Most everyone in the business world has heard that social media is the place to be if you are going to market a product or service to the general public.
Since flocks of marketing professionals and agencies alike are pounding the metaphorical social platform pavement, it can become a bit muddied with poorly-developed strategy, and content.
In order to properly develop a winning social media strategy, you should understand the ways in which your business, product, or service can best build a social community using the content marketing approach. Just the same as with any other marketing tactics, social media is a way to better communicate your brand story with the individuals who are looking for the answers you hold.
A simple social media strategy development process can be broken down into 5 steps:
Set goals that are aligned with the platforms you have chosen to use, the audience you are attempting to reach, the community you want to build, and the overall business goals your company has in mind.
Identify to whom your content is directed as well as what target audience, or buyer persona will most benefit from the content you are sharing.
Select the proper platforms based on the buyer persona you have selected. It is a good idea to select platforms that are of interest to the target audience.
Develop primary themes around which your social communities content will be based. Be sure your content is well thought out, informative, and beneficial to whoever might find themselves knocking on your content’s front door.
Create a plan of action. In this plan, you should include scheduling timelines and content topics. You can think of this as an editorial calendar for social media marketing.
You may or may not have taken these steps by now. Heck, your social media strategy may look a bit different than these suggested guidelines. That is okay. The real takeaway is that you should strategize your use of social media to garner the most successful community building efforts around your brand as possible.
Let’s say you have and you are still not understanding or seeing the results you (or your boss for that matter) desires. So, just what can you get from social media? What is all of the millennial social sharing hustle and bustle about?
Followers, Likes, Shares?
Hardly, you have to give us a bit more credit than that. This is business; not a popularity contest — right?
Sort of, and here is why. It’s a given that top of mind awareness (TOMA) is (and should be) the number one goal of marketing. Every marketer, business owner, and organization as a whole strives for success and TOMA every day.
Setting a goal centered around ONLY gaining more followers, likes, or shares can be debilitating to your social community. What really matters is the potential social media has to work for your company. And by work, I mean how social media can join the revenue generation club.
How can you best use social media to move the needle on ROI? It's quite simple when managed properly with planning, consistency, and dedicated social media. Having a focused and well-managed approach can provide a myriad of options to help boost success as a company, brand, and a content publishing community.
Let's take a look at some of the most beneficial ways social media has been used as a bargaining chip to generate higher returns on marketing investment, increased brand awareness, and community engagement.
The above-mentioned likes, followers, and shares are great metrics to use as benchmarks for real social progress. It's a good idea to think about these 'vanity metrics' as a way to track your key performance indicators (KPIs) and measure your brand’s progress and success on social media.
Focusing your social media marketing efforts on organization-wide KPIs will allow your marketing team to track social media initiatives to a dollar amount — ROI.
Here are our suggestions for good KPIs to start with.
Increased website traffic: Do your social media platforms currently drive traffic to your website, product pages, or lead generation landing pages? Is this traffic logged in a system allowing you to track lead conversion, website traffic, lead nurturing, sales cycles, or any other qualifying metrics to better assist marketing and sales teams?
A loyal community of fans and followers: Are the followers and fans in your community actively participating or just resharing your content in hopes of picking up another follower themselves? Have you established a rapport with your social community? Do you participate and actually get social?
A place to get to know and understand your audience: Is your marketing and sales team able to extract all of the valuable information from your social channels? Can you leverage any content, topics, or conversations on social media to help a greater number of your community members with a round of repurposing?
Increased lead generation: Is your social media team using the proper #hashtags, industry insight, news, and avenues of content generation to captivate and encourage audience participation? Are the content topics you have strategically chosen headed down the right path? Are you publishing the right content? Are you publishing at the right time? Are you addressing (or even reaching) the right audience?
Higher search engine ranking: is your website's on-page SEO up to par? Does your social platform have the best possible catcher behind the home plate (your website)? If your website can not catch the heat, how can you expect your social platforms to pitch the heat? Are you setting the competition up to crank to get a home run out of the park?
Thought leadership / partnership: Is your content developed around thought leadership or are you constantly discussing I, we, us, or me? Have you conducted interviews of industry leading innovators, influencers, or niche specialists? Have you reached out to partner companies for content collaboration or an interview?
Lower marketing and sales costs: Can you reach more of your audience with high content saturation on one platform at the expense of dialing back on another? Will you have to hire on another social media manager, or reach out for agency guidance? Is your social community set up with a website that nurtures visitors through the buyer's journey?
Creating brand fluidity and brand awareness are important when you are trying to build an engaged social community. Reaching your goals and achieving this top of mind brand awareness will require more than participation and follower tracking.
Take some time to know and answer these questions and others that may arise as you go. A vanity metric is just that — looks nice from the outside but doesn't really have an impact on your ROI. Focus on the goals and metrics that matter, and reap the benefits of increased ROI.
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