Social media is one of the most valuable tools in marketing. It’s increasingly hard to compete and drive your business forward without a large digital footprint.
A few scattershot posts now and then won’t cut it. Modern consumers want ongoing, interactive engagement with their favorite brands. They want relevant, real-time information that offers true value.
Brands go unnoticed when social media campaigns are not intentional, organized and consistent. Leveraging social media to its full potential calls for a concrete strategy and attention to results.
Decide What You Want Your Campaign to Accomplish
Don’t invest time, energy and money into social media until you know what you want it to achieve. You can’t measure success without clearly defining your goals up front.
Here are some common objectives for social media campaigns:
• Increase brand awareness.
• Invite customer engagement.
• Promote products, services and promotions.
• Increase traffic on your website.
• Generate leads.
• Drive sales.
• Learn what people are saying about your brand.
• Improve customer retention.
• Build a community around your brand.
It’s best to start small. To keep the campaign focused, choose three or four goals that are most important to you.
Bear in mind that this effort should align perfectly with your overall marketing strategy. Each element of the campaign will reinforce the others in consumers’ minds, and your brand will be more recognizable.
Know Your Audience
Consumers take it personally these days. They want meaningful relationships with the brands they use. That’s why one-size-fits-all campaigns are rarely effective.
Once you’ve defined your goals, the next step is to identify your target audience. Who’s in need of what you have to offer?
Create a customer persona with these things in mind:
• Geographic location.
• Gender, age, profession and income.
• Education level.
• Marital and family status.
• Buying habits.
• Psychographics such as attitudes and personal beliefs.
A well-rounded customer persona will guide your strategy and help you target consumers who haven’t heard about you yet.
Post in the Right Place at the Right Time
You must also know where, when and how your future customers interact with social media. Every last post must be relevant and timely.
Let’s say that you offer clothing and accessories for tweeners. Posting on LinkedIn after 10 o’clock at night wouldn’t do much to boost traffic on your website. If you sell products to nursing mothers, on the other hand, posting in the wee hours on Instagram might be highly effective. A product demonstration during a trade show is a golden opportunity for live streaming.
You have numerous choices in addition to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Search the internet to find statistics on each platform’s followers. For example, more than 80 percent of Pinterest followers are women.
Posting on niche social platforms could prove fruitful as well. These are specialized subsets devoted to certain activities, hobbies or lifestyles, so the target audience is built in. They are communities of hikers, musicians, artists, world travelers, collectors, do-it-yourselfers, foodies, wine enthusiasts, techies, sports fans and just about any other niche group you can think of.
Another benefit to niche platforms is that users share information, product overviews, updates and advice. Enthusiastic reviews on social media are the new word-of-mouth.
Keep a Social Media Calendar
The importance of scheduling your posts on a calendar can’t be overstated. Blogs, photos, videos, graphics, company news, testimonials or other content must be timed just right for maximum impact.
A calendar will help you seize both short- and long-term opportunities. You could plan a YouTube tutorial to coincide with a new product launch. You could create a buzz in the weeks before a special sales event. You can strategize throughout the year to make the most of seasons and holidays.
A calendar will also expose random or repetitive content. Timely, intentional posts will keep your campaign on track.
Closely track results to see if your investment is paying off.
There’s plenty of analytics software to help you pinpoint successful posts and expose duds. Google Analytics, Facebook Insights and the Twitter followers tab contain a wealth of information. They track things like page views, likes, and shares and break down the data into a digestible format.
Be sure to look at performance over a week, a month and a quarter.
Creating a winning social media strategy takes careful planning and considerable effort. With any luck, though, once the framework is in place, it will only need tweaking now and then.