New applications emerge every week, and everyone seems to have an opinion around which are the best.
This article is not aimed at convincing you of the benefits of Social Media, it’s for those businesses that have decided they want to give it a go, or are already doing so, but now want to take a more structured approach.
In the following article I will take you through the stages that allow you to integrate Social Media into your marketing strategy.
1. Know Your Customer
This doesn’t apply just to Social Media marketing, but it is the key component to any successful marketing strategy. If you don’t know who your customers are, what turns them on and what solutions they are looking for, how are you going to identify them? And if you can’t identify them, how are you going to communicate with them?
So your first task is to create an outline of your customer. Often referred to as a persona; Hubspot have listed 9 Questions You Need to Ask When Developing Personas. Use this to build a profile of your customers, it will help you make many critical decisions going forward.
2. Define Your Business Objectives
What role do you want Social Media to play in your marketing strategy? Answering this question will help determine which platforms to use and how to use them. Be specific, if it is to drive sales, then what percentage of sales? If it is to increase brand awareness, what is your current brand reach and how are you currently measuring it?
If it is not something you can measure then it should not form an objective. Most Social Media strategies loose traction within an organisation when they haven’t been assigned an objective. Social Media can be low cost, in monetary terms, but it is resource intensive. If there are not visible returns it can be difficult to justify why you are doing it when more important tasks come along.
If you choose an objective and find it hard to measure or fail to reach it, reassess the situation, but don’t be afraid to assign one.
3. Choosing The Platforms
Now it’s time to select the Social Media platforms you are going to use. There will be several factors that affect your choices, including the previous two points. One factor to have in mind is resource. If you are going to manage Social Media in-house you will need to assign the task to someone. That person is likely to have existing responsibilities, overload them with too many platforms and your efforts could fail.
Be selective in your choice of platforms. The following is a general guide:
- Facebook: To reach consumers, photo, video and polls work best. Updating 2-4 times a day some evenings and weekends.
- LinkedIn: To reach businesses, articles, advice and discussion are ideal content. Updating 4-5 times a day business hours.
- Twitter: Reach businesses and consumers, ideal for building authority, providing advise, sharing content and monitoring markets. Updating 10 times a day or more. Up to 7 days a week.
- Google+: Reach early adopters, longer articles and photos work well, assists with search engine optimisation (SEO). Updating 2-4 times a day with time periods dependant on target audience.
- Pinterest: Reach consumers, it’s all about images, build authority in a creative sector or highlight your own products. As often as you have quality content available at a time of day to match your audience.
- Foursqaure: Reach consumers, use offers and incentives based on location. Reward frequent visitors but little interaction required.
- Blog: You are going to need a base from which to share information. In some instances your existing website may do, but a blog has many advantages and allows flexibility not always available on a company website.
There are of course many other platforms to choose from, and each of the above has far more to it than what I am able to outline here, but this should be a sufficient guide to start.
4. Sourcing Content
So where is the content going to come from that you are going to share on the social networks?
If you want to cut through the noise online you are going to need to produce your own content. Not just content, but great content, content that adds value. For this you will need to develop a content plan, detailing what you are going to produce and when.
Do you want to write articles, create video or produce audio podcasts?
Align this with your other marketing activities so you can concentrate your efforts, and increase the effectiveness of other campaigns.
As well as content creation, you can share other peoples content.
Content curation as it is known, is a brilliant method to build authority, and to get known as a reliable source on a particular subject. You will also be seen as part of the community when you are frequently sharing other peoples content, and not just your own.
You know your customer, you know your objectives, you’ve chosen your platforms and sourced the content, now you need to put all of this into place.
Identify who needs training and in what areas, ensure they are comfortable with the tools and what is expected of them. You wouldn’t let someone speak on TV about your company without prior briefing and media training, so why would you let staff with no experience of Social Media represent you online in public?
Next develop your assets, it is a good idea to have a library of content to start with and all of your platforms set up ready to go. This will enable you to maintain some consistency from the start, rather than spending too much time creating content for immediate use.
Choose the tools you are going to use to manage your online presence and measure the results. Updating each network directly is inefficient, tools such as Hootsuite allow you to centralise social media management.
Assign someone with overall responsibility, someone who can monitor and report on the progress. They don’t need to be one of the people actually doing social media, but it helps if they have an overall understanding of it. They should be well versed in the companies brand values and be aware of customer needs. Customer service personnel can be great for this role.
No matter the size of your company following these basic steps will maximise the chances of your Social Media strategy becoming a success, even if you have already started using Social Media.
Is there anything I have missed or does this raise any other questions?
If you need help implementing Social Media within your company, please get in touch. I can help you with all the stages of developing your strategy through to implementation and training. Just call me on +44(0)7850 947506 to discuss your requirements.