To adopt or not to adopt a social media strategy?
This is the question brands need to be asking themselves. All too often companies jump on the social media bandwagon because they view the marketing medium as just that: a bandwagon, a craze, a trend.
From a marketing perspective, adopting social media for business purposes should be based on strategy. Before signing up for a company Facebook or Twitter account, take time to evaluate if and how a social media presence would help you meet your business objectives.
But even after determining if social media is right for your business, there’s a question that halts many people right in their tracks: “Where do I start?” We hear this question all the time and this is the advice we share: start small, stay consistent and be yourself. Factor in a little time to monitor and evaluate and the rest pretty much falls into place!
Managing social media accounts for even a single brand can turn into a full-time job. If your company is just starting out with social media, we’re guessing there’s probably a limited number of hours you can afford to dedicate to maintaining a social media presence. The key is to not take on more than you can handle. Strive to become an expert on one social media platform you can really excel at instead of being less than mediocre on multiple social media platforms.
Collin Bunch, an advisor at the Small Business Technology Development Center in Columbia, Missouri, agrees with the start small approach. “A big thing people miss with social media is being extremely targeted and focused. You should really “get it” and have some results before trying too many things,” said Collin.
The first thing you’ll need to do is research which social media platforms mesh well with the goals of your social media campaign. A big part of the decision is going to deal with the audience you have the potential to reach on each platform. Not all social media users are the same, so choose your networks wisely and strategically.
Considering a LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest strategy? Check out the unique demographic breakdown of users on each network by age and gender and even by income and educational level.
The user data implies a lot about how businesses should use each platform, such as the content they should share, the tone they use in the messaging, or how often you should be posting.
After establishing your presence on the social media network that allows you to best reach your target audience, the next thing you’ll want to think about is the content you’re actually sharing to connect and engage with that audience. A best practice for social media strategies is to promote a good balance of content targeted for your audience on a consistent basis. This involves creating and following a solid plan regarding what content you’ll post and how often you’ll post.
It’s a little bit of an oxymoron, but consistently changing the type of content you share on social media is important too. Rotating through different content types keeps your social media account fresh and interesting instead of dull and boring.
Having a healthy social media mix is also about ensuring you’re scheduling content with a purpose and actually have a social media strategy. After all, “Posting random inspirational quotes is neat, but consistently hitting content messages that your customers value will grow your business,” shared Collin.
We suggest following the social media rule of thirds to create a healthy mix of content. This means breaking up the content you post and share into the following categories:
The idea here is to hit the mix that your audience desires while maintaining a reputation as a resource offering insights into important topics. As Collin said, “It’s a huge red flag when a company’s tweets are all about them.” Your Twitter audience may not respond well to brand promoting posts but they may appreciate various resources you share to educate them.
A mix of content also helps build credibility with your audience by being transparent about topics and issues in the industry while avoiding being labeled as a brand with a completely egotistical social media presence. Sure you should promote your own business, but connecting followers to other helpful resources shows that you really care about helping people solve their problems
The principle of consistency also extends to how frequently you update your social media profiles. By regularly sharing content with your followers, you give them the opportunity to notice you on a regular basis. It’s sort of like needing to see a commercial multiple times before you really remember it; social media is another communication platform that can be used to expose people to your brand. The more frequently you post, the more often your audience can be exposed to your brand and your message.
In order to optimize the interactions your brand has with people through social media, do some testing to figure out the best times and days to post. When is your audience online? What times are they likely to be scrolling through their newsfeeds? Figuring this out could involve a bit of trial and error. However, spending a little extra time evaluating and determining when your posts will be most successful is better than posting at random for months to come and risk missing the prime opportunities to engage with followers.
The final piece of social media planning advice we want to share is encouraging you to be yourself. Social media is the last place you should have a self-conscious attitude about your brand. Express yourself in your marketing and show people the unique and special sides of your business.
There are endless possibilities in regards to the type of content you can share on social media, from pictures to videos, to quirky remarks and quotes, and even infographics and links to other sources. No matter which content type you use, there’s room to add in your unique brand personality and tone.
You don’t have to sound like an automated messaging system or act like a programmed robot. Show some character! “Customers want to hear from the owners and as authentic people, not some mix-up of buzzwords. When owners get over their fear/shyness and jump in, they end up owning the space,” Collin added.
The idea is to be unique by establishing a one-of-a-kind voice and attitude your audience will quickly recognize and appreciate. It’s not uncommon for multiple people within a company to step in and post social media messages, but if that’s the case, make it clear within your organization that the brand should sound like one entity to outsiders. Create social media guidelines for employees to refer to and use as a reminder to speak to your audience with a unified voice.
Don’t box yourself in by thinking that copying another brand’s strategy and style is your ticket to success. What works for other brands won’t necessarily work for you.
By basing the decision to carry out a social media strategy on its tactical capabilities rather than on the trending status of the networks, you’ll be better prepared to create successful and effective social media campaigns. As you’re planning your strategy, just remember: start small, stay consistent and be yourself! You’ve got this!
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