Social media can be a powerful tool in your marketing mix – but only if you get it right. It has the potential to raise brand awareness, to support product promotions, help build a community around your brand, capture leads and produce sales. Get it wrong and you could do more damage than good.
Most of us are familiar with social media – from chatting to friends, keeping up-to-date with the latest news and researching new purchases. Social media use has been rising sharply in recent years and the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns has merely expedited this. As a result, social is a marketing platform that you really should not ignore.
So, how do you get it right and avoid wasting valuable resources on something that provides little or no return? Here are our top tips.
Know your audience:
There is an almost baffling array of social media channels at your disposal. A common error is to target those that you are familiar with – but is this where your audience is? There’s no point posting beautifully crafted content across Facebook or Pinterest if your audience prefers LinkedIn. And why struggle to understand TikTok, Snapchat and Caffeine (isn’t that something you drink?) when your audience is not on there. It is much better to pick the top one or two channels that your audiences use and for you to engage with them well.
Have a plan:
What do you want to achieve by having a presence on your chosen social media channels? Is this goal achievable and warranted? If your goal is to raise awareness of your brand you will be looking for content that has widespread appeal within your target audience and also content that cements your position in the market. You will want to ensure your brand name is regularly reaching this group and so you will need to be posting regularly.
If your focus is to generate leads, you need to develop content that is linked to the product that you are selling and demonstrates its benefit. You may want to produce white papers or tutorials that require sign-up to provide tangible contacts for your sales team to follow up.
Once you have a clear idea of your goals, then you will start to get a picture of the content you need.
Content is king
It may be free to post on social media but the time and effort required to produce interesting and engaging content isn’t – and without it, you have nothing.
When planning the content you will produce, you will need to consider how you want your brand to be reflected – for example the tone of voice you use and whether you want to promote individual staff as experts in their field or just have a corporate voice.
The content you create can take many forms depending on the channels you are using and the goals you identified in your planning stage. For example, you could produce:
- explainer videos or tutorials;
- blogs offering opinions or commentary about issues pertinent to your market;
- sector news or information;
- user-generated content (content produced by your customers and clients about your product or service)
Developing channel-specific content is also important. What works for a board meeting most
likely won’t work on social media and what works on LinkedIn most likely won’t perform so well on Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest.
Many organisations underestimate the time and effort involved in managing and maintaining a social media presence. As a result, it is common for accounts to remain dormant after the initial flurry of activity. Or, as priorities arise, social media drops to the bottom of the list and suddenly weeks have passed with no updates.
In order to avoid this you need to get organised and this is where a content calendar will help. There are many tools on the market (often with free versions) that will help you to plan your content and schedule updates. Our favourites include:
- Sprout Social
These tools vary in terms of the support they provide for different social media channels, so the tool you pick will often depend on the social media channels you are using. Make sure you do your research and take advantage of any free trials before committing.
Don’t be self-obsessed
It isn’t all about you. Yes you have products and services that you want to promote and you are obviously on social media in order to reap a return. But don’t be that person who only talks about themselves. As a general rule, you should adopt a 70:20:10 mix: 70% of your social media posts should support your brand and add value (this is where you establish your voice and expertise); 20% of your posts should be ideas or content shared from other sources (the clue is in the name – social media should be social, so join the conversation); and 10% should be directly promotional (encourage your audience to see, get and look at your products and services).
In order to succeed with social media, you need to know what success looks like. And in order to measure that success, you need to be able to track it. This is how you can improve your strategies and content, and discover what works for your audiences.
There are several ways to track your social media successes; which method you use will depend on your original goals. For example: the use of tracking codes to monitor leads and conversions, measuring engagement rates for your content, share of voice, and sign-up rates to newsletters, webinars or events.
You should be constantly looking at the data and analysing what is working well and what is not, and then tweaking your strategy and content accordingly. As your business goals evolve and develop, your social media goals could also change, so it is vital that you take an agile approach – if you don’t, you may find your efforts are futile.
- If you would like help to develop your social media strategy or to plan content, then get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org