Very often entrepreneurs do not have a focused, well thought through and documented social media marketing strategy. The contents of this blog post describes an approach that social media marketing specialists use, when creating a social media marketing strategy, which consistently delivers results use.
Make their approach your own, and I’m confident that you will find a palpable/measurable change in the results of your social media marketing strategy for your business, irrespective of its size.
All social media marketing efforts are focused on attracting and engaging fans and followers on multiple (but appropriate) social media streams, and then converting them into paying customers. To achieve this consistently, you must have a clearly thought through, goal oriented, documented, social media plan.
Many people do not believe in documenting their social media marketing strategy. They believe that it’s a waste of their time. It’s always possible to drive a social media marketing strategy from the top of your head.
However, if/when the social media marketing strategy does not produce the results desired (from my past experiences too many SM plans driven via the top of one’s head do not) and you are looking at Google Analytics stats and trying to figure out what happened and why one half of the problem is only hazily in your head.
Tweaking and resolving an issue (or issues) in your social media strategy, under those circumstances, is almost impossible.
Worse your fans and followers from your target market may recognize that you are running an unplanned Social Media strategy which may damage the brand you are building. You will also run the risk of losing money by indirectly sending your audience to your competitors.
If you are running a social media strategy for the first time, this can feel overwhelming; hence here are 12 things that you can do which will make sure that you implement an excellent Social Media Marketing strategy for your business.
1. Research, then know your customers intimately
This means you’d need to identify the Facebook / LinkedIn / Twitter groups in which your potential customers hang out. Read and analyze what they are saying there. Figure out exactly how your products/services can help them, only then start posting on social streams of your choice.
Always remember the 90:10 rule though, 90% of your posts must add some real value to the group you are posting on, 10% of your posts can then be marketing spiel for your products and services.
2. Use the same social networks (streams) that your customers do
Are Facebook and Twitter your customer’s platforms of choice?
Do most of them use Pinterest and Instagram?
You have to go where your target audience (customers) are, engage them by adding measurable value to them first and then create awareness of your products/services.
3. Identify your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
KPIs measure your progress toward your goals. Hence, you must be sure what you want your social media strategy to accomplish? You have to quantify exactly what Social Media marketing success brings to you / your business.
For example: Must your social media strategy get you more followers on Twitter or more fans on Facebook? If Yes, then how many more followers/fans must your SM strategy bring you month on month?
Once you’ve reached your target numbers for Followers and Fans, then what should your SM strategy deliver?
For example: At one time or the other your SM strategy must focus on delivering money into your bank account, by your Followers and Fans making purchases from you after they've engaged with you, know you and trust you.
4. Document your Social Media marketing strategy in-depth
Your social media strategy should define and document your:
Do make sure that you’ve tailored Social Media strategies unique to each of your Social Media channels.
A successful social media strategy is definitely not a – one strategy fits all social streams – approach.
5. Simple things to do to stay involved with your social media strategy
Once you have your social media marketing strategy defined and documented, just step back a bit and recognize the huge value that sticking to your social media strategy will bring you. Enjoy the moment of realization that being involved 100% is an absolute necessity for your social media strategy to deliver the results you want.
Your social media strategy will encompass multiple things you’ve got to do on multiple social streams, hence, you must set aside time for:
Set aside another half hour in the day, perhaps towards the end of your workday, when you will respond to comments and @mentions on your social streams. Your target audience must believe that you are willing and able to engage with them. Nothing puts off an audience quicker than being ignored.
Another half hour of your day must get set aside to take care of Google Analytics tracking and reporting. Export relevant data from Google as an XL sheet, or in a format that you like best, then spend a few minutes blending the data exported into a master sheet.
Use this master datasheet to create bar graphs or pie charts, or use any other format that works best for you, so that you get a regular update on whether your Social Media strategy is delivering what it should or it's not and hence needs tweaking.
