Social media has become one of the most important tools for businesses today, allowing them to connect with customers like never before. But whether you’re using social media to build your brand, showcase products and services, or answer customer queries you’ll get much more out of it if you take a strategic approach.
The big picture
Your social media strategy should be your ‘north star’, providing clarity of purpose around your use of social media, guiding your day-to-day decisions, and helping you stay on track with wider goals. It should also be a living document that’s revised and refined as your business changes, and as you learn what does and doesn’t work for you.
Some tips for establishing your strategy
Set your goals
Consider what you’re trying to achieve with social media and, importantly, tie this back to your wider business goals. Social media activity shouldn’t be standalone; it should be an integrated part of your business and marketing plan.
Audit your current situation
If you already have a presence, look at what you’re doing that’s working and what’s not. If you don’t have a presence, what content are you already producing that you could leverage through social platforms? Also, check out what your competitors are doing in this space.
Define your audience and platforms
You need to go where your customers are on social media, so that means clearly knowing who your customers are and what social networks they’re spending time on. Most Kiwis are now on Facebook, but other platforms have more niche audiences and corresponding content requirements (Snapchat, for example, skews towards younger users and LinkedIn is aimed at professionals). You don’t need to have a presence on every network; cherry pick which platform/s are the best fit for your business, learn what best-practice content looks like on these and commit to producing it.
Create activity guidelines
Consistency and responsiveness are super important on social media so you need to be clear about who is responsible for running your account, who can and can’t post, how often you’ll check your accounts and post content, and how you’ll respond to comments – both positive and negative.
Draw up a content calendar
Brainstorming and creating content in advance can further help with consistency, as can some social media scheduling and monitoring software. Setting themes can help guide your content brainstorms (again, linking to your wider business strategy), and consider your content type – will it be long-form written pieces, images, video or a mix?
Track your efforts
Certain types of content will resonate more than others with your customers, and social media trends are constantly changing so you need to review and refine your activity regularly. It’s also important to define how you will measure your success on social media – is it website referrals, engagement with posts, reach or something else?
Platforms like Facebook offer analytics dashboards to help businesses track the performance of posts and understand their audience. Many platforms also offer the ability to promote posts, create ads that showcase products and services, refer traffic to your website, and target your content to specific audiences.
For most businesses allocating some budget for paid posts, especially in the early stages, will help ensure your social content efforts are well targeted. But it’s important to understand what you’re willing to pay to reach your particular goals to make sure it’s money well spent.
Investing for success
A couple of final tips: the foundation of social media is interaction, so if your account never engages in dialogue and only pumps out marketing messages it won’t go down well. The human element is important. And posting quality content on a regular basis is more important than quantity.
Setting up a social media strategy was discussed at BNZ Connect, a networking event for small businesses taking place in 13 locations throughout New Zealand with an insightful presentation at each event. Click here for information on the next BNZ Connect.