How To Create a Killer Social Media Marketing Strategy in 2018
Social Media / Jan 15, 2017
Social media is and will continue to be a huge platform for businesses of all sizes to use. Unfortunately, most businesses are not fully utilizing the power of social media. They might be dabbling a bit with it, but the daily needs of running a company can easily get in the way.
It certainly has for us. While we have a bit of a social presence, we’ve noticed that we’ve put a lot more time and effort into the brands we manage. We decided it was time to sit down and really focus on our own efforts, and create a real strategy for social media for our own accounts.
This article will be just that, both a walkthrough of each point we considered as well as our own personal thoughts on how we will apply that to our business. We wanted this to not just be about giving out a list of tips, but also show how we, a real live business, is applying those to their own strategy. Hopefully this can give you some ideas on how to go about doing it yourself.
Set and Measure Goals
The first thing with any sort of business activity is to understand the meaning behind it. Having a defined set of goals that can be measured helps to to show if your efforts are successful or not.
A good set of goals has a couple of characteristics.
- Specific: A specific goal answers the who, what, where, and why. The more specific a goal is, the easier it is to start moving towards achieving it.
- Measureable: Good goals have some sort of metric or measurable characteristic to them. You could for example want to have an extra 100 website visitors from social sources. This is a measurable goal as there is a clear pass/fail attribute to it.
- Attainable: It’s important to be realistic with a goal. While we might want to gain 100 new clients in 1 week, the odds of that happening are certainly against us.
- Relevant: It’s also important that the goal is relevant to your business. While having a ton of followers is great, that might be a lot less relevant than having engaged followers that actually buy your product or service.
- Timebound: Lastly, a good goal has a timeframe with which to be accomplished. Without this it loses all of its urgency, and becomes much less likely that it will be achieved.
With those characteristics in mind, come up with some goals for your social profiles. This is likely to be a mixture of both platform specific metrics like followers or likes, as well as more business oriented goals like sales.
How We Did It
Our primary goal at Total Web Connections is to bring in more clients for both our development and marketing services. We wanted our goal to both be realistic, and quick to evaluate should it be reached too quickly.
Therefore, we settled on 5 new clients coming from a social channel by the end of February 2018, roughly a month and a half. This creates a very realistic goal with which to hit, while also provides a short enough timeline that we will allow us to re-evaluate in the near future. It’s also specific and relevant to our business, there’s no question of whether we hit it or not and it will directly affect our revenue.
While we are also looking to grow our follower numbers on social media, this is not our primary goal. We foresee that in an effort to achieve our primary goal we will naturally grow, and whatever growth is achieved will be acceptable as long as we are bringing in clients.
Understand Your In House Talent
Next, it’s important to understand your in house talent and what types of content you’ll be able to produce. Each social platform has different types of content that do well, and it’s important to be able to fit your content to match that.
Some different types of commonly produced content include: images, articles, infographs, podcasts, videos, PDFs, slideshows, just to name a couple. With the wide range of skills needed to produce these different types of content it’s likely to require multiple people to produce them all.
Take a look at your organization, and see which areas you have the skills for, and which ones you might need to consider outside help for. This will help inform your content decisions; which pieces of content you’re going to produce most often. If you have an excellent video producer, but lack on writing skills, perhaps spend your time creating video content if your businesses lends itself well to that type of content.
How We Did It
In house, we cover a lot of the imagery and writing skills quite well considering it’s one of our core competencies. The one item we feel we lacked in was video, having the majority of our previous video work being small app previews.
After some consideration, we found video was likely not to be something we would target too aggressively. Should we want to create video content, we feel we have the basics covered, and can always look for outside help should we need more advanced skills.
Consider Your Budget
Not just in terms of dollars, but also in time. Social media and content marketing is generally either time consuming or expensive. There are people and companies out there that can take the load completely off you, but they won’t come cheap.
It’s important to consider this before you start. How much time do you want to dedicate, or how much time can your team realistically dedicate? For medium sized companies, social media marketing and management can easily become a full time job.
How We Did It
We wanted to start slow, and built out our social media strategy to take about 2 hours per day of work. This should allow us to target and engage with the platforms we’re targeting, while at the same time not invest huge amounts of time right at the start.
We also came up with a monetary budget we’re comfortable with. The majority of this we plan to use for paid advertising. We’ve had success with Facebook ads in the past, so will likely continue with them.
Understand Your Audience & Determine Platforms
Before you create a single piece of content it’s important to understand who you’re creating it for. Depending on your audience different social channels might prove more or less effective. For example, upwards of 80% of pinterest users are female, and half of all its users make 50K+ per year. Depending on who you’re targeting, that might be fantastic or horrible for your business.
We won’t go over creating a customer profile here, but suffice to say this should be done well before you even start creating a social media plan. It’s a key part to any marketing plan, so don’t skimp on it!
Once you’ve got your ideal customer, you can then start to determine where online they like to hang out. Each social media channel has a slightly different demographic. It’s also important to consider the lesser known ones, these might not have the reach of Facebook or Twitter, but depending on your audience might be a fantastic place to market. Sites like Tumblr have proven to be excellent places to build brand awareness depending on the business.
