Before you get carried away posting ‘this image or sharing ‘that post’ on your newly created Facebook page (because you couldn’t find the one that was created 5 years ago by someone that used to work for you) and get started with your social media efforts it is important to have an effective social media strategy for business.
Even then a social media strategy is a multi-layered undertaking made up of several important steps. To those businesses that know that they need to improve their social media presence but don’t know where to start there are a few questions that you need to ask yourself first:
1. What Are Your Social Media Objectives?
For most businesses, the objective of your social media efforts might seem obvious. You want to increase sales and be busier! You want a page with thousands of followers and you want the sales to come flooding in.
Expectation vs reality vary significantly here.
While social media is an integral part of your marketing strategy, it is just one element. It is an important element but it is not going to make you rich overnight. In fact, if your only goal is to make quick money from social media then stop now.
The amount of clients that we have met over the years that expect social media to transform their business is significant and we find ourselves constantly managing the expectations of those that believe it is going to make them really busy. In truth, even for us, it’s not easy to achieve some of the goals set by our clients – especially without investing in social media marketing ads. If it was that easy, Facebook wouldn’t make the kind of money that they make and the market would be even more saturated than it already is. We start each process with an effective social media strategy for business.
There are many, much smaller goals and objectives that should be considered as achievable as part of an effective social media strategy for business. The objective could be to build a relevant Facebook following and a community for your business. To achieve the objective, you need to set smaller SMART goals.
One such goal could be to reach 100 followers in month 1. This goal is SMART for the following reasons:
- Specific – it is a very specific goal – reach 100 followers
- Measurable – you can measure it by hoe many followers you achieve in a month
- Achievable- by networking and inviting your friends, existing customers etc, this is achievable
- Realistic – 100 followers is a realistic goal – 10,000 – not so!
- Timed – By the end of month 1 gives you a time goal
There are many smaller goals that will help you to reach the overall objective. These could include, creating the page, ensuring that it is consistent with your brand image, having all of the sections completed, posting 2 posts per week for a month, reaching 100 followers etc.
What is the Purpose of Your Social Media Pages?
Is the Facebook page a point of reference, somewhere for your business to have an online presence in a place where many of your customers spend time? Maybe you have built your own website and you want to share your content to social channels. Perhaps, you want to build a community and have somewhere you can talk directly to your customers? There are many reasons for businesses to start a Facebook page but you need to be more specific than the fact that everyone else is doing it or someone told you that you needed a page.
Don’t Just Dabble
The key to an effective social media strategy is consistency therefore there is no point in setting up a page, posting a couple of times and then just walking away from it. You need to make sure that you have a commitment to posting regularly even if that’s just once or twice a week. Think about the type of thing that you’re going to post. Too many people make the mistake of wanting their social media to be a platform to sell while you can use these methods to deliver subliminal sales messages and the odd offer or discount primarily you are looking to build and engage a community.
Engage and Build a Community
Social media is where people go to socialise otherwise it would be called sales media. It’s not somewhere you go to consistently sell your wares. If you employ this tactic, you will very quickly disengage your audience and lose followers. From the outset you need to decide what social media platforms you are going to use. For many businesses, Facebook is the starting point. With millions of people now using Facebook daily to catch up with their friends look for recommendations, share content etc. it has become a platform for businesses to build a community and engage with their followers.
Once you have come up with your social media objectives, you need to check what you already have in terms of social media presence.
2. Audit Your Current Social Media
What does this mean? At the beginning of this article we mentioned the Facebook page that someone set up for you 5 years ago before they left their company. This happens all too often. You may have had an old Facebook account which you set up a page from and now you can’t find it. If you are already on Facebook, you can soon find out by carrying out a search for yourself. Type in your company name and see what you can find. You can also try Googling your business to see if there are any search returns from Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn for example. If you do have old pages, see if you can gain access to them before setting up new pages.
WARNING – THIS CAN BE A FRUSTRATING EXPERIENCE AND YOU ARE GOING TO NEED TIME OR HELP.
If the page was created by a former employee that you no longer have contact with, we suggest getting in touch with Facebook support to see if they can help. This may take a few days. If you have an old account, see if you can get back into it. Maybe the page is set up on your current account – just check if you have any pages created.
Likewise, repeat the process with the other platforms. If all else fails and you cannot find a way to access or delete old profiles, create new ones but you may have to choose a different user name.
If you do have old pages, update them – change your profile, cover photos and make sure all info is current and correct.
3. Know Your Audience
If you run an 18-30’s holiday company and advertise your products to people over 30, you’d be wasting your time. Likewise, if you advertise car insurance to people who can’t drive, pointless. Obviously basic marketing denotes that you should know your audience. Who is buying your products? A core part of devising an effective social media strategy is to do your research and consider who you are marketing your products to and trying to engage with.
Creating an avatar (or multiple) of your typical customer/s can help you ensure your marketing efforts are targeted at the correct people and that you are reaching a relevant audience. Spend some time thinking about that person and who they are – not just how old they are and whether they are male of female. Consider the following:
- Give your customer a name – make them a real person
- Are they single, married, do they have kids, want kids etc?
- Where do they live – what sort of house, homeowner or renter?
- Do they drive, if so, what do they drive?
- Where do they work?
- Do they have children?
- Where do they go on holiday?
- How to they spend their spare time?
All of this information will give you a better idea of not only where you should be focusing your efforts but also what sort of content to promote and who to target any ads at.
4. Decide Which Platforms to Use
Unless you have an outsourced social media agency, or you have lots of time to dedicate to your social media, we suggest starting off with just one page or two. Facebook and Instagram are always a good combo but these might not be suitable for all businesses. Don’t try and post every single day, multiple times just because you have seen someone else doing it. You will soon get bored and run out of content not to mention, your audience will get spammed.
We already discussed creating customer avatars so that you can build a picture of your typical customer/s. This info will also help you determine the best platforms to use.
The platforms that you choose will also depend on the type of content you are sharing. If it is very much link based – somewhere to share products, articles, information etc. then you want a link sharing platform such as Facebook or LinkedIn. If it’s more image led then you are better off using Instagram where you can’t share links.
5. Come up With a Content Plan
Trust us when we say this is going to make a huge difference to your social media efforts. If you are going to be posting yourself, ensure that you know what you are going to post. It’s all too easy to post something today and not think about tomorrow. Sit down and write out all the different types of posts you could share – blog links, product photos, staff photos, customer feedback, graphics, quotes, seasonal content etc. We have a whole guide to 30 days of Facebook content here to help.
You don’t have to have every post ready to go, although scheduling content in advance will help. Instead just write down themes by week. We tend to start with the overarching themes
- Sales post
- Link to useful information
- Funny post/engagement post
- Team photo
Each post is designed to achieve something different and gives you variety so that people don’t get bored. You could post the same stuff everyday but trust us when we say that people will soon switch off.
Use Scheduling Tools
If you have a content plan and you are able to come up with content in advance, schedule it. You can either use Facebook’s Business Suite (mobile) or Creator Studio (desktop) to create posts and schedule them for later or you can use a scheduling tool such as Hootsuite. These mean that you can plan and schedule at least some of your content in advance.
That’s a lot of information to digest right? However, following the 5 social media strategy steps listed above will help you create a robust and effective social media strategy and ensure that you efforts are not in vain. Our top tip? Be patient. Social media success does not happen overnight. It takes time and often considerable effort to build a successful social media strategy for business. Good luck.