If you are not on Facebook, do you really exist? If your business doesn’t have a hundred (thousand) followers online, is it really successful? Are you missing out on potential sales by not being on Instagram? Will you have customers lined up at your door if you pay for online ads?
It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the whirlwind of online platforms and the countless theories that accompany them. It’s also easy to feel like the effort you are putting online is very dispersed and not getting you anywhere. You see all these carefully curated feeds and the thousands of likes. You see teenagers building empires and making millions online and you just don’t get it. How will that ever work for your traditional business, your startup or your personal brand?
Thankfully, managing your online presence does not require the wizardry you think it does. What it does require is a keen sense of observation, your willingness to experiment, consistency and obviously a solid strategy to work with.
Your social media presence will help you set yourself up as an authority in your field, gain the trust of your customers, and reach out to new ones. Having your business on every social media site is like taking a shot in the dark. Your resources will be worn thin and your business will struggle to make the impact you want to achieve.
To maximize your social media efforts, your strategy should include:
- Deciding which social media sites best suit your business and how to best use them;
- Determining how big you want your presence and how much money and effort you are willing to put;
- Identifying who is your audience, how you want to engage them and why; and
- Deciding which metrics are important for your business to measure your progress.
Here are 5 steps to learning more on how you can craft a social media strategy for your business:
Step 1: Set Up Your Social Media Goals
Remember the bumper car rides of our childhood? Having no clear goals in business (or in life) looks a lot like driving around in circles, your efforts will be scattered or aimless. Social Media is no exception. Without having clear-cut goals, you won’t be able to achieve much.
Start by writing down at least three social media goals for your business. Make sure to keep them measurable, specific and realistic. Try asking yourself what your goal will look like when it’s achieved. If you don’t know, you need to re-work its measurability.
Focus on tying your goals with the marketing, sales or overall business goals of your company. Keep in mind that different sets of goals require different sets of action. For example, if your goal is to build brand awareness, that will look very different than acquiring 30% new business.
The five common goals of social media marketing are:
- Building brand awareness: show the world who your brand is and make your business relevant to potential customers;
- Creating a closer relationship with your customers: find out what they are saying about your company, your service or even your industry. Answer their questions and resolve their complaints;
- Building a loyal community: find your most passionate fans, understand their culture and involve them in your decisions. Empowering your brand advocates will take you a long way;
- Research and development: use your platforms to test what your customers want and what they engage with. You can test new products or services and see how they react before even launching them. Social Media is a great tool for continuous improvement; and
- Driving sales and generating leads: this is what companies aim for first, but what they don’t always realize is that without working on the first four goals, it’s unlikely to generate sales through social platforms.
Step 2: Know Where You Stand
What does your current social media presence look like? What platforms are you using? How are people engaging with your posts? Who is currently connecting with you? How much effort are you putting on your social media presence? What was the budget spent? What has worked? What was a complete failure? How many followers do you have? How much activity is on your page?
Asking yourself these questions is like taking your current social media inventory. It gives you a clear outlook of the battlefield. Napoleon did not conquer the world by the sheer number of his soldiers, but by having a defined strategy.
Another war advice you should take into consideration comes from Sun Tzu: Know Thy Enemy. Take a look at the social media presence of your competitors. Check out the social media platforms they are using. Analyze their existing pages, what do they do well and not so well. Use this analysis to help craft your own strategy.
Step 3: Plan Your Content
Your content is the core of your strategy. You need to plan the types of content you need to create and share on your platforms. You also need to figure out who will create your content, how often will you post and how you will promote it.
As part of your strategy, you should create an editorial calendar listing the dates you intend to post, what you are posting and on what channel. Ideally, you should pre-plan 80% of your content for a set period of time. The remaining 20% is left for last minute ideas, announcements, and riding on online trends. Also, plan your paid ads to complement your marketing or sales efforts for each period.
Creating great content starts with understanding your current audience or who would you like to attract and engage. Content creation is half-science, half-art. Don’t be afraid to experiment.
Here are some tips for great engaging content:
- Stay authentic. Create and maintain the brand voice that your customers love you for. Is your brand young and energetic? Is it scientific and informative? Is it high-end and luxurious? Whatever it is, your brand voice and your content should reflect it and it should remain constant.
- Ask questions, start the conversation and engage your audience in it.
- Don’t over complicate things, sometimes a simple visual is all you need to get your message through.
- Yet, don’t be scared to use your content to provide an explanation, highlight your unique selling points and tell the story of your brand.
- Your audience doesn’t necessarily see things the way you see them. Create the content that your audience wants.
- Create emotional content, one that evokes awe, amusement, laughter or joy. BUT keep it relevant.
- Be human. It’s easier for your customers to relate and engage if they see you as a real person.
- Test. Test. Test. Content is not a one-size-fits-all. See what works and what doesn’t and make it better.
Step 4: Track Your Progress
Once you’ve created your social media plan, don’t sit back and do the same thing on repeat. Check how your campaigns are performing on a regular basis. Use Google Analytics to track clicks on your website. Use Facebook Insights to monitor engagement. Tools such as Hootsuite and Iconosquare can provide you with detailed reports. Check how your analytics are matching up with your set goals to make sure you are on the right track.
Step 5: Pivoooooot
Once you’ve revised your analytics, do more of what is working and less of what isn’t. Re-strategize your content to reflect your new understanding. When you are stuck, remember that the Internet is your best friend.
On a final note, the best piece of advice I can give you on managing your social media platforms is to stay relevant. The Internet is a fast and dynamic place. Platforms are changing constantly. The only way to stay on top of things is to keep learning.
There are plenty of resources you can use to build your knowledge. Platforms such as Coursera and Udemy have great free and paid courses while Facebook Blueprint is a great place to learn everything that is Facebook and Instagram related.
Also, the business support and development office at Berytech offers regular workshops on social media and digital marketing. Stay in the loop and update your knowledge!
About the Author
Josette Noujaim is an expert in Social Media Management and Content Creation. She helps brands across different industries to build their online presence and craft their digital content. For the last 5 years, Josette has been working with Berytech to build its digital community and expand its online reach.