With the right social media strategy, you can gain brand awareness, increase traffic, and generate leads.
Social media is a vital aspect of marketing. With at least two-thirds of internet users on social media, it’s a valuable way for businesses to reach their audience.
Since its formation, social media has helped brands connect with audiences all over the world. In fact, businesses use social media primarily for increased exposure, followed closely by increased traffic, and increased lead generation. Though most businesses understand the need for social media content, it can be overwhelming, and you might be unsure about where to start.
Use these steps to set your strategy and evolve as you grow.
1. Identify your audience.
Many businesses make the mistake of trying to reach everyone. But understanding and organizing your audience can help you send the right message to the right people and more effectively meet your marketing goals.
This begins with identifying your target audience. The details about who these people are should be based on the audience data you already have, as well as your market research.
To find your target audience:
- Compile data. In order to reach your target market, you need to know what they’re like. It’s important to know things like your audience members’ ages, locations, and engagement patterns to market effectively to them. While it may seem daunting to gather this information, customer relationship management software stores and sorts this data and makes it easy to put into action.
- Use social media analytics. Many platforms, like Facebook and Twitter, have built-in analytics that can tell you about your followers, including when they post, where they post, and other interests. Plus, these tools are free to use with business accounts.
- Check the competition. Understanding your competition will give you insights about how to talk to your audience. You can look at what your competitors are doing wrong to fill any gaps in your current strategy.
Once you’ve identified your target audience, it’s important to keep up to date with their interests and to implement a social listening strategy to understand their wants and needs.
2. Define your goals.
To excel in social media marketing, it’s important to create goals that guide your efforts. The SMART goal strategy provides a helpful framework to create foundational goals and meet your overall objectives.
SMART stands for:
- Specific: In order to measure and meet goals, it’s important to be clear about precisely what you hope to achieve. This is especially important for getting your team onboard as you work collectively towards the goal. A specific social media goal, for example, might be to increase your Twitter followers by 20% this quarter.
- Measurable: You need to know definitively whether you’ve reached your goal or not. Measurement makes that possible. By using metrics to track your progress, you can also pivot your goals if need be. For instance, if you find that likes and follows don’t lead to website traffic, you can change the metric to something that will help you achieve your goal.
- Achievable: All goals should be within reach of your business. If you set goals that are unreasonable, you risk discouraging your employees and creating friction in your business plan. As you set specific, measurable goals, make sure to adjust if it seems like you aren’t reaching them.
- Relevant: Your social media marketing goals should ladder up to your larger business objectives. For example, if it’s your objective to build brand awareness, you could set a goal to get 100 social media followers to click through a post to a landing page that describes your offerings.
- Timely: To keep yourself accountable, goals should have a time limit. Instead of creating a goal for some undefined time in the near future, make sure to set a specific cadence to check in and ensure you’re staying on track.
Though social media marketing has many moving parts, SMART goals give you a starting point, as well as a means to check in and make changes as needed.
3. Allocate your resources wisely.
For small businesses strapped for money and time, sometimes social media tasks get arbitrarily offloaded onto whoever is available. But social media management requires unique skills, like:
- Strategic thinking
- Organizational skills
- Branding expertise
If you have the means, hiring an expert to handle social media can pay off. But if you don’t have the budget for an on-staff social media manager, you can still invest in advertisements on social platforms, which can boost brand awareness and expand reach.
4. Develop a unique strategy for each platform
You might have the impulse to post on as many platforms as possible, but this could actually derail your social media marketing strategy. For example, if you are trying to target people who are over 50 years of age, you will find that most of your audience is on Facebook, so it’s not as worthwhile to prioritize Instagram.
When creating a social media strategy, focus on:
- Where your audience is
- Where your competitors post
- What your metrics tell you
Additionally, you’ll want to think about how to best use each platform, based on what it was created for and the content that does best there:
- Facebook offers quality video streaming, like live video, as well as a high-functioning messaging platform that allows brands to interact with their followers one-on-one.
- Instagram supports more visually compelling posts and creative short videos.
- YouTube is best for longer informational or entertaining video content.
- Twitter allows for real-time conversations, news updates, and alerts.
