(The following is a guest post from Maggie Robinson, co-founder of Frostbox, on ways to help optimize the ROI of your social media efforts.)
“Create it and they will come” may work in some businesses, but unless you do the legwork, you can rarely count on it when it comes to social media marketing. Creating a Facebook Page and setting up a Twitter account is not enough these days to be seen and cut through the white noise of brands in your chosen field. On the other hand, we can barely find a successful business these days without a social presence, and social media marketing is now a critical component of a comprehensive marketing strategy, but not all of us know where to begin. This is why it’s important to develop a strategic social media marketing plan and consistently follow the guidelines to build your audience and find brand ambassadors.
Your social media marketing plan needs to specify the vision for your business and solidify your mission. You need to outline what you want to accomplish, define your target client and describe what makes you different and unique as a business.
To attract and engage your potential future clients via social media channels, you need well-defined strategy. Here are some points you should consider when building your social marketing plan.
1. Define Your Social Media Goals.
You may use social media mainly to provide customer support, or to gain exposure to your brand or to get leads. You may also use it to promote specific product or a service. You will not accomplish any of those goals without identifying them. Your goals however need to be directly connected to your fans / followers and users’ goals. You may want to share each end every blog post on your Facebook Page, but if your followers rarely interact with your text posts, yet respond actively to images and videos, it may be time to rethink your strategy.
What problems do your customers face? Can you solve those via social media channels? How can you add value while sticking to your defined goals? Answer those questions before moving forward.
2. Which Social Media Channel Should I Get On?
Only set up the accounts you can handle. Spreading yourself too thinly won’t do anyone a favor. There is nothing worse than seeing a brand account with 3-4 followers on Pinterest and 40,000 on Twitter (believe it or not, some people do check this stuff). Immediately it looks like you have bought your followers on Fiverr.com
Make sure you choose social channels that resonate with your business offering. Are you promoting / building your brand around something visual? In that case Pinterest, Tumblr and Instagram are your best bets, since they all concentrate on presenting your product in the best light, and don’t require a lot of copy writing, which can be tough when you are trying to describe objects. There is only so much exciting stuff you can write about handbags, but images? We can look at them all day long. The best way to figure out which social channel is best for you is to ask your customers! Survey your customers about which platform they use the most. You want to be where they are.
3. Who Should Run Your Social Media Marketing?
After the HMV drama (Where an intern got very annoyed and started tweeting about staff terminations and the office closure) you may think twice before giving anyone access to your social media passwords. Unfortunately if you are the owner, GM or CEO, you may not always have enough time to manage social media channels effectively. To do it well, requires a considerable amount of time and passion, considerable amount of sense of humor, basic knowledge and common sense.
Having an intern run your social media can be a good idea, however every company is different. Depending on your size, you may have a qualified person in your marketing department who can do the job well. Before you hand over the keys to your company’s brand account, it’s always worth checking what kind of following this person has amassed for themselves via various social channels. If they cannot build an engaged community around themselves, the chances of building one around your product are probably even smaller.
If you happen to have a bigger budget (Yay! Well done!), but maybe lack the up-to-date knowledge in the social media marketing department, you could benefit from hiring a marketing consultant or firm specializing in social media brand building.
4. Offer An Exceptional Service.
Social media management is not only about telling everyone how awesome you are. This can quickly wear off. It’s about solving problems your users may have, and offering engaging content that sooner or later will turn them into raving brand advocates and essentially clients. You cannot achieve that if your customer service offered via social media channels is poor (even if you do not aim to do it this way, you will always get certain number of users who will try to solve their product / service related problems via Facebook or Twitter – deal with it). Running your support via social platforms and having your flaws / bugs etc. out in the open may be annoying and embarrassing but you know what? That’s the beauty of social media: it’s social, it’s accessible to everyone and often it’s the fastest way to get a response from the service provider. No one wants to look apathetic and unhelpful in public, so in order to get stuff done or fixed we are getting used to post our concerns and issues on the open forums waiting for the brands to act upon them.
The best thing you can do as a company is to be responsive, polite and helpful. No matter what kind of issue you face: resolve it. Do your best to provide a great experience for every user. Anyone who bothers to raise an issue on your Facebook Page or via Twitter is your best bet for a committed brand ambassador and brand advocate in the future: utilize that lead.
Experienced some hatred? Sooner or later this will happen. It happens to the best of us, so don’t feel special. Learn how to deal with it in a calm manner, while taking the best out of the experience.
