There was a time not all that long ago when creating a social media strategy really wasn’t that big of a deal. This is because of the fact that most people simply didn’t work on their social media strategies all that much.
The world has changed a great deal though, and now you definitely have to be a lot more proactive than before. One out of every three millennials engage with a brand on their social media at least once every month. Hence, brands need to start putting a lot more effort into their social media campaigns. A renewed focus must be made on things like engagement. Failing to do so could potentially result in you sliding behind your competitors, because it is clear to see that everyone has caught on in terms of the new way to approach social media marketing.
This article is not about the dangers of not taking social media seriously. Rather, it is a way to motivate you into accepting social media as what it is: one of the best possible ways to market your brand. Provided below are some steps that will help you create the best possible social media strategy. These steps give you the lowdown on how social media marketing works and what type of approach is required in order have people take you seriously on social media.
The Steps to a Solid Social Media Marketing Campaign
#1 Create Practical Goals That Solve Problems
Before you start anything else, what you need to do is gain a better understanding of what your goals are. This is not something you can start and stop when you are tired, it requires commitment and it requires passion. Doing it without either of those two qualities is going to end up making it very difficult for you to be taken seriously by your target market.
A good way to think approach it is like how you would approach cooking. You might have a good idea of what kind of ingredients will create what dish, but sometimes you might need to improvise. Certain items might not be available, other times you might find that you are cooking for someone pickier than usual. You obviously need to cook your meal, but unless you know who you are cooking for and what you are cooking with, you are not going to get the job done anytime soon.
Hence, you need to set a goal, and you also need to know what resources are at your disposal. When you are setting a goal, one of the most important things that you can do is to set it according to your strengths and limitations. Basically, you need to shoot for something that is doable. This is not to say that you shouldn’t aim high. All it means is that you shouldn’t aim too high, because one of the biggest reasons for a social media strategy failing is that it was trying to do too much all at once and when it failed at one thing it created a cascading effect that made everything else fail as well.
One thing that you can do in order to create a good yet attainable goal is to focus on one social media platform at a time. Trying to focus on all of them all at once will mean that none of them are going to end up getting the sort of attention that they deserve. What you need to do is figure out which social media platform suits the needs of your brand most accurately. You can then focus on that social media platform to start off with and only branch out when you have gotten the hang of the first one.
Another thing that you need to do is to create a strategy that is simple and straightforward. Try not to have too many targets, this is going to end up making it difficult for you to achieve any of them. Narrow down your list of targets and keep it simple. This will help you actually achieve goals rather than just set them and hope for the best.
Another important thing that you need to do is to keep a record of your goals. Every time you take a step closer toward a goal, you should try and record it. This will help you see how far you have come from where you were, which is an excellent way to stay motivated. Apart from this, just writing down your goals in the first place can be an enormous help. It keeps reminding you what it is that you have to do, and it also helps you stay organized.
One of the problems that you might face will involve the specific goals that you are going to be setting. There are so many targets that you will have to achieve in the world of social media that you might find it difficult to narrow them down. Here are some of the goals you should be focusing on.
- Spreading Brand Awareness: It is important to remember that the brand awareness you create needs to be genuine. Inundating your followers with promotional messages is not going to spread awareness regarding your brand in any meaningful way. Rather, it is going to potentially alienate your followers. Try to focus on releasing pertinent content and creating a personality for your brand instead.
- Boosting Sales: This is a pretty straightforward goal, and its benefits are evident. You need your sales to go up if you want to be able to make your business viable. What you need to think about is whether you want to boost online sales or in person sales. Social media can help immensely with both. It can also help you keep your customers abreast of the goings on in your store. If you want to increase foot traffic, social media is the best place to do it.
- Boost Return on Investment: If you have started a company of some kind, you have probably had to make some kind of investment to do it. The important thing to remember is that you need to get high returns on this investment in order to make it viable for the long term. You can use social media to boost ROI by an enormous amount. This is a good goal because it gets your business on track to becoming a long term investment.
- Create a Community of Fans: You need to create a brand that has a following of loyal customers. Basically, you need to have more than customers following you. You need to have fans. This is going to give you a lot more engagement on social media. In the world of social media, followings don’t mean anything if they don’t give you lots of engagement. One of your goals can be to build a proper community which will help your business grow by leaps and bounds.
