Social media. It’s on every marketer’s mind, but no one really knows who to make it succeed cost-effectively. For many, it seems like an endless effort with nebulous results. Businesses often fail in their social media efforts because there is no structure or commitment. There are no immediate results , or the goal ends up being more difficult to attain than previously thought, the effort goes by the wayside and forgotten. Very few people can simply choose to be active in social media and stick with it.
Like most marketing efforts, social media requires a strategy and a clearly defined implementation plan. So here are some pointers to help you keep to the plan –
#1: Make a Commitment
Before you even start creating your plan, you have to believe in it. Establishing a healthy social media presence can be a very slow process. You can’t expect your list of fans, followers or subscribers to grow overnight. You don’t want to start your business’s presence out by posting and updating consistently, only to get bored, lose interest and forget to log in when there’s no immediate gratification.
Therefore, we need to acknowledge and agree that building this presence could take upwards of a year (and then some), and then promising to invest time, energy and resources into it no matter what, will keep you committed and prepare you to be active and engaged even when you feel like your presence is stagnating.
#2: Find The Right Social Medium
If you’re just getting your business’s social media efforts up and running, part of creating your plan revolves around seeing what resources you already have. Do you have a fanbase already using your products? Have they been tweeting about it? Posting videos of it?
Search for your business on sites like Yelp. Thank customers for their good reviews, and apologize to customers who gave bad reviews. You could turn that bad experience into a loyal customer and a better review.
Although it’s important to establish a presence on a giant like Facebook, make sure you also set up shop where you’re already visible.
#3: Schedule Engagement
Now that you’ve identified the social media platforms you’re going to focus on, it’s time to turn your attention to the ways and frequency with which you’ll engage with your users. Infrequent interaction is one of the main reasons businesses experience social media failure. Those who are most successful in social media know that you have to engage steadily.
Remember that the timetable for creating and responding to content is platform-specific. Twitter moves so fast that tweets can become irrelevant within the hour, whereas Facebook status updates and posts have a few hours of staying power, and videos are great because of their longevity.
#4: Create Useful Content
Like you, your fans don’t want to be sold. They want a conversation, or something that is beneficial to them personally. They don’t want to hear how great your company is, they already like or follow you. They don’t want sales numbers, they want industry news and thought leadership. A good rule of thumb is to talk about your customers and your industry 80% to 90% of the time, and then discuss your own business. That means you need to start a blog, write white papers, explore trends, release case studies and create infographics.
Post frequently and do it consistently. Your ideal goal should be some kind of content every couple of days or so. Avoid going longer than a week without posting. Thorough, in-depth articles and papers will position your business as an industry expert and thought leader, and keep your fans and followers (and even competitors) looking to you.
#5: Run Contests and Promotions
Contests and promotions keep fans and followers excited, interested and coming back. Most importantly, they’re a covert way to get your business or brand in front of more people. That doesn’t mean you need to run one all the time.
If you’ve always got some kind of giveaway going, they’ll soon become more social background noise. This is especially true if you’re giving away not-so-great prizes. Run a contest or promotion every couple of months, and make sure the prize is something to get excited about.
#6: Broaden Your Horizons
Every social media plan needs to start out the same way, with a commitment to the long haul and a focus on the basics like interaction and content. But once your presence is established and your users are engaged, you’re free to open things up to experimentation. If you’ve built a solid fan following on Facebook, create and install some custom apps on your page, start posting videos on YouTube or interact more frequently by hopping on Twitter. Try things out for a few months, and then go back and see how they’ve performed for you.
Not every platform will be a fit, so if your business isn’t performing well on one for an extended period of time, don’t be afraid to pull the plug and explore different options.
#7: Delegate Tasks
If you’re at the point where you’re looking at expanding to new platforms, congratulations! You’ve likely got a healthy presence. But don’t let all of this growth overwhelm you. The larger you grow, the more in danger you are of failing to engage (point #3), because—let’s face it—social media is a lot of work.
So look into adding some more team members. Graphic artists for your infographics, writers for your blogs and white papers and even some interns to manage the day-to-day social media conversations and information-gathering. A talented team can give you a richer, more robust presence than you could ever achieve on your own.
Or you can always hire us.