To benefit from social media, you need to build a clear strategy that takes into account what you’re trying to achieve, who your customers are and what your competition is doing.
Here are a few tips to help get you started:
Understand what are your goals
As with any journey, the first step in creating a social-media marketing strategy is to understand where you want to go. What is the purpose of your social media marketing efforts? Do you want to create or raise awareness of your brand? Are you looking to increase sales, or website traffic, or both? Is your goal to build customer loyalty and increase retention? These goals aren’t mutually exclusive, but you should focus on one or two: If you spread yourself too thin, you’re not going to accomplish anything.
Create measurable objectives
It’s time to set clear objectives based on your goals. Focus on the S.M.A.R.T. strategy for goal setting to ensure your objectives are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time based. Also, make sure your objectives are time limited. For instance, you need to achieve that 50 percent growth in brand awareness within six months, not at some undefined time in the future.
Once you set your objectives, make sure you can measure them. Find the right tools to track and analyze each one, so that you can quantify your progress. Not only will this let you know when you have arrived, it will also help you to spot problems early and adjust your course if you need to.
Target your customers
Now you know where you’re going, but you still don’t know how to get there. A successful social-media strategy is all about targeting the right people with the right messages. To do this, you need to understand your audience. For instance, there’s no point in targeting everyone in the 18 to 35 age group if you really want to get to upwardly mobile young professionals who are technology enthusiasts.
The best way to do this is to create buyer personas. Sit down and create a detailed profile of your ideal customer. Start by giving them a name. How old are they? What is their income? Do they have children? What do they like or dislike? What motivates them? And so on. If you have more than one ideal customer, create a persona for each.
Study the competition
When it comes to social media, your competition can tell you a lot about what works and what doesn’t. After all, they’re targeting the same customers you are. If you ignore your competition, you’re giving up a fantastic opportunity to learn from their successes and mistakes.
To research your competitors, start by picking three or four of the top ones. Find out which social networks they’re active on, and study their content. Is it funny or serious? What kind of cultural references do they use? Do they talk about their product primarily, or do they focus on other things?
For example, if you sell skateboard, do your competitors talk about how their skateboards perform, or do they post amazing videos that just happen to include their products? Then, see how well each competitor is doing (e.g. how much engagement — comments, shares, likes) — they get on their Facebook updates.) This will let you determine which strategies work and which ones don’t.
Build your message
Now you have a handle on your ideal customers and your competition, it’s time to start building your messages. This isn’t detailed content; rather it’s the top level set of key messages that you think will resonate with your customers based on the personas you have created. Choose two or three messages, then break each one down another level creating a simple messaging hierarchy.
There’s nothing wrong with adopting some of your competitors’ successful messaging ideas but also try to create original messages that set you apart — this will help you to create a unique brand voice. Don’t be afraid to get creative as your social media presence should be exciting, not boring.
Choose your channels carefully
Not all social-media platforms are the same. You need to choose the right ones for the products or services you’re selling.
For example, LinkedIn is a good platform to target for business-to-business sales while Pinterest may be better if you’re in the fashion business. Some of these channels will become obvious when you look at your competitors but see if any relevant channels were overlooked.
Build a content plan
Finally, you need to develop a strong content plan that will deliver engaging material. The content needs to align with your overall messaging and be appropriate for the channels you’re using. This is more than just product information – think about how you can deliver real value to your audience. Don’t just stick to one type of media – a mix of videos, guides, infographics and other styles will engage your potential customers more effectively. Also, don’t think of content as something you post once. You need to have an ongoing presence on social media, and that includes delivering fresh content on a regular basis.