Step 1: Will your brand benefit from being on social media?
(If you’re reading this…you’ve probably already figured out that it will)
Social media is unlike any other form of advertising or marketing because it allows you to directly engage with the people you want to shop at your store or download your app in real time for free…at least for the most part. But, just because everyone else is doing it, doesn’t mean that you have too. Evaluate your target demographic. Are you going to find those people on social media? Considering that 74% of adult Internet users use social media networking sites, the answer is probably yes, which is a very good reason to get your brand on social media ASAP.
Look at what your competitors are doing. You’ll be able to tell pretty quickly whether or not a company in your same industry is successful on social media. Pay attention to what type of content they’re posting and how often. Are their fans and followers liking, commenting on, and sharing it? If the answer is yes, figure out how you can do it better. And, that starts with creating a social media strategy that is customized for your brand. There is no one-size-fits-all approach.
Step 2: What platforms are the most beneficial for your brand?
This is a big one. For some reason, a lot of people think they need to be on every single social networking platform in existence. Those people are wrong. Not only is trying to manage and create content for 27 different platforms exhausting, it’s a complete waste of time. Your accounting firm has no business being on Pinterest and insurance agents have no business being on Instagram. Just like in step one, identifying your target audience is key to determining the best, and most beneficial, platforms for your brand.
The PEW Research Center social networking fact sheets can help you identify which platforms your target audience is using. I’ve condensed them for you below:
***Among internet users, the % who use each social platform
Step 3: What do you want to accomplish by using social media?
As you should with any marketing endeavor, you need to establish an end goal for your social media efforts. Whether you want to increase brand awareness and grow your following, get someone to download your app, eat your food, or just better your customer service and engagement, you need a measurable goal. One of the great things about social media is that almost every platform has an internal insights/analytics program that allows you to easily track whether what you are doing is actually working or not.
Let’s say you’re a local restaurant hosting a cocktail event that is geared toward women. The best way to get the word out is by utilizing the targeting capabilities built in to most social media platforms. By targeting, you can narrow your audience (the people who currently like your Facebook page) from 5,600 to the 390 people that will be most receptive to your message. If you want to increase your potential audience, you can boost your post to reach the same target audience of people who do not currently like your page.
Here are some examples of brands that are using boosted/promoted/sponsored posts to achieve their goal. Notice the call-to-action (CTA) buttons being used. CTAs are key if you decide to implement any kind of paid social media promotion because they prompt your audience to do exactly what it is you want.
Step 4: How will you manage your social media platforms?
Once you’ve decided you’re ready to hop on the social media train, the first thing you need to know is that it’s a very long, almost never-ending, ride. If you have the idea that you’re going to immediately see a significant increase in downloads or busier weeknights at your restaurant just because you put up a few posts on social media, you are sadly mistaken my friend. You need to prepare yourself to go all-in and commit to a plan that probably won’t show you quantifiable results for at least six months. One of the most important questions you need to answer once you get to this point in the development of your social media strategy is, who will create, implement and manage your content and platforms? Do you have someone in-house that can do this and do it well? If not, are you willing to hire someone? Or, will you outsource to an agency of experts?
There are five key factors that you need to focus on during this step:
- What kind of voice will you have on social media?
Your voice on social media needs to be engaging. You want to talk with your fans/followers not at them. Start engaging conversations, ask questions, respond to comments and questions, be funny (if that’s your thing).
- What will you post about?
Post about what you know. Position your brand as an expert in your industry. Show off your culture and personality. People engage with and share content for three reasons: 1) as an expression of self-identity 2) as an act of kindness and generosity 3) as a symbol of love and support. Keep this in mind when developing your content calendar. Post about things that you as a consumer would want to see and would be more inclined to engage with.
- What type of content will you post?
Photos, videos, infographics, blog posts, gifs, status updates…the list is endless. Lucky for you, there are great tools like Canva that are a huge help when it comes to content development. Mix it up, but if something is working for you, stick with it. Just be cautious about posting 19 videos in a row. You don’t want to saturate your followers with too much of the same thing.
- How often will you post?
There is no magic rule that says if you post X amount of times per day/week at specific times you will have more engagement on your content than any other time. This is a trial and error process. If you post something at 9 a.m. on a Saturday and no one engages with your content, then you probably shouldn’t be posting at 9am on Saturdays. Figure out what works for your brand. If you’re a restaurant, maybe right before lunch time is your sweet spot, maybe it’s after dinner. The bottom line is, even with all the ‘studies’ telling you what the best time to post is on each different platform, there is no one-size fits all approach. Utilize a content calendar to schedule out your posts weeks/months in advance. Include the date and time for posting, the copy and link/image, your target audience and a section for notes to record analytical information about post performance.
- Who will contribute to content development?
This is very important. If you hire an agency to manage your social media for you, are you going to rely on them to produce all of your content? Are you going to involve your whole team in the process? At TJA, for example, we involve everyone in the office. Each of our team members is responsible for writing at least two blog posts throughout the year. Because let’s face it…if we are going to position ourselves as industry experts, we can’t have our media buyer writing a how-to guide for developing a mobile friendly website.
Step 5: If it works, keep doing it.
It’s that simple. Social media platforms will be forever changing, but once you figure out what works the best for your brand, it’ll be smooth sailing. This doesn’t mean that you can’t get creative and inventive with your postings, but don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Check your analytics daily, weekly, monthly; they will tell you everything you need to know.
The post type analytics below for example, show that the most engagement for this brand is on videos. So, consistently posting videos is likely to expand their reach and increase their engagement.
In summary, keep the following tips in mind when creating a social media strategy for your business:
- Identify your target demographic
- Determine which platforms will benefit your brand the most
- Set realistic, measurable goals
- Develop a content calendar and posting strategy
- Figure out what works best for your brand and do it over and over and over again
Emily Wincel | Social Media Strategist
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