Advertising online has become an excellent and very simple way to reach a huge audience – but how effective is social media? According to Ofcom, over 72% of adults in the UK use social networking sites: that’s a huge new audience to which to advertise your business.
Social media isn’t difficult to understand, but there’s no substitute for time spent at a computer. Start by finding a social media strategy template that suits your needs. A quick Google search will bring back hundreds of results, so you’ve just got to find one that works for you. Then follow the steps outlined in this guide to fill it in. Finally, hire the right team to implement it, choosing your staff carefully as your company’s social media output will become the public face of your business.
How to get started
The place to start is to work out who your audience is, where they are, and what your purpose for being on social media is.
Who buys your product? Is it for teenagers? Or will it appeal to stay-at-home dads? Work out which social platform your target audience uses, to make sure you reach the right people.
There are plenty of different platforms, so do some research into the right match. Each has a different identity: Facebook appeals to an older demographic, Instagram requires a strong visual identity, LinkedIn is more suitable for B2B communications and Snapchat is relatively new.
You’ll need to decide how to use your social media team to expand your business. Do you want them to create adverts on Facebook? Do you want customers to contact you with queries on Twitter? Perhaps you want your team to shoot and post photographs of your flower bouquets on Pinterest, or work with a YouTuber to create a sponsored video.
Social media offers all these options and more, so it’s up to you to sit down and work out what will most appeal to your target audience, before thinking about how your team might best implement it. See also our blog on small business and startup social media strategies.
Good manners on social platforms
Your social media presence is the public face of your business, so it’s vital to decide on a tone and a set of rules for everything your company posts online.
Different businesses have different needs. If your company is young and edgy, then a jokey, witty Twitter account is appropriate, but if you’re in charge of a corporation or a health product, a formal tone will likely work better.
Your social media team should be aware of the tone you have set for your business. They’ll need to know whether they’re allowed to swear, make jokes, talk about rival businesses, discuss politics and so on. You might want to put one member of your social media team in sole charge of your Twitter feed to keep the company’s “voice” consistent, or you may be happy to allow several people to tweet, as long as they stick to the house style.
Sometimes you’ll encounter negative feedback, or ‘trolling’, and you’ll need to decide how you want your social media team to deal with it: you may decide that it’s best for your team to ignore feedback, or you might allow your social strategist to engage with users directly.
Your Social Media Team
Social platforms are extremely time consuming, so most companies employ dedicated members of staff to manage their social media output. A full social media strategy team comprises a set of employees who specialise in different areas, but smaller companies may find it easier to combine key roles to save money. If you don’t have the people power in-house, an alternative is to outsource your advertising through social media so you can get on with the day-to-day running of the business. For most small business owners, hiring a whole social media team would be too expensive, and, in truth, completely unnecessary. Look instead for a good all-rounder, who has all the core competencies you need to ensure your marketing activity really packs a punch.
The important skills needed for social media marketing are:
Management skills are required to keep everything running smoothly. The ideal person needs to juggle a lot of tasks at one time. Your social media strategy plan will have to integrate fully with your broader marketing and business objectives, so it is important that your chosen hire has a broad understanding of the company as a whole and of the different team members, in order to direct queries to the right person.
Being a proficient writer is essential. When you post on social media, you are essentially giving your brand a voice. The social media support you bring on will be responsible for all public interaction, whether that’s writing original content to post on social platforms (see our blog social media marketing ideas – how to keep content engaging or our page on content marketing services), replying to Tweets or addressing feedback on a YouTube video. A good writer will fully understand your brand guidelines, and be able to demonstrate a knack for writing in your tone of voice. They also need to remain cool under pressure and be able to diffuse difficult situations quickly. The anonymous nature of the internet gives users a license to be more aggressive than they might be face-to-face.
A social superstar
Ultimately, the person you hire has to be knowledgeable about social media! They need to be active across multiple social media platforms and fully up to date with each platform’s quirks and individual features. They need to know how to get “likes” on Facebook and Instagram, retweets on Twitter, and should have all sorts of other digital tricks up their sleeve to promote your business as effectively as possible.
A degree of product knowledge is important in order to answer any product queries, but if you have in-house sales support, it often works well to setup good communication channels so that complex requests and queries can be handled by an expert. Ultimately, you are there to make more sales, so you should have your best people involved at that stage!
Analysis and reporting
Finally, you need someone with a head for figures and a flair for digesting complicated numerical information. A good social media manager should be able to analyse data to show the success of their social media campaigns, and to help pick the right influencers to work with your business.
Bringing it all together
The end goal of a social media strategy plan is to increase sales and your sales specialist will also be able to provide a wealth of expertise when convincing social influencers to work with your company or brokering partnerships to get your product into the public eye.
When used effectively, social media can be a key element of a 360-degree marketing campaign driving your company onwards and upwards. All elements of your marketing campaign need to work together: your branding on social media should have the same logo, typeface, and graphics across platforms, and your social media output should keep customers up to date with the company’s products.
Make sure your IT team is also on side! Social media relies on computers and fast internet connections, so you’ll need a reliable computer technician (either in-house or outsourced) to make sure your social media strategy plan isn’t stalled by technical problems.
We hope you found this blog on putting together a social media strategy plan useful. If you need help implementing your social media plan, or would like to know more about our social media services for small businesses, feel free to call us 0800 994 9016 or use our contact form in the menu above.