Before you begin anything with social media for your business, it’s imperative to have a foolproof social strategy mapped out.
If you’re interested in being online just for the heck of it, then have at it! But, if you’re looking to drive traffic back to your website, build a genuine following that will support your business, and ultimately sell products, then a strategy needs to be in place to get you there.
No ifs, ands, or buts. If you’re spending time on social media without a strategic plan, then you’re wasting a lot of time and energy. Period.
It may seem daunting and at times confusing, to work on creating a social media strategy. However, all you need to know and put into place is who you are as a business owner, how to set your business goals for each social channel, and how to translate your actions into deliverable results toward each goal.
Another thing to keep in mind, is that nothing is set in stone: you can refine and adjust your strategy at any time. Whether you’re new to social media or have been posting haphazardly without a strategy for years, you can still create an effective strategy today.
Let’s go over what you need to do, in order to create a winning social strategy for your business today.
1. Defining Goals.
Before you begin on social media, it’s important to ask yourself what exactly you seek to get from your investment on social media.
Are you looking to drive traffic back to your site? Do you want to sell products or offer services? Do you want to become better known within your industry? All of the above? These are just a few of the questions you should be asking yourself when approaching social media.
Clearly stating these goals will help you to ultimately outline your overall strategy, and give you benchmarks to refer back to, when monitoring your progress.
The second most important decision to make (the first being setting your goals) when defining your strategy is to ask yourself which social media platforms will best serve your business.
Contrary to popular opinion, your business does not need to be on every social media platform. There just isn’t enough time in the day for small businesses with limited resources to be on every single platform.
If there’s a budget and you are able to hire a social media manager to create a social strategy that’ll deliver on all of these platforms, then perfect! Explore all of your options. But in my experience, most small businesses should pick 2-3 social media channels and really focus on deliver results with those.
Figuring out where you should be on social media takes some research, testing, and asking yourself questions.
Here’s where you should start. Where is your community? How about your professional peers? Where are they? What’s working for them? There’s no shame in emulating what your professional peers are doing, especially if they’re in a position you see your business in one day. What sites are they on? Where do you gravitate as a business?
These are all important points to research and look into. If you’re a creative business that sells products, Instagram and Pinterest may be where you want to focus your time. If you’re angling to be a consultant or freelance designer, perhaps Twitter and Instagram could be your best shot at being discovered by potential clients.
This is an area you really want to think about and do a lot of research in. Go to your community and your peers. Look into where they are hanging out. Pay attention to their engagement rate.
There’s a lot of discussion online that Facebook Brand Pages no longer work well for small businesses. While there is some merit to that argument, I continue to see small creative businesses doing very well on Facebook. Don’t let all the noise influence your decision about where your business should be. Do your research.
3. Content Strategy.
Here’s the fun part, creating engaging content!
This is where you get to let your products, services, and knowledge in your space, really shine. Part of being on social media is sharing content that engages your community and followers. When you start to think about what kind of content you will share, keep in mind that it should align with your goals for the platform you’re on.
Content that is relevant to your brand and communities interest, is where you should focus. There’s a marketing rule of thumb referred to as the 80/20 rule (it’s actually called the Pareto principle but you’ll rarely hear anyone refer to it as that). In social media, 80/20 rule is the premise that one should share content eighty percent of the time that builds, supports, and engages your community, while the remaining twenty percent is dedicated to selling.
As consumers, we’re tired of being sold to. People no longer appreciate being talked to in a way that feels smarming and sleazy. With the proliferation of social media and content marketing, people have started to really crave being spoken to as human beings, and not just mindless consumers. Keep this in mind when you craft your content.
I’ll give you a look into what my content strategy looks like.
As a digital strategist whose business goals are to be hired as a consultant, write articles, speak at events, and teach workshops, I approach social media with these goals in mind. I like to share informative articles and resources regarding social media and technology. This takes the form of all sorts of content, but I mainly focus on articles, resources, and events that I share through links on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. I then compliment that content with links to my services, event pages for my workshops, signup forms to my newsletter, and so on.
My goals are not just to entice people to hire me, but to actually help my community build a better online strategy, so I offer a lot of free content through my content strategy. If I post 5 times throughout the day, one of those posts will be about driving traffic back to my website or an event I am part of.
Pro-Tip: Most business owners don’t have the luxury of being online all day like myself, so I often encourage people to schedule out their social media (using tools like Buffer and Edgar) and create a content calendar based around some of the best SEO tips for photographers. Having a calendar is a great way to plan out what you’ll share, while at the same time being able to visually see special events and holidays.
4. Brand Voice.
As I mentioned above, people no longer want to be sold to.
Consumers want to interact with an actual person behind the product or service. This is really important when thinking about not only how to talk to your community on social media, but how you’ll present your products or services to them.
Buffer offers a really excellent guide on how to find your social media voice. They also discuss the difference and importance between voice and tone.
Think about how exactly you want to talk and convey your business to your potential customers. Perhaps there are words you want to stay away from when describing a product, or a tone that is important for you when addressing your services.
I urge you to write out how you want to convey this online. This is what’s called a Style Guide. Many businesses have living documents that outline core beliefs on how to engage online. They list everything from what their graphic assets are, to the grammar and punctuation that is used online. It’s a good document to keep everyone on the same page when using social media.
5. ROI: Measuring, Monitoring, and Optimizing.
Lastly, now that you’ve put all of this hard work into place it’s important to track it and pay attention to your return on investment. There’s all sorts of ways to do this, but a good place to start is mentions, website traffic (Google Analytics and Mixpanel are the best places to track your traffic), and engagement statistics (some social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest offer data that you can monitor).
Pay attention to what content encourages engagement, and be conscious of the fact that replicating that more often will likely result in more success for your business.
As I mentioned above, this can take a few different forms. Are you getting a lot of comments? Pay attention to your mentions and likes. What platforms are driving the most traffic back to your site? Are you optimizing these posts for your ability to make money with photography online? Analyze Google Analytics by clicking on Acquisition, All Traffic, then Source/Medium, and Referrals. This will tell you what social sites and outside websites are driving traffic back to your website, and if that traffic is converting.
Analyze the content you’re sharing by utilizing analytics from Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Each of these sites will show you the engagement rate on the content you’re sharing. Monitor this and continually redefine what content works well and what doesn’t.
This is a broad overview of what should be in your social media strategy. You can get really type A around this stuff, as long as you’re not distracting yourself from your core business, or you can go for just covering all your bases, but the the point is that you’re meeting your goals.
Remember, all of the above can be continually revisited as you learn from your experience and practice. Platforms change due to algorithms, community participation, and new platforms arise all the time. Things change daily in the social media landscape, keep this in mind as you continue to build your presence online and adjust accordingly. Good luck and have fun! Remember this is why you’re in business for yourself!
Check out Double Your Followers with Creative Marketing and see how entrepreneur, April Bowles-Olin rapidly grew multiple online businesses with social media marketing.