Social media is everyone’s new favorite tool and with good reason. It’s cost-effective, relatively straightforward to use and allows unprecedented monitoring and targeting for brands.
But as companies up and down the size scale try and jump on the bandwagon with no clear goals, social media can quickly become a time sink or worse – actively damage the reputation brand. So how do you go about formulating a strategy for social media?
Moving the goalposts
Social media interaction is quicker than that of any other marketing tool and it can be highly tempting for companies to do strategies on the fly and implement new activities without a great deal of planning.
However, one of the most important steps in planning a social media strategy is setting clear goals and then sticking to them. One simple way to measure the return on investment and reign in the amount of time, money and resources you’re ploughing into social media is to set modest ambitions and limits.
Your goals shouldn’t be overly-simple though, so try and steer away from broad aims like ‘increase awareness’ or ‘make more money’ as it can be difficult to gauge the role your social activities have played in achieving these.
Instead, aim for something concrete that you can accurately measure and compare with different periods. For instance, things like improving web traffic, getting more customers into the store, or enhancing interaction via social channels.
What are you doing and what are you eschewing?
Assuming your forays into social media have been successful – it might be a good idea to look at integrating your social activities into your other marketing efforts. This can be as simple as including social media details in physical promotional materials or tying in an email marketing campaign. Similarly, if other channels aren’t performing as expected, it might be a good idea to consider shifting your budget and resources from these over to social.
The message and the money through social media
One oft-repeated marketing tactic is to imagine your ideal customer – and this is no different on social media channels. The incomparable monitoring abilities afforded brands by social media platforms have made targeting the right audience easier than ever.
The first step is to find the channels where your key demographic is active – from Pinterest to YouTube and beyond. Once these are identified, you can start considering how best to use the channels to your advantage and get your message out.
Obviously, what strategy you pursue will largely be dictated by your type of business, but with a little creative thinking – social media really can be made to work, even for the most seemingly-mundane of companies.
Allocate and Evaluate
As opposed to getting too excited about social media, some brands fall into the trap of being overly-cautious and too timid in their activities. While highly cost-effective, social media activity is deceptively resource-intensive, so sticking an intern on the task for a couple of hours a week simply won’t cut it.
You’ll also need to make time to periodically evaluate your progress with social media. Decide on a period and then at the end of this time, scrutinize how well you’ve done in meeting your goals. The myriad analytical tools available for free (or at a marginal price) will be invaluable in seeing what you’ve done well at and where you’ve come up short.
Once you’ve got an idea of your success, you can plan the next batch of goals on the back of this. From this starting point, you can expand or reign in activities as needed and move forward in an effective manner.
While there’s no assurance that you’ll meet with success in social media – by methodically setting goals and evaluating your strengths and weaknesses, you’ll have a much better foundation to work from.
Author Bio: This article brought to you by Gerald Heneghan on behalf of Custard Media, a bespoke PR agency offering a range of tailored search and social media marketing services.
Image used courtesy of Flickr.