Social media marketing is more than just creating social accounts and posting updates once in a while.
Nor is it merely a digital tool to broadcast company updates.
To make social media marketing work you need to take a strategic approach.
This post guides you through ten questions you should ask yourself before diving into social media.
Whether you are a social media beginner or you have been using it for a while, the following questions and actionable steps will help guide your social media efforts toward success.
Before you jump into the tactical and practical details of your social media plan, it’s critical that you take the time to understand your audience.
All successful businesses are based upon their ability to meet the needs of their audience and social media marketing is no different. Learning about the type of people you’re interacting with, from their psychological behaviours to their demographics, is crucial to creating an experience that relates directly to them.
Develop customer personas which will not only provide answers to basic demographic questions about your audience, such as age range and location, but also their challenges, dreams, hopes, and fears. Identify where your audiences congregate online, alongside which communities inform, inspire, or influence them.
Take Action: Finding data on your existing audience will help you identify whom you’re reaching and if they are within your target audience. Use Google Analytics and built-in audience analytics features such as Facebook Insights and Twitter Analytics to do this.
Once you’ve identified who your audience is, map this information to social media behaviour.
Armed with information on who makes up your audience, the next step is to determine which social media platforms they use and direct your efforts accordingly. This doesn’t mean that you have to be everywhere at once. Do your research to determine where best to focus your social media efforts to be successful.
Take Action: Use Surveys (e.g. Survey Monkey), Polls (PollDaddy; Facebook; Twitter), and publicly available reports to match your audience demographic to the social networks they use.
Your goals and objectives are the foundation of your strategy, guiding every decision and tactic that comes next.
Goals are also important because they help align your social media strategy with your overarching marketing objectives. Your social media marketing efforts should not be siloed — they should be an integral part of your overall digital marketing strategy. Your goals should be as trackable and specific as possible. The more detailed your goal is, the easier it’ll be in a few months to see if you achieved your goal
Take Action: It’s important to set SMART social media goals; i.e, goals that are specific, measurable, and achievable within a specific time-frame. In addition, set benchmark goals so you can gauge the success of your efforts as you go so you can put more effort behind what’s working and improve what’s not.
When it comes to marketing, you have two resources: money to spend and man-hours to give. It is up to you to decide how you want to allocate them.
There is a misconception that social media is completely free. While it’s true that it’s free to set up an account on all the major platforms, most offer premium features that may be worth considering.
Take Action: It’s a good idea to budget for paid advertising, particularly if you want to make an impact on Facebook, where organic reach has steadily declined over the past few years.
Time is a cost you need to factor into the social media equation.
To achieve results and credibility you have to be prepared to devote time regularly to producing and promoting content and engaging with your audience. Ask yourself how much of a time commitment can you afford for social media? Will you concentrate on just one platform and do that really well? Or do you need to hire some social media help?
Take Action: To create and maintain interest with your audience you need to post consistently to stay in front of your audience’s eyes and keep growing. Set aside one day each month to map out upcoming events, holidays, and so forth, which you would like to write or post about. Then use a simple excel spreadsheet to create your content calendar.
Your answer to the previous question may influence the type of content you will create for social media.
Do you have time to write regularly for a blog? Would it be better to make short videos for YouTube or to communicate through a livestream broadcast? You also need to keep in mind the content that works best on the platforms you have chosen. Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest require high-quality visuals to stand out. LinkedIn, on the other hand, is better suited to industry news and long-form thought pieces. Whichever type of content you intend to create, quality and consistency are more important than quantity.
Take Action: Think about what you want your readers to know and feel after seeing your content. What action, if any, do you want your audience to take after seeing your content?
You can learn a lot by taking some time to observe what your competitors are doing online.
One of the key components of conducting a social media audit is to compare your competitors’ digital footprints against your own. Doing some competitor analysis allows you to benchmark your metrics against others to see how you stack up. While it’s tempting to go straight to vanity metrics such as follower numbers, it will be of more benefit if you skip the quantitative analysis for qualitative.
- What type of content are they creating and how often are they sharing it?
- Which content is performing well?
- Which content is most shared, commented on, etc?
- How have they chosen to use videos and images?
- Which social media influencers are they interacting with?
- Are they active on networks you aren’t?
Take Action: Use this list of six tools to hep you conduct a competitor audit.
When developing your social media strategy, it’s key to clearly define roles and understand who will manage, monitor, and engage on each account.
You may wish to take full responsibility for maintaining your social media presence, but if you are giving the task to someone in your organization, or hiring outside help, you need to ensure they are the right person for the job.
Take Action: There are many different roles that make up a social media marketing job (for example content creation, e-mail marketing, social media management, etc.). Clearly define the roles and outline the responsibilities of this position.
Responding in real-time and resolving issues around your brand should they arise, strengthens public perception that your focus is strongly centered on customer satisfaction.
From a marketing perspective, social media monitoring will help you determine the impact on your product, service or brand, and if required, make adjustments to your communication, marketing or sales plans.
Take Action: There are many free and paid monitoring tools, with new services being added continually, which will help you track the metrics relevant to your brand across the web. The tools vary in scope and range across a number of sites, real-time or delayed searching, the sophistication of analytics, the flexibility of data presentation, integration with other applications, and cost. Which one you choose will depend on your budget and the level of analytics you wish to achieve.
How will you know if you achieve your social media goals? To determine how effective your social media efforts are, you will need to measure your results.
You need to understand and track the metrics that matter to the core of your business. Social media metrics should always be tied to your overall business goals. Go beyond vanity metrics which merely serve as an ego-boost. Instead, ask if these metrics make an impact on your bottom line.
Take Action: Use built-in tools such as Facebook Insights and Twitter Analytics, third-party tools, and measurement of social traffic and conversion with Google Analytics to track and measure your progress.