Social media expert Simon Mainwaring said:
"One of the greatest challenges companies face in adjusting to the impact of social media, is knowing where to start."
Well, the best place to start with social media is with a plan. Sorry. I know that probably sounds overly simple, but it's true. Besides, why would you want to over-complicate anything? So, let’s get into the five steps.
This principle should be second nature to most business owners. If it’s not second nature to you, make it so by applying the principle to every aspect of your business. By setting specific goals, you’ll know what it is you wish to achieve. By setting measurable goals, you’ll know how you’re progressing and when you’ve achieved them.
In your social media initiatives, if you have some historical data on how many leads you’ve generated per month (or whatever your desired result is), you could express your goal as a percentage increase. Then, using the same metric going forward, you can determine whether you achieve that goal month to month. Another approach would be to express your social media lead generation goal as a percentage of total leads generated from all your marketing efforts.
How you express and measure your social media marketing goals will depend largely on your circumstances. But the importance of specific, measurable goals applies to all businesses.
Of course, the 800 lb. gorillas in the ether are Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn, and some or all of them may be all you need. But you would be well served to explore other possibilities. In fact, depending on your business and market niche, you may even find that your time and energy would be better spent on a niche network. If you decide to go that route, remember that online forums can also be a good way of connecting with people in your niche. The key to deciding which networks are best for you to use is results. Measure the results from each network you use, and ditch the ones that aren’t producing.
Content is what grows your social media presence. But the mistake many social media marketers make is to post content that’s all about them and their offers - huge mistake. Sure, posting offers is OK from time to time. But people don’t typically use social media to find products or services to buy. They use it to better their lives in some way. So most of the content you post should consist of useful information that generally relates to your business or industry. That can be in the form of links to third party videos or blog posts, or links to relevant content on your company website. Just make sure it’s timely, useful, and relevant.
By primarily posting this kind of content, your friends and followers will begin to look forward to your posts, and you’ll position yourself and your company as experts in your field. As a result, yours will be the first name they think of when they need a product or service you sell.
Creating a schedule of posting frequency, and adhering to it, is essential if your social media efforts are to be fruitful. The reason is consistency. In the brick and mortar world, consistency is often achieved through a geographic location. Businesses that are located in high traffic areas typically do better than those in low traffic areas. In the social media world, the best location is at or near the top of the newsfeed. The only way to get there is to post frequently. A strictly adhered to a schedule of frequency will ensure that it happens.
Social media is a two (or more) way street. You must engage friends and followers who ask questions or make other comments in response to your posts. That’s the “social” part of social media. And the more feedback you receive, the better, because that indicates that people are paying attention to you and what you post. Whatever your social media marketing goals are, failing to engage with people will have the exact opposite effect. So, set aside time every day to respond to questions and other comments.
I realize that what I’ve suggested here will take some time, and it won’t necessarily pay dividends overnight. Just think of it as an investment. In time, that investment in your social media presence will become a valuable asset to your business.