Random actions tend to produce random results. That’s why it's important to set goals and create a plan. Some people may argue that extraordinary things can happen randomly - like meeting a soulmate while grocery shopping - however what’s missing from that argument is that a clear intention was set and focus was placed on achieving that goal.This also holds true for social media strategy. Again, some people may argue that some social media success stories didn’t have a plan to start, however the intention to become famous in most cases was there.
Having said that, create an intention now to connect meaningfully with your ideal customers through social media. The rest can be taken care of with this easy 6-step guide.
Social media is essential for businesses of all sizes
At some point in the history of business, a small paper card identifying the name, purpose and address of a business became essential. A similar need on the digital landscape occurred within the last 20 years that required a business to have a presence on the internet in some form.
A website fulfills that purpose and offers an environment for your clients to familiarize themselves with your products and services. Social media platforms take that a step forward by putting your business in front of millions of potential customers.
Producing relevant, engaging content and paying for advertising on these networks can bring customers to you and pay huge dividends in the long run. And even if you don’t have the budget for a huge advertising campaign, you can leverage the power of content marketing via social networks to make your presence known without a large investment.
6 Easy Steps to Social Media Marketing
The following six steps are essential to get started on social media. They are an ideal starting point for most businesses and can serve as a foundation for when the time comes to scale up your operations and take your business to the next level.
Step 1: Choose the right social media tools
Doing a simple internet search will turn up dozens if not hundreds of social media tools. The following sections contain our choices for small businesses to try when getting started, grouped by their function:
Identifying a target audience
Since there are millions (if not billions) of people on social media, it’s important to identify the right audience. SparkToro is a great tool that helps you find your audience and get some insights into what they are looking for and talking about. That kind of information is invaluable for creating content that will reel them into your site so they learn about your products and services.
Applications like HootSuite, Buffer and SproutSocial let you schedule your posts ahead of time. These tools connect you to networks such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube so you can manage your accounts in one place.
Viewing and Analyzing Data
Data is the fuel of most businesses on the internet. Staying in touch with the activities of your visitors and tweaking your strategy to get more clicks is essential. Cross-platform applications like Databox make this possible.
Looking for an all-in-one solution?
Try HubSpot. This full-featured marketing platform combines social media scheduling, monitoring, and reporting (and a lot more) into a single platform.
Step 2: Choose your social media channels and set goals
There are dozens of mainstream social media sites on the internet today and hundreds of fringe networks with niche audiences. How do you know which ones to choose?
For starters, you can try joining some and seeing how they work. As a business owner, you should start getting to know and interacting with your audience through these networks so you can learn more about them.
Each social media site has different demographics. Maybe you know teenagers sharing dancing videos on TikTok, business executives trading strategies on LinkedIn, or relatives sharing pictures of their pets on Facebook. Having said that, not every channel is right for your business so getting some hands-on experience will go a long way towards choosing the right networks.
A good idea is to start with 3-4 different networks and then set some goals that include:
- Driving website traffic
- Building a network
- Growing an audience
- Increasing brand awareness
- Increasing engagement
- Generating leads
Should you claim social media profiles on the major networks, even if you won’t post to them?
Absolutely. You may never intend to post on TikTok in your life, however it is important to claim your username and safeguard your brand in order to prevent others from impersonating your business online.
Step 3: Define what success looks like
Setting a goal is the first step, defining what success looks like comes second.
The method for tracking progress towards that goal is through the use of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that you can follow as your social media presence grows.
Some important KPIs include clickthrough rate, clicks, and sessions by traffic source. Success for most people does not come overnight so be patient. You can track your KPIs weekly and make changes on a monthly basis. The key is to set small goals, achieve them, and to continue refining your strategy over time.
Step 4: Create a content strategy for each social media channel.
We use a strategy called COPE that stands for “Create Once” and “Publish Everywhere”.
COPE, according to the Content Marketing Institute is a “highly sustainable technique of building strong, foundational assets that can be expressed in different forms and easily adapted for use on multiple content channels — as part of a single, unified process.”
In other words, COPE is a strategy that helps you create consistently strong content with a solid message that you can repurpose and share everywhere as part of a single strategy.
Should the same content be posted on all social media channels?
No. Since all social media channels are tailored to different audiences with different questions and experiences, we recommend altering your content to suit each network.
What can I post on social media?
While it may seem like anything goes on social media these days, we suggest you choose content formats that you are comfortable with.
If it’s easier for you to write, then try writing blogs and linking to them. If you’re comfortable being on camera, then consider recording some short videos and sharing them as well. The key is to try as many different types of content so you can see what works best for your brand and audience.
Should I let employees post on social media?
LinkedIn thinks so! Their 3-2-1 framework provides a great way to involve employees in the promotion of your company on social media. They suggest that every 6 pieces of published content should include:
- 3 SMART posts that allow employees to present their knowledge and expertise that could include writing about industry insights, new trends, along with giving useful advice
- 2 PROUD posts that highlight unique aspects of the company culture that can include recent achievements, volunteering efforts and donations to charities
- 1 SUCCESSFUL post that promotes company services, products or job postings
How often should content be posted on social media channels?
Consistency, rather than frequency, is more important where social media is concerned. The amount of posts also depends on the channel and your target audience. Working people and older audiences may have different habits than students and teenagers, so knowing your audience is really important when creating a posting schedule.
It’s also important to consider the lifespan of your content. “Evergreen” content ages well and can be posted throughout the year while “seasonal” content should be replaced accordingly.
Where should I be posting?
While the answer to this may seem obvious, the reality is that you can post to your own feed while participating on other feeds and profiles related to your business. It helps to comment, ask questions, engage, and interact in many places where your audience is located. Groups on LinkedIn and Facebook are great places to start.
Should I follow a specific set of guidelines?
If you have a brand, it may help to have a standard visual and voice guide - especially if multiple people will be posting on your account. Having a set of guidelines in place provides everyone with clear parameters for word and image choices and maintains a standard for how the brand is presented.
Step 5: Set aside a paid media budget (even if it’s small)
Compared to regular posting, paid advertising on social media is much more effective - especially in today’s environment where organic posts don’t go nearly as far as they used to.
We advise that you set aside a small budget to get some extra eyes on your content. It’s often been suggested in the industry to invest twice as much as the average cost of your product or service. If this sounds excessive then start with a smaller amount and work your way up when you start seeing results from your investment.
Step 6: Measure, learn from your results, and keep going
Brian Clark, host of the 7-Figure Small podcast for entrepreneurs is quoted as saying that “No matter what, keep going”.
This is truly the most important piece of advice we can give. We aren’t suggesting that you keep going aimlessly but to remain focused, be consistent, and focus on your plan.
Your social media marketing is a work in progress. Keep trying new things, learn from what didn’t work, congratulate yourself when you reach your goals, and always remember to keep on going!
Ashley Quintana, M.S., B.A.
Ashley Quintana is a co-founder of BridgeRev. In her role, she develops, leads, and executes digital marketing strategies for the company’s growing client base, including a Fortune 500 subsidiary and an NBA basketball team. Ashley’s work can be found in the Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Science, and she is an OKC.biz 40 Under 40 honoree for her leadership in business and community. She frequently speaks at universities, churches, and conferences on marketing, diversity, and business.