These days, it’s easier to count the people you know who don’t have some sort of social media presence than the ones who do. From the CEO to the guy mowing the lawn, virtually everybody out there has some sort of online platform to share their views with the world.
Don’t let the ubiquity of that social experience fool you though when it comes to putting together a social strategy for your business. There’s a big difference between sharing a few photos between friends on Facebook and driving bottom line results for your firm by strategically leveraging the power of social media.
Getting social right can bring real results for practically any type of business but the list of firms who are performing poorly in this space is a long one. A properly executed social strategy should be boosting brand awareness, customer engagement and – above all – profits.
In this article we’ll outline three simple steps to make sure you’re hitting the target on social rather than simply spinning your wheels.
- Get the platform mix right
Social media is an incredibly trend-led space but that doesn’t mean your strategy should be. Consider the platforms you’re actually going to use carefully rather than blindly following the herd.
For instance, if you’re running a major construction firm, there’s probably little to be gained from carefully tending your Pinterest or Instagram accounts.
Facebook and Twitter are almost certainly required given their respective potential for promotions and customer support but weigh up other channels sensibly before committing resources to them. One channel executed perfectly has much more value than five channels with half-hearted coverage.
Start by conducting research on where your potential or existing customers actually are online and what sort of content they’re reacting favourably to. Reviewing the current landscape in an organised fashion should enable you to pull out some meaningful key performance indicators to shoot for with your initial efforts.
- Set meaningful goals from the outset
Concrete social media results can be notoriously tricky to pin down. Metrics such as fan or follower count mean little unless they can be tied in to something with an actual dollar value at the end of the day.
The exact nature of your business will naturally determine the precise nature of your goals in this department but make sure there are business-relevant targets in there from the outset.
Obvious goals to consider would be some or all of the following:
- Drive traffic to your company’s primary website.
- Act as part of an overall eCommerce sales funnel.
- Act as part of a lead generation process.
- Increase your authority within your particular business niche.
- Act as a form of front-line customer support.
- Attract high-quality candidates to work in your company.
What all these areas have in common is that they can be measured. Rather than relying on handwavey concepts such as “engagement”, you should be thinking in terms of campaigns and looking at specific numbers that tie in to them.
If attracting more traffic to your site is listed as a primary goal for example, you should be analysing and segmenting that traffic by source and tracking conversions consistently to see what is actually delivering value and what is not.
If you’re treating social media as a form of customer support, you should be tracking those interactions and reporting on how they helped drive improvements to your internal practices and processes.
Whatever the mix of goals is that you end up defining, make sure you have the relevant analytics in place from the outset to track progress and that regular review phases are built in for you to review performance and tweak your overall strategy.
- Take control of your content strategy
Most companies would rightly throw up their hands in horror at the idea of launching a major advertising campaign with randomly chosen content at its core. The thought of putting money behind content that hasn’t been carefully considered and gone over with a fine toothcomb simply makes no sense from a commercial point of view.
It’s astonishing how many of those same companies do not apply the same vigilance and forethought when it comes to their output on social media however.
Your social media content should not be left at the whim of whoever happens to be in charge of the relevant accounts on any particular day. You should have a written content strategy in place that defines overall tone, objectives, specific areas of content and who is responsible for producing what.
Production of content should also be taking place on some sort of defined schedule. The use of an editorial calendar is a simple way of staying in control of your overall output and making sure that key messaging is appearing on a schedule that everyone can understand.
The use of scheduling tools such as Hootsuite or Buffer is another simple way of taking a lot of the needless busywork out of social media management and freeing up your time to concentrate on producing incredibly engaging content that will resonate with your followers.
You’ll also want to be certain that you’re getting the overall content mix right. Nobody enjoys being relentlessly pitched to for example. It’s up to you to find the blend of marketing led content, useful information and light relief that your audience responds best to.
Carried out haphazardly, social media campaigns can quickly devolve into uncontrollable timesinks that deliver little overall business value and actively repel potential audiences.
Get it right though and you could be looking at a marketing and sales channel to rival or even eclipse your efforts with SEO or SEM. Following our simple three-step strategy is a great way of putting overall structure on your efforts and keeping your team accountable:
- Choose your platforms carefully.
- Establish meaningful metrics and goals.
- Take an organized approach to content creation.
Start with those three points in mind and you’ll soon find that your social media efforts are starting to pay off in increased revenue and are forming an ever more important part of your overall business strategy.