Tech Talk With Mike

Although the majority of U.S. small businesses currently use social media marketing, very few have a well-defined and written social media marketing strategy. According to the Social Shakeup Show, a website that keeps small and medium businesses (SMBs) up-to-date with social media trends, only 47% of SMB owners have an active social media strategy, with a good number not even aware of what a social media marketing strategy looks like.

Perhaps your company is in this boat, or you have plan but know it could be enhanced and strengthened. Below, we explain, step-by-step, how you can create an effective social media marketing strategy to take your business to the next level.

SET SOCIAL MEDIA GOALS

Every marketing campaign starts with goal-setting, and social media marketing isn’t any different. Begin by listing down what you want to achieve with the campaign. What would constitute success at the end of the campaign?

Some examples of social media marketing goals include; increasing brand awareness, generating more leads, increasing return on investment (ROI), and building a loyal fan base. Make sure to keep your goals specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).

AUDIENCE REACH

It is pointless to focus your posts to social media users who aren’t and may never be interested in seeing them. To save on resources, you want to show your marketing messages only to users who wish to see them. Audience research will help you identify and target the right users. You need to identify a definition of who the targets are (demographics), the social networks they prefer, time of day that they’re most likely to be online, and so forth.

This helps you write social content that speaks to them, and it also helps you target your paid advertising on social media to that audience.

PERFORMANCE INDICATORS

We recommend that you consider four primary metrics; reach, engagement, sentiment, and CTR. By watching these, you are getting a gauge on the effectiveness of your social media marketing. Reach is the number of unique users who see your post over a given period (e.g., one day or one week). Engagement (given as a ratio) is the number of social interactions generated divided by impressions. A post’s sentiment, meanwhile, is a measure of how well your message is received. Was the message received favorably or negatively? Finally, click-through rate (CTR) is the number of times users click on your posts or links to visit your website.

While not a final list, this helps you know if you are reaching and engaging the right users, and if you are getting the users to your website. Once on your website you need tracking for leads gained from social media and ultimately sales conversions traced from social media.

ANALYZE THE COMPETITION

Begin by discovering your competition on social media. Who are you directly competing with on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.? Once you’ve identified your competition, dig through their activities to find out what type of campaigns they run. Are they running the same campaigns as you? What keywords do they use? Which unique audiences do they target? Do they use paid ads? These are just some of the questions you need to be asking.

PLAN FOR PUBLISHING

Two things are essential here; content creation and the actual publishing. In regards to content creation, key concerns include who will create the content and what type of content you want to create. Remember to include as many visuals (pictures and videos) in your content as possible.

As for publishing, timing and frequency are the most significant factors. What time of day and day of the week should you publish? How frequently should you post? Since opinions vary widely here, we advise that you stick to the best practices for your industry and the social network to be used. For example, you need to Tweet more to be relevant on Twitter than you need to post on Pinterest as one simple example. On Facebook, your Page will likely need to post at least 4x a week to be seen as active and relevant.

MEASURE AND ANALYZE

We already discussed the need to identify KPIs for your campaign. In the final step, plan to measure these KPIs and the analysis of your performance. Most of the big social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram come with in-built analytics tools that you can use for measurement. Where these tools aren’t available or are insufficient, consider third-party analytics software such as Moz Social or Talk Walker.

If you follow these steps, you should, at the very least, begin knowing how your social media is performing and be able to move towards profitable social media marketing campaigns.

Mike Gingerich is president of Digital Hill Multimedia (www.DigitalHill.com), a Goshen web design and marketing agency. He is also a co-founder of TabSite.com and Waftio.com, leading software tools for contests and lead capture, and author of the book Game Plan for Social Media Lead Generation. Find out more at www.MikeGingerich.com/book.

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