Social media marketing success takes time, effort, and commitment; especially when a direct and immediate benefit is not seen. Regularly posting quality content that adds value, participating regularly, and engaging your network will pay off in terms of raising brand awareness, enhancing public relations, and building company advocates; sales and leads will come as well. However, to use these platforms effectively, you must put in place a strategy that will lead you to your goals. You must first form your strategy; decide why you wish to use social media, which users you wish to engage, and how you will spell s-u-c-c-e-s-s…before you begin. Here are five key parts to putting together an effective social media strategy.
1. Draw your Map: Goals
Begin with the end in mind. Where do you want to end up? It is not possible to map out your route without first planning your destination. With that in mind, pick a realistic goal without trying to do too much at once; focusing on one goal at a time keeps fans from getting confused and your message from being diluted. Realistic goals for your social media efforts might be building brand awareness and enthusiasm, increasing customer loyalty, and gaining new customers and sales.
2. Prepare for the Trip: Strategy
Next you have to create your plan to get from where you are to where you want to be. There are some basic decisions to be made, based on your goal, in this step.
First, you must be able to tell people quickly what your business is all about. Internet interest is fleeting at best, and no one will read a long synopsis about you. Describe what is unique and better about your brand than others, in just a sentence or two at most.
Which platforms to use is another important decision. There are literally hundreds of social media platforms, with the largest being Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, YouTube, and LinkedIn. You want to market where your current and prospective customers spend their online time.
- Facebook is the largest platform, approaching a billion users. It is great for personal interaction, with a young user base. One complaint that businesses sometimes have is that it is so big their message can be diluted.
- Twitter is a great platform for short and direct messages, monitoring conversations about your brand, and finding prospects for your business.
- Pinterest is an obvious choice if you can express a lot about your business visually. Keep in mind the demographics of Pinterest show that 80 percent of users are women.
- For B2B marketing, LinkedIn might be the best choice.
3. The Journey: Commitment
You do not get to your destination by stopping and going home halfway there. You have to commit to the social media program and continually work on your goals. You want to make sure you are building your brand consistently across all marketing channels, it takes some time to do that and commitment is key.
4. Small Talk: Engagement
Stopping for dinner or drinks on a journey gives you a brief chance to meet and get to know some new people. Think about making small talk in a social situation—do you ignore people when they speak to you? No, of course you don’t! The exact thing should be true online. When somebody likes, retweets, or comments on a post, you should reach out to them, even if it just to say, “Thank you.”
Engaging with customers and prospects online makes your business more personal, and gives consumers an easy way to interact with companies. This puts a more human face on the business and gives them a more favorable view of the company and its customer service.
Social media is turbo-charged word of mouth, so bring the most intriguing information about the business to the platform to encourage discussions and sharing of information.
5. Arrival: Measure and Modify
Choose the three metrics that are most vital to your company and consistently measure them. Establish your baseline before you begin your social media campaign on those metrics which are important to you, and then decide on the best way to assess each of them. There are many tools designed for these purposes, so find one which tracks the metrics that are most important for your business.
If you find that you have reached your goal at the end of your journey, you can move on to your next most vital goal. If not, figure out which parts of your strategy worked and what has not, modify your plan and get back on the road!