Social Media Strategy 101
How to Build and Manage an Effective Social Media Campaign for Your Business
The world of digital marketing and social media is progressing, and so must we. If your business has not developed an effective social media strategy and presence in 2016, then you’re falling behind. Just like updating your iPhone every year or so, you must update your social media campaign to ensure you are up-to-date with technology and reaching the right audience and customers. How your company is perceived online can have an important impact on your brand or business reputation. Remember, your customers are hanging out online, and if you are not reaching them or sending them the right message through user-generated content like social media, your competitors probably are. According to Adweek.com,” Offerpop surveyed 100 consumers and more than 300 brand marketers. The results showed that 85 percent of users surveyed find visual UGC (User Generated Content) more influential than brand photos or videos, while only 65 percent of businesses believe the same. When it comes to user motivations, businesses don’t seem to realize why users are sharing and creating this content. For example, users are twice as likely to share something because they want a friend to see it, but only 14 percent of brands are aware of this behavior. You must engage with your audiences and let them share your content because that’s the world we live in. There is a reason successful companies spend millions on digital marketing ads and social media campaigns every year. It works! But what if you are a small business or start up and have a limited budget? This article will help you get started using our proven social media strategy to get the most benefits out of your campaign.
Step One- Don’t hire your brother’s kid to manage your social media campaign
Many business owners think a kid can handle a small task like managing social media. WRONG! This is probably the worst mistake you can make. Social media is you and your brand presented to the world. What will your audience think of you if some kid is writing and posting content that can send the wrong message to the world about you? Hire a professional or a dedicated in-house employee to create and manage your social media platform. Do your homework and get involved in what you are sharing and how relatable it is to your product or audience.
Step Two- Be careful about choosing photos and content
Now that you hired the right person, learn about copyright infringement laws to prevent lawsuits. You cannot take images or content from other websites and claim them as your own. There are multiple websites you can purchase properly licensed images from such as istockphoto.com, gettyimages.com,, canva.com, picmonkey.com, There are a few free stock image sites on the web that you can use. However, be careful with licensing and make sure what you are downloading is really free to use. Some free images are licensed under Creative Commons (CC) license and require proper credits to appear with the picture. Pictures with Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license do not have restrictions, other than the people in the picture cannot appear in a bad light or a way that will offend them. Some of the more popular free stock photo sites are Pexel and Pixabay.
My favorite one is canva.com because you are able to find images and create social media banners for a couple of dollars per design. You do it all in one place and you’re done. That is a huge time-saver. They give you many options as far as graphic design and you can play around with different fonts and get creative with your content. You can upload your own images and add graphics, content, and your logo. Choose images that are high-quality, but not too “stock photo” looking. Pick images that have a natural look and feel. You can add interesting filters for that Instagram feel. Whatever image, color or font you use, make sure to be consistent on all your posts. Consistency on your social media posts will create and add credibility to your brand.
Step Three- Connect to your audience
Before you start posting your blogs and banners, it’s important to find out whom your audience is and where they are hanging out. A good understanding of your audience will help you easily connect and engage. If you are not engaging your audience, you will lose them. You can’t do this by just guessing. We use important tools and software to develop the right strategy for a successful social media campaign. Instead of using expensive software try Facebook Audience Insights to learn more about the people that matter to your business. The more customer insights you have, the better you’re equipped to deliver meaningful messages to people and find the right audience. Depending on the industry, find content that engages and has value for your audiences. For instance, if you’re a dentist, don’t talk about cavities all the time. Post interesting topics about health or even humor about dentists or medicine. Special offers and coupons are also interesting for audiences and may bring in new patients. Remember, your content should not just be self-serving. It should serve your audience, not just your business.
On which network your audiences are spending most of their time is also an important factor. This will help you find which networks to post on. The top social media networks are Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, but depending on your industry you will want to utilize other social networks like LinkedIn, Google Plus and Pinterest. Pinterest users are generally looking for a creative inspiration, so if you are in the fashion industry, this is a place to showcase your fashion. Nowadays, you can find just about anything on Pinterest. Their categories include everything from art to technology. Pinterest is known as a hub for DIY and craft projects, recipes, fashion, home décor and health and fitness related information.
