There seems to be a misconception that social media is easy. That all you have to do is update your status a few times and the leads come flooding in. But that’s not how it works.
As with any marketing activity, you need to know what you want to achieve so you can figure out how to get there.
Why you need to develop a social media marketing strategy
You’ve probably been told that you need to be on Facebook, or you need to be on Instagram. Whether you’re a small or a large business, you probably don’t have the time or resources to be on every social network. So you need a strategy to help you find out which networks your audience use.
Strategy helps you identify and understand exactly what you want out of social media. It allows you to plan how to get that ROI. Once you begin using social media, you can frequently review your activities and tweak things to get more out of it.
As we’ve already mentioned, you won’t get the ROI you’re looking for if you go into social media with a ‘spray and pray’ attitude. To reach your goals, you need a solid social media marketing strategy.
How to develop a social media marketing strategy
1. Set your goals – what do you want out of social marketing?
The first thing you need to do is identify the aim of using social media. Your goals will be unique to your business. But try to make them as specific as possible and set SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound). To make sure you’re setting solid and achievable goals.
A few examples of social media goals may be:
- Increase revenue by 20%
- Gain 10 leads per month from social media
- Get 50 sales on a specific product or service from social media
- Increase visits on your website by 30%
2. Research – where are your audience?
As we touched on above, you’ve probably read or been told that you must be on a certain social network, but that isn’t always true. To use Facebook because you “have to be on Facebook” is a waste of your time and resources if your audience don’t actually use Facebook.
To look at where your audience are, you will need a good idea of who your target audience and customers are. To find out what social networks they are using you can:
- Ask your existing customers
- Do some research – you can find research and studies which look at what kinds of people use which social network
- Look at your competitors and see where they are performing well
You may find that your audience use lots of social networks. Which means you will need to evaluate which networks are going to work best for you. There’s only so much guesswork you can do without actually trying a social network. Remember that what works for you may not always work for your competitors and vice versa.
3. What’s your strategy?
By this stage you know what ROI you want from social media and you know which social networks you should be using. The next step is to work out what you need to do to reach your goal. This is where strategy comes in.
For example: you run a wedding stationery design company and your goal is to get 15 leads a month from social media. Your strategy might be to use Pinterest and Twitter to target engaged men and women, though mostly women, in the UK.
4. Tactics – the who, what, where and when
Once you know what the big picture is, you can drilldown to the specifics of exactly what you will do to reach your goal.
No matter which social network you are using, you will need to start off by doing basic things like:
- Set up your profile and claim your vanity URL where possible
- Fill in ALL contact information
- Upload branded images
- Add link to social network on your website
What comes next will depend on what network you’re using and what you want out of it, so you need to look at:
- How often you will post
- When you will post – this is particularly important if you’re appealing to audiences in multiple time zones
- What type of content should you be sharing
- What type of content do you need to produce yourself
- Your tone of voice
- When will you have time to manage social media
- How will you monitor your goals
- How will you handle any complaints?
Go into as much detail here as possible, because it will be really useful when you start using social media.
What could this look like?
If we stick with the example of a wedding stationery business, their tactics may look like this:
Twitter: we will tweet at least six times per day (ranging from 09:00 – 19:00) and share things that relate to weddings, interesting or funny examples of wedding stationery, our customer testimonials, examples of our work, share ‘behind the scenes’ photos of our processes, answer questions and respond to any engagement.
To generate leads on Twitter, we will search for people talking about wedding stationery who are based in the UK and tweet them.
We will need to make sure we take more photos of our processes, finished work and work in situ, where possible. We could also create images or videos of customer testimonials.
Our tone of voice will be helpful and friendly.
5. Monitoring & reviewing – don’t keep doing something that isn’t working
You should regularly review what you’re doing and the results of your social media efforts. It’s a waste of your time (time is money) and effort to keep doing something which isn’t working.
Sticking with the example above; let’s imagine the wedding stationery business has been using Twitter for two months and have generated 15 leads in total, instead of 30.
Of course you won’t see results instantly, but you need to review what you’re doing.
- Are you using social media as often as you planned to?
- Have you come across any issues?
- What kind of content are you sharing?
- Are you responding to engagement?
- Are you self-promoting too much?
- Is your tone of voice wrong?
As well as reviewing your own efforts, it’s worth knowing what your competitors are up to. Keeping an eye on their social media efforts can give you an idea of what does and doesn’t work with your audience.
If they’re finding something in particular creates a lot of engagement, look at why and what you could do to create similar kinds of engagement. As well as reviewing their strong points, look at their weaknesses too and what you would do to improve on them.
Your tactics may change as you use social media and review your efforts, but your strategy should remain the same.