It is not easy to get your online marketing strategy going: first you have to build a website, find an affordable yet efficient hosting service, set up social profiles, create a blog and then learn how to regularly engage with potential audiences on all channels. If you’re having some trouble with your social media strategy in particular, knowing how to engage with your customers successfully can help you to build a true connection with them, this increases the efficacy of your strategy. The most important point to remember is that just like all marketing strategies, your social media campaign should be directed by your business goals and objectives. Continue reading to learn more details.
Step 1: What are your business goals?
There must be deliberated approach to every action you take within your social campaign. Before getting started on any practical work, it is important to evaluate your business needs and vision and then figure out how social media can help you achieve them. Many of your goals will be business related, for example, increasing customer engagement and loyalty, raising brand awareness and decreasing marketing costs. To start with, focus on two major goals and two minor goals to avoid getting overwhelmed by focusing on too many objectives simultaneously.
Step 2: What are your marketing objectives?
Aside from the business as a whole, you will need specific and time-bound marketing objectives. For instance, if using social media for lead generation, how many leads should be generated, in how long? Your marketing objectives should also outline what audience you will gain from the completed goal. The SMART acronym always applies: specificity, measurability, achievability, relevance and time-restrictiveness.
For example, you can set your specific objective as increasing lead generation by 50 percent with 6 months. To be able to evaluate progress, there must be tracking and analytics tools in place. Don’t shoot too high to avoid getting discouraged, make an honest assessment of your resources and abilities. Ensure that you select objectives that are relevant to the business alone including its overall objectives/goals.
Step 3: Who is your ideal customer?
If your business isn’t seeing the engagement levels you anticipate on social media, it could be because you’re targeting the wrong clientele/audience. Developing your ideal buyer profile will help you to reach out to the right people wherever they are with messages that actually matter to them.
This means that you should know their age, income, occupation, interests, pain points, challenges, likes, dislikes, problems, objections and motivations on an intimate level. The better you know your audience, the better you will become at finding the best channels to promote your business to them.
Step 4: Who is your competition?
For social media purposes, intimate knowledge of your competitors not only enables you to stay knowledgeable about their online activities, but it will also give you an idea about strategies that work in your field. You can customize and incorporate the gathered data into your own strategy.
To begin with, compile a list of 3-5 top competitors (you can Google some of your main keywords to get their names). Look at their social profiles and track their activities and content strategy. This includes number of fans, frequency of posting and posting times, vis-à-vis consumer engagement. You’ll also be interested in the type and context of posts.
Engagement is the most important aspect to examine. Even though social platforms only provide this specific information to page administrators, you can get a rough idea by checking the number of shares, likes and comments on a post. Divide the engagement of a given number of posts, by the total number of page fans/followers. Use the same formula for each social profile and each competitor to get a comparable engagement figure.
Step 5: What are your channels/tactics?
Before creating profiles indiscriminately on every channel, it’s important to know where to find most of your audience. Otherwise, you’ll be wasting valuable time and resources engaging on the wrong platforms. Your customer profiles, step 3, will guide you to your target platforms. You can speak with people who fit that profile and find out which social sites they frequent the most, and establish your presence accordingly.
Your tactics will be determined by the objectives defined in steps 1 and 2. For instance, if your objective is increasing leads by 50 percent in 6 months and Facebook is your primary social network, effective tactics include investment in Facebook advertising to increase the reach of your posts. You should also consider the best practices that govern the platform you’re on (e.g. posts with images and videos are more visibility enjoyable than simple text-only posts on Facebook).
Step 6: Develop your content strategy
Social media relies on the strength of the content you share. In the absence of great content, you won’t have high engagement and without social media, your content will not have a wide reach. Used together, you can reach out and influence prospective clients to become loyal customers.
Successful content strategies rely on three components: posting time, posting frequency and content type. Choose the type of content according to context and form of your message (e.g. videos, images, links, text etc.). The context is defined by your platform trends and corporate identity among others. Mix it up to avoid boring your audience.
Use the many studies on effective posting times and posting frequencies as guidelines to get you started on your social posting journey. Every audience is unique, but by tracking, you will be able to tell when and how often you should post for maximum engagement. On Facebook, a tool like Facebook Insights is invaluable in understanding audience engagement.
Step 7: Allocate roles, resources and a budget
Now that you’re well on your way, it’s time to break out your credit card. Like every other strategy, you can only succeed if you allocate adequate resources for the things that need to be done (e.g. to acquire analytics tools, outsource management services and purchase advertisements). DO NOT start by establishing a budget then allocating tactics according to the budget, that’s planning to fail. Finally, establish who will be responsible for on-going tasks related to your social profiles to avoid confusion and duplication of effort.
The beauty of approaching social strategy methodically is that you can always retrace your steps when evaluating success or failure of specific tactics, or finding ways to improve on your initial objectives. As your business grows and changes, you can easily tweak your strategy as required.