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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The bigger wedding picture…

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Now that I am settling into married life, which in some ways is no different, yet in other ways is unmistakably more profound, I am trying to get back on track with life instead of being captive to mass wedding hysteria.  Most of which was self-inflicted thanks to the fact we planned it in about 7 weeks.

So I just wanted to share a few more things to think about, like you don’t have enough going on in your head already!

Either forget about it being “your day” or become completely stubborn, selfish and ruthless and really make it “your day”.  A lot of people are involved in your wedding day, your groom for a start so maybe thinking along the lines of “our day” is a good starting point when it comes to sacrificing certain things.  He probably doesn’t want to wear the pink tie that matches your bridesmaids dresses, but maybe he will be more receptive if you too show a willing attitude when it comes to inviting great aunts or doing a crazy first dance.  You are starting life together so you may as well start compromising right now.  When it comes to all the other influences, his family and yours, everyone will have a say and opinion so just be firm on the important things and try go with the flow on everything else. 

The guest list – if you haven’t argued about this, then I am guessing you eloped.  A constant source of contention for most couples about to wed – annoying friends, embarrassing family members, hardly know them Joes, there will probably be people you disagree on.  If you trying to keep it small because of finances, be fair and be prepared to compromise.  If not then the more the merrier right? Between you two, you will work it out and it won’t be the end of the world if one or two are there who you’d prefer not, just look at all the people who are on the list that you are going to love sharing the day with.

Don’t bore your groom with the details.  He is definitely happy about the wedding, he loves you and cannot wait to marry you.  But he can’t picture the little gift bags that are perched on driftwood wrapped in burnt taffeta silk ribbons.  Chances are he doesn’t know a daffodil from a dahlia and unless you are requesting an unusual colour scheme he will probably be happy with whatever you choose for the rest of the bridal party to wear. Whether the bridesmaid dresses are strapless, spaghetti straps or halter neck and anything else girly like this, should be saved for discussing with your bridesmaids.  Even if he seems enthusiastic about all of this, it does eventually get boring when the bride is still obsessing over and questioning every small detail for hours and hours on end.  Just because it is at the forefront of your mind doesn’t mean it needs to be discussed so 24/7.

These days it’s not so unheard of to have your own children at your wedding.  In our case, both are ours and both are still very small so it was quite straightforward.  In other cases one may have kids, the other becoming a step parent.  Decide how you want them to be involved and let them know you thoughts.  Hopefully they are open to your ideas but I can imagine that some flexibility and sensitivity is required.  Our little girl kept telling us it was her wedding, and she did virtually steal the show in the outstanding dress she wore from Pink Posie Couture.  With only 11 months between them, her younger but not so little brother also had the guests welling up as they each walked hand in hand with a bridesmaid.  If your children are young, its essential that you have someone else watching them throughout the course of the day / night as you will want to be enjoying it with your new husband and not be worrying if they need a nappy change or new source of entertainment.

Try do you own music.  Especially if you already love it and have a good idea of all different genres.  It’s not as hard as you think, and you can spend a lot of money on something else by eliminating the DJ.  Now don’t get me wrong, music was one of the important things in our budget, but both of us love music and can put a playlist together so we thought we’d try.  We searched online, listened to tracks, read peoples music wedding lists and got the ideas for the main songs – bridal entry, ceremony music, post ceremony music.  Each of those went into a playlist titled when it was to play – Playlist one – Play 15 mins before ceremony, Playlist two – Bridal entry, Playlist three – Whilst signing the register, and so forth.  Then for the dancing there were different playlists.  Everything from a playlist for dinner music, golden oldies, hip hop, top 40 hits, etc.  There was someone keeping track of the music but ultimately a lot of guests ended up choosing what they wanted to hear too, and it was easy for them to choose song titles from specific playlists.  If you think it’s something you can do yourself because you know music and what people like to hear then it is worth a try but if you can’t name songs easily or would struggle to think of things to play maybe it’s not for you.

And finally stop and breath.  Often.  When you think its all getting too much, stop and think about this person you are going to marry and what this wedding is all really about.  Make sure you don’t lose focus on the married part whilst planning the wedding part.  It’s just the celebration of what is to come and the future is full of promise so just look at the bigger picture. Stop, breathe and relax before the ceremony.  Take a moment to take it all in.  You are getting married today.  Take deep breaths on the drive there, take another one before you walk in.  You should feel relaxed and happy you are right here right now.  The occasion passes by in a flash so they all say, so just stop often and take the moment in, look at everyone smiling and happy for you, look at your handsome husband and treasure that moment right there.

And just when you think all is said and done, don’t forget about your suppliers the next day.  I’d suggest delegating someone to do all the returning of hired equipment, we didn’t think about that and extra costs when the wedding is over is annoying.  We decided to continue the party into the next day and ignored the fact the sound and lighting had to be returned; only to incur extra charges when we did take it back late.  Our only consolation was that at least we made use of it for the two days. 

Cheers on that! 

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No small measures

Like many other women out there, I don’t think I am alone when it comes to trying to take on so many things at once.  Maybe it’s the desire to prove the ultimate multi-tasking abilities, or maybe it’s because we don’t like to do things in small measures, just because we are the smaller gender.

When I had my kids, for example, that was done in no small measure.  My daughter was only 6 weeks old when I fell pregnant with my son.  I was barely getting used to having one baby and the next was on his way.  It was not planned that way but we handled it well and I wouldn’t have it any other way now.  Although we could skip the pregnant for nearly two years part.

