In the last 10 years, marketing on social media has become a popular practice.
Social media has grown to become a multifaceted, dynamic and powerful tool for businesses of all shapes and sizes. When used correctly, it can grow your brand’s reach, build relationships and trust with your company. It can even be a source of valuable feedback, like product reviews and other user-generated information.
Now, just like all great tools, social media can be quite destructive if used wrongly. Thus, it is necessary to identify proper strategies that will be of benefit to your business. This is in order to help develop a long-term social media interaction plan for your business.
The Stumbling Block
When it comes to strategic marketing, you need to take advice with a pinch of salt because there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Mr. A’s path to success could just turn out to be a dead end for Mr. B. One must be very observant; it’s very easy to be led astray by well-intentioned, but circumstantially unsuitable advice.
Acting based on a poorly tailored advice can be bad for the reputation of your brand and for your business at large. Before you embark on a campaign, you have to learn how to separate useful information from generic tips that simply won’t work for a unique brand like yours.
Below are some things you must consider before taking any step:
Don’t dive in Unprepared
Before you start anything, you need a well thought out plan. Your plan has to be business model specific. The social content marketing blogosphere is full of “How to’s” and inspiring success stories. Many are true-life stories that sound like an enthusiastic advice urging you to start up the process. A lot of them propose a rinse and repeat procedure and tell you that hard work and good fortune will pay you off in the long run.
Unfortunately, this approach is a huge gambit. It puts your progress in a gamble that could cost your business growth. You could end up losing time and reshuffling your business core marketing strategy even before it’s even had a chance to have a voice.
Social media marketing is immense. With Facebook penetrating 89% of US internet users, and Instagram with its very active user base follows closely at 32%; the scope is perhaps limitless. As such there are myriad ways your social media approach can be optimally structured in order to efficiently bring in the best results from social activity.
Understand your Target audience and Set Goals
You need to ask yourself; What do I intend to gain from social media engagement? Is my plan going to engage customers correctly? Am I promoting my products from an e-commerce store? Do I primarily target my effort at a one demographic?
Who are your potential customers? You need to identify qualities like industry, age range, interests and other traits they have in common. Organize this information into concrete buyer personas.
It is easier to predict patterns of spending when you know a lot about the people you’re dealing with. Knowing about them also helps you know how to reach them effectively. Below I have listed how buyer personas support digital marketing strategy.
Time and resources; The All or Nothing Approach
However large or small, managing a social media campaign takes time, dedication and effort. Figure out how much energy you’re willing to spend before you put your plans into action. Once you’re aware of the weight of the task at hand, you should be able to plan a targeted, efficient approach to your social interactions.
A lot of advice on social media usage tend to be extreme. You might have heard that using every social platform in order to reach as many people as possible is the best approach. However, many of them do not tell you that this method requires an incredible amount of effort, which may yet bring in poor results.
Also, you may be told that one service is a lot better than the rest, thus you should disregard all others and focus on that one. It might be great of course, but if that platform is not popular among your target audience, your hard work could all be for nothing. An example; if you’re targeting high school students, its best to reduce your efforts on LinkedIn.
However, there is no hard and fast rule for which social network will bring the most success so no one can truly specify the number of social networks you should optimize. You need to identify the networks most frequented by your target demographic and focus on them.
Remember to always check back on your original plan which states how much time and resources you have budgeted to social media optimization. When deciding the number of accounts you wish to open, take this into consideration.
A Missed Opportunity Or A Free Ride
In terms of the value of social media, one common assertion is that it is free. While this is true, it is necessary to consider whether there could be more overall benefit by opting for paid features, like analytics tools and targeted advertising.
Example: Facebook’s paid Promotions which could be adverts for new products and events is a great way to lead new customers to your blog or site. It could also encourage existing followers to spread the message by sharing your posts which means you’ll be reaching a larger audience. But before all that, you might want to invest in an e-commerce platform in order to streamline your content and ultimately manage your sales.
One should also note that while many social platforms are free technically; the labor, time and resources required to effectively use them are to be considered as costs themselves. So before you launch a social media campaign, make sure you have fully sized up the potential cost, to then add it into your budget.
If you fail to factor in the amount of investment required, you may have to scale back your efforts. This sudden break in communication will leave your new followers confused. Even worse, you could end up overstretching yourself to keep up, which could eventually land your business in a financially difficult position.
Time Your Content
If you’ve decided to open accounts for your business on multiple social networks, being active and engaging followers can become a huge challenge. Choosing when to release content, respond to feedback and reach out to followers is an important part of growing your presence on social media.
One popular advice is that marketers should capitalize on prime times; when there is a higher chance of reaching more people in your target audience.
While this is an awesome way to increase your brand’s reach and visibility, there are advantages to optimizing content and posting during the more quiet periods. Few people online mean there is less distraction and you are afforded room to engage in extended dialogues with users. These conversations will allow your audience to interact with the business as they would with a personality. This is a great way to build familiarity and trust.
The truth is if you are only active during periods of high traffic, there will be more people who will never see your posts due to the competition for space. Even those who eventually engage will always have to wait longer to get a response. Switching up your approach and varying your timing will allow you cater to a wider range of users. If done correctly, you wouldn’t even need to be available all the time.
Advantages and disadvantages of Delegation
There is the question of the amount of work you should do on your own. Perhaps you may have been told that you need to assign the social media optimization process to someone else (through outsourcing or delegation).
It is very good to have a dedicated social media team. One could really be over ambitious to handle it alone, although it depends on the size of the task or the scale of your business. However, your input is critical to this generation of social media because no one understands your enterprise and its voice better than you. Its presence should truly reflect the spirit of your brand.
Allowing members of your staff to interact with followers is a brilliant way to give people a peek into the backstage of your business. You’re allowing them to communicate with the people who run things.
Automation? Content Management in the Age of the machines
Being able to coordinate and schedule posts to appear at specific times across multiple platforms is really helpful. But just make sure you are combining this move with genuine human interactions with your follower base.
If your social handles are never responding to comments or questions but regularly posting content, it can create a disconnected atmosphere among the audience. This gives them the impression that you do not care about their thoughts. A balanced approach is usually the best. Using automation in some aspects can free up time for you in order to focus on other vital areas.
Example, content delivery and content management applications can facilitate time-consuming tasks, like gathering valuable analytics, scheduling posts and creating uniform aesthetics. This gives you more energy and freedom to engage with your followers. It also gives you more information to determine better ways to optimize your approach.
Just The Same Old Day At The Office?
You should treat social media management as a vital aspect of your business operation. Do your research and plan ahead, then develop a social media strategy that is compatible with your target demographic, having the knowledge of your business’ needs in mind.
With time, the whole process will become intuitive between you and your followers. As the chemistry grows, you’ll find better ways to optimize your practices. And someday, when you’re asked to tell the secret to your success, try not to distribute the blanket “one size fits all” social media advice.
Godwin Adoga is a marketer, business writer, and art culture enthusiast. He has a lot of interest in growing small and medium scale enterprise. He writes at HipHopHead and you can reach him on Twitter [email protected]