6. Set aside some time at each week's end to prepare for the coming week
On your weekend, make sure that you spend between 30 mins to an hour to schedule Tweets. Facebook posts, LinkedIn posts, Pinterest pins and all your other social media content for the following week.
Work really hard to come up with original ideas. You can send out links to your own (customer centric) content. You could also identify links to content that is not yours, but you are sure will be useful or interesting to your customers, and make sure that your customers know about such content.
Once you have appropriate content identified, then schedule this content to be sent out on the social media stream it’s appropriate for, on a day of your choice, the following week. Once done then diligently stick to the schedule you’ve created. This will help you engage with your customers by delivering to them content that they will find invaluable at regular intervals. This helps keep you in uppermost in your customer’s mind.
7. Develop a content marketing calendar.
Use a simple XL sheet then plan a Day / Date / Time release schedule of the content/topics you have identified will be of use to your customers.
Add Headlines, Related links, Author’s name and other relevant information that you will need to be at hand when you start posting this useful and relevant content for your customers on various social media streams.
If you are properly set up, you will do a great job when posting content and you will spend the least time doing this.
8. Post newsworthy content as it happens
As soon as breaking news is available about anything related to your business, brand or industry, do share your reactions, thoughts, opinion about this with your customers on the social streams you are engaging them on. You then become part of ongoing conversations.
This is an excellent way to get your customers to look up to you. It’s also an excellent way to let your customers know that you are on top of things
9. Treat all of your social channels differently.
Each social stream you post on has its own nuances of engaging its audience. Hence, the content you post on Facebook may fall flat on Twitter and vice versa.
In the Excel sheet, in which you have created your schedule for content delivery to your customers make sure that you take good care of this when jotting in the content that you will deliver.
A simple, effective rule of thumb is - Don’t post the same message everywhere – remember who the audience is on each platform and how they use the platform to interact.
10. Remember to act as a customer service rep.
In social media marketing what’s vital is – engagement.
Social media marketing must be a two-way street. If ever you treat social media as a technique for only sending out information to your customers without caring twopence for what they are saying, your social media strategy will tank really alarmingly. Unless of course you are not really measuring the results of your social media efforts.
It’s imperative that all user-generated content, such as comments (for or against), feedback (positive or negative) are responded to on a social media stream almost immediately. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is crucial to the success of any social media marketing effort.
11. Schedule metrics reporting.
Ensure that someone collects, collates, and analyses the statistics obtained from Google, as well as any other social media statistics delivery tool (do take a quick look at Moz).
Then maps the statistics backward to the social media strategy. This is imperative to figure out whether the effort you are putting in on various social media streams is actually paying you back in business or better yet, repeat business.
Statistics should be collected daily but can be analyzed on a weekly or bi-monthly basis. If the time frame for analyzing your social statics goes beyond 15 days, then you run the danger of putting in a ton of social media marketing planning and execution, without getting the results expected.
12. Tweak your social media marketing strategy constantly
Based on the statistics you’ve obtained from reliable sources, and its analysis, get ready to make small, but significant, changes to your social media marketing strategy.
If something you're doing is not delivering results, then switch it around a bit. Do some strategic A/B testing to determine what type and/or format of content your customers respond to better. Use two different versions of your content simultaneously, then measure to see which content is more successful and use that approach going forward. Success is measured by the amount of customer engagement triggered by the content.
Twelve, simple, commonsensical, steps you can follow to make your social media marketing strategy, a well planned and executed one, which will deliver awesome Return On Investment to you.
If you have some other approach, or you believe you can expand on any/all of these twelve steps to deliver more, please do share your thoughts, critique and more in the comments section below.
Ivan Bayross is a techno-geek author who has published more than 63 books. He advises business organizations on how to use the Internet and Digital Marketing to increase their profits. You can reach him at OpenSourceVarsity which offers a ton of free tutorials on Open source technologies and Digital Marketing. Follow his OSV page on Twitter for more updates.