Your social media strategy

Finding time for growing your business through social media may seem like a daunting task, but it need not be.  These days there are so many ways to put your message out there, so it’s essential that you are using your time wisely by not sitting there staring blankly at the screen as you generate zero ideas for content.

If like me, you manage several social media campaigns then you will understand the importance of time keeping and schedules.  It’s all too easy to get caught up on Facebook browsing at anything and everything from the strange girl who you used to go to school with to the inspirational quotes from Virgin mogul Richard Branson.

You need to have a plan of where you are going with your digital marketing before you launch into it.  In Zimbabwe the most commonly used social media mediums are Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn but Google + and Pinterest users are also on the rise.  Youtube is another great avenue to explore if you think you can manage the content creation.

I would suggest picking two or three mediums initially and build your social media strategy around that.  A lot of companies have chosen to run their social media campaigns themselves and for some this works well, until they lose the staff who were actually updating their Facebook pages and tweeting about their business, or worse yet, they simply run out of ideas for content.  When you are deciding your strategy, bear these two factors in mind, who will manage it responsibly for you and what are you going to put out there regularly.

Nobody likes being force fed and it’s their option whether they become a fan or follower or like your page so its your job to make sure that happens.  If you are constantly talking about your brand, they are going to lose interest quickly and see right through the sales pitch.  Remember, they want to be entertained, enticed, intrigued, so take your brand out the equation for a second and share your knowledge.  Share interesting things without promoting your product or service all the time.  The more useful and interesting the content, the more followers you will get.  Solve your audiences problems, make them laugh, get them commenting and socialising with you.

Then you have to socialise back.  I remember one tweet along the lines of “so bored of all the promo stuff on twitter, why aren’t we having real conversations anymore?”  Needless to say I replied and started a real conversation with this person.  Did I gain more followers after that conversation?  Probably, because someone in her network may have followed the conversation and then followed me, and someone in their network may have been intrigued by it all….and you can guess the rest.

So now that you have the ideas of how you are going to communicate your message and who is going to do it for you and what exactly you are going to share, now you have to make some time to do it all.  And still make those spare moments count.

I’d recommend starting with a spreadsheet, listing out all the mediums you are going to use.  One of the large clients I manage the social media for has decided that Facebook, Twitter and Youtube will work best for their message.  They are a large FMCG who don’t really need to get their name out there, so our aim is not to promote and sell their brand so much, but more about promoting the events they sponsor and gaining consumer loyalty.  We have to create appealing content, that transports us to a feeling, instead of giving the consumer factual information overload.  A company that manufacturers water pumps, for example, may want to give their audience a lot of interesting information about the specifications, uses, warranties’ etc, as opposed to a photographer who will want to share her passion through pictures.

On your spreadsheet, you will need to list out the social media options you will be conveying your message through and then you have to decide if you are managing content on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.  If you are inclined towards the “monthly” basis, then I’d probably suggest looking for a good social media consultant to help you, or steer clear of this altogether as it’s not going to achieve anything if you are only featuring yourself monthly.  Weekly is still pushing it, unless you are talking about a substantial amount of content generated one day in the week.  Ideally you want to be doing something daily, if not then at least two or three times a week.  You have to make your online presence count so decide how your business will benefit most.

Once you have your days set out, it’s a good idea to break it down even further and plan out if you want to share content in the morning, afternoon or evening, or all three and more.  Again it does also depend on your business, service, product, but a little thought here and you can hit it bang on target.  A local takeaway or restaurant may start posting pictures of yummy lunches at 11.30am just as everyone is starting to get hungry, or a business that has mainly female consumers over the age of 30 may think about posting info after 9pm, when their female audience has settled the kids in bed and are now enjoying a glass of wine whilst browsing photos on Facebook.

Now you can get a theme for you posts going.  Back to the local takeaway – on Mondays you post a special deal that changes weekly, on Wednesday you share favourite menu’s or cooking tips.  On Fridays you share pictures or videos of your staff and on Saturdays you post anything and everything to do with food,wine, fun, entertainment.

It’s easy to get caught up in sharing and posting anything and everything, but having consistency will get you greater results.  Know your audience, male or female, age ranges, where they live, what else they like and use that information to make sure you are delivering what they want to see to keep them interested and coming back for more.  Keep it compelling so that they share it with their network and recommend you to their friends, keep it fresh but most of all…..keep it structured, keep it focused.

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