Creating a social media strategy can be overwhelming for the uninitiated. It is easy to sign up for profiles, but what comes after that? Here are a few tips for creating an effective social media strategy.
Crawl Before you Walk: Create Realistic Goals
Ask yourself what you hope to achieve through your social media marketing strategy.
Try to summarize your online marketing campaign goals in a single sentence (ie. “Humanize the Ford brand and put customers in touch with Ford employees”-Scott Monty, Ford Motor Co.)
Be realistic. A small, local, brick-and-mortar business probably will not garner over a million followers on Twitter the way some large, multinational corporations have. Keep in mind that this is the exception. It is okay to set your sights high, but don’t set goals which are unachievable. Start small. You can always revisit your social media marketing plan once you reach your current goals.
Define Your Identity: Choose the Right Social Media Services for Your Business
Ask yourself, “where do my customers (and potential customers) spend time?” Go where the people are.
Maintain quality over quantity. While you do want to be as far reaching as possible, it is essential to create good, relevant content. It is more important to hold your audience than to try and be everywhere at once.
Check out your competition. What is their social media marketing strategy? What types of social media do they use to interact with their customers?
Set up alerts with Google Alerts and SocialMention, so you can monitor where people are talking about your brand.
Think outside the box. Don’t limit yourself to Twitter and Facebook. There are countless social media sites out there which are geared towared specific genres. For example, a craft store may benefit from having profiles on Etsy and Ravelry. A film company may want to develop profiles on Netflix and IMDB. Musicians can gain exposure through the use of LastFM, Pandora, and TheSixtyOne.
Make New Friends: Invest Time to Nurture Online Relationships
Develop your brand identity.
Interact with your customer base.
Take advantage of link reciprocation. Form solid relationships with bloggers who are willing to write about your brand, and link back to them.
React and respond to mentions of your brand online. Reply to comments. Set up alerts via Google and SocialMention.
Use promotions on Facebook pages for fans (fan exclusives), and offer rewards for people who frequently check-in with your brand via Foursquare.
Avoid Spam: Create Relevant, Engaging Content
Write about what matters to your customers.
Keep posts relevant in a timely manner.
Don’t “spam” your customers.
If you don’t have anything to say, don’t force It. Quality posts are more impactful than a large number of flimsy posts.
Create a frequency schedule. How many tweets do you expect to post per day? Per week? How many facebook posts? How many blog posts will you make per week?
Vary your times for posting and monitor the results in order to optimize exposure.
Use your alerts for inspiration.
Check Google News for industry-relevant news.
Subscribe to a number of RSS feeds relevant to your industry. Use the information you find here to create blog posts pertinent to your business/customer base.
Monitor fan posts on your Facebook wall. What concerns do your fans have?
While the many tools which exist for simultaneously updating all of your social media accounts can make things a bit easier for you, you want to be careful about “spamming” your customers. You don’t have the same conversations with your parents that you do with your friends, do you? A business email should have a distinctly different tone than a casual email to an acquaintance. Social media works the same way. Get accustomed to the different “feels” and uses of each site/profile, and change your updates accordingly.
Develop a Social Media Policy, and Stick to It
Just as you might create a personal social media policy to guide your interactions on the web, you should develop a clear social media policy for your business. A few things to consider:
What is the proper procedure for commenting or replying to other comments? Will you have a comment review system in place?
How do you want your company to be represented online? What is the voice of your brand?
How will you manage outdated or irrelevant content?
What level of transparency will you maintain?
The creation of a solid social media marketing strategy should help you to ease into the social media experience. What other suggestions might you give to someone who is new to social media?