Find and connect to groups related to your business on Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn. Groups are online communities for people with a common interest. They share content, ask each other questions and post notifications about events. They are usually moderated by one or more people. You have to request to become a member. Once your membership is approved, you can participate in discussions, post content on their wall and connect with other members. It is a great place to meet other like-minded people and showcase your great content. Be careful not to post unrelated content on group pages as that can get you banned quickly.
Step Four- Quality over quantity
Now that you know who your audiences are and where they are hanging out, what do you post? People spend time on social media for fun and instant gratification. Keep them informed with the latest news and updates, especially if related to your industry. Find the latest news and fun topics on sites like Google news, Buzzfeed, or trending topics on Google trends. Write interesting and informative blogs that have value for your audiences. Repost interesting and newsworthy blogs and cartoons to keep them entertained. Create themes like Motivational Monday and Throwback Thursdays. Post behind the scenes images and short videos of your company and staff. This will help you bond and create a connection with your audience. Create interesting posts for holidays or other interesting calendar days. We have created a Social Media Calendar for 2017 that lists both traditional and non-traditional calendar days along with popular hashtags to help get your creative juices flowing.
Use hashtags on all social networks you have a presence on, but don’t go overboard! Too many hashtags can hurt your engagement and can get you un-followed. Some studies show that if you use more than two hashtags, your engagement actually drops by an about 17 percent. You’ll start noticing funny hashtags, people using lots of hashtags, and even #FullSentencesTurnedIntoAHashtag. But if you’re using hashtags to help your business, it’s best to hashtag the keywords that are related to your business and industry. Don’t use a trending hashtag just for the sake of using one. Choose one that is relevant to your business to avoid looking as though you’re simply trying to jump onto the latest trend. Start by writing down a list of general terms that your target customers might search for on Twitter or Google. Work those search terms into hashtags occasionally to increase the odds that you’ll be found by someone searching for all tweets falling under that hashtag. If you’re offering a special or coupon, use a hashtag like #coupon or #deal. Consumers use these hashtags to find specials on products, so this can help you reach people who might not have otherwise found you. Use hashtag sites like hashtagify.me to find trending hashtags for the content you are promoting.
When writing a post for Twitter, limit your posts and hashtags to 147 characters. Anything longer will be truncated.
Step Five- Frequency and scheduling
Posting frequency is very important when it comes to a solid social media campaign. Keep your audiences engaged by posting at least 2-3 times a week, and in some instances as much as 2-3 times a day. Keep it interesting by mixing it up with different news, humor, technology, and anything that keeps your audiences wanting more.
Some companies invest in expensive software that you can enter and schedule your upcoming posts in, and it will automatically distribute it to all social media sites. We have yet to find the perfect software at our company, and our experience has shown that ultimately a responsible person needs to manage and oversee the software. It pays to invest in a good social media company that will dedicate a designated person in charge of your social media campaign to keep your posts up to date and on schedule.
Step Six- Measure your results
To better understand your social media campaign results and measure your ROI, you need a good measuring tool. If you have a social media company managing your account, they will provide you with reports and insights about your social media campaign. Google Analytics has some stats on your social media efforts. In GA, look under Acquisition > Social > Overview to see which social channel is generating most visits to your site.
Doing it yourself can be time-consuming but knowing what is working and what is not working is critical. Here are some important metrics to consider for accurate insight on your social media efforts:
- Reach: How many people did you reach with your social media message?
- Engagement: Did people interact with your content, for example, Facebook likes, shares, retweets, comments, etc.?
- Conversion: How many people took the next step to enter your lead generation funnel and join your marketing database? Are people clicking on your links and visiting your website. Are they taking the desired action like a purchase or filling out a form?
Reviewing these metrics regularly will help you fine tune your social marketing campaign and get better over time.
Last but not least
Social media marketing has the power to validate your brand and help increase customer loyalty. An active and well laid out social media presence will create and maintain thriving communication with consumers. Studies show that 63% of consumers who search for businesses online are more likely to use ones with an informative social media presence. When you stay in front of your customer base, they’re more likely to buy from you when they need the products and services that you sell.
At this point in the game, not having an active social media presence will seem like you are out of touch or you don’t care about your customers. This can harm your image and presence in the business world. Social media is not just a passing fab!