Are you thinking of starting to market your small-business using this thing called “Social Media”?
There is no need really to go into whether social media will work for your business or not, because I’m sure that you probably read a million and one articles that prove the importance of social media to businesses of all sizes.
The question to ask now isn’t whether social media is effective or not, the real question is how to make use of those social platforms to reach a wider audience and connect with it on a deeper level.
Let me tell you the scenario that most businesses experience when they start using social media. I get bombarded with dozens of articles everyday discussing how social media marketing is changing the business landscape. I read about all these great case studies from brands I know, where social media has made a huge impact on their businesses.
If all these people are saying that social media works, then it does, RIGHT?
At the beginning, I remain a little bit resistant to this whole idea, because who really wants to radically change their business through incorporating “social” as a major component?
Eventually, I’ll loosen my guards and accept the fact that I need to “be” on social media ASAP or I’m going to get left behind.
I hear that Facebook is awesome and has more than a billion users; Twitter is in the 500 million mark while LinkedIn has more than 200 million users. I decide to create an account on every social network known to humanity! The social networks are “FREE” to use, so why wouldn’t I use them all?
I start posting regularly to each social network. I try to be as relevant and interesting as I could be. I go even further and purchase a gazillion of those fake fans and followers as an ego boost thinking that those hollow accounts generated by robots might get smarter and interact back someday.
After a while from posting regularly, I realize that none of the activities I’m doing is really contributing to my business’s bottom-line. Seems like I wasted a ton of time, effort and probably money without getting any real return; I get disappointed from this whole social media thing. I go into a denial mode and decide that social media doesn’t work!
Do you find that scenario familiar?
Social media marketing isn’t about platforms and cool tools as much as we want it to be. It’s about the big picture (the overall strategy) that only when its separate pieces work together properly, it’ll start making significant improvement to your business.
That’s why I’m bringing you my 7 step process to create the perfect social media marketing strategy for your business.
1. Identifying goals
This is the step that many business owners forget to go through. How are you going to determine if social media is improving your business’s bottom-line or not if you don’t have specific goals in the first place?
When I say identifying goals, I mean by that business goals. We can go the wrong way and measure social media goals at first, but after a while we’ll realize that all of those so called goals we’re trying to reach (mostly irrelevant vanity metrics) aren’t contributing to the business growth.
I’m sure you heard this elsewhere, but in order to make the most of your strategy, you need to set S.M.A.R.T goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely).
Many business owners think that the only goal they should achieve from social media is making more money! While making money is the biggest reason we’re in business, social media is not to be treated as a conventional selling machine. The currency of social media isn’t dollars as the case with direct selling approaches. It is reach, engagement and advocacy that will eventually lead to more sales through social media.
2. Market research
I believe that most small businesses fail because of this particular step.
How many times you heard business owners complain about the fact that they have a considerable following, yet they’re not producing enough or any sales at all?
I get this concern a lot from business owners who have a good amount of traffic, a big enough email list and a good following across social media channels, yet they fail to achieve their business goals through social media.
You need to put in mind a specific type of people you’re trying to reach in order to not waste your efforts on others who are not a good fit for your business. What I mean by that is putting a description to your “Ideal Customer” like this: A male/female who is 30-50 years old, has a local restaurant with 3-10 employees, their business income is between $300K-$500K, they like entrepreneurship, food…etc.
The more accurate your description is, the better your conversions will be.
3. Choosing the right tools and platforms
This particular step will save you lots of time, effort, money and mostly headache. Before you can jump in and sign up with every social platform you find in your way, you need to consider the previous step which is market research.
When you really know your “Ideal Customer”, then you’ll know where they hang out online as well.
Facebook is a given for most businesses because it has over a billion users (which is almost everyone online!). However, that’s not enough to determine the effectiveness of a platform for your business. You might realize that LinkedIn is way better for your business than any other platform. The key is to find where your prospects are spending their time online and interact with them on those platforms. Also, you need to figure out what type of platform works for your business the most so you can concentrate most of your efforts on it.
After you identify the best candidates for your social strategy, you need to compile a list of tools that will help you implement, track and report every task later. These tools vary from audience building and content creation to social media management and tracking tools. Choose what works for your business the most!
4. Allocating budget and resources
Now we’re talking money!
Money is the biggest concern for most small-business owners. However, the businesses that thrive are the ones that try new initiatives no matter how hard it is for them to pull that money out of their pockets.
You should set a specific budget for your social media marketing efforts. Then, you should distribute it across the various factors needed to make the strategy work like: a social media manager, the tools, advertising…etc.
Allocating budget doesn’t always have to be pulling money out of your pocket. You can easily identify marketing strategies that aren’t producing enough profit and substitute them with new initiatives (or at least decrease their budget and assign it to social media marketing).
5. Social branding
What I mean by social branding is designing your online communication channels in a way that ensures brand consistency. A good example would be Coca-Cola. Whenever you land on one of their online properties, you always have the same impression/feeling. Maintaining a consistent brand image across your digital channels will help your business connect better with your prospective customers.
Your business branding should be a result of the work you’ve done to identify your “Ideal Customer”. It’s your business personality that will attract the right type of people. Would you think that prospects will buy from someone with a good personality which they like or another one who doesn’t have a consistent personality at all?
6. Designing and implementing a posting strategy
This is where all the insights you gathered from the previous steps come in handy.
Remember, your business is unique. Your audience is unique. If you want higher engagement rates, then you should base your posting on what your audience is most interested in. You should also know that not every social platform is the same in terms of what type of content you should post. What works best on Facebook, doesn’t work the same on LinkedIn or Twitter.
Depending on your prospects’ behavior, you should be able to reach them at times when they’re supposed to be on the platforms you’re using, with a posting frequency that doesn’t annoy them, yet keeps your brand on top of their minds and with the right type of posts that suits each platform as well as your audience preferences.
For example, when someone is on Facebook, they don’t expect the same type of content comparing to when they’re on LinkedIn. When they’re on Facebook, they expect to connect with family or friends, consume light content such as funny images and probably stalk their exes.
When someone is on LinkedIn, then they’re mostly in the business mode either searching for a job, connecting with peers or consuming highly helpful content that will move their careers or businesses forward. This differentiation will help you get higher engagement rates on each platform and by that connect better with your prospects.
7. Tracking, reporting and assessing
This is where you track your efforts, report them through various metrics and figure out how you can improve your results.
You’re probably not going to get the results you wish from your first round of implementing the steps listed above. There will always be things missing that you can learn from tracking, reporting and assessing your efforts in order to improve your understanding of your particular audience and enhance your business.
This last step of the process is your guidance system that will help you save more time, effort and money while improving the return on your investment. If you can identify those areas that are contributing the most to your business, then you’ll be able to grow your business as faster and less expensive as possible.
So, is social media not working for your business as you wish?
If yes, then what do you think the missing ingredient is according to the steps above? I would love to hear from you in the comment section below.