Written by Emily Fletcher
If you run a business no matter what size, social media must be a part of your marketing plan. You need to use social media to develop, grow and protect your business. Gone are the days when you could ignore it and hope this form of marketing would disappear, it is here to stay!
The worst thing you can do is ignore it and take no action and your biggest problem is being invisible and not been talked about. So, how do you do it?
It is a good idea to start with a plan that has goals and an organized framework to keep you on track. Planning is key to a successful social media presence.
How to get started:
1, Determine your goals
What do you want to achieve from your social media participation? Why are you doing social media? To generate direct sales leads? Network and build brand awareness? Monitor your competition? Use social media to enhance your customer service? Your answers will greatly affect the type of content you wish to publish and the activities you take part in.
2, Look at your resources
Who is going to be responsible for your social media? How long can you dedicate to being actively online and engage in live conversations? How quickly can you respond to incoming messages and notifications? Do you have the technical ability to do this in-house or do you need to factor into your marketing budget to outsource parts of your social media? Do you have in-house staff who can write well and create content? You need to be sure you have the right people in place to execute a successful marketing plan before you start.
3, Know your audience
Cannot mention this enough and stress how important it is to know your audience.
Things to include are:
Where does your target audience spend time online? What kind of content do they engage with? What kind of information would they like from you? What do they dislike? You need to find out and learn what your audience wants, and needs are so you can provide the right kind of content to make a positive impact to their lives. You also need to be personable so they will want to interact with you. No one likes a faceless brand.
4, Create content
Once you have established what your audience likes it is time to then create your content. Take time when doing this. You need to be consistent with your content which will develop conversations. If it doesn’t work at first re-evaluate your goals, as mentioned in the points above and try again but never give up. It takes time for your new audience to trust and recognise you but when they do, they will engage.
5, Integrate your marketing efforts
All your social media efforts should feed into each other. Cross promote your efforts both online and offline and make sure your traditional marketing efforts work seamlessly with one another.
6, Create a schedule
Social media can become time consuming and before you know it you have been sucked into the online world and looked at a variety of dancing cats and not actually achieved what you set out to do in that time frame. By creating a schedule this will save you time, allocate your time and ensure you use it to your advantage. For example - spend 5 minutes a day on Twitter before you check your email each morning and then another 5 minutes before you finish for the day. If you create a schedule it is easy to stick to and you will not feel consumed by social media.
7. Use the 20/80 Rule
Adopt the 20/80 rule. This in a nutshell is 80% of your time should be activities that are not self-promotional and 20% of your time that is self-promotional.
8, Focus on quality and not quantity – the numbers
It is easy to get caught up in the numbers, but do not become a slave to followers. It is better to have 500 fully engaged, loyal followers than 10,000 that sign up and then never engage with you again.
9, Let your audience take control
You must allow your audience to take control of the online conversation and make it their own, so they develop an emotional attachment to you and your brand. This is crucial if you are using social media as your customer service front. Remember on social media apathy or invisibility is a bigger problem than negativity.
10, Keep Learning
Social media is constantly evolving and developing and so should you. Even the experts are constantly learning, reading, adapting to keep up so you must do that too. No one knows everything about social media, it is impossible to keep up, so don’t feel you are failing, or you do not know what you are doing if you decide to enrol on a training course to keep your skills fresh and up to date. Alternatively, read and follow what others are doing. Even the experts in this field regularly attend training courses.