Social media is a powerful sales and marketing tool — when used correctly. According to Hootsuite’s 2021 Social Trends survey, 73 percent of marketers use social media to acquire new customers and 45 percent use it to generate more leads or conversions. Moreover, Analytics Partners states that for every social media channel you add to your strategy, you can increase your ROI by up to 35 percent.
Don’t leave a social media marketing plan as an afterthought; many agencies and freelancers underestimate the value and efficacy of social selling for B2B businesses. The best practices below integrate these platforms into your sales funnel, stand out from the competition, and earn more business from your online marketing efforts.
1. Keep showing up
To keep your business at the forefront of your audience’s minds, it’s important to stay visible on their social feeds by posting relevant, high-quality content on a regular basis.
Of course, while consistency is key, don’t overload followers with too much content. “Never post just to post. Each piece of content should have a specific goal,” writes Ashley Perssico for Constant Contact. She offers the following best practices for how often to post on each network:
Instagram: Publish no more than one in-feed post a day, three to ten stories a day, a few reels a month, and no more than a couple IGTV videos a month.
Twitter: Post one to three times a day. Include direct links to your website or blog, share real-time industry or business updates, and retweet positive follower mentions.
Pinterest: Post one to five times a day. Be sure to upload your own original, quality visuals instead of only re-pinning content from other creators or designers.
LinkedIn: Post three to five times a week. Publish content during the nine-to-five weekday business hours, since the majority of users are professionals.
To keep up with demand, batch create content ahead of time and schedule it out. Have posts ready days, weeks or even months in advance to give yourself enough runway to make edits or reorder the posting schedule if necessary. To that effect, maintain a content calendar to organize which content you’ll be posting to what platforms and ensure alignment with team members.
2. Share your authentic self
Social media followers are more likely to become clients when you focus on building authentic relationships with them. Consumers want to learn about the human faces and stories that power your brand—in fact, 70 percent feel more emotionally connected to a business when the owner or CEO is active on social media channels, according to a Sprout Social study. Moreover, the research indicates that 45 percent of consumers feel a connection when a brand shows its personality on social media.
One effective way to achieve this is with storytelling content that offers a window into your own experience as a business owner or web designer. Here are some ideas to get started:
Share the lessons you’ve learned from past mistakes. Consumers will relate more to a brand that owns its mistakes or failures and learns valuable lessons from them. Frame it as a win, for yourself and your customers.
Offer a behind-the-scenes look into your workday. Make your followers feel special with access into the daily operations of your business. Create a behind-the-scenes video with real clips of brainstorming sessions, team collaborations, new designs in the works, upcoming project launches, and other exclusive content.
Tell a sequential narrative through a series of posts. Break down a piece of content into a series of chronological posts (text, visual, or both) to entice your audience to actively return to your profile in order to follow your story.
3. Take the whole customer journey into account
More than half of surveyed consumers use social media to research new products and services, according to research from GlobalWebIndex. This demonstrates how browsing social media posts directly influences purchasing decisions. That said, it’s not enough to make a positive first impression - you have to create meaningful, actionable content for all stages in the customer journey to ensure you’re delivering value for users at all stages within your funnel.
Keep these three stages of the customer funnel in mind as you craft social media content:
Awareness stage: At this touchpoint, your goal is to attract an audience with upper-funnel conversations and build trust. Focus on educational content that answers your audience’s top questions and resolves their pain points.
Consideration stage: Here you have the lead’s attention, so now your goal is to persuade them that your product is right for them — but without being salesy. For example, share customer testimonial videos and hold live educational events that close with information about your services.
After the sale: At this stage, your audience has already made a purchase, so now it’s time to continue to delight them. Offer special promotions and advice on how to make the most of their services with you, while continuing to resolve their most pressing questions.
4. Engage with your followers
Most consumers use social media for one specific reason — engagement. This includes leaving feedback on their experiences, reaching out for customer support, and interacting with brands through likes, comments, mentions, shares, or messages. Utilize the strategies below to strike this balance and boost interaction with your followers:
Ask your followers a compelling question. Pose an interesting question for your followers to answer on social media, then interact with their responses in the comment thread.
Create interactive polls. Your audience’s feedback will offer valuable information about them, such as their pain points and the design trends or innovations they want to see from you next.
Respond to user comments and mentions. Sprout Social reports that 79 percent of consumers expect to hear back from a brand within 24 hours of leaving a comment or mention on social media, and 40 percent want a response within the first hour. Make sure that your average response rate is within this timeframe, go the extra mile to craft a thoughtful response, and then take action to deliver excellent customer service.
Send DMs to start or continue a dialogue. Whenever a new follower joins your social media community, send a welcome DM to introduce your business, thank them for the follow, and inquire if they need help.
5. Nurture Leads via DM—Especially on LinkedIn
Linkedin is a must for any B2B social media strategy, boasting higher visitor-to-lead conversion rates than Facebook or Twitter. But it isn’t just useful for attracting attention to your brand; more than any other platform, it’s a great place to nurture leads.
This is why direct messaging should be an integral part of your LinkedIn strategy. Follow these best practices on how to nurture leads on this platform for more sales:
Craft a message for key decision makers: Research the lead’s profile to confirm they have the right job title and influence at their company to take action on your pitch.
Identify connections you hadn’t considered. Start a conversation by finding a shared connection within the lead’s network and affiliations. For example, perhaps you belong to the same professional organization or share an alma mater.
Use LinkedIn’s search features to target specific leads. Use LinkedIn’s advanced search function to narrow results by schools, industry categories, locations, and company affiliations.
Narrow down to one clear and specific call to action. Make a request that’s reasonable for the lead to act on, and make it as effortless as possible. For example, attach a scheduling link to your DM inviting them to a quick 15-minute intro call, rather than messaging back and forth to coordinate your schedules.
Follow up if you don’t receive a timely answer. People get busy. Send a courteous follow-up message if you don’t hear back within 10–14 days of reaching out. Give it another month after that before you contact the lead again if necessary.
Optimize Your Social Media Efforts to Grow Your Client Base
While social media can play a big role in growing an agency or freelancer business, you’ll need to be strategic in order to make the most of these platforms. With an effective social media plan in your toolbox based on the social media best practices above, there will be no shortage of new leads and clients in 2022 and beyond.