If you’re not social media savvy then don’t worry, you’ll find no blame here. Many people shy away from the digital titans like Facebook and Twitter because they represent nothing so much as an online shrine to self importance and vanity… And they’re not far wrong.
But there’s far more to social networking than duck-faced selfies and “arty” sepia toned snaps of cappuccino mugs.
Social media is quickly and insistently changing the way that businesses interact with their consumer base. Whatever your business and whatever your target demographic, it’s extremely unlikely that social media won’t be able to help you reach them.
And if you think that just because it has sprung up recently that it’s just a passing phase, think again. With 97% of marketers using some form of social media as a platform is it really something you can choose to ignore?
The benefits of social media engagement
A social media presence is essentially a clear voice in a busy marketplace. How you use that voice is up to you but if you use it effectively you can expect to enjoy…
- Improved brand recognition
- Greater brand loyalty
- More opportunities for lead conversion
- Higher conversion rates Increased inbound traffic
- Decreased marketing costs Improved understanding of your customers and their habits
- Improved net promoter score
- Crisis management
So, let’s talk strategy
You could be forgiven for approaching social media as a blunt force instrument, bludgeoning the various outlets with your presence, but this would be a counterproductive use of your time. Your social media strategy should be more like a scalpel, sliding neatly and precisely where it needs to be. The good news is that the range of social media platforms is becoming as various and niche as the businesses that use it.
While we’re on the subject it’s important to stay on top of social media trends, as Eleanor Ross states in The Guardian:
Small businesses need to keep up to date with advances in social media. What would you think of a business that still directed all of its business through Myspace? You wouldn’t trust them to be at the forefront of business. If people start to shut down Facebook, will you know where to turn? Get on top of new social media trends now, so you’re not left floundering. – Eleanor Ross
If you’re still finding the concept of social media strategy daunting, it might help to break it down into three simple steps…
Really ask yourself what you want from your social media presence (cherry pick some answers from the above if it helps).
Then clarify your audience’s needs. if good old fashioned empathy isn’t enough then maybe using a free tool like Survey Monkey might be worth a punt. What do they need from your social media presence?
Noticing some correlation? Good! Getting to know your audience through social media is crucial so that you can generate content according to their needs and interests.
Decide on the theme or purpose for your social media presence. Broadly speaking there are three themes, facilitating three different functions:
Of course these three may well bleed into one another but deciding on one to lead with early on will maximise your chances of success.
How will you determine the success or failure of your campaign? Be it in clicks, likes, follows or retweets, your chosen metrics will largely be determined by your theme. If your theme is awareness you’ll want to measure in terms of likes or subscriptions. If it’s sales you’re after then you’d be better concerning yourself with click volume and conversion rates.
If it’s loyalty you want to measure then you might want to measure engagement and sentiment using a tool such as Klout. Buffer is a great free tool for measuring engagement.
Unlike the selfie crowd, your engagement with social media has to be structured. Determine when and how you will distribute content on your chosen platform/s. Consider:
- What will you post? Blog? Vlogs? Funny images? Webinars?
- Who will create it?
- When and where will it be shared?
- How much third party content will you share as well as your own?
Make sure that you enable social media plugins and icons on your website and in your email signature. Make sure you’re generating content on a daily basis (people will lose interest if you’re not, I’m afraid).
Actively engage your audience with giveaways, contests and promotions or offer reward schemes.
3:Measure and Monitor
Analyse your results consistently and regularly. Choose a dedicated time slot in the week and go over them with your team. Identify surges and lulls in engagement and try to track what’s working and what isn’t.
If a certain post has a much greater level of engagement than usual you might want to try capitalising on that momentum.
Paid social reach is a relatively inexpensive – and more importantly, measurable! – way of boosting your more popular posts and growing your audience.
A cheaper, though more labour intensive strategy is to implement a cross platform campaign in the form of a contest, giveaway or event across, say, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Make sure that you are regularly evaluating and re-evaluating your levels of engagement and generating content accordingly.