The facts are compelling – social media sells products and services. Yet this line of marketing is far from a magic bullet. Make no mistake: social media marketing is tough going. Without a carefully constructed strategy, even a business with an exceptional product could soon find flail and fail out there in the social realm of the digital world. So, with this stark warning in mind, let’s dive into the five steps that will form the solid backbone of our social strategy.
Step One: Figure out who you’re talking to (in order to say something worthy of your target market’s attention)
Customer profiling is essential if you’re to create a social strategy that works. Without fully understanding your typical customer, how will you create the right forms of content, present interesting messages or choose which social platforms to use?
Typically you’ll define your customers and better understand your target market by creating a ‘persona’, which would detail…
- Psychographics – their personality type, preferences, etc.
- Demographics – their age, gender, income, etc.
- Behaviour – their similar likes and dislikes, sports, hobbies, etc.
For B2B companies, this would also include:
- # of employees
- Geographic scope
- Type of business
You’ll need to create a persona for each segment of your market – of which there may be many. This will then guide the content you create, as well as the demographics, preferences and existing page likes to be used in the targeting of your paid social advertising (if that is, you’re going to be using social PPC).
Download these persona templates from HubSpot to be guided through the process (they’re free – however, you’ll need to leave your details to receive them).
Step Two: Create strategic, company-aligned goals
What’s your end goal? If you’re focussing only on reaching a certain amount of followers, increasing engagement or securing more comments, shares or likes then you’ll soon find that figuring out ROI is impossible. After all, these mean nothing to your business – they’re completely disconnected from your company goals and totally separate from the growth of sales, the increase of revenue or the expansion of your customer base. So begin by setting some business goals – such as increasing sales of a certain product, boosting revenue from a particular service or growing in the number of customers who purchase cross-products.
Step Three: Break your goals down into specific tasks to form a step-by-step strategy
By starting with your end-game commercial goals, you can then break these down into social goals. For example, a free eBook download promoted through social PPC that leads to 100 downloads could lead onwards to 5 purchasing customers after having undergone your email marketing campaign.
Play the long game and help your customers to enter your sales funnel (from where they’ll be nurtured and educated, step by step through the buying process, through eMail marketing, blog posts and other digital means). This complete viewpoint of your marketing is the most effective way to use social media.
Step Four: Delegate your tasks (and appreciate the need for specialist help)
Any given social campaign demands innumerable differing professions – such as digital creatives who specialise in various forms of content creation. Task delegation could involve graphic designers who create infographics, copywriters who create captivating blog posts and video production services to film and edit ‘How to’ videos and record live webinars. Task delegation apps such as Asana or Trello can help you manage processes involving numerous in-house experts or outsourced talent.
You should also remember that today the role of social media marketing is reaching far beyond the marketing department – take for example the growing expectation that your customers have of customer services reps who embrace the likes of Facebook to deliver innovative, impressive customer experiences.
Step Five: Always be ready to tweak and change your strategy
We’d love to say that social media marketing was a precise science, that we hold the equation for ever growing follower counts and increasing numbers of website visitors who arrive fresh from Facebook. Alas, every business, every industry, every target market is different.
Social media is often about trial and error, hit and miss – learning from your failures is just as important as taking note of your successes. That’s why tracking your every action is vital. Recording which types of post receive the most engagement and which achieve real-world business outcomes (such as the amount of profit from sales of a promoted product), helps you to know what’s working, and what’s not.
Thankfully there are plenty of platforms out there that automate this process for easy insight into your social account data, with some of these tools also shedding light on the best times of day to post. These platforms include Keyhole, Buffer, Edgar and HubSpot, amongst many others – each of which can guide your strategy as it continually evolves.
About the Author:
Ben Keighley is the founder of Routes 4 Media, a London-based digital marketing agency, that helps ambitious businesses succeed in a world, where digital is no longer an option, it is essential.
Contact Ben via Twitter – @routes4media