- Get an Inside Look at Competitors: One of the best ways to check out what your competitors are up to is to check out what they are posting on social media. This will allow you to see if what you are doing is measuring up.
#2 Gather Data on Your Followers
Four out of every five adults are on Facebook. However, not all of them are going to be interested in what your brand is offering. Indeed, some of them might even be complete wastes of time. You need to know as much as you can about the people that are following you. One of the first things that you should think about is why the people that are following you have followed you in the first place. This is going to allow you to better understand what you might be doing right in terms of your social media marketing approach.
You can also learn other things about your followers. How much they earn, where they are from, whether they prefer to shop online or in a brick and mortar store. These are all things that matter greatly because these things impact your customer’s decisions. If you know who is already following you, you can adjust your tactics to target more people from that demographic.
This is the word that you need to be focusing on the most here: demographics. Once you know the demographics of your own audience, you need to start figuring out the demographics of other parts of the internet as well. Find out the audience that social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter have.
Snapchat, for example, is generally used by young people, and it is used by girls more than it is by boys. Hence, if the demographic that uses Snapchat falls into your target market, it’s fair to say that this is a social media platform that you need to start using quickly. If these are not the sort of people that you want to target, then you can very well avoid Snapchat because focusing on it will not do you or your brand any good.
Part of the process of figuring out your own customers is using a social media dashboard. This gives you an in depth look into the people that are following you. It gives you details about them and how frequently they are interacting with your profile or account. It also gives you a look into how each user interacts so you can focus on boosting the kinds of interactions that are falling short in some way.
#3 Figure Out What Metrics Matter The Most
A lot of companies tend to lose their way because of the fact that they are focusing on the wrong kinds of metrics. Follower counts and how many likes you have on your page are referred to as vanity metrics, which means that they may be good for an ego boost but the actual practical application of these metrics leaves a great deal to be desired. You need to focus on the metrics that give you a complete picture of the kind of reaction your brand is getting on the world of social media.
If you are getting too engrossed in vanity metrics, you need to first and foremost try to look at the bigger picture. The whole point of the social media marketing campaign is to achieve your goals, whatever those goals may actually be. A much better metric to look into would be engagement metrics.
This is because of the fact that when you are marketing a particular product or brand on social media, one of the most important things that you will have to do is create a community of followers who are loyal to your brand and actually care about what you are doing.
You need to build actual relationships, and the pursuit of good vanity metrics can derail your attempts to do this. This is because of the fact that if you are caring too much about the number of likes and followers you have, you might end up applying tactics that would boost your vanity metrics such as following other people for follow backs. These kinds of number inflating follows and likes are not going to do much to boost your engagement, which means that they are not going to do much to help you achieve any of your more pertinent goals.
#4 Look Into Your Competitors
This is something that you should be doing anyway but it’s particularly important in the world of social media. The fact of the matter is that there are always going to be competitors doing things better than you do. However, that does not meant that you can’t learn from them. Indeed, if your competitors are doing better than you are then that might just be a good thing because of the fact that it could help you learn about new ways to market your own brand.
No one is saying that you should start using the ideas that your competitors are implementing in their own social media marketing policy. However, it wouldn’t hurt to at least check things out in an attempt to learn. All of that being said, you might be wondering now how to get to this information. The first thing that you will have to do is figure out who you are competing against.
For the answer to this particular question, Google is your friend! There is probably a product that you offer that people find to be your signature. You also probably have a keyword that you frequently use to describe your products. All you need to do is search Google for this keyword and you will find a list of brands that are offering the same things that you are.
This list is obviously going to include some big fish. This includes Amazon, Walmart and a lot of other stores that offer a wide range of products. The first thing you are going to have to do is find people that are in your specific niche. These companies have a lot of money to blow on marketing, especially social media marketing, and their product range is very diverse as well. Once you have a narrowed down list of companies, the next thing you are going to have to do is check out their social media accounts.
You need to note down the various aspects of these accounts. Try to see the way they interact with their customers, and try to figure out how you can do the same. It goes without saying that you should only learn from those social media accounts that are successful. There are a lot of brands out there that do a terrible job of managing their social media. You need to be better than they are.
