1. What is your goal?
You can mix and match several goals at once, but make sure you have each of them clearly noted somewhere and that each post, pin or tweet is working towards a specific goal.
Goals will generally fall into three categories: to listen, to communicate or to generate word of mouth marketing. Here are some examples of goals in each of these categories.
Listen: improving products and customer-service, finding out why customers like and choose you
Communicate: building brand loyalty, enhancing product awareness
Word of mouth: getting people to recommend you to friends, gaining more followers
2. Who are your audience?
Your target audience will be highly influenced by your social media goals. Bear in mind as well, that the platform you are using will often skew your audience; Pinterest is much more popular with women than men and Facebook attracts a younger audience, for example.
You will also need to identify at which stage in the buying process you want to reach people. The traditional stages of a buying process are: identifying a need or problem, research, considering alternatives, making a purchase decision and post-purchase behaviour. Talking to loyal customers will require a different tone to trying to reach people who have never heard of your product.
3. Which platforms should you use?
This will be heavily influenced by your goals and target audience. Here is a quick run-down of some of the most popular platforms, but the possibilities are endless and a little internet research goes a long way. Think quality over quantity and don’t spread yourself too thinly, you can always add additional platforms at a later stage.
Facebook – good for building brand loyalty, appropriate for showing a more social and friendly side of your business
Pinterest – the best platform for generating revenue for e-commerce websites, the majority of active users are women
Twitter – great for interacting with customers, potential collaborators, the media and anyone else worth having a conversation with!
Google+ – doesn’t have many active users at the moment, but could help your search engine rankings. Developers and users alike are excited about great features and usability, there’s a chance it might be the next Facebook
LinkedIn – this is a great place for B2B to reach out to potential customers and demonstrate their expertise
Youtube – movies are a good way to promote your business but should only be done if you have a decent budget for film-making or someone in house who has the required skills
4. How are you going to give value to your followers?
The only honest way to gain, keep and engage followers is to offer them valuable content on a regular basis. A general rule to check if your social media content is valuable is to ask yourself if it would interest someone if you showed it to them face to face.
For example, most customers like talking to salespeople who can offer expert advice, they don’t mind being alerted to relevant offers but they don’t want someone indiscriminately shoving tons of products in their face; the same applies to social media.
Another example would be a customer stopping and browsing a noticeboard in store. They might be interested in photos of staff, charity fundraising efforts and glowing reviews from customers, but they probably wouldn’t be interested if it was just a rehash of offers already displayed on the website or in the shop window.
5. Keep at it!
Set yourself a schedule for how often you are going to post and stick to it. Gaining followers takes time, but if you consistently provide valuable content tailored to your goals and target audience on an appropriate platform, you will find a warm welcome for your business on social media.
Don’t forget to ask yourself for each post: is this working towards a goal, is this appropriate for my target audience, is it on the best platform and is it going to provide value for my followers. If the answer is a resounding yes, you will find your content is appreciated and you will reach your social media goals.
And if you don’t fancy all this hard work – contact us to leave it to the experts!