Now that they are getting a bit older, and have just started playgroup, I have time to do a few more other things that interest me, but instead of just doing one, I am doing them all.  In between the school runs, I am setting up a new business, attending modelling castings, blogging and social networking. On top of this I am about to start planning my wedding, which is in three months time I might add.

Yet somehow it’s not too overwhelming.  If you enjoy being kept on your toes then you embrace things as they happen instead of shrugging them off only to think later, what if?  So even though there are late nights, long days and tedious tasks to deal with in between, somehow it’s all worth it when you see results from the hard work and effort you put in.  If you can pursue everything that interests and inspires you and still keep your partner and kids happy, healthy and content then why not have the best of it all.

Jumping on the Social Media Bandwagon

I wrote an article about Taking Advantage of Social Media in Zimbabwe and have received some great positive feedback from it, which was not expected at all.  I submitted it to Creative Loop, a Zimbabwean blog that encompasses anything and everything to do with creativity in technology, business and social networking to name a few.  They were looking for someone to contribute to their site and you could choose from a broad range of subjects, so I went with the ever popular topic of Social Media.

I am not an expert in this field, but I am an avid learner so I have spent long hours researching this interesting and always evolving topic.  Previously I was not convinced that Zimbabweans were embracing this enough, but daily I am finding interesting new facebook pages and twitter accounts to like and follow.  I feel like I am literally learning something new, fresh and interesting every day, and I love it because it has been a very long time since school.

It’s even suprising how many “common ordinary” Zimbo’s there are on Twitter.  Of course you expect local artists, celebs and politicians, but there is also your just as usual mix of everyone else –  black, white and in everyone in between, who are sharing everything from religious viewpoints to their crazy aspirations and political viewpoints.

There are more people out there than you would even think, people to socialise with, do business with and make friends with so here are a couple of tips to expanding your social media circles…

SOCIALISE.  That’s the whole point right? Engage in conversation, respond to comments and feedback and be a real person not just a status or page.  Share a little about yourself.  Be personal.

SHARE.  Share interesting infomation about your industry, news, viewpoints.  Share video’s and photos.  People are more likely to click into one of these mediums than the standard news typed update.  Your content should also prompt others to share, this is where things start to accelerate.

STAND OUT. Be interesting and share interesting content that not many others would have seen.  Seek out interesting facts and figures and make it relevant to you.

DON’T SELL. Rather than pushing your products down everyone’s throat until they are sick of you try giving useful tips or advice about your industry of products.  Think – shocking, ugly, beautiful, disgusting, funny, outrageous and post relevant content to your business.

POSTING TIMES.  Try posting the same sort of content at several times of the day and guage which gets more views or responses.  Try and post at times when your target audience is likely to see it.  Some say early morning and late at night have some of the best response times, but everyone is different so you have to see what works best for you and your market.

FIND YOUR FANS. You should start finding fans and followers that are applicable to you when trying to grow your own network.  Like and follow people similar to you but who have a huge following and find others to connect to through them.  Re-post from those popular or famous people enough times to get their attention and they may follow you back too.

I have been fortunate to help set up and create several facebook pages for people I work closely with and it’s been interesting to try out some of these little ideas myself.  Each of them are different, so I have had to adapt methods and try new ideas but it’s interesting to see small steps of progress immediately after some thoughtful methods were executed.

Social Media ia now a mainstream form of communication and we should try and understand as much about it as we can to fully reap the rewards of it.  It does take up a lot of time, but soon, if not already, it just becomes part of daily life like driving to work or drinking a cup of coffee in the morning.  The quicker you explore the options and go with it the easier it gets and it can be a fun learning curve.  After all knowledge is power.

Quick fix to Writers Block on Day 1 of Blog

I have been waiting to set up a site to blog on for some time now and have been going between the ideas of a free blog like this one, or one with my own domain that is hosted.  In the end looks like I couldn’t really wait to start blogging so I went for the simple quick option, set the site up today and immediately posted my first little random blog about why I am even doing this.

I thought it would be easy to post several more blogs today – for some reason I thought I had written a few good articles to post.  Then I looked through them – nothing!  Nothing that excites me at the moment anyway, or nothing that is finished in its entirety.  It’s funny because before I had a place to blog I had hundreds of ideas and concepts to write about and explore, now I have a site and no ideas.  How does that happen?  Or more importantly how do you change it?

Firstly I’d suggest looking though any old material that you have already written and never posted to see if something catches your attention enough to adapt and edit.  This takes less time than writing an article from scratch, but it may not be the most interesting post as it’s really just something to “make do” with for now.

Secondly I started looking for writing ideas or challenges to get inspiration from.  There is a lot of different sources out there so just do a bit of digging and something should inspire you.  The Weekly Writing Challenge on WordPress this week is Stylish Imitation, whereby you are encouraged to post an article imitating the writing style of a writer that has really influenced your life.  There are tons of other similar to this so just browse around for ideas.

Next you could think of some sort of interesting event, development or conversation you have had in the last couple of days and think about putting an unusual spin to it.  Celebrity gossip and news could easily inspire you to have your say on the matter.  The Beckham and Katherine Jenkins saga come to mind right now.

Or you could compile a handy tips list on how to do something, similar to this funny little one I am doing right now.  Pick a subject you know a lot about, in my case it’s about not having anything to write about, and just try give some useful advice to others who may share your circumstances.

If all else fails, take a break, spend time with your children or pets, go for a walk, get fresh air or listen to music.  Clear your mind and see where it wonders off to next.

Now that I have given you these tips to come up with creative fresh material, let’s see if I can make it work for me too. Until the next one….happy blogging!

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