In this two-part series, we show you how to create a social media strategy and next time, show you what to post.
Stumped by Social Media?
Social media is everywhere these days, coming a long way since the first social platform, "Six Degrees," launched in 1997. If you're old enough, you might remember the popularity of "MySpace" in the early 2000s. In the dawn of the 21st century, businesses struggled to see how these weird new platforms could fit in with a marketing strategy. I admit I remember saying, "How could social media be a full-time job?"
Boy was I wrong.
Today, social media is a vital part of reaching your customers. According to Our World in Data, 2.8 billion people used Facebook in 2018. With multiple platforms to choose from, it can be overwhelming to know what to do. Like all marketing channels, successful social media involves strategy, targeting, great content, analysis, and aligning with your business goals.
But unlike one-way traditional marketing of television, radio, and billboards, social media is about engaging with your customers.
As a business owner, you know that you should be posting on social media. But you may have questions about how to use it. Which platforms are the best fit for my business? What should I post? When should I post? How will I find time for all the posts? What about the business's website?
If you're confused about social media, you're not alone. Before you leap into the social media waters, create a strategy. Then plan the content of your posts. With some careful and strategic planning, you'll see how social media can become a valuable part of your digital marketing strategy. In this post, we'll show you what to consider when creating a social media strategy and best practices for managing your social media.
How to Create a Social Media Strategy
Pick Your Platforms
Social media is everywhere. But you don’t have to be on every social platform. Especially if you don’t have a dedicated staffer to manage your accounts, pick one or two platforms that you believe will best meet the goals of your business. Doing well in 1 or 2 platforms is better than being everywhere with haphazard content and poor engagement.
Use a Business Account
If you’re serious about your business, create a business account. Keep your personal account and personal views separate from your business. Link to your business website to help your SEO and convert customers.
Have a Goal
What results do you want to achieve via social media? How will you get your followers to engage with you on social and what will you ask them to do after engaging with our content? Share it? Comment? Visit your site? Subscribe to our newsletter? Write down your goals and integrate in your marketing plan.
Find Your Audience
Know your customers and figure out where they go on social media. Have no clue? Do an informal survey of your customers or refer to your buyer personas. See our infographic with demographic information. (Coming soon in Part 2!)
Strike the Right Tone
What's the right tone and voice for your brand? Do you want to appear fun and friendly approach or will the audience expect a more serious, professional demeanor? Does the social media conversation style match your brand's voice and values?
Take the Time
Don’t shrug off social media as a “maybe later” task. Take time to plan a strategy and a calendar. How often will you post? Who will write? Who will approve? Who will publish the post and monitor comments? Commit to posting multiple times a week. Respond to every question and comment in a positive, professional way.
Don’t Post Randomly
Most platforms allow you to schedule a post. Or use an online tool to schedule them. Planning and scheduling posts will save you time. Refer to analytics to see when your followers are on social media and modify your schedule accordingly.
Create a Social Media Calendar
What will you post about? Projects? Services? People? Industry-related news? Use a calendar to plan topics and posts. Track these over time to see what gets the most engagement. There are lots of online social media management tools. Your marketing tool or project management tool may have a social media features.
Social media is a commitment. It takes time and dedication. Plan on posting multiple times a week and/or multiple times a day. Consider sharing the responsibility with a trusted staff member. Make sure you can sustain social media efforts over the long run. Refer to your calendar to keep you on track.
Set a Budget
Promoted/boosted posts and social media advertising are a great way to expand your reach on social.
Look for Opportunities for User-Generated Content
Your customers are your best brand ambassadors. When you sell your product or service, ask customers to post pictures and tag you. Listen to their comments and respond to them. Ask partners to tag you in posts. Collaborate when possible to double the impact.
Respond to Negative Comments
It’s inevitable that cranky customers will post on social. Do not ignore these posts or reviews. Respond to them in a positive way. Be professional and not emotional. Do what you can to correct the situation and apologize if you were at fault (nobody’s perfect – and customers will respect your professionalism and integrity.)
Promote Your Stuff, But Not Too Much
Balance product and promotional posts with general information, tips, personal thoughts, fun stuff, etc. Get to know your customers and help them. B2B networking sites like LinkedIn are a way to write longer articles and thought leadership papers.
Don’t Be Too Formal
Especially for smaller businesses, let your brand personality shine through. Show pictures of your office, the office dog or cat, a staffer’s birthday party. Be human and authentic. Let your customers connect with you.
Repurpose Content for Social Posts
Take your blog posts and turn them into short videos, infographics, quotes, and post on social channels. Link to the corresponding blog post or info page to lead them to your website.
Vary Posts on Different Platforms
Each social media platform has variations in the user base. Try not to just copy and paste the same post verbatim. Think about the users and mix up the language a bit to help engagement. And if your loyal customers follow you on more than one platform, they'll appreciate differing content.
Review Your Analytics
Don’t overlook your analytics. That will show you patterns of who is engaging with your posts, what’s working and what isn’t, and show what days and times your users are looking. If you do advertising, you can get good info on your audiences and create lookalike audiences.
Be Trendy (sometimes)
Jump on the holiday bandwagons and insert yourself naturally into trends and current events (but stay away from politics). For example, National Chocolate Day is a great opportunity for your sales team to deliver chocolates to loyal customers and sweet-toothed prospects. Ask your team to take pictures and post on social with reciprocal tagging and hashtags. Here's another example: If it’s a pandemic lockdown and everybody’s baking and you sell flour – take the opportunity to post a new recipe or tip. If Victory Gardens are trending and you’re a landscaper – show people how to start a garden.
Be Strategic in Your Content
Find what content best engages with your audience. In general, posts about people get engagement. For companies, pictures of their projects do well, and any posts that include pictures of animals do very well. Find ways to spur engagement, including questions, surveys, and polls. Don't forget about "stories" available on several platforms. Be sure to respond to the comments. Similar to your website content, social media content should be valuable and useful to users to stop their thumbs from scrolling.
Use Images and Video
Don't even think about posting without an image. Videos are great for engagement. And don't forget about hashtags and emojis.
Social media has become an important marketing strategy. Today it's more complex than ever before, but done well, it is an indispensible way to reach your audiences.
In Part 2 of this series, we’ll review the most popular business social media channels and break them down by gender, age, and give you tips for what content to post in a helpful infographic.