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7 Lessons From the Most Influential Businesses on Social Media

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Is social media marketing dead? Not only are some social media platforms shedding users and losing efficacy as marketing channels, but the bad press surrounding issues of privacy alone is enough to demoralize even the biggest champions of social media.

Looking ahead, however, it’s clear that social media isn’t going anywhere. Businesses that fail to embrace what’s good about Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and the other major platforms will miss out on opportunities to engage with customers and create a valuable buzz.

The truth is—as noted in Fundera’s “The 30 Most Influential Companies on Social Media in 2019” report—lots of meaningful conversations and important issues are not only being raised, but addressed, by influential companies on social. The medium is still quite effective for companies looking to become leaders in their field, and even plays a major role in helping boost profits and market share for some industry-leading businesses.

Business owners, marketers, and social media professionals everywhere would be wise to take notes from some of the most influential businesses on social media today.

By taking note of the seven lessons below, you’ll understand how to use social media to positively impact your business:

1. Vary your presence across platforms

There are a handful of important social media platforms that almost certainly require your presence as a business: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Depending on your business, industry, and market, you may also want to post on Snapchat, or Pinterest, for example.

If you are familiar with these platforms, you know how different they can be in terms of content, demographics, and efficacy for driving traffic or engagement. That’s why it’s important to have accounts with each, and to post tailored content to each one as needed.

Having accounts on every major platform not only increases total reach across social media, but hedges the risk in case one site changes their algorithm and decreases your ability to impact followers.

2. It’s okay to focus your efforts on one platform

Yes, it’s important to be present on all major social media platforms. That being said, if you’ve identified one or two platforms in particular where your content most resonates—maybe you’ve tapped into the perfect demographic match on Snapchat, or found that posting your best content on LinkedIn gets the most engagement—then by all means, lean into it.

Uber, for example, tops the list of companies in the “Transportation, Logistics, and Warehousing” sector with 24 million followers. Of that number, an incredible 21 million are on Facebook alone.

On the other hand, fellow sector-topper Tesla has just a few hundred thousand Facebook followers, with millions more on Instagram and Twitter. These imbalances aren’t accidental—clearly, both companies see better engagement on these respective platforms, and perhaps see better customer acquisition, retention, and engagement as a result.

3. Every kind of business should be on social

Lots of businesses, including B2B businesses, think that what they do doesn’t translate well to social media. There’s no way to make selling a service fun or sexy, many think, so they create social media handles but do nothing with them, or ignore the entire practice altogether.

But any kind of company can have a robust and buzzy social media presence. From UPS to UnitedHealth Group to Rio Tinto (a London-based mineral and metal mining company), businesses across the spectrum can and do have hundreds of thousands of social media followers.

“Social media is about sociology and psychology more than technology.” – Brian Solis

4. Make the impersonal personal

It’s easy to say that every kind of business should be using social media. The question is, how? One of the best ways that more “impersonal” businesses—namely, service businesses, rather than product-based businesses—can make an impact on social is to find ways to make themselves, and their stories, more personal.

What does that mean? For UPS it means highlighting the stories of their drivers and other employees. For Lyft, it means celebrating rides as “connections” rather than, well, rides. For BHP, that means showcasing how the company fights climate change and champions social responsibility.

Remember, no matter what your company is, does, or produces, it can be much more than that. It’s also a place where people—your employees—come together to make a difference. Demonstrating that will go a long way towards making your impersonal service feel like a personal mission.

5. Large followings don’t equal big engagement

It’s easy to get caught up in the race to collect as many social media followers as possible. That’s why some brands resort to buying followers, even if they are bots or ghost accounts. The problem with this method is that if you accrue followers who don’t engage with your content or account, it kind of defeats the purpose of having social media accounts in the first place. Plus, platforms like Instagram will rank your content lower on people’s feeds if you have a low engagement-to-follower ratio.

Comparing the follower counts and engagement levels of Barrick Gold to BHP, you’ll find that even though Barrick Gold has more followers, BHP gets more engagement on their posts. You should aim to be more like BHP—because, to paraphrase the old saying, if a tree falls in the forest, and none of your social media followers comment on it, does it make a sound?

“Content Doesn’t Win. Optimized Content Wins” – Liana Evans

6. Interweave individual accounts with your business accounts

Your business’s social media accounts don’t have to operate in isolation. Part of what makes the accounts of Tesla and The Boring Company so popular is that they are tied, in more ways than one, to the accounts of their CEO, Elon Musk.

Use your personal account to promote the content posted on your business account, and vice versa. Ask employees, influencers, and friends to engage with your content. The bottom line is that your business account doesn’t need to do all the heavy lifting. Let your personal brand contribute to the impact your business account makes.

7. Social media can be a difference maker for your bottom line

Many business owners think of social media as a fun, if not particularly effective, marketing channel. And while that may be true for many businesses, that doesn’t have to be the case for yours.

Take Domino’s, for example. For years, Domino’s played second-fiddle to Pizza Hut in the fast food pizza business. As it turns out, social played a major role in helping Domino’s supplant their rival.

Domino’s blew past Pizza Hut by developing an effective digital marketing strategy, which included giving customers the ability to order pizza through social media. Did you know you can order Domino’s through Facebook’s Messenger app, or via Twitter with a hashtag and emoji?

Not only did these ordering methods increase engagement and build buzz, but it helped boost Domino’s digital sales. Social media can simply be a way to attract and entertain customers, or it can drive a major new revenue stream for your business. As Domino’s demonstrates, you’re only limited by what you’re willing to try on these platforms.

Making an impact on social media is difficult, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth the effort. We can see just how important each social media platform has become to some of the world’s most influential companies—and how those same platforms can change the way your business appears to customers, engages with other brands, and even operates. Take these lessons to heart when building your social media presence and you’ll see the difference.

How do you use social media for your business? Do you engage in social selling? Share your ideas and thoughts below!

Eric Goldschein is the partnerships editor at Fundera, a marketplace for small business financial solutions. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with degrees in History and English writing. Eric has nearly a decade of experience in digital media and writes extensively on marketing, finance, entrepreneurship, and small business trends.

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