Social media marketing best practices for MSPs

| By:
Jodi McFarlane

There was a time when social media marketing was met with its fair share of skepticism, as with anything new. Today, however, the importance of social media marketing cannot be denied. 86% of IT buyers use social media to make tech decisions. As an MSP, you need to make sure your company has a strong social media presence, especially during the current economic climate where new business may be harder to come by.

The benefits of social media marketing

If you're still on the fence (or need to convince your boss), let's explore some of the benefits of investing in social media:

1. Increase brand awareness and reach

By engaging on social media and having a social presence, you can increase brand awareness and your reach (i.e., the total number of people who have been exposed to your brand or content). You should consider social media as another arm of your communication strategy, beyond traditional methods like your website and email.

2. Improve customer engagement

Social media marketing also offers a crucial way to engage with your customers. It allows you the opportunity to have a two-way conversation with your customers in comparison to traditional marketing/advertising methods that are primarily one-way communication. By embracing social media, your customers can freely respond to your messaging in real-time and give valuable feedback in the process that may have otherwise been time-consuming or costly to acquire.

3. Develop an authentic connection with your customers

Social media marketing can help you build and maintain customer relationships. Since you'll gain the opportunity to engage with your customers, if done correctly, this naturally translates into the ability to create a strong, authentic connection that you might not have been able to accomplish through other marketing tactics. Let your followers get to know you, be genuine, and show a more personal side of your business.

4. Improve customer satisfaction

If customers are engaging with you on various social media platforms, a timely response to comments and questions can help to improve customer satisfaction. You can also use social media to provide real-time updates, which is especially useful in crisis communication. For example, if you experience a security incident (knock on wood).

5. Drive traffic to your website

If your social strategy is integrated with your marketing strategy (which it should be), social media can help you drive more traffic and more leads to your website. However, a word of caution: this should not be your primary goal. Why? You don't want to come across as overly promotional. Follow the 80/20 rule: 80% of your posts should be helpful or educational (thought leadership), and only 20% should explicitly promote your business.

Bonus tip: Social media is also a relatively cost-effective way to attract new customers, which helps keep your customer acquisition cost in check.

How to create a social media strategy

First, do a bit of research. Look at how other companies are using social media successfully. These companies don't have to be in your industry and should be aspirational brands you'd like to emulate. Ask yourself if there are any brands that you love to follow and why. This will serve as an inspiration and give you a glimpse into what the best brands are doing on social media, which you might want to incorporate into your strategy. No need to reinvent the wheel.

Next, take a look at your customers and analyze how they are engaging on social media. You'll want to take a look at what they're posting and who they are connecting with. This will help inform the content you should be posting and even the messaging and tone that will connect with your target audience.

Finally, gather some competitive intel by looking at your competitors’ social media presence. This will help to inform how you can differentiate yourself from them and if there are any gaps in their content that you can address.

Once you’ve completed your research, you can start determining your social media goals and objectives. It might be easy to think in superficial terms with social media, but to gain true success you need to ensure your goals are aligned to your overall business goals just like any other marketing activity you undertake.

Know what to track

If you’re just starting out, here are three social media metrics you'll want to keep an eye on:

  1. Your follower count
    This refers to the number of people who have liked your account and are following you. If this number is growing at a steady rate, you’re on the right track.
  2. Your impressions
    This is the number of views a social post gets or the number of people that see that post in their feed: the higher this number, the more eyes on your content.
  3. Your engagement
    This is all the likes, comments, shares, and general interactions that a post gets. Engagement is the most vital metric to track. Your focus should be on publishing content that will drive meaningful engagement. The more people who engage with your profile or your social content, the more your reach and impressions will grow, and the more likely you are to gain new followers.

    Pro tip: Video content on social media generates up to 1200% more shares than texts and images combined. Facebook, in particular, is prioritizing longer video content than ever before. An important metric to keep an eye on for this type of content is the retention rate: how long people stay and watch your videos. Your goal should NOT be to go viral. Why? It's unrealistic. In most cases, what goes viral is simply a stroke of luck.

Know your audience

Before you start posting on social media, you need to find out the answers to these three central questions:

  1. Who are you targeting?
    Is it your customers? Event attendees? Thought leaders in your industry? Determine who you are hoping to reach on social media. This will ensure that you tailor what you post, keeping your audience in mind.
  2. What social platforms are they engaged with the most?
    For example: Are they highly engaged on LinkedIn and Twitter, somewhat engaged on Facebook and Instagram, and rarely if not at all engaged with YouTube and TikTok. This will help you determine which platforms to focus your efforts on.
  3. What is their tone on each of those platforms?
    Maybe they are very casual and funny on Twitter, but very serious and professional on Facebook. Of course, there are general tones for each of these platforms, LinkedIn is more professional, and Facebook is more family and friends oriented. Still, you need to determine exactly where on this spectrum your target audience lands. With this knowledge, you'll be able to match their tone and engagement style on those platforms.

Know what to post

You'll want to have some consistency in the content you're posting. Decide on the top three or four most critical messaging themes you'd like to focus on and make those a priority in your content. When deciding your themes, think of what content your audience will find the most appealing and start there. For example, one of our top messaging themes on our social profiles is to provide value to our followers by offering thought leadership content, product tips, business advice, and more.

A social media post has two main parts to consider:

  1. Social copy
    It’s worth taking some time to be intentional about the marketing copy you're using in social media posts. You want to make sure that you're leading with the value upfront. Know your audience, think about the content that they'd like to see or that they would benefit from, and then craft the right messaging so they’ll be more likely to engage.

    Your posts need to tell a compelling story while also keeping it short and digestible. You'll have character limits to keep in mind, as well as your audience's short attention span as well as shorter lifespans of social content itself. According to Green Umbrella, the average lifespan for posts on LinkedIn and Instagram is about 48 hours. It's around 6 hours for Facebook, and for Twitter, it's much shorter and fast paced with tweets usually living on the newsfeed for only about 18 minutes.

  2. Social images
    Visuals on social media (videos and images) are the first thing that your followers will notice. In social media terms, they need to be thumb stoppers meaning they need to grab the audience's attention and get them to stop scrolling. Avoid using stock photos and aim for variety, such as still graphics, motion graphics, live streams, promotional videos, and company photos.

Use these best practices to establish a successful social media marketing strategy integrated with the rest of your marketing efforts and aligned to your company’s goals. Focus on creating meaningful engagement with your audience, stay on top of trends and what’s happening around you, and make sure that anything you’re posting is reflective of your company and the expertise you can provide.