It doesn’t matter if you’re starting a brand new business or if it just never seemed like social media would be a great fit for your marketing strategy. It’s never too late to get started. More importantly, it’s a heck of a lot easier than you think to build a social strategy from the ground up. We’ll walk you through how to start fresh by setting some simple goals, making a plan, and moving forward one step at a time.
Develop SMART Goals
I’ve talked about SMART goals in the past – goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant,and Time-bound. Setting your goals with the SMART strategy ensures you’re getting results from your social strategy, whether that’s engagement or sales. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for adjustments within the SMART philosophy, either. Goals for each platform can be slightly different, as long as they all feed positively into your overall marketing plan.
Create Audience Avatars
Audience avatars (personas) are as important for social media as they are for any other aspect of marketing. Take some of the data you’ve already gathered and think about what it says about your potential social audience. What type of content is that audience most likely to comment on or otherwise engage with? Should you be focused on written blogs or shorter pieces of visual content?
Make sure you’re comparing your existing marketing data with available data for social platforms. For example, some gurus claim Facebook is great for the older generations, and that Millennials are shopping elsewhere, but the reality is that there are more Millennials on the platform than there are people in other generations. This is especially important information to have when you begin to develop paid ad strategies. Splitting creatives to target each of your customer personas is very effective.
Slow Your Roll
You don’t need to build a presence on every single social platform at the same time. You do want to be present on at least a few (eventually), but it’s smarter to start with the platform where your biggest target audience is already actively participating.
Take your time to set up your profiles, fill in all of the details, upload your branded logos and banners, and start creating quality, platform-specific content. Once you’re comfortable operating within your first platform, go ahead and add your second to the mix. Track, measure, and investigate what works as you go – don’t rush it.
About Those Profiles
Your social media profiles aren’t really about you (shocking, I know). They’re all about showing your audience what you can do for them – or how you can make their lives easier in some clear, distinct way. This means using clean and simple language that caters to your audience, as opposed to people who understand your niche. Be personable and relatable. Also, check back every couple of months or so to make sure your profiles are still relevant.
Another important aspect of your profile and account in general is the voice and tone you’ll be using. Instead of thinking about your customer personas, consider what your business persona would be if it were human. Would it have a personality? Would it be a friend, coach, or advisor? Would your customers trust your business?
Use all of this information to create a profile or persona. Then, re-ask these questions at regular intervals and update as your audience adjusts along the way.
Remember the 80/20 Rule
One big mistake businesses make when building a new social strategy is posting all promotional content, all the time. No one following your pages wants to see commercial after commercial; they’re already over-saturated with advertising every single time they hop online. You need to break through that wall by being useful, engaging, and better than the other guy. The type of content you create and distribute will have a huge impact on your overall success.
Design a Posting Strategy
How often will you post on your social platforms? Once per day, three times per week, or several times per day? What time of day is best for your audience to read what you post? While there are a lot of articles out there about the best day and time for posting, the truth is that there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. You need to experiment to find out what will work best for your business and your audience.
Offer content your followers can use. Tips, tricks, memes, and even motivational quotes (especially if they are related to your industry) all do well on social media. Post one sales post for every four non-sales posts. Mix it up by sharing blog posts, video content, and photos. Those should be real photos showcasing your shop, staff, or special events. Show your fans the human side of your business.
Engagement is Critical
The point of social media is to be social, right? This means you will need to spend a little bit of time engaging with your followers. But hold on before you jump in feet-first; there is a fine line between managing your social platforms and allowing them to suck you in and eat up your time.
To make this work in a positive way, set aside 15-minute windows, a few times per day, to check for messages and comments that need replies or to scroll your Twitter feed looking for relevant content to comment on. Your social media audiences want to feel like you genuinely care about communicating with them.
Analyze Your Response
Nothing you do will matter if you’re not hitting targets for engagement, followers, leads, or any of your other SMART goals. Take a look at each platform’s insights and watch how they change over time. You should be able to get a bird’s eye view of what’s working and what’s not. Use what you find to keep testing and adjusting your strategies.
Did you get a consistently better response on a certain day of the week or a certain time of day? Maybe a particular content format, like a video or a photo, does better than all of your other content types. Create similar pieces of content and post them at the times of day that seemed to work best for you. This doesn’t mean you need to ditch all of your other content styles or posting times, but it should definitely tell you when and where your most valuable pieces should be published.
Keep your business content and strategy genuine. Social media users appreciate honest, authentic personalities and consistent, timely communication. The world of social media can be fast-paced (and sometimes a little cruel), but with consistent effort you can use your business’s presence to make an impact.