How to develop a winning Social Media Strategy – Part 2

In my previous article on how to develop a winning social media strategy you will have covered the basics of building up your customer profiles and researching the consumers and competitors in depth.  Now you can start building juicy content on your social media platforms.  But first things first, which ones are you going to use?

1. Choose your Social Media channels

I’m sure you will have a presence on some of the sites already, however if there are some that are not working for you as well as they should be its time to ditch those, in favour of the channels that will best communicate your message to your target audience.

Here is an overview of the most commonly used ones and which businesses they are best suited to.

Facebook

It’s the obvious starting choice for many but not necessarily the best for your business.  If you can share photos, these have the top figures when accounting for most engaging posts in social media but this is not the case for all businesses.  Several social sites are predominantly visual so if your business is in fashion, beauty and food related products then the visual sites work best.

Instagram

My personal favourite, Instagram is a completely visual experience as it eliminates the need for lengthy written content to accompany it.  If it looks good post it, a picture says a thousand words anyway.  Unlike Facebook, there are no algorithms for the timeline display so every follower has the chance to see every post when scrolling through their timeline. Anyone in travel, food, fashion, beauty, design and photography can take huge advantage of this platform.

LinkedIn

This one is up there above the rest only because before there was social media as we know it today, there was social networking on LinkedIn.  This has been used by business professionals for well over a decade now to expand their professional networks. It is also a huge resourcing and recruitment site and in can result in real opportunities and connections to expand your business.  LinkedIn is a good starting point for anyone in Financial Services, IT, Recruitment  or any other B2B company.

Twitter

Twitter can be used to build a relevant audience quite quickly if you make it a more personable account instead of a corporate projection.  People want to connect with people so if your brand is not a household name, its unlikely they will engage with a logo they are unfamiliar with.  They go to Twitter to share and learn so make sure someone is always listening.

YouTube

By using YouTube, you are tapping into a huge potential market as most consumers are more confident in their online purchasing after watching video.  As a predominantly visual site you need to rely on communicating your message clearly in the video as the consumer is not here to read all about it in the notes below and you need to keep them engaged throughout.  Typically a DIY approach to YouTube is not going to cut it as a lot will need to go into the production – telling the story, writing the script, editing and moving things around, whilst still focusing on SEO.  Media, music and TV shows use YouTube well but any business can market their service and products if you create high quality videos, you cannot go wrong.

Pinterest

A fun and interesting platform that has huge potential with converting into direct sales.  Pinterest is the sales conversion powerhouse as consumers are there for shopping inspiration.  The audience is predominantly women, typically mothers and they lust after anything to do with fashion, beauty, interior design, arts and crafts, food and travel.

Google +

If SEO is crucial to your business then this is a big one to consider. Also if your customers are predominantly male, Google + could hit the mark as 64% of their audience are male.  Although it can be perceived as a bit of dead place to a newbie, Google + is full of very passionate communities and it encourages you to connect you with ‘new’ people who have the same interests, passion or even career as you.

Blogs and Podcasts

If you choose to produce blogs and podcasts for your audience you will be demonstrating your expertise and knowledge and educating your audience or solving their problems.  This turn leads to more trust and confidence in your brand so you can build long term relationships and you will also gain a much wider exposure for your business.

2. Communicate your Key Messages

Once you know who your target audience are and which channels you will use, you need to determine which key messages you want to get across.  This should tie in with your overall marketing strategy, company vision and mission statements.

Start with 3 key messages that you want to communicate and find creative ways to do so with each.  Don’t be afraid to experiment a little and keep trying new ideas as your audience will appreciate your unique, varied and original content.

Find ways to deliver valuable content to your customers, instead of just communicating your message.  If you are helping to solve their problems, they are more likely to trust your service and products in return.

3. Create a Content Calendar

Now its time to create a content calendar so that you have guidelines of what you need to be posting, when and on which platforms.  You need to be consistent to be successful, especially with blogs and podcasts as your audience specifically subscribe to these channels and expect fresh content regularly. Try to incorporate a good mix of pictures, videos, infographics and blogs where you can.

4. Get feedback often

Your social listening skills will play a key part in developing your content strategy further.  When people have something to say about your brand, good or bad, they often turn to social media to report on this so it’s important to acknowledge what is being said. Depending on your business you may have review sites you can check, or you may want to create customer feedback forms to send out.  It is also worth joining relevant groups so that you can help point people in the right direction to solve their problems, even if they are not talking to your directly.  Nurture your exiting customers to check they are satisfied with everything and get recommendations and testimonials from your most loyal ones.

Please feel free to leave me any feedback yourself, in the comments below.

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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.

Rekindling the Pinterest romance

I once saw a tweet about how someone was rekindling their romance with Pinterest and couldn’t help but laugh to know exactly how she felt.  You are like a lovesick puppy when you first discover the pinning pleasure, but eventually it starts to dwindle, maybe it even dies off completely for a while.

Facebook has been sapping all my energy lately, to the point of feeling stuck in a rut.  Although most of my work is actually done on Facebook, I think I definitely believe that variety is the spice of life when it comes to social networking.  Only recently I re-discovered my interest in Pinterest again, joined Google + and updated my LinkedIn and Twitter profiles.  Instagram is also featuring significantly too these days because I like the video function and for some reason, it works better than Vine did for me.

