As more business migrates online, small business owners who understand traditional marketing are being forced to adapt a new skill set. Social media marketing can be a low cost, highly effective marketing strategy when properly executed.
The key to social media is adjusting your approach away from sales oriented language and adapting a social media strategy to engage your audience and build relationships. Effective social media is focused on providing content that will educate, inform or entertain the reader.
A social media marketing campaign is a long-term commitment that requires dedicated resources and focus. Social media engagement works best when it uses a proactive approach built on honesty and open communication. Here are 5 steps to take when crafting your social media strategy that will help you to connect and make an impact.
1. Clearly Define Your Goals and Objectives.
Determine who will be responsible for social media within your organization. Outline your goals and objectives and understand how they fit into your corporate culture. Make your goals specific, attainable, realistic, relevant to your organization, and measurable.
2. Research EVERYTHING!
Don’t just blindly jump into social media. Develop your social media strategy slowly. Test the waters, do a bit of research and know what to expect. Start by analyzing your current client base to determine where they go for information. Using buyer personas is a proven technique for developing a strong social media strategy. Make a list of potential social media sites that are most likely informational sources for your clientele. Because of their “giant” status, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are great places to start your research. Dig deeper, research relevant blogs and secondary sites. Seek out your competitors online. Search for your company name, brand name, and target keywords. Identify the key influencers in your field and get to know your target audience.
3. Create a File of Contacts and Content.
As you identify the influencers in your field, begin to follow them on Facebook and other sites. Subscribe to their blog. Join in conversations and contribute. You are building a network that is relevant to your business. As it becomes time to release your own content, you will already have a network in place to engage. Remember to approach social media honestly, openly and respectfully. If you do, your relationships will begin naturally. Begin by following to become a leader.
4. Measure Your Results!
Remember, your goals should be relevant and measurable. For example, if your goal is to increase brand presence across social networks, at the end of a reasonable period of time you should see a measurable increase in facebook fans, twitter followers or blog comments. If your goal is to increase traffic to your website promote on social media outlets and keep track of where site visitors come from. Remember, stay committed to your plan’s goals and objectives.
5. Analyze and Adapt.
Your social media strategy should be fluid and flexible. It doesn’t end with measurement. You need to constantly analyze your efforts and adapt your approach to your findings to improve your process and results. Testing and experimenting can significantly improve your social media results.
As you become more active in the social media community you will learn what works and what doesn’t. It’s easy to become overwhelmed and veer off course when it comes to social media. Getting started by developing a solid social media strategy makes smart business sense. Stick with your plan. Set realistic goals, measure results, analyze, adapt, and improve. You’ll find that social media will become a valuable piece of your overall marketing efforts.