We all know that if you have a business today, that that business should be on social media. But once you’re “on” social media, what do you do? This is where the social media strategy comes into place. This blog post discusses the five really important steps each business should take in order to develop a solid social media strategy.
1. Set Goals
The first thing you need to do when putting together a social media strategy is figure out what it is you want to accomplish with social media. You can start by answering these questions:
a) What are your goals for social media? To protect the brand? For customer service? Is it to drive more traffic to the website? Is it to increase brand awareness?
b) How do your social media goals support our business objectives? For example, if one of your business objectives is to sell more products from your website, how can social media directly support that?
c) Are your goals SMART? Meaning, are they Specific, Measureable, Accurate, Realistic, and Time-Bound? Making goals SMART is important because it will help you determine whether or not you’re accomplishing them in a timely manner and whether or not they need to be adjusted.
d) What key performance indicators (KPIs) will you use to determine whether or not your social media efforts are successfully working towards your goals or not?
2. Lay the Foundation
After we determine what our goals are and how we’ll measure them, we have to lay the foundation for our social media strategy. You can’t post on Facebook without a Facebook page, right? Here are our steps for laying a strong foundation for your social media strategy:
a) Determine which networks you will be using (Google+ and Facebook are must-haves)
b) Conduct an audit of current social media properties. Are you using any social media profiles currently? What has their success been? How can those profiles be improved?
c) Create, brand, and complete your profiles on each of the networks you’re using. It’s important that you not only create a Facebook page, but once you do, you have to make sure it’s branded (this means making sure that your logo is present on the profile, that the cover photo of the profile is relevant to your business, and that they are uniform across profiles) and complete (making sure all business information is present and accurate, especially the business name and all contact information).
3. Find Your Voice
Don’t post content to social media just to post content. Everything you share on social media should be shared for a particular purpose that supports your overall brand and business objectives. In order to help you find the voice of your brand, make sure you do the following:
a) Put together a list of adjectives (3-5) you would like customers to use to describe your brand.
b) Identify what types of content support that perception of your brand. For example, if you’re an accountant, but you want your brand to be seen as more fun than boring, what types of fun/accounting-related content can you share?
c) Clearly document agreed upon rules for social media posting and make sure whoever is doing the actual posting has read and understands those rules.
d) Pick a posting frequency. Two things to keep in mind when figuring out a posting frequency: each channel will be different (for example, posting every half hour on Facebook may saturate your followers’ newsfeeds with your content and they may stop following you because you’re posting so often. However, tweeting once every half hour is a perfectly acceptable posting frequency for Twitter), and the frequency can and should change over time.
e) Test! The thing about social media is that there really are no right or wrong answers. There’s not one day/time that is best for posting on Facebook for every business, you’ll have to determine what works best for you! Determining that comes from testing, a lot of it.
4. Keep Customers Happy
One thing people often forget about social media, is how valuable it can be to client retention and improving customer service. Your customers are going to talk about you online, they’re even going to complain about you—this is why monitoring the conversations online about your business is so important. Not every customer will tell you (the business) how unhappy they are, but they will tell their friends. Insert yourself in those conversations, show your customers you care, let them know that you take their feedback seriously, and do it publically so that their networks of friends and family members understand how responsive your business is as well. To do this, start by:
a) Developing an online reputation management (ORM) strategy for dealing with both positive and negative comments.
b) Documenting a set of rules and process for ORM on social media and make sure that anyone managing the social media accounts has a copy of those rules and processes (and that they’ve read and understand them thoroughly).
c) Constructing a master spreadsheet where you can keep track of all ORM correspondence, and make sure that all issues have been resolved as far as they can be.
5. Reach the “Unreachable”
Facebook is constantly fine-tuning it’s algorithm for individual user’s newsfeeds. Just posting on Facebook doesn’t necessarily mean that all of your followers will see your post. Here are a couple of tactics you should consider when it comes to this aspect of your social media strategy:
a) Pay to Play: ads and boosted/sponsored posts. Most business/brand pages don’t get as much time in their audiences’ newsfeeds/timelines as they used to, largely because Facebook wants these pages to pay to be displayed (like their ads). This is where boosting a post is useful because it allows your post to stay near the top of your audience’s newsfeed for longer. In order to reach people outside of your followers and their networks, Facebook also offers sponsored posts and ads. You can select a target demographic for these ads and they display in the newsfeed like regular posts (they are, however, marked as “Sponsored”).
b) #Hashtags! So many people forget about hashtags, but including these is a really easy way to reach individuals who may not know about your brand, but they’re interested in relevant keywords. For example if you sell shoes, a post that says “Great deals on all men’s #shoes this Christmas, shop now!” Anyone interested in browsing the hashtag: shoes will see your post.
And there you have it, our 5 tips for developing a solid social media strategy. Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments!