Regardless of your market or industry, social media should be a key element of your overall marketing plan. Back in the day (maybe as long as two or three years ago), social media for business was in the “take or leave it” category. These days, it’s a ubiquitous presence and any business that ignores it risks forfeiting a sizeable part of its target market.
Catapult Groups Marketing Manager, Linda Dohnal, gives her top three tips for developing a social media strategy below:
So, like any other business operation, you need a social media strategy plan. In order to claim a rightful place in this online realm, it’s necessary to devise goals and objectives, allocate time and resources for monitoring and contributing to social media platforms, and pay attention to metrics. There are customers out there; it’s up to you to do the necessary work to find them.
Start with goals. What do you hope to from building an active social media presence? Typical business goals include:
- Drive more traffic to your website
- Cultivate online relationships
- Leverage enhanced awareness of your brand to greater sales
- Build some buzz around your product or service
- Position yourself as an industry thought-leader
- Get online feedback to improve the quality of your customer service
Some of these goals can be viewed as short-term (30-60 days), while others are more achievable between six months and a year – depending upon your business needs.
Be selective. There are far too many social media channels for any business to take on collectively. A wiser strategy is focusing on the ones that make the most sense for your business. Who do you want to reach? B2B companies, for example, will get more ROI from an active presence on LinkedIn than Facebook. Active engagement on Twitter has proven to be very beneficial to businesses. Or you can divide your audience into segments, with appropriate resources allocated to different platforms. Knowing where you plan to be influences the type of content you should provide.
Make sure your have organizational buy-in. Social media strategy shouldn’t fall exclusively within the domain of your marketing or public relations departments. When putting together a social media plan, the CEO and other senior executives should be part of process driving that effort. After a plan is developed, encourage employees throughout the organization to take part in social media campaigns and become part of the conversation.
Start engaging customers and prospective customers. Different social media channels require different types of content. One way to attract and engage followers is by providing content of value to customers. Keep the 70/30 rule in mind – 70% of the content you provide should be information people find helpful (“how-to” tips to save time and money, for example) and 30% designed to promote your products and website. This approach will likely encourage users to keep coming back for more.
Also, make sure your messaging is consistent across different platforms. Customers will be confused if you employ differing logos, taglines and online profiles on various social media channels.
Track your metrics. After your team has begun posting content, it’s time to start monitoring and measuring results. Look into existing online tools to help with this effort, such as Google Analytics, Hootsuite and Tweetdeck. These sites can help track what content is having the desired effect in terms of customer engagement and what content falls short of the goal. Other key metrics to track include:
- Popular posts (as measured by clicks and comments) vs. less-viewed content
- Growth of the audience
- Website conversions from social media-generated leads
There’s vast potential for business in social media. With a genuine commitment and focused effort, your business can reap some significant rewards.