Social media can sometimes feel a little like talking at a busy crowd: lots of noise, lots of distraction, and not a lot of people paying attention to you. You wave your arms, maybe lift a neon sign saying "CLICK HERE", but still, nothing much seems to come from all your time spent on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc.
There are many reasons why this might be the case: the wrong followers, the wrong type of content, even tweeting at the wrong time of the day can sabotage your efforts at connecting with your audience, and potential clients, on social media. But the most likely reason is that you haven't thought strategically about your social media presence. You just went in, encouraged by other companies' apparent success, without doing the preliminary strategic work before.
If you're looking for success on social media, you can use these digital strategy tips to focus your work, align your messaging and finally get the attention of your target audience.
Strategy #1: Begin from your personas
Your buyer personas are the foundation of your work online. If you haven't built them, you can still do relatively well on social media, but your work will be much more difficult than it should be.
Personas are useful for more than just social media: they are essential for branding, inbound marketing, public relations, etc. In short, they are the foundational elements for effective communication for all types of organizations, no matter the type, size or marketing budget.
Personas are semi-fictional representations of your ideal client(s) based on research and informed assumptions. This isn't a persona guide, so I won't go into much detail here, but you can check this Hubspot blog post for some questions to guide you.
When you begin from your personas, you can find the right message that will catch the attention of your target audience. You can share content on topics that interest them, you can use the words they are paying attention, and you can share offers that they're more likely to accept and share with the people they know. It's all about targeting your message so that instead of it being lost in the noise of the crowd, it actually reaches the ear of those you want to hear it.
Strategy #2: Define a goal
Sure, you can always just go on social media without a specific goal and also do well. You can strike up conversations, share interesting content and build relationships with people. But just like with personas, goals can help you define just what kind of activities you're going to do on the different social media channels you've joined.
Goals need to be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely. That's SMART for you, smarty pants!
Here are some examples of SMART social media goals:
- Increase my Twitter following by 50% by the end of July.
- Get 30 total repins of my pins on Pinterest in December.
- Receive at least 200 Facebook likes by next Friday.
A goal will help you focus your efforts and stop you from overstretching yourself on social media. They give you something to work towards and keep you accountable to the rest of your team.
Strategy #3: Connect with the right people
It's tempting to just follow anyone who seems interesting or who follows us. But that might not be the best strategy in the long terms, for a few reasons:
- Your follow list is sometimes public; for example, it is on Twitter. If people can see who you're connected to, you might want to keep it clean of spambots and fake or controversial accounts.
- Too many connections can become overwhelming. "As many as possible" is not really the best way to go, since a very large list becomes unwieldy very quickly. Even if you use lists to segment your timeline, you might want to keep to connections that are meaningful, helpful and active.
By connecting with the right people (and they match with one of your personas, right?), you ensure that your message gets more engagement. And you're more likely to get into conversations with these people if you have common interests, goals and ideas.
Strategy #4: Establish clear ownership
Social media is often a team effort. When all employees and managers participate, social media is more effective and reaches a wider audience than when one person does it alone.
But a team effort doesn't mean that someone isn't in charge. There needs to be someone--a marketing or social media manager, for example--who sets the policies and follows through with enforcing it. Depending on your level of comfort, you'll want to set some kind of editorial process that ensures that all messages are on-brand.
You can do this a number of ways, of course. There are plenty of tools to help you with the editorial process, so find the one that works best within your policies, goals and team size. Some companies only let one person tweet, while others trust their employees to have the company's best interest in mind. Meltdowns do happen (often through bad customer service or disgruntled employees), so you will want to consider policies that prevent these kinds of things, and maybe give your team a bit of social media customer service training at the same time.
Clear ownership of the social media responsibilities also gives management someone to use as a specific resource when it comes to social media. That person would responsible for reporting on ROI as well, which is our last strategic element.
Strategy #5: Focus on the right measurements
There are two kinds of measurements on social media: vanity measurements and ROI-relevant measurements. Vanity measurements are things like number of followers or page likes. They're nice, but they don't really say anything about the effectiveness of your social media strategy.
ROI-relevant measurements include things like clickthroughs and conversion rates. You might tweet to the end of Sunday, but if nobody answers or clicks through your links, all this effort means nothing at all. That's why it's important to measure how much of your traffic comes through social media and how this traffic translates into leads and sales.
Again, there are a number of tools that allow you to follow clicks and engagement from social media to your website. What matters is that you develop a strategy that brings these click-throughs and conversions. Brand awareness is nice, but it only really affects your business if it influences your bottom line.
Social media strategy for success
Without a clear strategy that includes personas, goals, audience, ownership and measurement, your social media efforts probably won't be as effective as they could. They're also not the only strategic elements to consider, but are definitely some of the most important ones.
If you want to succeed on social media, you need to take some time to reflect on the alignment between these online tools and the overall goals of your business. This will help you choose the right channels, define the right message and reach the right audience.
What steps did you use to suceed at social media?