As an entrepreneur you are likely spending time, effort, and possibly money on social media marketing. Too often we get caught up in the “how” of things; what to post, when to post, and what tools to manage it all. However, the reality is: the “how” is tactical and leads small businesses into doing what they “should” be doing rather than what’s best for their business and unique goals.
Instead, it is time to focus on the strategy behind social media so you can get clear about your social purpose and drive meaningful business results. Tricks and tools are great, but if you haven’t nailed down a strategy, you are wasting your precious time.
Here are three ways to infuse more strategy into your social media marketing efforts:
Tap Into Why
It’s easy to end up on social media and lose sight of why you are there in the first place. We can easily get swept up in the hype around a new social media platform and start using it without a true connection to how it will actually impact business. Obviously, social media can help you form stronger relationships with customers, but how does that tie back to your big picture?
Are you planning to drive sales, improve customer service, or something else entirely? Considering social media with your why in mind can create clarity and ensure you are using the right marketing tactics to reach your audience. Think beyond the basics of connecting with customers and consider additional ways in which social media can help you reach your business goals.
For example, you can use Twitter to build relationships with reporters and journalists … eventually turning it into positive press coverage. This too can bring customers to your door or company website. Or, perhaps you prefer to find ways to stay top of mind with existing customers in a fun and informal way so they think of you next time they are ready to purchase. Remember, there’s more to social media than just making sales.
Set Serious Goals
Once you have developed a clear why, it’s time to set social goals. And I don’t mean the: “I want 25,000 followers” kind of goal. While an abundance of followers may be helpful to extend your reach, they don’t always translate into bottom line sales or support your why.
Instead, you need are SMART goals: specific, measurable, assignable, realistic, and time bound plans. Instead of saying, “We’ll grow our email list,” you can say “We will grow our email list by 1,000 subscribers by the end of 2014.” With SMART social goals, you’ll be able to determine what needs to happen and put a real social media plan in place with the actions, support, and measurement you need to be successful.
Test and Correct
Social media is constantly changing and evolving, so it’s important to test and correct your strategy as you go. Back in late 2013 when Facebook changed its algorithms, many people saw their reach plummet and plans for Facebook greatness went down the tubes. Change is going to happen and you’re at its mercy on third-party platforms. Be open to trying new things, playing with new social media platforms, and creating new types of content.
The key to testing social media successfully is investing time to gather enough information and decide if something is working or not. If it is going well, build on it. If not, tweak and correct until you find something that works better. Part of measuring your social media efforts also includes defining what success means to you.
If you are testing Facebook ads, for instance, determine what you consider to be a successful conversion and how much you can afford to pay for each one to make ads a viable part of your plan. If you are trying out a new social media platform instead, identify what factors make it a good fit for your brand and strategy; then evaluate how it measures up.
Without a strategy, social media marketing can quickly become a major waste of time and effort. Investing a bit of time on an ongoing basis to think about your big picture and what can help you paint it will help you deliver major business results. It will also make it easier to answer all of the “how” questions you may still be asking yourself.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Sophie Bujold is a social media strategist and speaker who works with small businesses to help them get results from social networks. Click to download her Giant List of Post Ideas, a free ebook full of ideas for talk-worthy social media content. Connect with @sophiebujold on Twitter.
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