Many companies, both large and small, in both the metro and rural communities, are seeing the far-reaching positive effects of social media for their business. It allows marketers to connect with their customers in new (more human) ways, and gives consumers more power to share their feelings about a brand. But before jumping into social media, businesses should do some thoughtful planning. The real value of social media comes from engaging with their customers in a meaningful way for the long-term on a day-to-day basis.
By beginning with the end in mind, it is easier to develop a plan of action that will result in reaching your goals. Before jumping into social media, build a knowledge base and develop a social media strategy.
A social media strategy can be segmented into five basic steps:
- Do your research – Who is your target market and where are they hanging out online? What are they finding when they search for your products or keywords on social media sites? What are your competitors doing with social media and how is it being perceived? How is your industry as a whole embracing social media? Where are the greatest opportunities? This is where understanding social media “listening tools” is very helpful.
- Determine your goals and objectives - Think about your overall company goals, your marketing goals, and how your social media plan will compliment what you are already doing and where you want to be. Also think about your audience’s goals – what do they want from you?
- Develop your implementation plan for content and distribution - Now for the fun part! The hub to your content is your blog. From there, you can feed many other sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and an e-newsletter. Maybe you will develop more media that could be distributed thru YouTube or Flickr. Map out a six month timeline for your social media initiatives and content creation. I like to apply the 80/20 rule to social media content distribution – 80% of content to not be self-promoting (see above – what does the audience want from you?).
- Connect and engage - You did your research, you determined the goals of your company and your customers. You have laid out a six month timeline with tactics, and you have chosen which social networks are right for delivering your message. Now build your network, listen and engage with your community! This is where you need to begin building your positive reputation and credibility daily and learn how to leverage fan loyalties for the long-term.
- Measure, Tweak, Repeat - You set your goals back in step #2 right? Common social media goals include increasing website visitors or the size of your networks, retweets or other peer sharing statistics, improving the customer experience, and increasing brand awareness. Take a look at how you are doing, how you can improve, and continue to tweak your goals and strategy as the social media landscape evolves.
If you are not engaging with your customers, who is?
Social media done right, can increase engagement, customer loyalty and brand advocacy, in ways you cannot imagine – and all these things ultimately affect your bottom line.
Want to learn more about developing a Social Media Strategy? Contact Vivid Image today.
Photo Credit: ogimogi