How to develop a winning Social Media Strategy – Part 1

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The idea of using social media to accelerate a business is commonplace nowadays and the vast majority of businesses have a Facebook page, LinkedIn presence, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram accounts.  They post content regularly and the followers are growing, some slower than others, but many others are still unsure of what their social media objectives are.

Like traditional marketing, social media marketing needs a well devised strategy in order to gain momentum, especially if you are wanting to get a high ROI (Return On Investment).  It is one thing having thousands of people following your page, but are these thousands converting into anything each month?  Are you actually making more sales, engaging with them and gaining new insights into your business so as to know where improvements can be made?  If you answer no but you want to change that then its time to implement or revise your social media strategy.

1. Decide what your Social Media goals are

Now is the time to sit down and think about what you are actually trying to achieve with social media.  Perhaps you want to generate more traffic to your website which will convert to more sales.  Maybe you just want a large following at this stage, so that you can understand your audience metrics better.  If you are looking for better engagement with your fans to gain valuable insights then this too will be one of your goals to measure.

Your social media plan is not only used to guide your actions, but you will also be using it as a measuring stick against whether you are succeeding or failing in your social media efforts.

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2. Monitor your efforts

It is important to understand what social media activity you want to measure and monitor and why.  You will be listening to what people are saying about you and your brand and trying to evaluate them through their likes, shares, retweets and comments on your blog.

Although your follower count is important, engagement is a much better metric to measure with as this shows that people like and interact with your brand, as opposed to just keeping an eye of interest on everything out there.

It’s advisable to include monitoring any leads generated from your social channels or links to your website.

3. Understand your audience

As part of the broader social media strategy that you are developing, you will need to get to know your audience on each of the social media platforms that you adopt.  Creating specific profiles of your fans and followers is an essential ingredient that you don’t want to leave out of the entire recipe for social media success.

Understanding who is interested in your product or service goes further than just what they like.  If you can find out more about where they work and which industries, what they read and what motivates them you may find something unique to tap into.

More than demographics

Instead of just using the demographics (age ranges, locations, income level, ethnicity, marriage status ) to define profiles of your consumer, you need to build an understanding of what they like too.  Asking yourself about what kind of TV shows they would watch or which newspapers and magazines may buy is a start.  Do you know what kind of lifestyle they lead, their entertainment choices, holidays and anything else that helps you categorize them to fit in with your product or service.  You can find out more about where they work and which industries or even what motivates them in order to find something unique to tap into.

This is also your chance to  interact with fans and generate engagement. You are able to get inside their heads and find out what their interests and lifestyles are. It’s an instant focus group, which allows you to explore what your customers or fans like and where you can expand and improve.

Create customer profiles

If you are struggling to create the profiles yourself you may enlist the help of your employees that deal with the customer directly to help fill in some of the missing details.  If you are still a small start up and don’t have customer facing staff just yet, but you are still needing help then look to the competition.  Ask their customer service staff questions if you can.  Research their social media platforms and build an idea of who your potential customers may be.

4. Keep track of the competition

Keep an eye on what others in your industry are doing. It’s interesting to note which social media platforms they are using, which seem to be working for them and which are not necessarily. Are you posting or tweeting as much as them?  Do they have more engagement and what types of posts is it connected to?  They may be sending out some clues as to who their target audience is through specific posts.

Maintain an active presence on the sites that are working for you so that you don’t get left behind.  But keep evolving and try out new platforms that seem to be successful for your competitors too.

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Wait, there’s more!

In the next blog I will be discussing the next 4 Key Factors to ensuring your social media marketing plan is heading in the right direction.  This will include choosing which social media channels to adopt, how to get your message out there, the value of creating a content calendar and why getting feedback is so important.

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