Diving into social media marketing without a strategy is like diving into a pool without knowing how to swim – things will probably end badly. It’s important to remember: the end goal of social media is not to hard sell your audience on your products or services. Instead, social media is a long-term commitment meant to build relationships with your clients.
Be patient with your online audience just as you would when courting a potential client in person.
The folks at Social Media Examiner offer seven helpful tips to remember when developing your social media strategy.
- Determine Your Goals and Objectives: Be SMART – Keep your goals Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. Understand how your social media plan ties into your overall company goals and remember it may need to be adjusted as you tweak your strategy.
- Research: Develop a list of social media sites where you can engage with people. Popular sites include Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, but make sure to investigate other niche sites businesses in your industry are using.
- Create a “Digital Rolodex”: Subscribe to industry blogs and make a list of influencers that are relevant to your business. This list will be useful when it comes time to create content on your social networks.
- Join the Conversation: Develop relationships by interacting on blogs and forums. Answer questions, post comments and join different groups related to your business. Use that new digital rolodex to follow and friend the individuals who influence your industry on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.
- Strengthen On-line Relationships: Face-to-face interaction is still powerful, and social media should be used to build relationships that can grow into in-person meetings. After attending an offline seminar related to your industry, use social media to maintain those relationships. You can also use channels like Twitter to organize your own in-person meeting or ‘Tweetup.’
- Measure Results: The tools to measure social media return on investment (ROI) are ever changing, but there are some indicators you should always be looking out for. Christina Warren at Mashable says that website traffic counts, number of Facebook friends, number of Twitter followers and number of blog comments are just some of the ways ROI can be measured. The general idea is to find out if increased web traffic correlates with higher sales.
- Analyze, Adapt and Improve: Your social media campaign goes beyond mere measurements; you need to analyze your findings and adapt them into your current social media strategy. The world of social media is ever changing and you need to change with it. Notice what’s working and what isn’t–it may change month to month–and adapt your strategy to maximize your ROI.
Whether you’re a small start up or a big company exploring new marketing possibilities, social media offers a variety of platforms useful for branding your business. With all the avenues available, nothing is more important to social media marketing than coming up with a successful strategy.
The social media outlets you choose depend on your business and industry, but a strategy is necessary no matter what.