Use tools to analyze their social media influence. A service like Sprout can help you out with that by showing you a breakdown of the social media activity of your various competitors. This will give you a better idea of what you are up against, as well as a deeper understanding of the things you will have to do in order to get a similar level of success.
#5 Start Creating Content
This is probably the step that you have been waiting for all this time. You might be wondering why it is coming in so late, but the fact of the matter is that most marketing campaigns jump the gun when it comes to content creation. They don’t look into the right metrics, they don’t figure out who their audience nor do they check out their competitors. Their content, and this comes as no surprise, is not very good. This is because of the fact that they don’t know what kind of content they should be creating in the first place. The best way to understand this is to follow the steps that have been listed above.
Now, the way to actually make content is to plan it out. Make sure that the content you are creating represents your brand. It doesn’t have to be directly about your brand, but it definitely needs to be in line with the personality that you have built for your brand so far. You should obviously only focus on those demographics that are going to respond well to you at first. Branching out into demographics where you are unpopular might be a needless exercise in futility. Also, it might alienate the people that are actually interested in what you are offering. Research has shown that social media followers are more likely to stop following a page if the content that it is displaying is irrelevant to them.
You also need to focus as much as you can on creating video based content. A common mistake among social media marketers is that they don’t give video based content the credit that it deserves. Video content can make or break your social media marketing campaign. This is because of the fact that a majority of people that shop online say that a video has the potential to impact their decision regarding whether or not they actually want to buy something. Videos have a disproportionate response on the decisions that online shoppers actually end up making.
There are a lot of avenues for video content as well. YouTube is the most obvious example, and it indeed does have an enormous impact on the way you present your content. There are a lot of other options as well, such as Facebook. Instagram has also made its way into the world of video based content, so that is definitely an option that you should be looking into. In the moment videos are a great option because of the fact that they can connect your audiences to things that are really happening.
Whether or not you make video based content, you should definitely try to base all of your content around specific themes. The problem with video based content is that takes a long time to create it. At least, that is the case if you want to create video based or other visual content that is of a truly high quality. In fact, over a third of all social media marketers say that this is the biggest problem that they are facing.
If you create a theme, it will help streamline the process of creating content. It will remove some of the more tedious tasks that have to be fulfilled in order to create content and will allow the people creating content for you to just sit there and be creative which is something that they are a lot better at doing.
#6 Keep Engaging Your Audience
The various profiles that you have set up on social media are communities that need to be maintained. Part of the process of maintaining them is starting conversations that are going to allow you to talk to the right people at the right time and help them to become a lot more interested in what your brand represents.
The great thing about this is that it is relatively easy, especially when compared to the various other things that you will need to focus on. The bare minimum in this case will actually be more than enough. This is because of the fact that a lot of brands don’t communicate as well as they should. If you are there for your audience and you talk to them on a regular basis, you can be sure that they are going to end up respecting you a lot more. You will have started to make a name for yourself as someone that legitimately cares about the people that follow them.
You basically just need to respond as much as possible. Don’t just respond to the important stuff like customers with queries or complaints. Try to respond to people that are making jokes or being random too. This helps bolster your brand’s personality by an enormous amount and enables you to win the loyalty of customers that might never have taken you seriously otherwise.
One great way to do this is to make sure that you have a team of people running your account. You can have teams responsible for Twitter and Facebook whose job it will be to simply respond to people and give them the right kind of information. It is also important that you hire people that have some personality to them. Witty remarks are always going to be a big help to you in situations where customers think that your brand is just a soulless money machine.
One of the most important tips that you can implement is to post at the right times. First of all, make sure that you only post in situations where you would be able to deal with the people that are going to be coming to you on your social media. If you post something and then don’t respond to people this is not going to reflect very highly on your brand. Indeed it might make your brand seem like the kind of place that simply doesn’t care about its customers. Also, since the whole point of posting in the first place is to boost engagement, if no one is there to engage there really is no point in posting at all.
Whenever you post, your social media managers need to be ready to start communicating with people. You should try and figure out what times are going to be best in terms of posting and engagement. This also means posting at times when people are going to engage in the first place. One thing that you should keep in mind while you are trying to implement all of this is that the average time it takes for a brand to respond to a social media interaction is ten hours, but customers think this is more than twice the amount of time it should take. This means that there is a vast market of customers that are not satisfied with their customer service, and this is a market that you can capture.