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How to Use Social Media to Grow Your Business

Ibrahim Hanif
Ibrahim Hanif

The principles, formulas and tactics to get you started.

Your business could already be on social media, or you may not have any digital presence. If you would like to leverage social media to grow your revenue, you'll need to know the principles, formulas and tactics to get you started. Since social media algorithms change and no platform seems permanent, it is best that I only include the most transferrable, actionable items.

  1. Understanding user psychology is the key to maintaining the edge on social media.
  2. Rewards and urgency are universal drivers and complement the fast pace of social media.
  3. Use rewards + urgency in your campaigns to get people to buy.
  4. Use influencers or advertising, whichever is feasible, to get your campaign message out there.
  5. Curate toward platform, device and intent.

The social media landscape

Our priorities shift according to time, place and context. In some instances, vanity and social comparison are the highest priorities. Luxury businesses thrive on such moments. On the other hand, there are moments where compassion is your driving force. Needless to say, that charities strive toward elevating empathy.

The question is, 'What psychological forces drive a social media user?'

To find the answer, the research team at my firm analyzed a web-traffic sample of 80,000+ social media users across eight industries. The results showed two cognitive biases to be the chief drivers in social media users' decision-making.

The driving forces: rewards and urgency

The human excellence owes itself to our universal reward-seeking tendency. So it is no surprise that incentives drive action when it comes to social media. Moreover, the short attention span further accents the inherently-precious nature of time when it comes to social media. These insights bring us to a two-point checklist of rewards and time-limits, which make up an effective social media campaign. 

Method 1: Influencer + rewards + urgency

For this method, you select an influencer with an audience that largely overlaps your target audience. However, instead of asking the blogger to promote your product by merely talking about it, you attach a  limited-time incentive to act. This incentive could be a gift with purchase or a discount upon using a specific code. You also must add urgency so as not to miss out on the currency of attention to the shortness of social media users' attention span. Influencers are promoting multiple brands and products to their audiences every day. Your message must have an enticing reward to get their audience to act on your offer. 

 Method 2: Advertising + rewards + urgency

This method is a variation on the earlier campaign with the means of reach changed from influencer to paid advertising. This method has much more control built into it. You can test on a smaller scale many more offers, rewards, and demographics to understand what works.

You must understand that with the absence of an influencer in the equation, there is some loss of relatability. So, including human elements – even appearing in your ads – works.

Ultimately, the reward makes or breaks your campaign. If your business makes repeated sales to your customer database, you can spend more on rewards than they spend on their first purchase. Ultimately, with repeated purchases, they make up for what you spent getting them into your database.

Method 3: Rewards for information

While rewarding purchases is the most straight-forward way to get relevant customers to re-market to, businesses can also opt for a method that is not as big of a loss-leader. You do not need to offer rewards that cost as much if the action you're rewarding is a sign-up. It is self-evident that the reward that gets someone to purchase a car is pricier than the reward that fetches someone's email. 

People are more likely to give emails and contact information upon first coming across your offer than they are to buy. A buying decision is not as impulsive as a sign-up to get free stuff. However, because the barrier to entry for contests is low, you have to be conscious about the possibility of getting unqualified leads. 

The key to countering this possibility is selecting niched rewards. It is self-evident that if I am a car wash owner offering free cash in exchange for email sign-ups, people who do not own cars might sign-up. On the other hand, if I am offering a free car wash in exchange for an email sign-up, only car owners are likely to take the offer. Hence, a niched reward ensures that only relevant people join. When it comes to the specifics of what contact information to take and with which software, the topic is too broad to be covered here. But generally, most sign-up forms work and can be linked to an advertisement or an influencer's post. 

The point, ultimately, is to use urgency and incentives to get a social media audience acting on the first encounter with your message before it gets drowned out by the rest of the noise. The action you get them to take could be a sign-up, a page-follow or a purchase. The reward for said action must be in proportion and must factor in the users' device, which in most cases, is a smartphone.

Social media marketing on mobile.

Scrolling, clicking and typing have two things is common. First is that they are all actions mobile users take. The second trait shared by these actions is that they drop by multiples of over 10 across time. 

Analyzing data from Google Analytics of 25 websites, alongside Facebook and Instagram insights of 15 brands, I learned that an addition of one extra click led to a drop of 30% in conversion. Similarly, sign-up forms saw an average decline of 23% in fill-rate for every additional field that required input. 

