Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past decade, you know just how big an impact a great social media marketing strategy can have on business growth. You probably also know that it is one of the best marketing tools in terms of ROI that are out there today.
It’s always been the great disrupter, and the world of marketing is certainly not immune to that. In fact, nearly a third of millennials admit that they engage in commercial contact with a brand on a social channel at least once a month. Even Baby Boomers are using social to get deals!
But, just like traditional marketing, if your strategy is “throw everything at the wall and see what sticks”, you’re probably not getting the results you should be. You might even think that social doesn’t work, or that it costs more than it’s worth.
That’s because with social media, as with everything else, strategy matters.
The good news is that with the right strategy, you will see marked and measurable improvements in your business, without question. Here’s how you can get it right in seven steps.
#1: Know Your Goals
The first thing you need to do to succeed at social is to know what your goals are.
If you’re a brand-new business, exposure might be your immediate goal – just getting your name out there and building brand recognition.
If you’re an established company, you might want to educate customers about products and services that aren’t top sellers or keep them engaged with those that are.
You might want to get a fixed number of new followers every month, or you might want to send a specific number to your site.
Decide what problem you are trying to solve with your social media campaign, and create specific, quantifiable, measurable goals – and make sure you write them down. According to those in the know, just this simple act can increase your chances of success by between 20 and 40%!
#2: Focus on Engagement
Getting tens of thousands of likes on social media is sometimes seen as the be all and end all of social media marketing campaigns, but that completely ignores the most important thing about social: engagement.
However, if you’ve ever noticed that someone clicks and shares an article without actually reading it or looked through your own friends list and noticed people you don’t recognise, you also know that many actions we take on social media are done without conscious thought.
Engagement requires conscious thought, so you need to look at those follower numbers more closely, to see exactly how many of your followers are actually taking notice of your brand, and which ones clicked once and then rode off into the digital sunset.
Knowing the demographics of different social media channels is a good way to tailor your message and approach by platform so that you can increase the percentage of engaged fans and followers you have.
#3: Learn to Love Insights
Most social media channels these days offer some sort of insights into what your fans, friends and followers are doing on your pages and groups. These insights are invaluable to marketers because they can tell you:
- How many impressions your post got, and what your overall reach is.
- How engaged your connections are, by measuring likes, shares and comments.
- How many click-throughs your links got.
- Whether your hashtags are trending.
- How often your posts are shared or retweeted.
A big part of marketing is the follow-up. Make a habit of reading these metrics, and then considering what you can do to improve each one. Your marketing on social media will never be perfect, but you can learn what does better, and do more of that!
#4: Snoop Shamelessly
The great thing about social media is it gives us endless opportunity to see what our competitors are doing and to borrow what they’re doing best and make it our own.
Whether it’s looking at their follower list on Twitter to see how it aligns with yours, or periodically checking which posts do the best, looking at other people’s social media pages can help you to emulate the actions they take that are the most effective.
If your competitors are getting great results with how to videos, then you might need to start making some yourself. If contests are getting results, then those are something you should consider for your campaign.
You can’t copy their campaigns word for word, of course, but why reinvent the wheel when you don’t have to?
#5: Create Great Content
Social media is supposed to be exactly that: social.
So, if your channels are all about advertising, and telling your followers to buy, buy, BUY, you shouldn’t be surprised if they’re dead quiet and mostly useless.
While you can get away with some subtle advertising (think artful shots of your products, or videos of completed projects rather than price lists and buy now buttons!) there are many other things you should be doing too. These include:
- When in doubt, choose video. Videos, whether they’re simple or professionally produced, get more likes, shares and click-throughs, and are one of the most important factors in making buying decisions today.
- Beautiful images are another big factor in social media engagement. Who hasn’t shared a motivational image on social media? But any images can double your social media engagement, so get snapping!
- BIG TIP!! Aim to teach. Brands that educate their customers rather than trying to force a sale tend to do better in sales. Write great blog posts that teach your customers something, link to it from social, and let your expertise be the salesperson.
#6: Be Present
It sounds like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how often people get this wrong.
If you are going to be on social media, you need to commit to being present and getting involved. This is not old-fashioned push marketing. You’re starting a conversation, and conversations have two sides.
Create a social media team, who are on hand to handle customer comments, complaints and praise at least during your business hours.
Make sure that you respond to messages that are sent to your pages promptly, even if it is simply to request that customers contact you in another way.
Join in on the conversation when it happens. If customers are commenting on your posts, they’re engaged. Use the opportunity to find out what they’re thinking. Because marketing and sales become a lot easier when you know what people want!
#7: Start Small, and Build
The truth is, most small businesses start out enthusiastic for social media, but when they don’t see immediate results, they lose interest, stop posting, and become another forgotten corner of the social media landscape.
Success takes time, even in the world of instant social media gratification, and you need to stick to it.
We recommend choosing two or three channels to master completely first before you try to build a presence everywhere. Don’t overwhelm yourself with unrealistic goals either. If you don’t have a team to devote to social media, you need to work within your means.
Try a few things out and see how they work. Do more of the things that work and forget the ones that don’t.
Or, if you find that you really don’t have the time to devote to building a social media marketing machine, you could always outsource your social media management to a company like Polkadot Communications.
The only thing you shouldn’t do is abandon social media. Just like the lottery, you have to be in it to win it, but unlike a game of chance, there’s an art and a science to social that can be mastered.