There’s a big difference between managing social media and creating a strategy. Managing accounts is usually where social media outsourcing comes in – someone who can write, illustrate and schedule posts for you, whilst also engaging with other users and helping to maintain or raise your profile. Like every marketing exercise though, social media needs a strategy and a plan – and if you don’t have one, it’s unlikely you’ll get the results you’re looking for. That’s why we’ve prepared a quick guide to social media strategy to get you started.
Why do you need a strategy?
To get the most from it, social media needs to be viewed as a serious marketing channel. It is, after all, a way of communicating with your customers, and you’ll be hoping that you can engage with your existing or potential customers to raise your profile and encourage them to buy. So you need a strategy. By having a plan, you can make sure that your posts are targeted at the right people and are helping you to make genuine connections that could result in enquiries or business. It’s a bit more nuanced than that in practice, but without a strategy, you’re unlikely to see the results you want.
What’s the first step?
In order to create any marketing strategy, you need to know what your business goals are. Preferably, you need to know what you want to achieve in the next three, six and twelve months – if you have longer-term business plans, then that’s great too. Any professional you choose to manage social media for business growth will ask you what you want to achieve. So know what you want to get out of your social media strategy and how it supports those clear business goals.
How can social media help?
Businesses use social media in a variety of ways. For some, it’s a networking tool – get to know other businesses in your sector or geographical area; for others, it’s a way to share and demonstrate expertise in the hope of driving some enquiries. In some cases, businesses are keen to drive traffic direct to dedicated website pages in a more direct-sales way. You need to decide what you want to use social media for, so that the tone and content of your posts is easier to create.
Where are your customers?
Most businesses – whether they are managing channels themselves, or use a resource like a virtual assistant for social media – know that there are several main social media channels. But there’s no point using them all and hoping that a scattergun approach will work. You need to be on the channels where your customers are. For some businesses, that might just be LinkedIn. For others, Instagram might be the most effective place to raise your profile. It depends on whether you are selling to consumers or to other businesses, and whether your existing and target customers are using those channels. A bit of research in this area will help you to focus on the channels that are most likely to bring results.
Messaging and content
We’ve all seen what happens when businesses get their social media messaging wrong. It can cause huge damage to the brand and can be difficult to control. One of the key elements of successfully managing social media for business – whatever size – is to have clear and consistent messages and content. Make sure that whoever is managing your account is aware of the tone, messages and responses that you are comfortable with. Set them out in a document. Make sure that everyone is aware of them. The more control you have over the messaging, the more consistent and authentic your account will be, and the more you are protected from brand damage.
What do you want people to do?
Just counting the number of ‘likes’ on your posts isn’t a good enough measure of the success of your social media activity. Those providing professional social media services for small businesses will tell you that it’s all about engagement and what happens after the post – the thing you want people to do. If you’re sharing advice, perhaps you want to encourage them to click through to your website to read a full blog or news article. If you want to promote a specific product, maybe you want them to call to enquire, or visit that specific product page on your site. If you’re demonstrating your expertise, you might want them to read a case study. If you’re trying to increase your Google recommendations, you might ask them to go to the review page and leave a comment for you. When you are preparing content, always have the end result in mind.
Social media outsourcing is a great thing to do – it saves you time and money and it means there’s always someone looking after your social channels for you. But there must be a strategy in place if you really want to get results – and measurable results that show your investment is worth it.
We manage social media channels for a range of clients and can talk you through putting your strategy together. So if you’re short on time and need help with your social media, free to call us on 0800 994 9016 or use our contact form in the menu above.