Posted: Thu 31st Oct 2013
Whether you already have established social media communities, or if you are about to embark on setting one up - a social media strategy is a crucial step you should take in order to set out what you want to achieve from powerful marketing tools.
Many small businesses are using social media to spread awareness, make business connections and to keep their customers updated with the latest news and developments. Yet without a strategy, social media activity can be random and uncoordinated with no clear goals in place to work towards. A social media strategy does not have to be a huge in-depth document; it can be as simple as an A4 piece of paper.
1. What are your main objectives?
Setting out your objectives should be the first step of your strategy; without these you won't know what value social media is bringing to your business. Objectives could be as simple as spreading awareness of your business to the right customers, or perhaps it is more numbers driven and you want to see your Facebook fans, Twitter followers and overall website traffic increase. More specific objectives could be to become thought-leaders within your industry or generate interest in your business sector.
2. Who is your target audience?
Considering your audience in social media is hugely important as you need to think about how they would most like to be addressed, and where online they are likely to be. Your tone of voice has and the sort of content you post needs to be appealing to your audience.
3. Which platforms will you use?
There are so many social media platforms available to you. Some of the top brands have a presence on five or more, but remember not to spread yourself too thinly. I would recommend setting up two or three depending on how much time you will be able to dedicate to social media. Obviously think about your target audience and which platforms they are using. LinkedIn is very good for business to business communication, whereas Facebook is great for B2C. However expect to find it hard growing a Facebook Page without putting some budget into advertising, as it is a competitive platform. Twitter is perfect for approaching bloggers and journalists, and Instagram can work well if you have a visual product.
4. Who will be responsible?
It's important to decide who will be in charge of social media within your business - as too many cooks can easily spoil the broth. You want to make sure you use same posting style and language at all times, so it is easier to give you person the sole responsibility. If that person is you, then ensure you are dedicating enough time to it. There are great tools out there for scheduling content to go out like Hootsuite and Facebook has its own scheduling tool.
5. How will you engage?
Think about the content you have available as this will determine how you are going to manage social media. Do you have blogs, photos, interviews, videos, and news updates? If not, is there enough content around your industry online that you can link to and talk about within your online communities? Perhaps you have some upcoming events in the calendar that you can talk about, or let influencers know about. You could start planning out a content schedule so that you know what to post and when, for example every Friday you could post a fun picture of one of your products. It's also worth thinking about how to deal with negativity online. What approaches are going you to take to customer service enquiries or bad PR? Better to have a plan in place than act on impulse which more often than not can go badly.
6. How will you measure success?
This relates back to your original objectives, so you need to think about how you are going to measure each goal. Google Analytics offers free statistics about web traffic and sources which is invaluable, and you should be looking at this at least once a month. Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest both have in-built analytics sections, and there are sites out there like Statigram which give great insight into Instagram. Revisit these sections regularly to make sure you are meeting your goals and increasing your online communities - it will prove that you are doing a good job, or motivate you to do more!
Once you have created a social media strategy for your business, don't file it away. Circulate it amongst relevant staff and get their feedback to make sure everyone understand why social media is important to your business. Stick it on your wall, frame it, and use it regularly to help you make decisions.