Connecting with consumers via social media is hard. It’s okay, you can say it.
Today, brands have unparalleled access to the conversations, interests and critiques of their target audiences and in many cases, have no clue what to do with it. How do you know when to engage? How do you know when to leave conversations alone? How do you create consistent content that people actually want to read? And how do you know if any of this is even “working”?
These are the fundamental questions you should be able to answer if you have a social media strategy tailored to your brand. Take these six tips for a spin to get things started.
1. Know your purpose
Be intentional when you define what your social media strategy needs to accomplish. Whether you’re just starting out with your first social media account, or you’re trying to revamp existing campaigns, know your purpose. Is this solely a brand awareness initiative? Are you trying to define or further enhance your brand’s personality? Are you trying to tangibly increase revenue through social media tactics? Understanding the “why” to your social strategy is a crucial first step when defining goals and measuring your success.
2. Pick the right social platforms
There are two big factors to consider when choosing your social platforms: your brand and your target audience. More times than not, they’ll go hand in hand. Consider your target audience demographics to help determine which social sites they’re most likely to use. For example, Facebook might make sense for you if you’re primarily targeting women 45 years and older with a household income between $50,000 – $99,000 (according to a study by Mashable.com). Targeting people in their 20’s and 30’s with at least some college education? Twitter might make more sense.
Once you understand whom exactly you’re targeting, direct your attention to what realistically makes sense for your brand. Is your company B2B? You’re likely to have the most success with a business-networking platform like LinkedIn instead of pouring your energy into a site like Pinterest, which is designed primarily for reaching out directly to consumers.
Every social site will have its individual merits and challenges. Understanding why you’re choosing (and not choosing) certain social outlets will go a long way when establishing your goals and tracking your performance against them.
3. Set the right goals
Remember to be reasonable. Choose success milestones that are specific, attainable, meaningful and measurable. Consider the capabilities and constraints of each individual social network. Then, identify your baseline for achievement and outline a scalable plan for growth in the coming months and years.
For example, instead of setting a goal of gaining 100 Twitter followers, set a more specific, meaningful goal like growing your community of followers within your target audience by 50% over six months.
Establishing the right social media goals upfront will allow you and your colleagues to come to a consensus on what constitutes “success” for the social leg of your content marketing plan.
4. Don’t be BORING
Ah, if only it were that easy. If you’re struggling to develop content that your audience will truly find informative, interesting and engaging, you’re not alone. According to Marketo, this is the biggest challenge social marketers face, with 36% admitting they struggle most with creating engaging content.
We frequently encounter this with our clients, too. Fresh content is the food that keeps your social media sites alive – and just when they’ve finished one meal, they’re hungry for another.
The key to taming this “content appetite” is to build a content strategy relevant to your readers that you can realistically manage. Consider your audience. What do they want to talk about? What questions are they asking? What conversations are they having? How does your brand fit into that mix?
And don’t forget, social media content isn’t about talking AT your audience. It’s about engaging in conversations about shared interests. Ask yourself what your brand should be talking about and then find people already having those conversations and join the discourse. Contributing to existing social conversations (rather than just creating them) will establish your brand as a genuine thought leader in your industry. And, it’ll bolster your credibility as a subject matter expert.
5. Go all-in
Having a successful social media presence is an investment. Consider the following resources at your disposal:
- Who will manage your social media initiative?
- How much time can your company dedicate to developing content and interacting with users?
- What is your protocol for engaging social media users?
Don’t get too tripped up here. Every brand’s resources will be different. The person managing your social media should intimately understand your target audience as well as have a firm grasp on your industry, brand and the products and services you offer. Your time commitment can be intense or more casual – just make sure you’ve chosen your purpose, social platforms and goals with your available resources in mind.
6. Don’t be gun-shy
Striving to deliver thoughtful content is smart. But don’t become paralyzed by the desire to make every post perfect. Be authentic, not calculated. Try to connect with your audience rather than trying to blatantly sell them. Post your opinions. Ask questions of your users. Showcase your brand’s personality. Allow yourself the freedom to interact naturally with your users and then enjoy as you watch your engagement soar.
Still feeling unsure about how to build a social strategy that works for you? We should talk – we love this stuff. Let’s chat about your specific challenges and opportunities to make your brand the social media All-Star you know it can be.