So marketing on mobile should aim for shorter activation, that consumes the least attention, effort, and time.  The following will help guide you towards optimizing your marketing campaigns towards mobile:

Establish dialogue in the least number of steps possible.

The key to maximizing the value derived from mobile marketing is to establish a dialogue at the earliest stages of your funnel. While clicks and visibility are abundant on mobile, buying decisions still require follow-up, consideration and repeated exposure. 

By advertising for engagement, especially in direct messages, you receive permission to re-market and earn engagement simultaneously. Engagement signals a higher quality of user experience to the respective platform, which increases the post-exposure and the channel reach. However, the reason it is critical to establish a dialogue at the earliest stage of advertising is because of mobile users' unwillingness to take a series of actions without active guidance. 

Early dialogue can be established by chat-bots, social media managers, or a combination of the two. Your staff in touch with the interested audience can guide the process of activation and purchase.

Curate toward intent.

While you decide the marketing objectives, the audience and the platform decide rules of engagement. Try your best to complement the user experience and minimize resistance. You can achieve optimal mobile marketing that is in line with your audience's experience by understanding intent.

There are two main intentions of using mobile platforms: seeking and browsing. 

Seeking. A seeker is looking for a specific product or service. Ideally, by advertising on a search platform, you are presenting your product/service as one of the options they can consider. 

By following the dictum regarding establishing contact early, you leave less room for the potential customer to ponder about other options freely. You advertise on search platforms only if your product or service is the kind people are actively seeking. It is recommended to connect ads to mobile-optimized, quick-loading, landing pages with call-to-action that establishes a dialogue. Include a cash-on-delivery option, as well as the opportunity to clarify address over a call if the customer finds it hard to put in an exact address.

Browsing. A browser is using a platform with the potential for discovery. This kind of browsing, for now, is mostly done on Facebook and Instagram. If your product/service is purchased upon impulse (or is one that people mostly buy upon discovering than actively searching), you are better off advertising on discovery platforms. 

The difference makes the difference when it comes to discovery advertisements. Make your visual and text stand out, have a reason to click (curiosity or reward), and establish contact within the platform. Alternatively, receive sign-up from an in-platform lead form if the option is available (more on this later). 

The next section applies to discovery marketing more than seeker marketing. With seeker-marketing, you are at a smaller risk of losing attention as you are not interrupting the audience with your message. Therefore, a quick-loading page with the right message and call-to-action is all it takes. With advertisements that interrupt browsing, you have to be careful not to contradict the user's intentions of being on the platform.

Keep activity on the platform

The loading time when clicking on a link from one platform to another creates a bounce-rate that could be detrimental to your marketing. Moreover, social media platforms actively suppress the reach of outside links, especially ones to competing platforms.  

Video Views. Videos can be uploaded to Facebook Watch, Youtube and IGTV on Instagram. If you produce a video ad, use the native platform to publish and promote. Avoid promoting a Youtube video link as a Facebook post.

Image Views. It is possible to post images on Google Display Network, Facebook Advertising Network, as well as stories and feed properties of Google, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat. It is recommended to have images rendered to mobile dimensions of each platform, instead of using the same asset across all platforms. While story posts have the same dimensions, using native stickers can bring an individual platform-familiar feel to your content. 

Contact/Inquiries. Do not make the mistake of putting your email address as an implied call-to-action. Do not make the mistake of listing multiple off-platform contact options in your advertisements and social content. Use native options to receive inquiries. Ask your audience to inquire via comments or direct messages on Instagram or Facebook.

Sign-ups. Connecting Google Ads to landing pages containing online forms is still a norm because Google has not rolled out a native method of taking sign-ups. However, when it comes to Facebook, it is possible to receive information from native lead forms. Once this has become possible, it is self-evidently the better option considering the user experience and bounce-rate possibilities. This assertion will apply for any off-platform activity that becomes possible on the platform with advances in mobile and social technology.

Image Credit: Chainarong Prasertthai / Getty Images
Ibrahim Hanif
Ibrahim Hanif Member
Ibrahim Hanif is a business growth consultant whose marketing strategies have generated an average of 700% growth for businesses dealing in luxury goods and services. Hanif is also the founder of Ibrahim Hanif HQ, a private investment fund with a global portfolio of passive income-generating assets. In 2019, Luxy verified its annual cash flow to exceed $ 1 Million.