How We Did It
To start, we decided to go with Facebook and Twitter. We really recommend every business be on these two platforms as they have a huge reach, and are great for building your brand.
After that, we looked at what we were trying to achieve, our timeframes, and our ideal customers. With that in mind, Linkedin was an easy choice. Since we are targeting primarily small to mid-sized businesses, Linkedin was a no brainer as it is the go to B2B network.
We also decided to work a bit on Quora and see if we could gain any traction there. Positioning ourselves as experts in the business development field there with links back to our site might be a great way to both build our brand and improve our SEO!
Lastly, we decided on Instagram. Since a lot of our work is very visual, we wanted a platform that really allowed us to display some of our work. Instagram works incredibly well for that, and is becoming one of the most used social channels.
Create a Schedule
Once you’ve decided the types of content you’ll be creating and where to post it it’s time to create a schedule. We find the most important aspects to a successful strategy are quality and consistency.
Give your capabilities you explored above how often can you create quality pieces of content? If you can write one good blog article a week, then start with that. Don’t try to over-extend, one really good piece of content is going to be worth 10 mediocre pieces.
Once you’ve decided on how often to post, stay consistent. This really is the killer as so many people (including us!) start strong but eventually start lapsing in posting.
This is why we’re huge advocates of writing everything down. In fact, we even built our own in house social media scheduling tool to help us stay on track (releasing to the public soon!). Having everything written down is a fantastic way to make sure you stay on track. Write down your posting schedule, or create a calendar for it, and come up with a way to hold you or your team accountable for any lapses in following it.
How We Did It
As noted above, we created an application specific to scheduling social media posts. This helps us manage both our schedule to our core business, but also the other brands we manage under that business. If you’re just starting out, there are a lot of free spreadsheet templates you can use for a similar purpose.
We then decided on what we wanted our posting schedule to be. To keep things simple for now, we decided on one post per day per network. Our idea is to start like this, and then re-evaluate to determine if our growth is in line with what we’re looking to achieve.
We then went through our calendar, and populated it with content ideas and our sharing schedule for each piece of content. This keeps us on track, but also shows us holes in our calendar where we’re missing posts for a day. We can then go out and source appropriate content for our audience.
Engage The Community
A key component of social media is the social part. If you really want to succeed it’s important to interact with the community. A lot of businesses get so caught up in posting content, that they forget to interact with other people!
For one, reply to people who are actively engaging with you. If someone sends you a message take the time to reply. If someone leaves a nice comment show them some love. Little things like that go a long way to build brand loyalty and show the person behind the business. It’s also generally pretty quick to drop a quick note to supporters so there’s no reason not to!
You can also go out and seek relevant content and connect with users. Leave genuine comments, liking, and following other users is a great way to get additional exposure. Using your customer profiles you’ve put together you can find and connect with potential clients and customers.
How We Did It
Our strategy here focuses on connecting with local businesses and slowly nudging them towards becoming clients. We want to find and connect with business in our area, and then share and promote content that is relevant to them.
Once we’ve built up some trust and demonstrated our authority, we plan to reach out and offer our services.
We also plan to engage with fellow designers, developers, and marketers to help build our brand awareness.
Consider Paid Advertising
Most social networks now have some sort of paid advertising. If you’re looking for the fastest growth, this is the way to do; albeit the most expensive way.
Each platform is a bit different, so it’s important to spend a bit of time researching and understanding the pros, cons, and price of each. If your budget allows for it, this is a fantastic way to really get some cheap exposure.
How We Did It
When we went through our budget initially we set aside some money primarily for the purpose of facebook advertising. We’ve had some success in the past using facebook ads, and found it very easy to get up and running so will be continuing to use them.
We’ve also set aside small amounts for testing advertising on other platforms. Quora, recently released their own advertising service, and we are very excited to try it out. Depending on the results, we plan to re-evaluate and possible incorporate more paid advertising into our strategy in the future.
Lastly, it’s important to be able to pivot your ideas if something isn’t working. For example, maybe you set an unrealistic goal at the beginning, or you completely blew past it. Either way, it’s a good idea to re-examine it and plan your next move accordingly.
This is critically important for sustained growth! Make sure to always be evaluating your progress, and changing strategies if things are not moving as expected.
How We Did It
As we stated in our goal setting section, we plan to re-evaluate at the end of February and see if we met our goals. This gives us roughly a month and a half to get started and see where things go.
Now you have all you need to create a killer Social Media Marketing Strategy! The most important thing is to take action. It’s okay to have some missteps here and there, it happens to the best of us. Don’t let the fear of not knowing stand in your way, the best way to learn about social media marketing is to just get out there and do it.
On the other hand, if you want to outsource some or all of the work we’re happy to help. We are a development and marketing agency that specializes in helping small businesses and startups succeed online. Get in touch with us, and we’ll be happy to discuss your unique needs, and a get a strategy put together that works with your business.
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