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Out of the 7.2 billion people on the planet as of 2015, nearly 2.1 billion have social media accounts. As staggering as that may sound, having a presence on multiple social media channels does not necessarily mean you’re ahead of the game.

Today’s audiences are keen to give brands opportunities to get to know them better, but at the same time, are notoriously harsh when it comes to poor service levels, business ethics and the like. 74% of consumers cited relying on social media to make purchasing decisions.

Brands need to be aware that it’s less about advertising and more about creating relationships, fostering a positive brand image, and above all, cementing a place in the market.

Here are a few ways to ensure you stay on top of the social media game.

Know your market

Social media is a broad playing field, made up of a variety of categories. Whilst you may know major players like LinkedIn, Youtube, Pinterest and Instagram, there will be a host of others you aren’t as well-versed with. The good news is your audience may not necessarily be on all those channels, or alternatively, may prefer to be reached on a select few. For more information visit SEO Agency in London

Determining the link between your specific business and its target audience would help considerably in your choice of channel. A mass-market product would probably choose Facebook, given its reach, while a professional service would find it to connect with interested parties via LinkedIn.

Choose your platforms

Not all platforms are the perfect fit for every business, though Facebook, (with 1.4 billion users) and Twitter (with 284 million active users and counting) come pretty close. It’s important to make choices based on what individual channels have to offer and their ability to connect you to the right customer segments.

Take the time to understand the mechanics of each channel and then come up with an effective strategy to maximize gain out of your social media presence. Foursquare is location-based, allowing users to check-in at places, unlock information based on proximity, access deals etc., making it the perfect choice for restaurants, shops, and regular events.

Tumblr, on the other hand, is an easy to use, customizable blogging platform that lets users share text, images, videos and more. With 68% of marketers planning on increasing their blogging efforts in the near future, blogging is the tool of choice for multiple industries and brand types.

Engage your customers

Learn the difference between talking ‘to’ your audience, and talking ‘with’ them. The UAE alone has 5.4 million active social media accounts. Each month, 329 million people read blogs. By posting relevant, appealing content on a frequent basis, you open up the doors for dialogue, creating and encouraging two-way conversation.

Responding to comments and messages (positive or negative) helps create stronger bonds with your market and these interactions go a long way in building brand image. 53% of people recommend companies and products on Twitter and that information alone, is enough to warrant that your business be a part of this conversation.

Though this is a continuous exercise requiring time and resources, it reaps long-term benefits allowing you insights into customer opinions, preferences and buying patterns.

Own up

Believe it or not, knowing when to admit to a mistake on social media can earn you tremendous brownie points with your audience. When it comes to posts, multiple things could go wrong, from timings, information, mixing accounts etc. Instead of trying to delete or backdate posts in an effort to remedy the issue, post a well-thought out explanation, apology or clarification.

Mistakes happen, and as in life, your audience will respect you more for admitting to it and taking the necessary efforts to rectify the situation. The average consumer mentions brands 90 times a week in conversations with family, friends and colleagues. Wouldn’t you like to be as talked about?

Track your activity

50% of shoppers make purchases based on recommendations received via a social media channel. It’s an integral part of your marketing mix and through multiple, easily available tools, you can gauge and monitor your growth, reach and customer segments. Match these outcomes to measurable factors, so you know how much good, or bad, is coming out of your social activity.

When used effectively, social media is probably one of the best tools available to companies to not only boost sales, but also create long-term positive impressions in the minds of consumers and creating blog content is regarded as one of the most effective tactics in B2B marketing.

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