The first-ever social media network called SixDegrees.com was established in 1997 with the purpose of letting you set up a profile page, create lists of connections, and send messages within networks. Trying to capitalize on the internet boom of the 1990s, the website sparked interest in social network innovation that within 5 years later produced the famous websites we all have heard of such as MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, all being started between 2003 and 2006.
Since gaining popularity social networking sites have helped reshape the world and created never before seen opportunities for businesses large and small. Social media is now arguably the most effective way of reaching your customers online, with a record of 72% of the United States using at least one type of social media in 2019.
There are many ways to grow your business and acquire more customers through social media, however, each successful strategy begins with defining your niche and audience. The demographics of your target audience as well as the nature of your business (whether it is a B2B or B2C), should be your first area of concern when planning on acquiring customers through social media.
Although when we think of social media we usually think of about a dozen of the big names that dominate the market, in reality, there are actually dozens of social media sites that have millions of active users. Additionally, each platform has unique ways of advertising and various customer acquisition opportunities associated with it which are growing exponentially as the platforms attract more users.
With the growing amount of choices for customer acquisition through social media, comes both opportunity and the increasing difficulty of making the right decisions. To help you better navigate these waters, we have created a map that you can use to help guide you through this process from start to finish.
Finding the Right Platform
Deciding which social networks better serve your niche is the first step to take when looking to acquire customers through social media. There are two main areas of concerns when picking the right social network:
- What are you selling?
- Who is your target audience?
Answering these questions will help you prime your strategy for the steps that follow. As a business owner or marketer, you will most likely already have the answer to both of these questions, however, if you don’t we strongly suggest that you answer these before going ahead.
What you are selling and your target audience greatly affects the choices you make when acquiring customers through social media. For example, if you are selling business consulting services then there is no better platform for you to use than LinkedIn, and if you own an online clothing store few markers would argue against going with Instagram.
Your target audience demographic is another important factor in choosing the right social media platform for your business. For example, if you are targeting a female audience then Instagram and Pinterest are a great way to go as long as it fits your product offering, while LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube would be a better choice for a male audience.
The age of your customers is also a huge factor in determining the social media platform with which you should go with. Platforms like Snapchat and TikTok should be on top of your list if you are marketing to a younger audience such as the Gen Z generation, while Millenials are better targeted through Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Another factor to consider when you are choosing the social media platform through which you wish to market to your customers is your product offering. Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube are all great platforms when it comes to selling merchandise such as clothing. Facebook and YouTube are also great platforms to market a concert or a similar type of event.
The price of your products and services, although not the most important factor, should also be something that you think of when making your decisions. Twitter and LinkedIn are a better choice if you are selling business-related products or services, and their users also tend to have a higher level of disposable income. Due to the dominance of a younger age demographic, Snapchat has users with a smaller disposable income.
A lot of things to consider right? Let’s sum it up to make things easier. The list of questions you should ask yourself before finalizing your choice should be:
- Is your product offering digital, physical or is it a service?
- Are you trying to acquire consumers or businesses?
- What is the price of your product or service?
- What age group are you marketing to?
- Do you have a specific gender you are trying to target?
- Is your product offering visual, can it be easily marketed through a video or image?
- What is the geographical location of your company and customers? (some platforms may not have features available depending on your geographic location)
As we go through each of the platforms below, having answers to these questions will help you better understand what the right social media platform to acquire your customers is for you.
Defining Your Acquisition Method
There are two main methods of acquiring customers through social media; paid and organic. We will explore these methods for each individual platform below, but generally speaking, every social media platform will have both ways of acquiring customers.
Paid methods divide into two types; traditional paid ads which you can purchase through the social media platforms themselves, and influencer marketing. In some cases such as TikTok, influencer marketing can also be done through the platform itself, however, for most platforms, it is usually done through a third-party influencer marketing platform.
If you are unfamiliar with influencer marketing, it is when you pay a social media influencer (someone who has influence within a specific niche and demographic and has a large following), to promote your company through posts and/or videos. Both paid and influencer acquisition methods have pros and cons associated with them.
Traditional social media ads
- Provide more diverse segmentation and targeting options.
- Deployment of campaigns is generally quicker and cheaper.
- Allows for better tracking of conversions and results.
- 86% of users ignore ads due to ad blindness, with roughly only 8% users recalling a company, product, or service after viewing an ad.
- You have to generate the ad content yourself, which may get expensive if they are images or video and you need something specific.
- You can save money on ad generation by having it created by the influencer.
- Improves credibility in your brand through trustful recommendations of your business.
- Uses word of mouth which is the most cost-efficient and scalable method of advertising.
- You can target a very niche audience by working with nano-influencers and micro-influencers (1k-10k or 10k-100k followers).
- Finding influencers who fit your audience and don’t have fake followers is difficult and time-consuming unless you use a good influencer marketing platform.
- You may need to pay a monthly fee depending on the influencer marketing platform you use.
Organic acquisition of customers through social media is growing your own social media presence through a variety of growth tactics, such as posting frequently, engaging with your own audience and accounts that have similar audiences which you are trying to target, and social listening.
Posting Frequently and Consistently
The first rule of growing your social media account is to ensure that you post consistently and frequently. Each social media network has its own best times to post and a specific recommended frequency.
