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How to Use Social Media to Grow Customers

By Kelsey Brooks, Marketing Associate

Wondering if social media is the right marketing strategy for you? It just might be. On the other hand, if it’s not where your target audience is, you’ll waste quite a bit of time developing, executing and growing a presence that won’t yield results. That’s why it’s crucial for businesses to have clearly defined target audiences. This will be the best way to determine if social media is the right marketing strategy for you. If you know who they are, you can then determine which social channel(s) your audiences interact with and are most active.

A new Pew Research Center survey of US adults finds that the social media landscape in early 2018 is defined by a mix of long-standing trends and newly emerging narratives. Facebook and YouTube dominate this landscape, as notable majorities of U.S. adults use each of these sites. At the same time, younger Americans (especially those ages 18 to 24) stand out for embracing a variety of platforms and using them frequently. Some 78 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds use Snapchat and a sizeable majority of these users, 71 percent, visit the platform multiple times per day. Similarly, 71 percent of Americans in this age group now use Instagram. Close to half, 45 percent, are Twitter users.

Although Facebook and YouTube take the lead when reaching overarching consumers, LinkedIn is the top social media site for making connections with business professionals and B2B sales and marketing. With 546 million users, it is one of the most popular social networks in terms of active users. Available in over 24 languages in more than 200 countries, the website focuses on business connections and industry contacts for employers and working professionals.

Before you include social media in the marketing mix, you should be asking yourself, “does your ideal customer socialize and engage?” If your answer is yes, the next question to answer is, “where?”

Here’s where you’ll need to spend some time researching demographics, groups and competition. This will gauge the overall interest. Also, join different groups to grow your understanding of how many people are in that market, then read and listen to the sentiment of those groups to determine intent, challenges and engagement. At that point, you’ll be armed with data that will enable you to make the decision to jump in or steer clear.

If your data shows that your business would benefit from social media, below are ways you can use it to grow your customers:

Build a community and engagement.

Social media has proven to be a major disruptor in marketing, by creating new opportunities to build a community and followings that can rally around a common cause or brand. Growing a community was more difficult in the past, due to time and territory. Geographic boundaries made it more difficult for people with common interests to gather. Social media has blown away the boundaries and created spaces for every imaginable micro-community to have its own gathering place. This is good news for even the most remote niches and product specific outreach. Having direct access to a community used to be impossible and only scratched the surface with surveys and focus groups. Now your company or brand can have real-time feedback on every new product or promotion, allowing your marketing team to be responsive in today’s social community environment.

Create original content.

Original content creation is a must. True, curating content is great. But you won’t grow until you are creating your own original content. This means you will actually need a plan for what you are going to say, share or write. Original content is much easier for your community/fan base to share. Although they still can share the curated content, it’s really only helping the content creator to grow. You want to be in the position of others curating and sharing your content, since you’ll have your branding and messaging in it. This also will help to establish your credibility, as well as position you as an authority.

Engage with your audience.

Too often, I see businesses simply broadcasting messages at their fans and followers instead of sincerely engaging with them. While you may be a large company, your customers and clients want to know that there’s a human on the other end of the line. By simply asking questions, you can start to generate engagement with your social profiles and pages. Just remember the human aspect and think about engaging in the following ways:

  • Answer questions promptly. Once you ask a question, your audience will want to know that you heard them.
  • Acknowledge the comments and reply to them.
  • Start a conversation! This will draw more people in.

Leverage social advertising platforms.

Since these platforms collect information on you to build out your profile, keep track of all the things you like/dislike and groups you join. Their databases are stacked with information and key connections. For example, leverage Facebook’s Custom Audiences and Look-a-Like Audience, to increase your reach to pages that have similar characteristics to your current fan base and email list.

One of CMA’s customers, The New Jersey State Nurses Association (NJSNA), which advocates for 125,000 registered nurses and quality health care in NJ, acquired our services to build awareness of the association and reverse a five-year membership decline. The goal was to grow membership and enhance the association’s overall visibility. They also wanted to increase their recognition in the nursing and healthcare industries, as well as with state news and national media. In response, CMA launched a public relations campaign, which penetrated state news and national media. Moreover, CMA grew NJSNA’s digital footprint through social media, alongside a newly-designed responsive, mobile-friendly website. Search engine optimization (SEO), was also implemented to streamline awareness and membership growth. The social media campaign generated 1.03 million impressions and 2,549 referral visits to NJSNA’s website. Its membership grew by 47 percent.

The key to any marketing campaign is to truly understand your target audience. That includes who they are and what they want, in addition to engaging in conversation. Social media is an effective way to connect on a deeper level, get real-time feedback and engage with your target audiences in a personal way. In the end, success in social media will come down to one thing… the business strategy employed, to convert fans and followers into leads and prospects.

How’s your business using social media to grow its customers? Do you have a plan in place or a strategy that’s worked? Do you have an interesting story to tell on this topic? We’d love to hear from you. Please share it in the comments below.

Kelsey Brooks is a marketing associate at Creative Marketing Alliance, an award-winning, full service marketing agency that builds reputation, relationships and return on investment. To ensure that you are successfully managing your social media marketing, it would benefit you to work with professionals who are experts in this area. CMA can help! Contact us at 800-852-4269 or email us at