Social Media Step – The Planning Stage
Planning and preparation may seem like a boring task to do at first. After all you can create a social media page and the typical “Hello World” post letting the world know that you are now a social media juggernaut to be reckoned with. We see this happen every week where a social media site is created and they wonder why they are not being successful.
You want to be on social media so the fastest way is to create it and wait for the flood gates to open as everyone wants to know about your business. The fact is most people will not know about your business being on social media at first, are not presently interested in what you are offering, and most likely have their “go to” place for the information you are offering. Social media is a true marathon and something that takes months, even years, to grow to a place where you feel it is a success. Often than not this does not lead to a successful marketing strategy for you or your company.
We know that by planning you will not only be able to have a social media marketing plan that works but is one that you can gauge your success (or failure).
No Plan; just build it and wait for them to come
Not planning and just creating social media accounts as you’ve heard “everyone is doing it” is not the reason to get on social media. If you want to just sell products rather than to build relationships, you need to step away from social media immediately. Selling products and services is part of the overall outcome but should not be the core reason you are getting onto social media. Social media is about engagement and building this engagement into lasting relationships.
When you work with social media one sign of success is that the company leadership understand what social media is from a business, not personal perspective. The management team needs to know the items below, be 100% behind social media, and they are engaged in the process. We will cover what success is and one key item is if you do not have leadership behind you the odds of success are greatly diminished.
There should almost never be one person who “owns” an entire companies’ social media strategy. Even if you outsource your social media to experts there needs to be more than one person at the company that knows what is going on with the social media strategy. Social media is a part of our businesses today. Social media interacts and touches every corner and every member in your business. Social media for business is entirely different than social media for our personal lives. In our personal lives there are no filters to what we post. You can jump from your children to the latest political matchup going on. With business you need to be more strategic in what you do. You need to decide what is important, how to interact with your audience, and be a spokesperson for the entire organization.
Know Your Market (e.g. Research)
Now that you have decided that you are going to have a plan, your company leadership is behind you, and you’ve established a team to handle your social media. You need to start researching others in your industry to see what they are doing, what is working, and equally what is not working. To do this we always look at the following:
- Who your competitors. This should be the same competitors that you are comparing against for your company website (you do that right?).
- Where are your competitors in regard to social media? Are they solely on Facebook or are they on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc.?
- Wherever your competitors and industry experts are in your field of expertise how active are they on each of these social media outlets? If they just built pages in hopes that people would come and haven’t updated their pages in months or years, then you know they probably started with no strategy and are not serious about engaging with their customers.
As we’ve stated researching your competitors is critical. Not to just spy on them though. You want to learn from them. If they have been doing social media already they may have found ways to use it to their advantage. Taking this knowledge can help bring your business up to speed more quickly than doing it solely on its own. Your competitors may not even realize they have some valuable information available to them if they are just posting and not learning from their audience. This will give you a clear and decisive advantage as you build up your audience.
Speaking of your customers we need to know where they are at. Facebook is an obvious answer for everyone as with over a billion users they do have a huge market share. This may not be the appropriate place though for your business. If your primary target is women who do crafts, then maybe Pinterest is the best place for you as Pinterest has a majority of women who enjoy doing crafts and being thrifty.
Content is king when it comes to working on your website. The same is true with content on social media. You need to create something that is informative, hopefully shareable, actionable, and most importantly relevant to your target audience.
When we are writing our content and have a team working on your social media there needs to be a resounding single voice. The reason for a single voice isn’t to limit all of your posts and interactions to a single person. You will have many people working on your social media. Each of these people need to come across as if they are the same, yet still unique. Consistency is the key to any marketing or branding strategy. Your voice on social media should be equally consistent.
When it comes to social media it is important to think about how you present your information. Information that is solely text does not receive as much engagement as a post that has a picture associated. A stock photo will get more engagement than a post without a photo. A post with a custom and unique graphic that ties in with the post will receive even more engagement from your audience.
A content calendar is a unique piece in your arsenal to take on social media. The content calendar will not only help you think ahead of time what you will be writing about but make certain you provide consistency in what you post. If your goal is to post daily, then you should have something scheduled for every day. If the goal is twice a week what days are you planning on posting and you will have them scheduled out here. When we work with our content calendars for our clients we not only work on the current month but a minimum of the next month. This is so that we are never scrambling to get ideas for posts. This doesn’t mean it’s written in stone (or ink). The information can be adjusted just as your business adjusts to its audience. The key of a content calendar is to help you be consistent.
