Peer pressure, success stories in the media and general hype tell today’s business owners that having a presence on social media is essential. That’s not to say a business couldn’t do well without utilizing social networking, but they’d certainly be missing out on a myriad of opportunities to build and grow.
However, one of the biggest mistakes that a brand can make is to leap into socialmedia marketing with no real clue of what they are going to do with it only the vague hope it will somehow make their fortune.
By the end of this chapter, you will have a firm understanding of what kind of approach works for business on social media, and how to take yourefforts in a well-planned, logical direction.
1. Decide which social networks will work best for you
Unless you’re a big company with the resources to plow full speed ahead intoevery potentially viable social platform, chances are you’re better to focus on oneor two “core” social networks first.
To help you decide where to begin, identify which social networks your target audience already “hangs out” or use customerpersonas and research of social network demographics to judge where you willbest be received.
Joining Facebook and Twitter is often a given for brands simply due to their sheer size and influence, but more “niche” communities withtheir own unique attributes – still with hundreds of millions of users, mind you -like Pinterest, Instagram, or LinkedIn, might be where you find can make an impact more successfully.
2. Define and assess your goals
Before you start posting content to social media, it is useful to define the guidingthemes and overall goals of your strategy, as these will help you shape the wayyou approach what may well become the linchpin in your marketing machine.
I’m a fan of the SMART technique for creating actionable social media goals.Here’s a breakdown, hopefully they’ll help you too:
- Specific: Be specific in what you want to achieve. Do you want to raise awareness of your brand? Increase sales? Improve customer service? Strengthen loyalty?
- Measurable: How will you know that your goal has been achieved? What analytics tools will you use to track your progress?
- Achievable: Is your goal realistic? When you are just starting off, don’t aim too high at the risk of being deflated if you don’t hit your projected goal getting really adept at all this stuff (particularly if you are approaching social media marketing seriously for the first time) takes a while.
- Relevant: Is your goal aligned with your company’s mission, vision and values?.
- Time Specific: When do you want to have achieved the goal by? To add a focus to your marketing, stick to one overarching goal at a time, e.g. “I want to increase traffic to our website by 15% in the next 3 months”.
3. Plan ahead with a social media content calendar
One of the stiffest tests facing brands on social media is to consistently publishhigh quality content for their fans. A company’s social media presence thatappears abandoned is the digital equivalent of turning your lights off.
4. Humanize your brand and be emotive
People use social media to connect with other people, so lower your barriers and show fans the real you, and the people behind your business’ logo be transparent, open, and authentic in all of your communication – authenticityoften means being a little bit more open about what your business might traditionally share with customers, but there’s a fine line – if you’re consistently Sharing posts about internal conflicts or your love life, that line has probably been crossed! establish your unique voice, show a sense of humor, use everyday language, etc.
5. Social media marketing isn’t free; experiment with paid ads
Several years ago, social media marketing was seen as a golden opportunity toreach and promote to customers for free. In certain aspects, this was true. Now,however, with greater competition and a more astute audience, paid promotionacross is all-but essential.
That’s not to say you can’t still achieve brilliant results without spending a penny, but even a nominal figure, spent well (such as $5 per day on highly targeted Facebook ads), can noticeably compound a brand’s success.
Above all, enjoy the ride; build strong, meaningful relationships.
The stronger someone acquaints with your brand on social media, the morelikely they’ll remember you and pass the positive word on to their friends andfamily. Be consistent, present, real and genuine in all of your communication ifyou want to foster genuine interaction with customers on a slow and steady pathto creating loyalty, sales and brand advocates for life.