Phase One: Planning
So you’re ready to jump into the world of endless opportunity that is social media.
But where to begin? One mistake many businesses make when planning their social media strategy is – well – not planning it at all. In fact, many companies are in such a hurry to establish their presence on Facebook and Twitter that they ignore the lifeblood behind real social media success – which is a clear snapshot of your target audience and well-defined goals of what you’d like to achieve from your social media campaign or outreach.
This planning phase is crucial to the success of your campaign, so let’s take it a step at a time.
Get to know your audience
The first phase of your social media planning should involve some pretty in-depth research. You may think you understand your target customer, but you may be surprised at what you’ll find out about their online habits, communication preferences, and the kinds of conversations they’re starting and/or participating in. You’ll what to ask (and answer) the following questions:
- What are your customers’ pain points?
- What are your customers looking for online?
- How are they using that information?
- How can we provide the information and resources they’re seeking?
Once you have clear answers to these questions, you can begin to create a strategy with the goal of not only engaging your customers, but establishing your company as a go-to subject matter expert within your industry. And once your customers associate you with information and knowledge, they’re more likely to turn to your brand to meet their needs.
Get to know your competition
Of course, potential customers are the most important aspect of any social media strategy. That said, you’ll also want to know what your competition is doing and how their audience is responding. Questions you may want to ask are:
- Who is my competition?
- How are they marketing online?
- Are they successfully engaging customers?
- How can I engage their audience more effectively?
Set Realistic Goals
You’ve defined your audience and are well acquainted with your competition and their presence online. Now it’s time to set some clearly defined goals regarding your social media strategy. Of course, it’s easy to dive right in to Facebook or Twitter, but without defining your goals, you’ll have no way to measure the success of your campaign. Some questions that will help you determine your goals are:
- How many website hits will determine a satisfactory ROI?
- How many business leads will make my campaign a success?
- Are you looking to measure conversion right away, or simply social participation?
Define your message
Even a long-term social media campaign should have an underlying message. This message should come across in every blog, Facebook post, Tweet, etc. And since social media is all about starting conversations, you have a good amount of leeway when it comes to the method of delivering this message. For instance, if your overall message is “We care about our customers,” then you have a multitude of ways to reiterate it.
For instance, anytime you share a news story or tutorial that helps address a customers’ pain point or takes into consideration who your audience is and what they’re looking for online, you’re also telling your customers (and potential customers) that you care about them. When you post special offers or coupons, you show you care about them. Get the picture?
Be sure to focus on your word choice when crafting your overall message (and any supporting messages). When your potential customers are searching for information online, you’ll want them to find your company as an answer to their problem. Knowing your audience is what can help you determine these keywords and how to implement them into your message.
Bring it Home
Once you have your strategy in place, you’re halfway there. Make sure that every blog post, tweet, Facebook or LinkedIn conversation takes into account those key details you’ve established about your audience, their online practices, their key pain points, and your overall strategic message. Then comes the fun parts – implementing your strategy and tracking your results.