The fact is a lot of small businesses simply don’t have the budget for large advertising and PR campaigns, so it’s essential to get to grips with social media. But navigating the murky waters of social media can seem daunting and time-consuming when limited resources are already a concern.
However, as over one third of the global population are active social media users, there’s now no question over whether social networks and web 2.0 should be an important consideration for businesses. Indeed, recent research shows 26% of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) marketers now spend over an hour a day on social media marketing and 80% plan to increase this in the next year. However, as with any business objective, a sound strategy is vital to drive things forward.
- Set out clear objectives - Without knowing where you’re heading there can be no strategy - you need to have a vision of what you want to achieve and how you’re going to get there. In a recent survey of the top US CMOs, nearly half claimed social media had a ‘below average’ impact on profitability - with misaligned objectives being the key problem. Align your goals with something social media can actually accomplish and tie it into your wider marketing strategy, being realistic and clear about the intended outcome.
- Choose your channels - Understand which channel is best to accomplish which goal. Is your objective to support customer service, drive a marketing campaign, create a competition? How about drive traffic or build long-term brand equity? All of these affect which platform you use and how. Pinterest is one of the fastest growing social networks, but it’s purpose for many brands isn’t clear. It’s important to remember that different networks have different audience profiles. For B2B, Twitter may be very attractive whereas if you want to reach middle age consumers, this may not be the optimal place to be.
- Create a content plan - Create an editorial calendar as part of your social media strategy so you can plan content ahead of time. This should map out the frequency of your posts, the type of content you will share and how you will promote it. There’s no right or wrong answer to how many times you should post daily, and research into this varies wildly. There are plenty of tools that allow you to schedule posts in advance to ensure you remain a consistent and recognised voice that resonates with users. However, make sure not to get carried away on automated/scheduled posting. You still need to be available to engage with your audience when posts go live. Posts are your window of opportunity for engagement, after all.
- Make sure your content actually adds value - Post interesting, valuable content and not just your own. Don’t bore your audience with live updates on office life, be agile enough to follow the latest trends in your industry and engage with people. The goal is to become a relevant voice, not bombard users with endless updates. 21% of consumers say they unfollow brands that post boring or repetitive content. Consider what is shareable for users and the tone you adopt - don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through.
- Measure and monitor - Measuring return on investment is one of the greatest challenges social media marketers face, but you need to analyse what is and isn’t working and whether it’s worth it. There are infinite of tools that can help you to keep track of followers, likes, retweets, leads, conversions and so on. Using social media provides you with a wealth of valuable data, in fact it’s one of the greatest pieces of market research you can do. Make sure you adjust your strategy in accordance with your findings as part of an ongoing process. Listen and adapt.
By Marc Mühlenbach, CMO of Flapit