“Without a solid plan in place, social media will only amplify noise.” ~ Sharad Verma, Bright Blue Wave Founder
A Gallup study released in June 2014, revealed that, on average across four broad demographics, 35% felt social media had some to a great deal of influence on their purchasing decision. A key take-away from the study was that “customer engagement drives social engagement” and brands should look to engage their existing online community and inspire them to be brand advocates.
Below are five straightforward tips to help your business find social media success:
1. Link to Your Marketing Strategy
A comprehensive marketing strategy provides direction and defines measurement goals against which to execute all marketing activities, including social media. It is no surprise, our clients who have the most success on social media start with a marketing plan and link online and offline activities.
A well defined plan includes a detailed review of customer segments, competitor analysis, product/service breakdown, budget, ties to company financial goals, defines marketing goals, and provides guidance on who you will market to, how and why.
2. Social Media Channel Selection
Be on the channels where your customers are, and that may not necessarily mean Facebook. Let the research from you customer and industry analysis in your marketing strategy plan define which channels make sense to your business. Your business does not need to be on all of the channels. Choose the channels that make the most sense for industry and that you can comfortably maintain a consistent presence.
Ensure all of your channels are set up with a consistent look and feel to your website and to each channel. Add the social media links to your website and include them in your email signature.
3. Add Value
Value-added content provides entertainment, information, utility, and monetary incentives. In addition to original posts, curate and share content relevant to your customers and online community. Bu human. Be social. And give them a reason to follow your brand.
Content can be anything from a written post to images to video and can be used across various channels. Ensure the content is adjusted to the medium it is being presented on to present a cohesive narrative across all channels. Stay true to this path and you will find you earn trust, build engagement and drive traffic to your website; and potentially into a buying discussion.
4. Advertise and Promote
Advertising dollars follows eyeballs, and these days they are on social media. Just like in traditional media, businesses need to spend to reach their targeted audience. Compared to traditional advertising the costs are relatively inexpensive, allow for targeted marketing, and provide immediate results.
Follow the same guidelines as when you are creating and keep in mind you are on social media. Advertising and promoted content should meet the above criteria to provide entertainment, information, utility, and monetary or promotional content.
5. Analyze and Measure
Regularly review content by channel, type of content, day of the week and time of day as to which generates the most engagement. Test various posting and content strategies, and adjust your content strategy accordingly. Social media is a fluid and in a constant state of change, what worked last month may no longer work.
Many businesses track vanity metrics such as followers or likes, and while there is merit in growing these numbers, the metrics you track should be aligned to the goals defined in your marketing strategy. For example, if increasing the number of people who signup for your company’s newsletter is a goal, the number of individuals who sign up coming form social media should be tracked.
Key social media performance metrics:
- Traffic from social media channels to website
- Click-through rate
For most businesses, brand awareness is an important goal but the ultimate objective is to increase sales. Ensure that you are tracking social performance metrics, and adjusting tactics accordingly to meet your marketing objectives.
Remember, your social channels represent your brand and the voice of your business, make sure you put it in the hands of someone you trust to share and engage with your customers.
Editor’s Note: This blog was originally published in May 2013 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.