It’s tough to remember now, but at one point, social media was judged by its potential for change. Today, it’s our everything. It’s a way to keep in touch with family, meet new people, and it’s a way to garner new business. The days when having a Twitter account made a small business cutting-edge are gone. In its place stands the simple truth that, for a small business to succeed, they must maintain a portfolio of social media profiles.
Creating a strategy to do so–one that stands out from the rest–presents a unique problem for many companies; ones that previously hadn’t had to. It turns out, this process requires a concerted effort, and must address multiple layers of issues. For that reason, we have created a handy example template for creating a social media strategy that really works.
Establishing an Objective
Understanding what social media can and cannot do serves to shape all future planning. Ideally, social media will engage an audience, encourage conversation, and increase web presence, all while expanding general brand awareness. After all, the overarching purpose of social media is to provide a place for people to be social. The ultimate goal of social media use by a small business, however, is to serve as an avenue for someone to purchase something from the company in question, or at least to prompt them to consider doing so.
Because of this, the first step a company needs to take is to identify an objective for their social media strategy. Without one, there is no direction, and the company’s profiles will serve no real purpose, other than to exist. Do you want your Facebook page to drive traffic to the company blog? Do you want it to be a window into the company’s inner workings? Or do you want it to provide updates on products? Identifying the objective creates a road map for all social media operations to stick to, and keeps their strategy from wandering aimlessly, like so many purposeless profiles that exist today.
Targeting Your Audience
First defining, and then targeting your audience allows you to save time, money, and effort, while marketing to a group of people more likely to patronize your company. To do so, a business must ask:
- Who am I marketing to?
- Where are they?
- What interests them?
The ultimate goal of business-operated social media is to open an effortless means of communications with potential customers, one that is as convenient as it is effective. Knowing your target audience will help you formulate a plan to call them to action; whether that be by submitting their email address, calling your office, filling out a contact form, or just sending an email, the call to action
Performing an analysis of the competition’s social media profiles allows you to help define their strategy. Defining the competition’s strategy helps focus your content to increase engagement. Define their strategy, see what’s working, and see what’s not working for them. Tap into those topics and start generating discussions.
Prioritizing Social Networks (Managing Options)
Knowing the tools available–and how to use them–allows for a more effective transfer of information. Once you have identified your audience, you have to find where they are spending their time. Different demographics frequent different social medias, but since you have identified the demographic–or demographics–you intend to target, then your activity on should focus on that network. With that in mind, some social medias are more conducive to sharing content between users than others are.
Really, the preferences of the individual demographic in question, and which social media it prefers to use–will dictate the necessity to use a certain social media network over others. Keep this in mind when scheduling posts across your social media spectrum. This leads to…
Focusing your content
Knowing your target audience is crucial for planning content. Central to this is the question, “what interests my audience?” Define things like tone and frequency to create a sense of stability and familiarity amongst posts. An editorial calendar is a valuable tool for organizing posts across several social media platforms, and helps with defining the who, what, when, and where of your social strategy. What topics will you address? How frequently will you post, and to which networks? Experiment with the frequency of posts, the time at which they are posted, and the tone of the message, so that you can find the ideal post, and when to post it.
The delicate balance between posting interesting content, and posting promotional content provides an obstacle for companies that don’t have a complete plan. Oversaturation is real thing, but equally as dangerous is the absence of promotional material. The 70/30 Rule, a prevailing content marketing tactic, dictates that “70 percent of the time, you should [post] others’ content. 30 percent of the time, you should [post] your own, branded or promotional, content.” By adhering to this rule, you’re sharing information that is useful–and interesting–to your audience. This will make them understand that your account is valuable, and not just a means for marketing a product. What’s more, you’re sharing information that is produced by others in your industry. This can lead to potential partnerships, but will almost assuredly lead to the furtherment of the industry as a whole.
Mediabistro concluded that, over time, many of the sites that adhered by the 70/30 Rule often reduced their promotional content to 35 or 30 percent, due largely to the value placed on the sharing of non-promotional content, and its ultimate effect on visitors.
Adapting and Advancing
While adapting a social media strategy to exploit its successes is optimal, sometimes defeats will lead to the abandonment of a certain segment of the strategy that wasn’t working. More often than not, your intended use of a portion of the overall strategy might prove to be something different than what it was originally planned to be. For instance, If it becomes apparent, for instance, that your Twitter feed is becoming a popular place for customer service, don’t fight the matter because you had planned for it to share industry-related articles. Embrace the audience engagement, and adapt your strategy accordingly.
Creating and implementing a concerted social media strategy usually boils down to one thing: the interest level of the intended audience. Creating original content, sharing that of others, and increasing company awareness stand as the focal point of any good strategy. In the end, interesting information will win out.
Creating and implementing a social media strategy can seem like a daunting task, if only because it seems like such an overwhelming process. In reality, it boils down to creating original content, sharing others’ content, and increasing company awareness. With the desired end result being so obvious, the means to that end doesn’t seem so impossible.