When social media first debuted, thrifty business owners rejoiced. Here was a way to reach potential and current customers…without spending a dime.
Happy day, they thought! Free exposure, they thought!
Then…reality hit. Yes, social media was free but how the heck does one actually market with it? Consumers didn’t seem interested in liking business pages, no matter how many times we asked them to. If it wasn’t a photo of a cat or a baby, they just weren’t interested.If you are spending more time on social than anything else, these tips on how to monitor your social media accounts in 1 hour per day is your next must read.
Hmm. Maybe this social media thing isn’t right for business after all. Maybe it’s just for geeks and teens and bored housewives. Right?
For a business to thrive in today’s digital age, it must have a strong social media presence. Even if you don’t immediately feel the impact of your efforts (and you probably won’t) you still need to be out there. Because that is where your customers are. Not to mention your competition.
Here’s where most business owners go wrong. They just start slapping up photos of their products or warehouses or worse – their cats. Then they wonder why nothing’s really ‘taking’ with their audience. Where are the likes? Where are all the LOLs?!
Like most things done in a slapdash manner, their social media campaigns just don’t work. Often the one thing lacking isn’t good ideas or even great content. It’s a good plan! You need to plan your social media efforts out as much as you plan any other aspect of your business.
So let’s lay out some classic, simple social media planning techniques. I can’t tell you exactly how to plan your social – only you and your customers and products should influence that. But I can give you some clear guidelines to establish the backbone of your own social media plan.
Less slapdash, more strategy!
By the way, most of these can be accomplished in any order and you don’t have to adhere strictly to the progression I set out below. But more or less, this is overall a good ‘order of events’.
Immerse yourself in your target audience. Because you already know your demographics, you should now do what you can to understand what your audience responds to on social. What do they like on Facebook? What do they tend to retweet?
Haunt your competition’s social media platforms and pick up pointers on what seems to resonate with their consumers.
2. Determine goals
Obviously we’d all love if social media ROI was utterly connect-the-dots and every Facebook share could be directly connected to actual sales. But that’s crazy talk.
Social media is usually so far up the sales funnel that it really is just a numbers game. As in the more people you have liking and following you, the larger amount of people you’ll eventually have buying from you.
So be crystal clear about what success looks like to you on social media. Brand awareness. Smoother, faster customer service. Customer retention! All of these are measurable and all are infinitely possible with good social media planning.
3.Get buy in
You can’t have a successful social media campaign without getting buy in and support from everyone who touches your account. All it takes is one C-level person to “not get the point” of a contest or infographic and your brilliant idea never gets the chance to develop and grow.
Or you could get a nice rhythm of fun, engaging, content-packed posts and then one of your admins jumps in with the hard sell and turns off all those newly intrigued prospects.
You have to get the whole company to believe in your new social media vision, and throw their support behind it.
4. Choose your channel voice
For you to accomplish your goals, you need to treat each social media channel like the precious snowflake it is. Just like children, each has its own special needs and if you try to manage them all alike, it will not work.
Facebook is not Twitter, which is also not Instagram. And none of them are YouTube. Bone up on what customers do and don’t expect from each of these channels. Then communicate in that way and only in that way on each.
And, please don’t auto post from one platform to another. Ugh!
5. Be responsive
If a customer reaches out to you on social media – for good or bad reasons – you must respond. Quickly, politely. Once you open those doors to social media interaction, there is no going back. No putting the genie back in the bottle.
If you establish a presence on a social media channel, you must remember these three letters: MIT.
Monitor. Interact. Reply.
Going silent on social media is the fastest way to telegraph to your customers, potential customers and even your competition that you don’t have your eye on the ball.
6. Staff it
In order to monitor and engage your social media channels as much as you need to, you have to throw some manpower at it. No one person can do it all. (Unless that is the entirety of their job. But I doubt many of us small business owners can afford to have one person committed to social media full time.)
You might want to assign one person to move (and handle) any customer service issues offline. Just make sure they are empowered to actually fix things for your customers.This article on delegating jobs for your business offers some great tips, especially if you are always trying to do everything yourself.)
7. Schedule it
Scheduling is important, in two ways. First of all you need to put some time, thought and energy into rolling out content on your social platforms. None of this should be off the cuff. Research when your customers are most likely to be online on your social platform of choice, and plan on putting your best stuff out there then.
And don’t forget the tools available to actually ‘schedule’ when your content gets pushed out. You don’t need to be at your computer hitting the “Update Status” button at exactly 11 a.m. on a Wednesday. Loads of free tools like Buffer, HootSuite and SocialOomph can make scheduling a week’s worth of social media posts easy and efficient.
With the right amount of planning, you should be able to schedule an entire week (or two!) within one hour on, say, a slow Sunday afternoon. Then once the chaos of the week hits, you’ll know that your social campaigns are cranking along in the background.
8. Analyze, analyze, analyze
By now, all of your social media platforms offer a glimpse into your metrics. Some, like Facebook, can provide you with some pretty deep Insights data around how many people liked and shared and even saw your posts.
Others, like Pinterest, are a little more opaque. But there are external tools like Curalate that can run Pinterest reports and help you figure out which pins worked better than others.
Either way, posting to social media platforms without examining how each post performed is insane. That’s like throwing darts at the dartboard but never bothering to walk up and look at the board to figure out how many actually hit the bull’s-eye!
9. Spend wisely…and slowly
Fight the temptation to buy your way into your customer’s hearts. It just doesn’t work that way. Paying for eyeballs (or, please no, paying for followers and likes!) will only result in a falsely inflated, disinterested audience who will soon be hiding your posts anyway.
Before you pay a penny to boost a post or sponsor anything, first find out what is deserving of increased awareness and what is not. The only way to do that? Test, test, test.
I personally would not spend anything on social media until I had been posting, monitoring, tracking and tweaking for at least 90 days. By then you will have a fundamental sense of what your customers love to see on social platforms and what leaves them cold.
Then when you are ready to invest money in your social media campaign, you’ll know what posts to throw some coin at.
If you’re a newbie – ask for advice! The more we share, the more we learn, the more we grow, the more we profit. Together!
So…are you social?
Where are you on the social media planning spectrum? Are you scared to dip your toe in and so have done absolutely nothing? Or have you already been testing and experimenting and have the battle scars to show for it? Let me know in the comments below. Share some of your biggest social flops and some of your greatest successes.
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