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Social media is one of the most cost-effective ways to promote your business…
…if done correctly.
Spending time writing posts that don’t connect with your target audience isn’t just a social media mistake; it’s a ROI blunder. Good news is that by following a few simple and easy-to-understand guidelines, you can become a Social Media Guru in no time. To make sure your marketing time and dollars work best for you business, put our social media steps and tips into action. And when you are ready to dig deeper, download our valuable white papers written by industry experts at InfoTrends.
Steps to a Great Social Media Presence
Set your goals
Every great plan starts with a desired end-result. Ask yourself what you want to achieve with your social media strategy. Build brand awareness? Enhance customer service? Strengthen current relationships? Secure new leads?
Make sure you clearly and realistically define each goal and build your strategy from there. Data will also be key in determining the effectiveness of your efforts. Before you execute, set up some basic parameters on how you’ll measure your success.
Define your target
Who’s your target audience? Do you only want to target current customers, or do you also want to reach new prospects? Having a few select audiences in mind is a healthy strategy. How about peers and potential partners? Think about groups that can generate leads and referrals for your business.
Stack yourself against your competition
There’s nothing wrong with scoping out your competition. In fact, it should be one of the first steps in developing your strategy plan. Identify the companies on your level and companies that you respect and aspire to. Take a look at their social media presence. What platforms are they on? How often do they post? What do they post? What do their clients like? What networks do they subscribe to? Do they get a lot of feedback and engagement from their audience? What are they doing right and what are they doing wrong? Learning from these examples will help guide your own strategy, and inspire new ideas for your own social media content.
Use the platforms where your customers are
There are a lot of social media channels – trying to push out a marketing message on every one can be time consuming and might not necessarily reach the audience you’re trying for. Figure out which sites your customers gravitate towards then make those top two or three channels your main go-to marketing spot.
Finding which channels your audience visits is easy – simply search for your customers’ or potential customers’ business profiles on the various social media channels. Go to the social media channel you’re interested in pursuing and use the search functionality to search for your customers’ business profiles. If you’re searching across a few social media channels, this will be a bit time-consuming, but in the end you’ll have a list of which channels your customers use the most. These are the channels you should target.
Make a plan and stick to it
Just like a well-written business plan, a social media strategy keeps you on track and on goal. Compiling an editorial calendar acts as a guide to define what content you post, where to post it and how much time and space is devoted to one particular social platform. This will keep you focused throughout the year and help identify if you’re ignoring one platform and favoring another.
Work on your core
Core content, that is. Now that you have the bones of your plan in place, it’s time to put your writing cap on. Begin crafting messages and posts, keeping your target audience and end goals in mind. Just added mail services to your menu? Mention your new service or the praise you got from a new customer. Is there a holiday, special occasion or milestone coming up? Build some content around these, or host a giveaway or promotion.
For a lot of people, the writing is the hardest part of the plan. Don’t let it intimidate you. Social media is essentially a conversation between a brand and its customers. Just write how you would talk to a customer if they were in front of you.
Focus, focus, focus
Only post content that is closely aligned with your marketing message and social media goals. If you’re promoting a new finishing capability focus content on the benefits of the application, do not go off topic. Give examples that will resonate with your audience and if possible post pictures. Try offering a special promotion related to this service to drive immediate action.
Quality over quantity
This is pretty self-explanatory, but worth repeating. Focus on quality content, not quantity. One impactful post that gets attention and generates shared content is more important than 5 posts that get overlooked. Always strive for quality.
We’ll say it again. Quality over quantity. Got it?
You’ve started a conversation – don’t let it be one-sided
The whole point of social media is engagement. That means talking with your customers. You wouldn’t just let your phone ring and ring, so don’t let your social media conversation die. Follow your customers on their social media platforms. If they mention you in a post, be sure to repost and share with your network. If they reply to one of your posts, answer back and let them know you’re listening. If a customer asks a question on your Facebook™ page instead of picking up the phone, be sure to answer them right away. You’re building relationships – and building better relationships – and this will lead to loyalty and referrals.
Set and repeat
After your strategy is in place, monitor your profiles and see if they’re generating the attention or leads you want. If every post and piece of content you offer gets tons of attention and you soon get more jobs through your door – congratulations, you have an extremely successful social media campaign. However, most businesses must continually tweak their copy and content to gain the most traction and ROI from their plans. Monitor your social media presence and track the posts and content that get the most attention. Be sure to also make note of the ones that get little to no reaction.
There are many reasons why some content is more successful than others – if you can deduct why one post was more successful, then build that knowledge into your plan and try to replicate that success as much as possible. For example, if you find your audience responds to shorter posts than longer ones, begin writing shorter posts and see if you see an uptick in engagement. There will be trial and error, but if you continue to fine tune your plan and find your voice, your social media presence will begin working for you.
