Is your business winging it on social media or do you have a strategy, with clear goals for how you are using it for your business? Or are you even on social media? Guy Kawasaki recommended in a recent interview with Eric Markowitz for the Business Insider, “Just dive in.” http://bit.ly/kawasaki-sm
Certainly, he’s right, when he says, “It’s very difficult to create goals and strategies for something like Google+ or Facebook or Twitter if you’re not familiar with Google+, Facebook, and Twitter.” But just diving in may not get you what you want or expect. Followers and fans don’t just happen. They must be cultivated as in any other relationship.
This presentation, given at Freelance Camp Toronto on May 27,2012, provides 5 easy-to-follow steps for creating a social media strategy for your business.
Step 1: Listen and Learn
Step 2: Decide How You Want to Use Social Media
Step 3: Decide on What Social Media Tool or Tools You Will Use and Brand Them
Step 4: Plan and Schedule
Step 5: Measure and Tweak Your Strategy
Listen and Learn
Start by listening. Set up alerts about your business, your market and competitors and use search on social platforms such as Social Mention and Twitter Search to find out where your customers are and what their pain points are that you can resolve.
Learn the lingo and the ways people interact on the various social media channels. Nobody is perfect. Planning ahead of time how you will respond if you do actually make a blooper or encounter a disgruntled client online can mean the difference between a disaster and a rebuilt customer relationship.
Know why you are using social media. For example, is it for:
- Lead generation
- Brand awareness
- Customer service and engagement
- Ideas for your business
- More sales
If you have no clear goals, you can’t track or measure your progress.
Choose Your Tools
Knowing how your customers/clients choose to communicate with social media can tell you what tools you should use. Knowing your market will also help you create content with these tools to entice prospects to become and remain fans and followers. Otherwise, you’re just another part of the bleeting herd vying for attention, or wasting time trying to engage the wrong audience.
There is no point, for example, cultivating a Facebook business page if your customers have moved to Google+ or prefer Twitter. Each platform is different.
Take time to learn about the various social channels, how to use them and what you feel most comfortable doing.
Ask yourself, “What’s most cost and time effective?” Look at the pros and cons of each platform. For example, do you have images to share on Pinterest? If not, are you willing to create lots of quality images to pin?
If you are stumbling along or seeking help to learn how to really use the media, get some training or coaching to accelerate the learning curve.
Plan and Schedule
Social media takes time and resources. What are your resources for using social media? Will you be the only one doing the updates and tweets? Will other staff be involved? Figure that out before jumping in.
Social media is not a campaign or a flirtation. It is a long-term commitment that requires consistency, dedicated time and resources to keep fans and followers interested.
To stay on track, create weekly and monthly content calendars that take into consideration key dates for your business, such as an event or product launch: holidays and other seasonal content.
Integrate social media into your daily routine. Missing out on timely responses, breaking news and shared content can make you look stale, disinterested in sharing content that isn’t your own and downright rude to those who try to engage with you, ask a question or settle a problem.
Use third-party tools such as Hootsuite, Buffer or Tweetdeck to make it easier to schedule and manage your updates and tweets.
If you are using a Facebook business page, however, use auto posting sparingly. Auto posts receive 70% fewer likes and comments than personally posting status updates. Also, people do not use Twitter hashtags and RTs on Facebook. Respect the way people converse on each media platform.
And remember the 80-20 rule. That means 80% high quality content and only 20% selling.
Measure and Tweak
Measuring the ROI of social media can be challenging, but it should go beyond the number of likes for a Facebook fan page or Twitter followers. Although it may be hard to identify if someone comes to your website through social media or through another channel.
However, business professionals, for example can note if they closed a deal through a LinkedIn contact, added customers to a mailing list through a Facebook opt-in or tracked the engagement generated by a Facebook post or YouTube video.
Analytics are available. Use them and tweak your strategy and tactics to increase your effectiveness with the social media tools you use.
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