5. How Often Should I Post New Content?
It depends on the medium. Post to Facebook no more than twice per day, and here you really need to think carefully before posting, as the engagement you get on one post will define the exposure of your next post. Facebook’s algorithm only shows your posts to people who want to see them ( = engage with your brand regularly by “liking” or “sharing” your stuff).
Tweets have shorter life span. Depending on the amount of people your followers “follow”, it’s about 10 minutes. We advise to tweet around 5-10 times per day. Your followers access social sites at different times of the day, especially if they come from different time zones, so spread your posts evenly throughout the day (best tools for this are Buffer and HootSuite). Use relevant hashtags where appropriate. For some examples on using relevant hashtags, check this out.
6. What to Post Where?
Not all type of content is good for every social platform and no two platforms are the same in terms of typical type of content that flies, so testing various types is always welcome. There are however some standards which will give you a head start: Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr and Google+ are mostly visual, so memorable, sharable images of your products, company events, team or behind the scenes shots of employees at work can be the best and most effective choices for those platforms.
Text-only statuses, posted as a question, without an accompanying link work well on Facebook and Twitter. The latter is also great for a good mix of company updates and re-tweeting great content relevant to your brand, including your business partners and industry leaders.
LinkedIn is mostly for company news, productivity and leadership tips and business advice.
Curate great content and make sure you post it at good times via the best platform for the type of content you want to share.
7. Keep Your Social Platforms Backed Up
That’s right. All the efforts (and money) you put into building and promoting your brand via social media marketing efforts can go to waste if you don’t keep data from the social platforms secure. Back up your Twitter followers, as those are mostly your brand ambassadors. Make sure you keep your carefully curated list of LinkedIn contacts safe, in case you get hacked or the platform leaks another 6.5 million passwords to the public. Safe keeping your images posted to Instagram, together with your Instagram followers is also important, especially if you are running the account for your company.
Keep them all backed up with Frostbox or other social media backup solutions.
8. Convert your followers into customers
This sounds so logical it’s almost offensive. Isn’t that what we all are trying to do all the time? Well, not necessarily. We want to increase brand awareness, we want to be shared and “liked”, but do we always have the actual sales in mind? Are we posting brand relevant content? How are we trying to convert our fans into hard cash?
Just like with types of content that works on different social platforms, there are platform specific methods of turning your social media marketing efforts into tangible ROI.
Twitter surveyed 500 people who follow small businesses on the platform to get an insight into their buying habits. They found out that followers and people who interact with your brand on Twitter are 72% more likely to buy from you and 30% more likely to recommend you. There’s more! 73% of followers want updates on future products. So how to build the tribe and get them to part with their cash with the use of social media marketing?
- Use tools like WeFollow and ‘Just Tweet It’ to find individuals with similar interests and backgrounds and start building a tribe.
- Use advanced Twitter search to look up users via specific hashtag, keyword and location, then proactively reach out to those users offering advice and help when they need it.
- Don’t tweet into oblivion. Check out when your followers are online and engage them when they are active using tools like Tweriod and SocialBro.
- If you happen to have a substantial budget, use Facebook and Twitter advertising to promote your account to potential followers. With both services you can target your audience when advertising and I strongly recommend taking time and doing this properly. You will put yourself one step closed to your goal.
- Ask for re-tweets and shares! Use phrases like “please retweet” and “please RT”. Sounds desperate? Not if you really want to spread the word about something. You won’t get until you ask. Of course, like with everything: do not overdo it.
- Sending newsletters? Make sure you include links to your social media accounts in the e-mail.
- Run a contest! Make sure to read the guidelines for contests before you start, to avoid getting suspended.
9. Data, data, data.
It’s hard to quantify ROI if you do not measure it. Without data how will you know all the efforts you put into social media marketing have paid off? What worked and what didn’t, where to do more as well as what can be moved down the priority list.
Some social platforms offer their own metrics. Facebook gives Page administrators access to Page Insights data for free. It’s pretty basic, but enough to get an idea what type of posts work for your business and which ones you should avoid. LinkedIn provides similar analytics for company pages.
Use Google Analytics and Mixpanel to see how effective your social media marketing is at driving traffic to your website. If you see links from Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest listed as top referrers to the site, you know your social marketing is working.
10. Your business.
Last but not least: as much as you may enjoy interacting with your users, this is your business and not a hobby, so make sure you are treating it as such.
Good luck with your social campaigns! If you have any awesome tips that worked well for your brand, share them in the comments below!