Additionally, different social media networks have different best times to post for different industries. By making sure that you are posting during the best times for your industry, you will be able to increase your engagement and ensure maximum efficiency and exposure for your business.
Keeping up with the number of posts and ensuring consistency is not an easy task for any business. To assist you with this we recommend that you use a social media scheduling tool. Some tools like HootSuite have free tiers to get you started, which you can then upgrade later to sustain your growth.
It is vital to your growth and brand image that you post content that resonates with the audience you are trying to reach as well as reflects your brand image. Scheduling your content will help to ensure that you are able to plan out a better content mix and keep your audience engaged.
When creating your content mix it is important to keep a balance of your content in order to grow your audience and not lose any followers. Two good strategies for maintaining this balance are the 80/20 and 10:4:1 rules.
The 80/20 Rule
This rule states that 80% of your content should be for entertainment and educational purposes. This content should be useful to your audience and provide solutions to their problems. This 80% is for growing your audience and increasing your engagement.
The other 20% is promotional content. This content is meant for actually acquiring your customers through promoting your business, products, or services. If you promote your business more than 20% of the time, there is a good chance that it will stun the growth of your followers and subscribers, and prevent you from reaching your full potential on social media.
The 10:4:1 Rule
The 10:4:1 is a ratio that helps you balance the sources of your posts. Although this rule applies to all social networking sites, it is more important in textual posts, like tweets than it is in media posts, such as TikTok videos.
This rule states over a 15 post period, 10 should come from third-party sources, 4 should come from your blogs or other educational content, and only 1 should be directed to a landing page or sales pitch.
Using hashtags and mentions is another great tactic to improve the effectiveness of your posts. By mentioning relevant accounts you will be able to boost the engagement of your posts by reaching other audiences, and using relevant hashtags will help your posts stand out even more.
Some scheduling tools will automatically autocomplete hashtags and mentions for you, and sometimes even provide suggestions. Alternatively, you can do a Google search to find any good hashtag discovery tool for a more manual approach.
Engaging With Your Followers and Other Accounts
In order to get noticed by your target audience when you are just getting started you have to reach outside your own account. Finding similar accounts and engaging with them will help your target audience be aware of your existence, and when you combine that with engaging content you provide through your own account it becomes the perfect recipe for growth.
You should begin by following accounts that post relevant content and have similar target audiences. Then you should proceed with liking and commenting on their posts and videos, and engaging with their followers who comment by liking or replying to their comments. Sharing and retweeting their content is another great way to draw connections.
If all else fails you can even go as far as direct messaging some of their followers to see if they are interested in following your social media or buying your products or services. Having your account verified (available on platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok), is a great way to increase the chances of those messages being opened by the receiving party.
Engaging with your followers is imperative to growing your business organically on social media. Each time you reply to a comment left by a follower or someone who viewed your post, you will boost your engagement a little more, and show your followers that you care.
This becomes even more important when the comments are negative so that it stops people from hopping on top of that train, ruining your brand image. Engaging with your audience is a great way to establish relationships and to increase your overall visibility on the social network.
Social listening refers to the process of tracking conversations around specific topics, keywords, industries, and/or accounts. This information will arm you with knowledge about like-minded companies, the industries you serve, and what your target audience finds interesting and engages with.
Once you have this knowledge you can better shape your content mix and improve it over time to ensure that your content is interesting and educational, helping you gain followers and subscribers at a faster rate.
Putting It All Together
The best strategies involve a combination of all of the above. It is imperative that you don’t ignore organic growth because that’s what will ultimately save you money on customer acquisition in the long run. By creating a dedicated audience of followers you will be able to grow faster without having to dish out money for the paid methods we mentioned above.
Leveraging paid methods in the beginning on the other hand is extremely beneficial to boost your initial growth. There are many companies like Fashion Nova for example, which are known for their explosive growth due to influencer marketing. Once you start seeing an adequate amount of followers you can reduce your spending budget, or put more fuel in the fire if it’s giving you the results you want.
You can also benefit from a third-party growth service or by hiring a social media agency to help grow your social media accounts organically. If you do choose to use a third-party growth service it is important to never buy followers or subscribers, as these are usually bot-generated services that will not provide you with the necessary engagement to grow your business.
Now that we have covered the overview of the different methods you can use to acquire customers through social media let’s dive deeper into each of the individual networks below.
Know What Works For You
It is important to know that while we cover the best times to post and the frequency at which you should post, this is not a one-fit-all guide. Once you begin posting, especially if you are using a scheduling tool, you will be able to analyze what works best for you and your individual case.
Posting frequency also has a direct tie to your budget. Posting frequently on platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube can get extremely expensive, therefore if you are starting with a small advertising budget it may simply be out of your reach at this point. The key is to do what you can, and to stay consistent with it, gradually increasing it as you acquire your customers until you reach your peak engagement.
New platforms are gaining popularity on a yearly basis, with TikTok dominating the year 2020. As new platforms like Clubhouse emerge in the near future, there will be even more opportunities to acquire customers through social media.
Social media is here to stay. With the average user spending 144 minutes per day on social media, it is imperative for the growth of your business that you incorporate it into your customer acquisition strategy. Now you have all the tools necessary to do so. Good luck!