Tips to help on your journey to becoming a Social Media Guru
A picture’s worth a thousand words
A picture of a well-produced brochure or high-end marketing piece says a lot more than a paragraph on its benefits. Post photos of your best work on social media channels and let the picture do the talking for you. If you’re using a customer’s file, be sure to ask for permission first, or try creating a self-promo piece to display instead.
Bonus – experts say image-based social media channels such as Pinterest and Instagram will see record growth this year, so you might want to focus on one content-based platform (like Facebook™ or Twitter™) and one image-based platform for a well-rounded strategy.
Get social media metrics
If you’re familiar with Google Analytics, you know they’ve been making their social media tracking tools much more robust and data heavy in the last few months to compete with other social media tracking programs and software. Which is great news if you want to see what posts your audience is reacting to and how they’re being shared.
You’ll find these tools in the “Acquisition” menu under “Social.” Google Analytics equips all their accounts with a basic range of tracking tools, including network referrals, popular landing pages and trackbacks. With a bit of patience, when studied these tools will begin to show you which social media platforms your audience comes from. Use these tools to perform the following:
- Network Referrals – shows which social networks referred the highest quality traffic.
- Data Hub Activity – shows how people are talking about and engaging with your site content on social networks.
- Trackbacks – shows which sites are linking to your content and in which context. After determining which of your posts was successfully posted to other sites, replicate the successful content and build relationships with those users who frequently link to your site.
For more advanced tools, have your Webmaster utilize Social Plugins. These are buttons you add to your site to allow users to share content to their social networks. Google Analytics will track this plugin data and capture what content is being shared and on which networks.
If you’re not familiar with Google Analytics, get familiar – it gives a great range of data and information on both your website and social media efforts that can help you market your business more efficiently and smartly. And it’s free.
And speaking of Google…
Anyone remotely familiar with social media knows, Facebook™ and Twitter™ lead the pack. But Google+ is quickly gaining followers and now has the second highest number of monthly users. For years Google has been the king of web search. Google+ is the next step in the company providing a more personalized search experience. What’s more, businesses that have a Google+ profile get a boost in search rankings and a prominent display in the right-hand column of the search results (essentially a free ad). Today your targeted audience might not be utilizing Google+, but in the coming years this will change. If you’re not ready to incorporate Google+ into your social media plans, at least become familiar with the platform and what it offers.
That was a lot of Google information
We’re equal opportunity here – so let’s not just focus on Google products. There’s many other great online and social media monitoring tools out there. Edge Rank and Klout are two that get a lot of attention, and rightly so. Both are free and provide a lot of information on if your audience is engaged, if they’re sharing your content, and how well you’re doing. Combine all these monitoring tools together, and you’ll have all the data you need to help fine tune and make your plan better and better.
Don’t be a digital wallflower
When it first launched, LinkedIn was seen as a sort of glorified job board, but with its recent redesign and Influencers program experts agree it is becoming a major B2B social media player. By participating in conversations and LinkedIn professional groups, you create brand value, present yourself as an industry expert and establish business relationships that can often result in leads and new business.
One thing to note – be selective when inviting people to connect with you. If you continually send invites to strangers and enough of them report you to LinkedIn as a spammer, your account can come under manual review and might be shut down. However, if you invite a person to connect with you that is in the same LinkedIn Group, you cannot be reviewed as a potential spammer.
Additional Social Media Resources
Building a Social Media Strategy: Part 1
This three-part series entitled Building a Social Media Strategy will provide a basic overview of social media and the tools used to actively participate. Included in this white paper series is a guided worksheet designed to provide a basic framework for integrating social media into a broader marketing strategy. Part one provides a fundamental overview of social media and its role in creating communities. It also outlines how service providers are currently using social media and discusses the four core functions of social media.
Building a Social Media Strategy: Part 2
This three-part series entitled Building a Social Media Strategy will provide a basic overview of social media and the tools used to actively participate. Included in this white paper series is a guided worksheet designed to provide a basic framework for integrating social media into a broader marketing strategy. This is the second white paper in a three part series entitled Building a Social Media Strategy, which will discuss the business goals associated with social media, identify the most prominent social media platforms used to achieve these goals, and highlight best practices when developing a social media strategy.
Building a Social Media Strategy: Part 3
This three-part series entitled Building a Social Media Strategy will provide a basic overview of social media and the tools used to actively participate. Included in this white paper series is a guided worksheet designed to provide a basic framework for integrating social media into a broader marketing strategy. Part three of this series entitled Building a Social Media Strategy provides a guided worksheet and four step approach to developing and deploying a social media strategy