How Your Business Can Succeed At Social Media in 9 Simple Steps
With the proliferation of new platforms, expanded content needs and related marketing support, marketers can find social media overwhelming. The reality is that, done effectively, social media success can be achieved in an easy, straightforward manner.
Instead of spending time and resources developing an elaborate plan, start small and build your social media engagement slowly. The beauty of taking this approach is that it keeps your social media on track to achieve your business objectives without abandoning your process as soon as other activities and projects take priority.
9 easy steps for social media success in 2013
The objective is block your social media activity into bite size chunks so you don’t feel swamped.
1. Set your social media goals. Determine what you want to accomplish using social media. As with any marketing initiative, your objectives should be as specific as possible and related to higher level business goals. The major business uses for social media are:
- Brand building
- Audience expansion
- Sales support
2. Know your audience. Create marketing personas as well as social media personas to better understand your target market and how they engage on various social media platforms. Use this information to choose your social media venues and tailor your interactions.
3. Listen to the social media conversation. This is a must-do for every business regardless of its focus, level of social media engagement or regulatory nature. It’s critical to know what your prospects, customers, competitors and the public are saying about your business, products and employees.
4. Choose your social media platforms. Based on your target audience, what’s being said about your organization and the level of social media resources (financial and human,) determine where you should stake your turf and the level of activity you should expend on each platform. Here are the top options:
- Blog should be at the center of your social media since it’s an owned content marketing venue where you can provide the breadth of formats, extend the conversation, and support social sharing.
- Facebook remains the top dog globally. As a result, it’s the place to be. Before you rule it out for B2B organizations, understand that it might be the only option in some locations.
- YouTube is also important as the number two search engine after Google as well as the number two social media site.
- Twitter continues to grow and provide a forum for short social conversation and sharing.
- LinkedIn is top of the list for professional socializing. It also supports your HR efforts.
- Google+ keeps gaining traction. Build your presence as protection against future changes.
- Pinterest is no longer a female ghetto. It’s where your organization show off its visual side.
- Other options depending on your business focus include Slideshare (a must for B2B entities), Instagram (useful for visual perspective of your business), and Tumblr (a must for the 13-25 year old set). Further consider the What’s-Old-Is-New-Again venues such as Flickr and MySpace.
5. Develop a social media schedule. The goal is to ensure that you’re participating regularly on social media without taking away from other areas of your business. To that end, create a social media calendar as an accompaniment to your editorial calendar in a way that minimizes stress on your organization. This is particularly important for small businesses and entrepreneurs where time is a scarce commodity. Set an easy-to-follow daily, weekly and monthly schedule rather than have someone spend their entire day on social media. (Here’s the Cliff Notes approach to creating an editorial calendar.)
6. Optimize social media content for search and consumption. Part of the power of social media is to drive greater visibility. Therefore make sure your information is search-friendly and that your important keywords are prominent. Also, make your content in easy-to-consume format.
7. Promote your social media engagement. Unless you’ve got a large social media following or a major offline advertising budget, you must market your social media pages. Think in terms of leveraging your owned media such as:
- Blog. Incorporate social sharing and commenting. Also drive engagement on other social media venues with the use of related posts.
- Website. Promote your social media content where appropriate. In addition to highlighting it on your home page, incorporate social media references on relevant product pages and resources.
- Emailing. Cross promote social media content and activities to your house file. This can be incorporated into your existing newsletters and promotions.
- Customer service. Leverage both your wait time on your inbound phone calls and your outbound emailings.
- Offline marketing. Market your social media activity in your offline promotions such as television, print and direct mail as well as packaging and retail.
8. Distribute social media activity across your organization. Unless your organization is large enough to have dedicated social media personnel, assess how you can incorporate social media into relevant positions.
- Provide a set of social media guidelines. Let employees and customers know your house rules.
- Train your staff. Don’t just assume that everyone knows how to represent your firm on social media. They need to know how to create content and engage. (BTW—we can help you with this.)
- Incorporate social media content creation, support and engagement into people’s jobs. You can’t assume that your employees will participate because you want them to do so. You must make it part of their job description and ratings.
9. Measure results. Understand that social media isn’t free. To this end, you need to track your marketing costs and investments as well as the number of man hours devoted to social media engagement. Further, you must be able to show results in terms of improved branding, increased lead generation, higher sales and/or shorter sales cycles.
To keep your social media marketing under control to achieve your 2013 business goals, it’s useful to break each aspect into achievable chunks. It’s better to start small and increase your participation over time than to batch your engagement into large blocks of time and then disappear for long periods while you do other work.
What other suggestions for easy-to-achieve social media engagement would you recommend and why?
Here are some articles to help you get started on different platforms:
- 13 Step blog strategy
- 9 Surefire Facebook Techniques
- Twitter etiquette
- Google+ Are you harnessing its power
- 19 Reasons to Add Pinterest to Your Social Media Strategy
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