More businesses than ever before are utilizing social media marketing — and if done correctly, can be extremely cost effective and deliver fantastic results. However, this upward trend isn’t hard to believe when hit with the statistics. Take for example, Facebook is just shy of one billion users and a Pew Internet survey found that 65% of internet users in the U.S. use social networking platforms. These days, most people can’t even sit at a red light without pulling their smart phone out to check Facebook, or to post a quick tweet.
Without a doubt, we’re living in a very socially connected and savvy world. The question is how effective is your business in breaking through all of the noise? That’s great if you have a Facebook and Twitter account set up for your business — the problem, so do all of your competitors. What will differentiate you from your competition is setting up a strategic social media plan.
Below is a 4-step plan designed to help you get started for an effective social media strategy. This will be a great social media guide for you to get started.
Step #1: Assessment
First things first, ask yourself, “Why do you want to be in the social space?” Blindly entering into a new channel solely on the fact that everyone else is doing it, isn’t good enough. Define your business objectives and the role social media will play in accomplishing these goals.
Define Your Audience
Once you’ve answered why you want to enter the social space, you can begin digging into who your audience is, where and how they interact online, and what their needs are. One of the most important features about social media is the ability to listen.
After you’ve accomplished this, you can even take it one step further. You can identify who your top influencers are and target these individuals. These are the people who have authority and are talking about the things your target audience cares about and listens too. There are a lot of tools out there that can help you identify these individuals such as Klout, BlogDash and Twazzup.
By targeting your top influencers, you are more likely to influence everyone else who is connected to them when they disseminate your brand/content/story. Engage these influencers early and build a relationship with them!
The benefits of knowing your audience
- The content that you publish will immediately strike a chord.
- Increased levels of engagement by being a person your audience can closely relate to.
- The more you listen, the more empathetic you can be towards specific needs.
- You can become the expert and go-to source in your niche.
Define your theme
Now that you have identified your target audience, you should determine what you want to do with their attention. You may want to drive more sales, increase awareness or strengthen brand affinity? For example, if you are a new radio station, you’re initial goal could be to increase awareness so you can get the word out that you even exist. Once you’ve acquired a loyal fan base, your next goal may be to drive more sales. To start, trying to achieve one goal at a time will keep things simple and consistent.
It’s very important to identify specific metrics that can measure the success of your goal. For example:
- If your goal was to increase brand awareness, a metric you can use to measure success can be, shareability (number of Facebook shares, Retweets etc.), subscriptions and Likes (new fans).
- If it’s sales, look at the CTR, social e-commerce, and conversion rates.
Step #2: Execution
This is the part of the process where you will determine how daily tasks will be performed along with what your team members are responsible for.
Set Up Social Media Guidelines
By providing social media guidelines for your employees, you will be able to improve your social media performance. It will enable you to outline your employees roles and responsibilities along with provide details for responding to an emergency before things escalate.
Create a Content Calendar
Develop a content calendar that will engage your audience. I can’t emphasize the word engage, enough. Remember, social media isn’t all about “selling your product or service”, it’s about humanizing your brand and encouraging dialogue to gain the trust of your audience. Yes, social media is about relationships. Consider implementing the following themes into your editorial calendar:
- Holidays, celebrations and national days
- Events, product launches and/or upgrades
- Rich media (photos and videos)
- Promotions, offers and contests
- Ask questions
Timing & Frequency
Determine the frequency of your postings along with the time of the day you will be distributing this content. Moving forward, you can analyze your social data to see what frequencies and times work best. You can also look at what the industry standard is by running an Edgerank Checker analysis. This will enable you to optimize your post frequency, content type and determine what times of day work best. Below is a great infographic that reflects a perspective into optimal post times:
Step #3: Evaluate
After one or two months of running your new social media strategy, you can sit down and evaluate how your program is performing. For example,
- Look at the raw data about visitors to your website/blog
- Analyze your fan engagement/growth on Facebook and Twitter
- Measure your performance (how many leads did you receive?)
Step #4: Improve
Depending on the social media goal you made prior to your execution (driving awareness, leads, loyalty), you can determine where you stand and where you’d like to go moving forward based on what worked well and what didn’t. From this initial data, you can create benchmarks that you can compare with your future findings.
Also, don’t forget that in order to stay competitive in today’s social environment, it’s important to keep a versatile strategy. Due to the constant change of technology and rise of new trends, you may be forced to tweak your social strategy on occasion. Take for example, Facebook’s new transition of Pages to Timeline. A lot of business changed their content calendars to reflect the greater emphasis on storytelling and visually striking imagery.
To insure that you are up-to-date on all the latest trends, make sure you’re visiting credible social media blogs on a daily basis. Here at Mittcom, we offer a wide array of social media services that include everything from development and optimization of social channels to real time monitoring and community management initiatives. If you have any questions, don’t be afraid to drop us a line!