As more and more people use social media throughout their daily lives, the importance of developing and maintaining a strong online presence has never been clearer. However, while many businesses are keen to have a stab at social media, the reality is that many SMEs and start-ups simply don’t have the time, knowledge or resources available to do so.
Since the importance of a social media strategy should never be overlooked, it’s essential to ensure that you know the best course of action that will allow you to maximise your business’ online potential. Here is a simple guide to help you through the basics of setting up and developing a strong social media strategy for your business.
Which Social Channels?
There is a wide range of different social channels available, all of which have their own unique set of benefits and drawbacks. While Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are arguably the most beneficial for businesses, depending on a multitude of influencing factors, other social channels like Snapchat, LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitch could also be useful.
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When you are deciding which social channels your business should use, here are some important factors you should take into consideration:
- Audience – Who is your business’ target audience? How old are they? What are their interests? Each social network has its own unique audience demographics so make sure to pick channels which are in keeping with your target audience’s habits and lifestyle
- Time – How much time do you have to dedicate to your business’ social media? If you only have a limited amount of spare time, stick to just one or two core channels rather than trying to manage everything and doing a poor job. If necessary, you can always scale up your social media in the future
- Size and type of business – Similarly, if you are a small business or even a one-man band, the likelihood is that you will have significantly less time to dedicate to your social media than bigger organisations. Try not to overstretch yourself and let your social strategy grow and develop naturally over time
Initial Channel Set Up
Once you’ve decided which social networks you want to use, the next step is to get everything set up and ready to go! At this stage, here are the things you should consider:
- Professionalism – Remember that you will be representing your business, so always do your best to keep things professional
- Who will have access? – While multiple people can help generate ideas, it may be simpler to limit the number of people who have access to your business’ social channels while you are getting things set up and established
- Brand voice and tone – It’s important to project a united front across everything to do with your business, and this includes your social media. Pick a brand voice and stick to it!
- Branding and brand identity – Similarly, you should ensure that your social media channels maintain the branding of your website and any offline promotional material like advertising, logos, slogans and colour schemes
Trial and Error Strategy
Everything is set up and ready to go, so it’s time to unleash your creativity! Here are some things you should bear in mind:
- Frequency and time of posting – Different platforms are active at different times, so mix up your posting schedule and see what generates the best results
- Split testing – You could try running several versions to see what works best – this is a great way to assess the success of ideas or strategies
- Types of posts – See what content your audience responds to best and mix things up a bit! Examples of different post types include: text, links, third party shares, images, video, polls, infographics…
- Customer service – Don’t forget to respond to comments and queries! Social media is fast becoming one of the most important business tools for customer service so it’s important to respond to people in a timely, professional and friendly manner
Analyse the Results
Once you have engaged in a lengthy period of trial and error, it’s time to analyse the results and see how you can use these tests to develop a better social strategy. These are the types of things you should be looking for:
- Post popularity – Shares, likes, retweets, comments and general engagement are all perfect examples of how popular your content is with your audience
- Growth and development – This will typically be characterised by new followers, engagements and conversions or clicks through to your website
Tweak Your Strategy Accordingly
The results are in and your findings are clear to see; this means that it’s time to adapt your strategy and tweak your approach to social media in accordance with your findings. What worked? What didn’t work? What can you do better and what should you keep doing?
To reap the best results from your social media channels, this should be a constant process of trialling new things, assessing the results, then adapting your strategy accordingly. By keeping things fresh and constantly catering to the changing needs of your ever-growing audience, you should be well placed to grow your business’ social media channels and work towards an effective multi-channel approach to online digital marketing.
Of course, although this may seem like a simple, black and white method, the reality is that social media isn’t always quite so straightforward. There is no such thing as a one size fits all approach to social media marketing and sometimes, what works well for one business could be catastrophic for another! If you are struggling to navigate the murky waters of social media, finding it difficult to grow your following or simply lacking the time you need to stay up to date with all your channels, you may find it beneficial to call in an expert – check this out for more information on digital marketing services.
However you choose to go about growing, developing and maintaining your business’ social media strategy, the truth of the matter is that big and small companies alike are bound to benefit from the increased visibility, website traffic and conversions that a strong, effective social media presence can bring. The initial set up process may seem like a lot of work, but do it right and it won’t be long before you are reaping the rewards of all that hard work!