Social media seems like one of the channels you need to be involved with to keep up in today’s business world. It has extended the power of branding to consumers who can quickly share their thoughts and experiences with your brand, favorable or not. While having a social media presence is important for your business, equally important is how you curate your content and ensure that it aligns with your overall marketing strategy. Assuming you’ve already established your ideal user(s), here are 6 tips on how to leverage social media to benefit your marketing strategy:
1. Determine what your marketing strategy is.
This might seem like a no-brainer, but it is imperative that you know the exact details of your marketing strategy. By doing so, you can develop your social media accounts to further enhance your strategy. It helps to think of social media as one of multiple tools to achieve your strategy. Here are some questions you can ask: Do you have a specific segment you’re trying to reach? Are you focused on brand awareness or lead generation, or both? Are you trying to acquire new segments?
By considering these kinds of questions, you can identify details of your marketing strategy that allows you to deliver more clear and rich social media content to your followers.
2. Figure out what the most effective platforms are to engage with your customers.
This point is also intuitive: there’s no point in throwing money and effort at maintaining a Twitter account if your user base is on Facebook. Or, in the case of Apple, there’s no point in needing any social media engagement at all! You will find that their official Twitter page contains no tweets nor do they have any posts on their Facebook page, and they’re Fortune 500’s most profitable US company. I’ve come to learn that maintaining social media campaigns are costly and time-consuming, thus it’s essential you get the best bang for your buck when prioritizing what social media platforms you wish to engage in.
3. Have something to say.
More specifically, create content that you know your customers will engage with that reflects positively on your brand. If your posts aren’t experiencing a lot of activity, then it might be a sign that your message isn’t resonating with your followers. If you find yourself in this position, a useful tip is to ask yourself is what kind of behavior do you wish to see and then design content that will engender that behavior, without looking contrived or being tone-deaf; internet-goers are smart and know when you’re trying a little too hard (think the recent Pepsi ad fiasco).
4. Stay engaged.
Social media should not be a one-and-done endeavor: once you’ve cultivated a following and formed conversations, you need to keep your followers engaged with your products or services by regularly pushing out content. I never truly appreciated the amount of resources and time put into maintaining a social media presence until I became involved in the back-end process at Initiate-It. I presumed that it was as simple as posting a Facebook status from time to time, which was certainly not the case. It’s important to establish a robust back-end to your social media plans by knowing who will manage accounts, how much it costs, how any data will be tracked and reported, and other logistical factors. Fortunately, there are many tools you can use to keep your social media campaigns organized and improve workflow efficiency, here are a few of our favorites:
- Sprout Social
These services help businesses or individuals manage their social media accounts by acting as a central hub to organize and distribute content. They also come with powerful tools that let you analyze performance to let you gauge successful campaigns.
5. Set SMART goals with your social media content.
Your social media content should be connected to SMART goals which are defined as being:
- Specific – What is it that I want to accomplish (Increase site traffic)
- Measurable – The parameter you’re using to track your progress (5% growth in visitors)
- Achievable – The goal needs to be realistic and attainable (Do I have the resources to sustain growth?)
- Relevant – Does this goal align with your overall strategy? (Is driving site traffic congruent to my marketing strategy?)
- Time-bound – Giving the goal a specific deadline to ensure you meet it (Increase monthly traffic, or reach 1,000 more visitors by the end of the year)
This is a model developed by consultant George T. Doran and one I find compelling to use as it helps establish clear, focused goals that can be tracked instead of lofty, nebulous ones that are out of reach. SMART goals are especially helpful for social media engagement where it’s easy to get lost in a myriad of Tweets and “likes”.Have fun! But stay focused
6. Have fun! But stay focused.
Social media can be a channel that lets you truly market your brand in ways that were impossible to display prior to its existence. These platforms give you a suite of creative opportunities to really stand out and draw attention, and even let loose and engage with your followers in fun (and appropriate) ways. Trying to connect your message to those youngsters? Consider throwing in a funny, yet relevant, image or gif. It can be beneficial to add some spice to your social media dish but don’t let it overpower your message or go against your brand. Also, stay focused. Social activities and trends are incredibly dynamic, so do your research, and embrace change to stay relevant and knowledgeable of your followers. For example, don’t use Pepe the Frog meme in your posts unless you want to incite a massive internet war.
Social media is a powerful tool for spreading your message; if you use it recklessly, then you succumb to the risk of putting your brand in danger. However, if you align it with your marketing strategy and set realistic goals, you are capable of increasing the visibility of your brand or business while cultivating an on-going relationship with your clients.
Posted by Brian Kao, Digital Analyst Intern at initiate-it, a digital first, full-service agency located in Richmond, VA.