- LinkedIn works well for long-form written content, like blog posts.
- Pinterest lets users discover content, and relies on visuals to catch their attention.
Depending on your social media strategy, you may realize that you don’t have to use YouTube if your users are primarily on Facebook. Or if you find that you can say more with pictures than you can with words, in which case Instagram might be more useful. Make sure to research the best strategy for each platform you use to get the most out of your marketing efforts. While there are many tips to grow your small business, social media can help in the discovery and retention of new customers.
5. Post relevant content regularly.
Success on social media is a matter of posting compelling, engaging content consistently. Not only will this help make your business look dependable, but it also shows that you have timely knowledge to share and that you care to be in conversation with your audience.
Social media platforms change their algorithms over time, but the rule of posting regularly holds true: This practice helps your content show up in newsfeeds. By focusing on consistent, relevant content, you show the algorithms that your posts are worthy of showing up in various newsfeeds and ultimately, will attract followers to your page.
6. Interact with followers.
Social media users enjoy interacting with brands, and as a result brands experience benefits like:
- Social proof of your business
- Expanded market reach
- Boosted brand awareness
The opportunity for a high return on investment (ROI) is huge—83% of customers value customer experience, and that includes social media interactions in which businesses make their audience feel seen, heard, and understood. Social media allows you to monitor conversations in real-time and answer questions or concerns from your audience promptly.
This can take many forms, like:
- Asking questions relevant to your offerings
- Creating a Facebook Group for your audience
- Using GIFs, videos, and emojis to spice up messages
- Utilizing platform tools, like Instagram Live to start discussions
A good strategy is to allow 1 hour a day to communicate with your audience on social media. However, if there are pressing concerns, you should always take the time to respond promptly.
7. Always maintain professionalism.
It’s important to remember that as you post on social media, you are always representing your business. Posts are taken out of context all too often, which can lead to conflict and upset followers. If your social media responsibilities are allocated to other staff members, consider creating a social media policy to guide their posts and conversations.
Typically, a standard social media policy will include:
- Clear expectations about what to post
- Instructions on how to respond to negative posts
- Platform laws and rules to follow
- Brand considerations
- Security protocols
By investing in a social media policy, your business can be ready for any scenario. It’s important to remember that at the core of social media, you are implementing your customer service philosophy.
8. Reflect your brand identity.
Brand identity is what helps people connect to your business and sets you apart from your competitors. This means that all marketing, including print, digital, and social media, should be consistent.
Brand consistency can be challenging for businesses, especially when you’re just getting started. But it’s important across channels, and that certainly includes social media. As you are posting, you’ll want to think about:
- How you talk to your customers, otherwise known as a brand voice
- Posting similar visuals across the various platforms
- Focusing on your unique selling point.
Not only will a consistent brand identity make it easier to know what to post, but it can also help increase brand loyalty.
9. Prioritize quality over quantity.
Instead of posting multiple times a day on as many platforms as possible, you should focus on delivering consistent, quality posts. In fact, some social media sites may penalize your account and mark you as spam for too many low-quality posts. Additionally, posting could become overwhelming and problematic whoever handles your social media, whether that’s you or a teammate, and that could wind up hurting your strategy rather than helping.
To mitigate these risks, consider implementing a social media calendar. These calendars can help you plan posts in advance while ensuring you stay organized. Categories including when to post, post caption, post visual, and which platforms to post on can help marketers keep track of the various moving parts of social media.
Another way to prioritize quality posts is to ask yourself the following questions:
- Does this content help my followers?
- Is this original?
- Is this actionable, inspiring, or entertaining?
- Does the content have cited sources, if needed?
All of these questions can help you create quality content that will engage and attract followers.
10. Measure your results.
There are many factors that affect social media marketing, and that’s why it’s important to analyze and measure results. Analytics come in handy because they can help:
- Optimize campaigns
- Create new goals
- Assess tracking metrics
Before you start tracking, though, you should identify which metrics are most important to your marketing goals. The most common metrics are:
- Post clicks
- And video views
Social media marketing can seem daunting, but with the right preparation, your business can benefit greatly from these platforms. Done correctly, social media marketing can prove to be a cost-effective, long-term solution.
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