One aspect of content calendars that we love is after we get past a month we actually go back and evaluate how that month did. We look at what worked against reports from the social media outlet as well as what didn’t work.
Part of your social media calendar is also what time you will be posting to your social media sites. There are general rules of thumb to get you started on the best posting times. For some these times are not the best times. This is where digging into the supplied reports for your social network, listening to your audience, and seeing when you have the most engagement will determine when you should post.
Being active and responsive to your fans on social media is a key to the overall success.
To us this is the most important aspect of social media. We are always listening for what our clients say. Many will see a post we do and pick up the phone and call us. Although we want likes and shares of our posts we love when a customer sees a post and calls (or emails) us to help them through a current business problem they are trying to solve. We post daily on Facebook not because that is what the standard is for Facebook but because that is what our audience has told us that is what they want to see. We let our fans drive what we do, as well as what we don’t do, on social media.
When we receive comments that are positive we are truly in bliss with our customers. We always thank them, acknowledge them, and let them know it’s appreciated to hear all of these positive statements and words from them.
Not everything is positive. We wish it were but it isn’t that way in the real world. We need to know how to properly handle negative people. We will never be able to make everyone happy. The key is we listen to them, let them know we appreciate them as much as the fans that leave positive statements, and grow ourselves positively from them.
Additionally, when it comes to anything negative on social media the key here is to try and stop the negative in a calm and disciplined manner. This is where having a social media expert is crucial. They are not directly involved with the company. They are more controlled in how they will interactive with the person and will typically be a lot more calm in cooling off the negative comment. One effective technique is to acknowledge the person, thank them, and encourage them to take their complaint and stop in and talk about it. This works well for us as it allows us to feel the pain of the person, address their concerns, and most importantly it shows others that we are taking the matter seriously.
Part of any marketing strategy involves advertising. It is not uncommon to hear that a business is already spending employee labor and that should be enough. Marketing for as low as 5-20 per week is actually a lot of money when it comes to social media marketing. A quick boost on a new product or promotion can wield a lot of positive results. Each social media platform will prioritize many paid advertisements so that they reach the largest audience possible.
Unless you’ve hired a third-party to handle all of your social media this is most likely not your full time job. Even if you do outsource all, or part, of your social media using the right tools can help improve everything in your entire social media strategy. With the right tools you can schedule items, be notified of events happening on your social media feeds, and be able to interact more appropriate with your target audience.
Analytics allow you to know who is visiting your social media site. You can see which posts and interactions with your audience is working the best as well as which posts do not work well. You can see your most engaged times as well as the times that are not the best.
As a web design company we would be missing a huge part of social media. Social media is designed to engage and inform people of your business. You need to tie the two items together. They, like your social media team, are a team themselves. Your website needs to lead people to your social media and your social media needs to bring people to your website. Together you will achieve success as they are stronger together.
One would think that the first item we should have covered and shouldn’t be the last item on our list is success. We have done this intentionally. For those that have read all the above you can consider this the secret sauce you need to achieve success on social media. The key to any social media marketing plan is knowing how they tie into your overall company goals and objectives. When you know this you will have truly reached a harmony between just doing social media and doing social media. Every social media strategy that we help others develop revolves around the SMART system.
By making certain everything is done using this method you will be able to start the process of being successful. So I could have read this and been done? Absolutely not! Everything we’ve outlined above is only the start for social media success and each one needs to be part of your social media strategy.
By defining your success before you begin you will know if your efforts are working. If your metric is a 10% increase in sales because of social media how are you going to track that information? If your metric is to increase your customer awareness what is it that will be considered a success versus a failure? Defining and knowing will not only allow you to know what is working but will also allow you to show to the management team how your marketing efforts are going.
As you can see from the above there are many steps that need to be thought of. A core item to cover is there is more than what we have covered in this short article. If this does seem overwhelming and at face value, it can be. When you take a measured and tested approach to social media success you can achieve success every time.
When you are ready to begin your social media strategy and would like assistance in building it the JM2 Webdesigners team from Northwest Indiana is ready to assist you. We can be reached at 219-229-1633, email us at sales@BusinessYETI.com, or through our online contact form here.