Who would have thought the social media would grow to become a powerful lever for business? For awhile social media was thought of as a fad; a venue for people to rant about politics, post a selfie with the best Bubble Tea in town or share the latest meme on Donald Trump.
It did not take much time for business to take note of social media’s exponential growth. To give you a snapshot, in the United States only 7% of Internet users spent online time on social media in the year 2000. Fast forward to 2015, and 65% of online time is spent on social media.
Today 2.34 Billion people are on social media every day. Facebook leads all networks with 1.5 Billion members. In Asia-Pacific where there are 4.1 Billion people, 1.2 Billion of the 1.6 Billion Internet users are on social media every day!
Singapore with a population of 5.4 Million people has 4 Million daily Internet users 74% of whom regularly spend time in social media.
With such huge numbers come greater opportunities to generate revenues for business. But you have to approach social media with thought, purpose and strategy. Otherwise the social media marketing strategy becomes a convoluted mess:
· Social media marketing campaign will have no clear direction
· Objectives are misaligned with their goals
· No mechanisms in place to measure progress
· No processes to calculate ROI
· No set parameters to determine success or failure
· No rhyme or reason to the activities that have been outlined in the campaign brief
· No contingencies or alternative courses of action in place to mitigate a sure disaster
The social media marketing strategy becomes a train wreck of epic proportions.
Every journey you commit to take needs a plan. The goal at the end of the journey must be established and the objectives or benchmarks toward that end must likewise be pinpointed and identified.
A comprehensive and well- thought out plan becomes the foundation of an effective and actionable social media marketing strategy.
What is a Social Media Marketing Strategy?
A Social Media Marketing Strategy is a blueprint of all the courses of action you plan to undertake in order to accomplish your goals for your business using the various social media channels.
Here are a few steps in designing your social media marketing strategy:
Step 1: Establish CLEAR Goals
Every journey has a beginning and an end. In most cases, where you end determines where you begin. The end of the journey, of course, means the accomplishment of your goal or goals.
Goal- setting is an effective way of establishing the direction of your journey. But how should you set goals?
For years people have been encouraged to set SMART goals, SMART being the acronym for:
S – Specific
But social media has changed the game. People now have avenues to voice out their opinions, thoughts and ideas. They can influence business decisions and strategy design.
SMART may no longer be relevant because consumers are more dynamic and unpredictable. It’s difficult to be specific when tastes and demand preferences can change overnight because of a post or a share.
At a time where social media has become a powerful influence, another acronym for goal-setting may be more appropriate:
C- Collaborative; goals should encourage people to work together
L- Limited; goals should be limited in duration and scope
E- Emotional; goals should establish emotional connectivity with people and
inspire them to work with greater passion and commitment
A-Appreciable; goals should be broken down into smaller units so they can be
R- Refinable; goals should remain firm but flexible, you should allow your goals to
be modified as warranted by new information or developments
For example, you’ve set a goal of increasing sales by 20% in 3 months time. How does CLEAR apply?
· Collaborative – In the social media marketing team, the SEO professional and the Web Designer will work together to optimize the pages. The SEO professional will provide the Content Writer the most searched keywords as basis for writing all blogs and articles. The Digital Marketer will execute the social media plan, prepare the schedule of activities and work with the Web Designer on analytics.
· Limited – Sales targets are measured on a quarterly basis.
· Emotional – By consistently attaining sales targets, team can encourage more clients to come on-board which opens career opportunities for everyone.
· Appreciable – The road to 20% sales increase starts with 10% in month 1 and 15% in month 2.
· Refinable – If sales targets for month 1 is not attained and month 2 is falling behind expectation, revisions in strategy design particularly in the calendar of activities shall be undertaken.
Step 2: Conduct Research
Research is an important activity in every venture. You have to know what you are getting yourself into before getting involved.
In social media marketing, you have to conduct research on the 2 crucial components of your strategy design: Your customers and your competition.
· Customers – As previously stated, social media has changed the consumer landscape. People have more access to information. They can easily be influenced by a share or post or idea by a renowned thought leader.
Social media has made consumer demand more unpredictable and dynamic. But at the same time, it has given you the means to pinpoint their interests by studying their online behavior and consumption patterns.
What you would need to do is to create a Buyer’s Persona so you would have an idea on whom to target your social media marketing efforts to. Identify the key demographics:
§ Income Bracket
§ Number of Children
§ Likes or Dislikes
It is highly possible for the demographics of your Buyer Persona to change. You would need to keep track of these changes simply by analyzing your content in social media.
§ What types of content are getting more “likes”?
§ What types of content are getting shared more often?
§ Who are the ones who comment frequently?
§ Are most of the comments favorable or not?
When you post in social media it must have purpose and intent to guide the type of content for publication.
· Competition – Why should you use social media marketing? Because your competition is using it to target the same customers you are.
You should research on your competition to have an idea of their approach to landing more customers. Check their posts and study their content:
§ Are they writing mostly about business or about issues and events that interest the consumer?
§ How often are they promoting new products and services?
§ Which social networks are they more active on?
§ What medium are they using more? Videos? Images? Text?
§ How often do they publish content?
§ Which ones generate the most “likes” and shares?
§ How do they handle negative reviews or comments?
§ Are they attentive to customer concerns?
You should see for yourself how responsive your competition is. For example, if you are a proprietor of chocolates, message your competitor and ask how many days advance notice they need to book an order for delivery.
The objective is to find out the speed of the response time. A response time longer than 24 hours is not good customer service.
You can use these bits of information to design your social media marketing strategy.
Step 3: Work on the Messaging
Now that you’ve developed a firmer grasp on who your market is and what your competitors are doing, it’s time to work on the message you want delivered.
Messaging is the voice behind your social media marketing campaign. What do you want to tell your audience? It does not have to be detailed. Rather, it is a broad scope of ideas that you believe would resonate with your market.
You can reference the message of your competitors. Use bits and pieces of their content and re-work it to reflect your own ideas. But take the time and effort to conceptualize your own messaging that uniquely represents your brand.
Step 4: Identify Your Social Networks
When designing your social media marketing strategy, you should understand that not all networks function in the same way.
LinkedIn is a great social media site for building your professional network and establishing your expertise in your field. Twitter is a wonderful network to use to acquire followers and contacts. Facebook has the largest social media community and is effective in distributing content.
If you’re in food retail or fashion, you would be more suited for Pinterest or Instagram.
Identify 2 or 3 social media networks that can ably support the needs and demands of your social media marketing campaign.
Step 5: Adapt a Content Marketing Process
Content marketing is an effective process for generating interest for your business because people are drawn to great content. But what qualifies as great content? It must be:
Research will help you conceptualize the types of content your audience may be interested in. It should address a need, concern or provide valuable information. Of course, it must not only be well-written but easy to read.
Although blogging is widely considered the centerpiece of the content marketing process, it is not the only medium you should utilize.
Consider the use of videos, guides and infographics which will still deliver your message effectively and efficiently to your market.
For sure you are familiar with this quote by Robert Burns, “The best laid out plans of mice and men often go astray.”
It means it doesn’t matter how well you mapped out your plans. You should always be prepared for the unexpected.
That holds true for any social media marketing plan. Even if you’ve invested time, effort and resources to design one that you are steadfastly confident of, things can always go contrary to expectations.
You have to be ready to come up with alternative courses of action to put your campaign back on track. Remember social media is a community composed of billions of unique personalities all interacting in one venue. Moderating all of these traits and qualities will be difficult. Your best approach is to keep your social media marketing strategy dynamic and ever-evolving.
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