Do you think the majority of your target customers aren’t spending time on social media? Think again. According to research released by Ipsos Open Thinking Exchange (OTX), the average American social media user spends 3.2 hours per day engaging with their social channels—and those demographics are not limited to teenaged girls on smartphones. 35- to 49-year-olds report spending three hours a day on social media, and 50- to 64-year-olds report spending 2.4 hours a day engaging with social channels.
If you are like a lot of HME providers, your social media strategy is probably pretty basic, but given the growing pervasiveness of our interactions on social media as a driver of our opinions and our online actions, it is critical that you consider ramping up your social media efforts to connect with your potential customers.
Where do you start? First, it is important to determine which social networks you will engage with. While ARI recommends Facebook, Twitter and Google+ as a minimum, it is critical that you only expand to the number of social networks that you can actively engage with on a daily basis.
That’s right, you need to be tuned into your social accounts on a daily basis in order to reap the rewards of social media. If you cannot stay on top of your accounts, do not dilute your efforts by adding new networks just because the provider across town did. Master your presence on your established accounts and only add new networks as you have the time to properly manage them.
So what do you need to do to be successful on social media in 2015 and beyond? We will start with your daily action plan and move on to some strategic social tactics that can help you reap the most return on investment (ROI) out of your social efforts.
Social Media Action Plan Part One: Social Listening
They call it social media for a reason—your social channels are not intended to be a soapbox, rather you should view them as a venue for genuine interaction with your customers and prospects. In fact, according to Edelman’s brandshare 2014 consumer marketing study, nine out of 10 consumers want to have meaningful interactions with companies on social media. How do you create those meaningful interactions? Start listening! Here is your daily social media listening action plan for a few of the top social channels.
- Like posts shared about your store.
- Reply to any new posts and messages from customers.
- Comment on and share any relevant posts from local media outlets, national health publications and website you follow, and major brands you carry.
- Check your “Mentions” tab to see new interactions and followers. “Mentions” is found under the “Notifications” tab on the left-hand side of your feed.
- If you are still in the process of growing your follower base, take the time to thank new followers.
- Favorite and Retweet relevant posts from local media outlets, national health publications and websites you follow, and major brands you carry.
- Welcome new additions to your Circles.
- See if any of your Google+ content has been shared by others in their Circle and thank them for sharing.
Social Media Action Plan Part Two: Social Posting
ARI’s digital marketing services team has years of experience managing dealer social media channels, so I connected with the team to find out what content really connects on social media. They shared what they call the 70/20/10 rule:
70 percent of your social content should be entertaining, educational and engaging. Links to your store’s blog posts, Retweets of interesting articles from health magazines or websites and shared content from manufacturers fit here.
20 percent of your content should reiterate your dealership’s branding, but should not focus on direct sales. Event invitations, links to videos on new products and testimonials would fall into this category.
The final 10 percent of your content you can use to directly ask for the sale. Post links to your inventory, information on your next sale and manufacturer promotions here.
Now that you know what to post, the natural question of, “how,” often next arises. It is important to remember that social media content is not one-size fits all platforms. Personalize your content to match the unique format of each social media platform.
Socialbakers studied three months of content on Facebook from some major brands and on average, those brands post once a day. When a brand posts twice a day, those posts only receive 57 percent of the likes and 78 percent of the comments per post. The drop-off continues as more posts are made during the day, suggesting one post per day is the optimum posting frequency for Facebook.
The Socialbakers team also took 11,000 random tweets from top brands and found that the three tweets per day mark offers the highest level of engagement.
While the study didn’t cover ARI’s third primary recommended required social media platform, Google+, we have found that daily posting on Google+ is also optimal.
Social Media Tools
While managing all of your social channels can become a bit overwhelming, there are many popular third-party tools which that it possible to manage all of your social media accounts from a single dashboard. I absolutely recommend taking advantage of one of these platforms not only to simplify your social listening and publishing, but also to measure the success of your social media initiatives by utilizing the analytics functionality included in many of the leading platforms. Here are a few industry leaders to consider:
Be sure to talk to your website provider to see if they offer any industry-specific tools to help automate your social media posting process.
Sponsored Social Media Posts
Now that you’re ready to put your daily social media management plan into action, let’s take it a level further.
Purchasing sponsored social media posts on your social channels can extend your social media reach helping you influence potential consumers beyond your follower base. When you create a paid social media campaign, you have the ability to pinpoint the demographics of the consumers you want to target including data points like age, geography and gender.
While the 70/20/10 rule is critical for your organic social media efforts, you want to make sure that your sponsored posts and advertisements have a clear offer with a call to action. For example, you could take visitors to a landing page to enter your store’s current promotion. Do not miss the opportunity to generate hard leads and sales from your social advertising.
E-commerce is growing in popularity as an additional profit center for HME providers, especially with the national rollout of Competitive Bidding just around the corner. If you have introduced e-commerce to your website, be sure to take advantage of your paid and organic social efforts to drive online revenue.
Social media commerce is projected to generate 5 percent of all online retail revenue in 2015—ringing in at $14 billion. Social networking sites understand this trend and are making changes to make it even easier to purchase directly from within their platforms.
Bottom line: The days of social media without the potential for ROI are over. Whether you are using your social efforts to drive online leads or to help make the sale, be sure that social selling is a key part of your overall digital marketing strategy.
This article is the last of a 12-part series on digital sales and marketing. Each segment focuses on online solutions and provides the insight and resources necessary to be successful in this area of business. Read the whole series here.