After getting a Samsung Galaxy Tab I downloaded all the social media apps and was interested in the different features or displays, in comparison to my laptop and iPhone.  Hence why the emphasis on mobile and device friendly sites is so big these days.  Still trying to decide if there are any annoying features about this device, but all I do know is that I still feel like I need all three to be connected in the way I like.  Easier to Instagram with the iPhone, upload photos on the laptop and pin on the tablet.

pinterest 1In just the year or so I have been on Pinterest I have seen a huge increase in users within my social circles.  There are frequent notifications that new friends have joined or are following my boards.  Although most of my boards are created with re-pins, there are actually several of my own original pins in there – meals I have tried out and posted.  Obviously the aim is to post as much original content as possible, as its the aim across the board.  If you only repin on Pinterest, it’s like only resharing pictures on Facebook and never uploading or posting anything from yourself.  If everybody did that we would see the same stuff over and over in no time.

So at first get familiar with it by re-pinning pins onto your boards but then start to think about pinning your own content soon too.  It’s also good to invite your friends to contribute to your boards, I have a Mommys Meals board that a couple of friends are allowed to pin to and I have been requested to pin to a Who Said What board, so this is taking the pinning experience to the next social level.  Of course liking and commenting on pins is always welcomed to.

A lot of the pins I re-pin onto my boards have served as awesome inspiration, from exercise to art and all the yummy meals in between.  With Zimbabwe Fashion Week just over a week away, I have been inspired with super healthy menu’s to make sure there is no weight gain before then, so keep a look at for my next blog about this.

The Purpose of your Page?

Deciding early on what your expectations are in social media will help you start as you mean to go on.  All too often businesses are measuring their social media success on the wrong things entirely so it’s important to determine where you are heading first.

What’s the end goal?

  • To connect with your customers and clients
  • To deliver a better customer service
  • To gain new leads
  • To build brand awareness

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Image courtesy of smarnad / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Whatever it is that you want to achieve in your business, now is the time to align it with your social media efforts.  To get you on track, here are some questions you need to ask:

What are my expectations for the page?

What kind of exposure do I want – increase customer engagement, improve public relations, promote new products and offers or deliver exceptional customer service?

What kind of engagement would be most beneficial – knowing more about our existing customers or finding out more demographic info?

What demographic are we struggling to connect with that would be valuable to do so through social media?

What are my competitors doing that I think works or doesn’t work?

What are my ROI expectations?

The last question will get a variety of answers and most will probably be within some social media metric – saying they want a certain number of likes.  However in day to day business the main metrics would be sales volume, revenue and cost.  These may be hard to measure in social media, but reach and engagement are a good place to start.  How a piece of content is performing and how often people are engaging with your brand is important.

Remember having a lot of likes or fans is not everything.  You are no better off having a hundred people following your page who never interact with it, so focus on having real likes that really want to talk back to you, and gain valuable information from them, with your end goal in mind.

Feel free to leave any comments if you would like to share your ideas or experience in this…

10 ways to create a successful content strategy in social media

1.Know what the goal is?
Before you decide that social media is not working for you the way you had hoped it would, be specific. Have you decided on the goal posts? Are you wanting to generate more traffic, create a following, generate engagement with your fans or generate revenue. Your metrics will depend on your end goal so if you want to generate more revenue, work out the exact dollar value every lead a social media post generates. If you want a larger following, make sure you are on all the platforms. If you want more comments, mentions and engagement make sure your content is of high quality that promotes engagement.
2.Ask Questions
This is your chance to really interact with fans and generate engagement to gain leads. 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.
3.Monitor your competitors
Keep an eye on what others in your industry are doing. It’s interesting to note which social media platforms they are using, which are working for them and which are not necessarily. Are you posting or tweeting as much as them, do they have more engagement? 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 new platforms that seem to be successful for your competitors too.
4.Customer is King
Spending a little time on where your customers are is key too. Find out what channels they use – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest and Instagram seem to be the most commonly used in Zimbabwe at the moment but chances are different customers will be on different sites so find them and follow them too. Create content that they want to engage with or talk about and then listen to what they are saying.
5.Post more
Increasing the posts and updates will generate more traffic. It is not uncommon for business to tweet 5-10 times a day and Facebook averages between 1-4 posts a day. Business hours usually have the highest traffic but anything between 8am and 8pm is usually safe, depending on your brand.
6.Bring your posts to life
Using infographics and hashtags is a great way to add a little something to your posts. Infographics are appealing as they present a lot of otherwise boring to read information in a visually attractive way that is easy to comprehend and remember. Using hashtags can track promo activity across platforms and people who use them are likely to engage in social conversations more.
7.Linking in-person events and social media
A great way to get more exposure for your brand on the social sites is to integrate it with your in-person events. Create an event on your page, pick a hashtag for the event to get engagement or stream a live video of your event. Post blogs, pictures, videos, press releases and even attendees names to excite other potential attendees.
8.Be generous with tips
A search on the keyword ‘tips’ yields incredible results and as this is the information age and everyone is looking online for something to make their life easier, why not be the one giving it to them. Tip related articles always go down well so if there is something you an share, you will be pleasantly surprised.
9.Don’t rely on auto-posting
Auto-posting is fine, but being available for real conversation back and forth is important. It’s called social media for that reason, real time social conversation. This is where you may get your best insider tips from, early morning or late night conversations with people who are keen to tell you what they are thinking about your brand.
10.Outsource where necessary
Research has shown that companies that have the most effective social media presence have a combination of both internal and eternal people. Internal administrators can deliver messages and updates as the news breaks so to speak and can help keep the content fresh. Whilst the expertise and knowledge of a social media consultant, who understand social media across all platforms, can also add great value to your campaigns. Try covering all bases and have both internal and external resources to rely on.

If you have any comments or further suggestions on creating an effective social media content strategy then I would love to hear them.