Today, the ubiquity of social media has provided businesses of all sizes with a powerful toolkit for creating their image, increasing exposure and building relationships with customers.
But while all businesses have equal access to this toolkit, not all are using it to its fullest potential. Those who are generally have one thing in common – they have a social media strategy which guides their efforts.
If you saw little benefit from your social media activities in 2015, now is a good time to either devise a social media strategy for the year ahead, or adjust the trajectory of your current one. Here are five tips for creating a winning social media strategy.
1. Understand your audience’s needs
Social media isn’t about you, it’s about your customers (and potential customers). Instead of asking yourself what you’re trying to say when constructing your social strategy, determine what your customers want and need to hear about. Bombarding them with information about your products is one sure way to lose interest and followers, but if you can provide them with genuinely useful information you can build trust and become a valuable source of information.
To discover your audience’s needs and wants, simply put yourself in their shoes. If your business sells cars for example, the kind of social media posts and blogs that will interest customers could be things like how to perform simple maintenance tasks, which types of engine are the most economical, and what future vehicle trends they need to know about.
You should be able to come up with a decent list in less than 20 minutes, and you can then use this to inform the type of content you create and link to via social media.
2. Pick your platforms wisely
Not all social media platforms are created equal, and focusing on the ones which best suit your business will make a significant difference in the results you achieve.
Facebook – Best for B2C businesses looking to build brand exposure and customer engagement, particularly with younger audiences.
Twitter – This can be used by all kinds of businesses, and is best utilised for customer engagement and leveraging positive reviews.
LinkedIn – Better suited to B2B businesses and professionals with services to offer.
Your blog – Yes, your blog. Blogging is perhaps the most powerful form of social media and should be used to create and share content which provides value to your customers. This content can then be shared via other social media platforms, drawing extra traffic and increasing brand exposure. All businesses should blog regularly.
3. Leverage skilled content creators
Janet in accounting may have a few minutes to spare each day, but does she know what she’s doing when it comes to social media? Whether you employ someone in-house to handle your social media or outsource to a digital marketing agency, what’s important is that the people managing your social media presence are skilled at creating content and have an understanding of how social media works. Investing money and skilled labour in social media will pay dividends.
4. Be consistent
One of the trickiest things about social media, particularly for smaller businesses, is that in order to attract and keep the attention of followers it must be kept up on a regular basis. This can be hard when there are other pressing matters to attend to, but you can make things easier by assigning social media duties to a specific individual, as above, and by using a number of handy tools, such as:
Buffer – Buffer can be your best friend. Not only does it enable you to post to all of your social media accounts from within one intuitive interface, it lets you schedule your posts weeks or even months ahead.
Hootsuite – Another online tool which can be used to manage social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and others concurrently. You can also monitor your efforts and find out what people are saying about you.
5. Set your goals
As with all things in business and in life, the surest way to achieve the results you want through your social media is to set specific goals with concrete outcomes. Once you’ve got these set, you can determine the best ways of achieving them, monitor your progress and adjust your course as needed.
You might need to gain a number of followers on Facebook by a certain date, achieve 100 new shares for your blog content, or accrue 1000 likes per month across all social media material. When you set goals, state the terms of your success, and your journey to real achievement can begin.
By Lewis Davies, Ecommerce Acquisition Manager EMEA at Nuance Communications
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