With social media having overtaken porn as the #1 online activity, the days of businesses being able to ignore it as a content marketing option are over. That doesn’t mean you should rush to set up networking profiles without thinking it through, even though there is something of a “just do it” mentality that prevails about the subject. Developing a comprehensive social media strategy takes more than just hiring a summer intern to handle your tweeting and Facebook posts—it requires a focused approach that takes account of multiple factors.
#1: Identify Your Objectives
As with any strategic planning exercise, identifying the objectives is the first essential step. What is it you want to achieve by getting out there on social media? Are you just doing it because “everyone else is?” Do you want to use your profiles to:
- Raise awareness about your brand?
- Communicate with your target market?
- Drive traffic to your website?
- Get readers for your blog?
- Generate sales leads?
- Build up your mailing list?
You can’t be everything to everyone, so choose one or two primary goals and a couple of secondary ones to build your social media strategy around. Remember, the more specific you make them, the likelier you are to achieve them.
#2: Research Your Audience
A common mistake is thinking you just have to build it and they will come. The nature of social media is such that users are able to filter out much of the stuff they don’t want to see, so they’re only going to read your material if it fits in with their preferences. It’s up to you to tailor it to do so, which makes market intelligence one of the most important aspects of your social media strategy.
Identify various attributes of your target audience and then take a look at how many of them are on the various sites. Statistics from the Pew Internet Project’s 2018 Social Networking Fact Sheet offer a number of insights, while Facebook Insights has a really comprehensive way of telling you how many users exist who fit a specific profile. The trouble is, you need a page with more than 30 Likes to access Insights, because you only get to view the stats when you start setting up a paid Facebook ad. Another resource that provides reasonably good info for planning purposes is ComScore’s 2017 U.S. Digital Future in Focus.
#3: Check What Competitors Are Doing
There’s something to be said for knowing what other players in your industry are up to, even if they aren’t your direct competition. At the very least, it’ll provide you with intel on what not to do. The great thing about social networking is that you’re completely free to follow and Like all company pages, so you can see what’s working for them and what isn’t. Take a look at:
- The sites where they have profiles
- The number and type of followers they have
- The posts that generate engagement, and
- The reasons why, based on any user comments
Then apply your findings to the strategy you’re building to make sure you maximize the benefit of your competitor research.
#4: Choose Your Platforms
You don’t have to be on every social media site. In fact, it’s probably best to limit your activities—at least in the beginning—to two or three networking platforms that have the best reach into your target market. Decide whether you need a strong visual platform (Pinterest, Instagram), a business-to-business platform (LinkedIn) a news and update option (Twitter) or a video platform (YouTube).
Most business blogs benefit from a Facebook business page, simply because most online users are on Facebook. Twitter is critical for sharing business blog posts, and LinkedIn is a great resource for companies in the B2B environment because publishing there helps build your online credibility.
#5: Set Up the Profiles
Create your social media profiles as carefully as you design your marketing collateral:
- Choose your category and type of business carefully, and add it to your Favourites so you can find it easily.
- Use clear, high-quality photos for the timeline and cover pics, with branded images and your pay-off line.
- Use the cover photo section to publicize the kind of business you’re in.
- Select a custom URL when prompted to do so and add your About info, which makes the page easier to find and more SEO-friendly.
Set up your admin roles and adjust your settings so your visitors can find and contact you easily.
#6: Create a Social Media Calendar
One of the most challenging aspects of creating a social media strategy for your business is finding material to post regularly. It helps if you have a plan, so create a calendar showing the frequency of your intended postings and fill in your ideas as they come to you. Add holidays and seasonal events so you can think of suggestions before the time, and begin working on your posts in advance.
#7: Appoint a Specialist
Summer interns and students might be mostly up to date on social media, but that’s no reason to entrust one of the most vital aspects of your public profile to an inexperienced person. It’s like leaving your store or your company’s communications in the hands of a part-time junior! You wouldn’t do that, so why would you consider letting someone unfamiliar with your ethos and practices speak on your behalf in public? Because that’s what they are doing, essentially – speaking on your behalf in public using hugely-influential, well-patronized social media sites!
So your social media strategy needs to include the appointment of someone capable of managing the process on a 24/7 basis. Someone I know recently said, “Not responding on social media is the digital equivalent of not answering the phone when it rings.” It’s something you have to do, and the sooner the better. With the internet functioning all the time, it’s occasionally necessary to respond at odd hours.
A comprehensive social media strategy takes careful planning and implementation; it’s not just a random achievement that happens by itself.
For more information on how to develop a detailed social media strategy for your business, please contact us.