I am of the opinion that there are two types of people in this world, those who despise social media marketing and those who live and breathe it, or if you’re like me you could be a combination of both. When you have not grown up in the generation where social media is second nature it can be really challenging to know where to begin. Even as a millennial I find it hard to keep track of all the new emerging platforms. However, the opportunities that social media provides are ones that cannot be missed. If utilised, you can gain access to consumer groups you wouldn’t have thought you could reach and get closer to your customers than ever before. To help you make the most of social media I have developed six steps to follow to develop a killer social media strategy.
We have spoken about business objectives being vital when leading in uncertain times, so it is no surprise that they are paramount when developing your social media strategy. Your business objectives are what the entirety of your social media strategy are going to stem from. For example, a business objective for one company might be to increase sales, this would require a completely different social media strategy to a business whose main objective is to improve their brand image. This is because a business looking to improve their brand image will focus a lot more on creating and posting content that creates a connection, i.e. sharing more about their staff and their story and either share few or avoid promotional posts altogether. Whereas a company looking to purely increase their sales, would utilize connection content also, but promotional content would be more important. We explore these types of content in greater depth later in the article.
It’s easy to assume social media and business goals are the same thing. While there's definitely some overlap, a majority of the time social media goals will have a related but different focus. For example, common business objectives are to: Increase sales, increase brand awareness, increase brand image. These business objectives developed into social media goals could be: grow following, grow engagement, increase reach and increase traffic on your website.
Knowing your target audience is paramount for any business activity and it is absolutely vital for social media marketing. Most people know their target market demographics e.g. gender, age and where they live, however, I would encourage you to take this further. You want to know where your target consumer shops and what their personality is like. For example, if your target customer is a business owner take this further and find out what their goals are, are they focusing on growth and expansion into other markets? or are they happy owning and operating a small business?
There are a range of social media platforms out there and often people feel the pressure to be across all of them. At a webinar I attended recently hosted by Sam Frost, an expert in digital marketing & social media, emphasized having a focus on the platforms that best suit your customers.
LinkedIn is unique in its niche user base, meaning that it can be easier to “cut through the noise” as opposed to Facebook. LinkedIn is a great platform to use if you are in B2B or if the people in your target market tend to be professionals.
During his talk Sam recommended Facebook highly, saying he is yet to have a client where Facebook isn’t appropriate. Facebook has the biggest range of ages and your biggest challenge will be to cut through the noise. Given that it’s the largest social media platform in the world with more than 2.3 billion users, that makes sense.
Instagram is great to use if you have a product or service that is visually appealing. For example, one of my good friends is a florist and the founder of PetalandLeaf, she has seen great success on Instagram, due to her visually appealing arrangements.
Pinterest is similar to Instagram in the sense that it is a visual-based platform, meaning you must have visually stimulating content to stand out. Another important thing to note is that Pinterest is dominated by female users.
YouTube has around 1 billion registered users, however, its audience is likely a lot bigger as you don’t have to sign up to view content. YouTube has been very successful for service industries that film a lot of “how to” content.
Another challenge that businesses face is knowing what to post. A really helpful strategy I discovered recently is the four, three, two rule I learned from social media consultant Stevie Dillon. This rule is based on the idea that when consumers look at your Instagram profile they look at your first nine photos. Stevie says that these nine photos should be made up of four which add value, three with a connection, and two promotional. Although this strategy was intended for Instagram, the rule can be implemented across all social media platforms.
Not every post you do should be about pushing a sale. You will get more engagement and followers if your customers feel like they get value out of following you. You can add value by writing informative blog posts that your customers will find educating, posting quotes that will inspire your customers and posting videos that your customers will find entertaining or funny. These are just a few examples, you can add value in a range of ways.
One of the biggest benefits of social media marketing is the opportunity to form closer relationships with your customers. How you do this is through posting content that reflects your brand. This is where you want to share your point of difference, that’s not just what you sell. For example, a connection post might showcase your people, sharing the story behind your organisation, or putting emphasis on the fact that your products are made locally.
This is where you directly encourage a sale. It can be about product benefits, pricing or current sales. When promotional content is combined with adding value and connection content it comes across as less pushy and gives you more freedom to promote your products/service directly!
Collaborations and influencers
Collaborating with a person or business whose following resembles your target audience is a great way to get exposure. Stevie Dillon, a successful social media consultant said she would interview influencers and businesses that she wanted to collaborate with and write a blog based on this. The influencers and businesses would then share her blog and she would get exposure to their audiences. A really popular case of using influencers can be seen through kiwi entrepreneur Iyia Liu. Liu now owns multiple companies but she started with Waist Trainer NZ. Liu paid celebrity Kylie Jenner $300,000 to post a picture of herself in one of Liu’s waist trainers, which played a significant part in their growth from a small business into one making millions in revenue each year.
Competitions are a great way to grow your following organically. There are a lot of brands that use competitions where the only entry requirement is to “like and follow” or “tag a friend.” By doing so this can give you greater exposure. However, it is important to note that although competitions can give you great exposure, this is un-targeted exposure so if you have a niche target market this might not be beneficial to you.
Social Media can provide your business with substantial opportunities. Following these six steps can help you start to build your social media presence and in turn, get closer to your customers!