’s why consumers turn to their favorite models and gurus for advice on what to buy.
4. Provide Massive Amounts Of Value Before Asking For Anything In Return
Never forget that customers hate being “sold” to, but love to buy. One surefire way to have your customers line up to do that is to provide a massive amount of free value before asking for a sale. Arguably the leading expert of the value-first concept is Gary Vaynerchuk, author of Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, in which he explained how to provide free valuable content to your audience on social media to build trust and entice visitors to buy.
Takeaway: This concept is even more critical today, when customers are being bombarded with ads on their social feeds. If you want to build engaged brand followers on social media who love you and love buying from you, provide content that solves their problems and shows that you care about them before asking for a sale. You’ll quickly build a pool of loyal fans who buy from you over and over again.
5. Use Social Media To Differentiate Yourself From The Competition
Everyone — including your customers — loves a good story. Lauren Gordon, storytelling and content marketing specialist, explained to me in an interview that she uses social media to strategically differentiate herself from competition. “Don’t ever forget that every single human being makes decisions based on emotion and justifies with logic,” Gordon said.
“This means, if you want your brand to stand the test of time, you need to be telling your brand’s story across social media to differentiate yourself from competitors, build deep connections and trust with customers and earn your customers’ loyalty.”
Whether yours is a personal brand or a company brand, you can use any social media platform to tell your brand’s story, and quickly differentiate yourself from the competition.
No matter how many social media transformations we see in the next decade, we humans are going to be drawn to the same fundamental things. This means customers being drawn to stories they can relate to and brands they can deeply connect with.
Takeaway: In this context, brand storytelling is one of the most powerful ways to differentiate yourself, connect with your customers, increase brand loyalty and sell your vision.
So, those are these entrepreneurs’ five best social media strategies. Whether you use one or all five, growing your business using social media has never been easier than it is today.
Assess your company’s current problems, and find out how you can fill the gaps. What’s key to using social media to drive sales is the willingness to experiment until you find what works best for your brand.
This story originally appeared in Entrepreneur. Image courtesy of Hoxton/Tom Merton/Getty Images.