Word-of-mouth is one of the most effective marketing tools and has been for a billion years. Okay, maybe not a billion, but a long time. We are all influenced by the opinions of our friends and we are constantly sharing information with people around us. Now, with the development of technology, word-of-mouth has a global reach due to social media. With the ability to share, like, and comment, word-of-mouth has become a digital force empowering consumers all over the world. Social networking allows you to communicate with an exponential number of people, elevate the value of a product or service, and engage your followers with contest and promotions. Social media has become the new word-of-mouth in the era of digital marketing.
How do you build an effective social media strategy? We’re glad you asked! Here are five steps to creating a successful social media plan:
1. Understand Social Media
Social media is a great way for businesses, both small and large, to connect and engage with customers online. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube are considered the “Fab Five”, but by no means are they the only ones to consider for your company. Ask yourself, “Where are my customers, and how can I connect with them”? Understanding how to manage and share content on each of the networks is an important step in setting up your strategy.
eMedia’s Tip: There are hundreds of websites and software offering social media training. We recommend checking out Social Media Marketing by Lynda.com, and Social Media 101 by Social Media Quickstarter to start. There are plenty of free resources available online, choose a few to begin with before you invest in paying for any training or social media boot camp.
2. Be Very Consistent
There’s no way around it, building a well-rounded social media strategy takes time and effort. What you put into it, you will get out of it, so if building a loyal following is your goal, you have to roll up your sleeves and dig into an outreach effort. People tend to unfollow (or just won’t follow you to begin with), if they see your last post was 6 months ago. Creating and sharing quality content consistently builds credibility with your audience of current and potential customers.
eMedia’s Tip: Set up a social media calendar to avoid losing track of your posting schedule. Not only will it help you avoid duplicate content, but it also helps you keep track of when content is due, and what you’re posting on each platform. We recommend a management tool such as Hootsuite, or Sproutsocial because of their simple, yet robust features that make managing social media a worry-free task.
3. Captivate Your Audience
In order to captivate your audience, it is crucial that you have a plan in place to create meaningful and original content. Your messaging should help paint a picture of your brand’s story. The content you share should be a mix of informational, personable and conversational. Social media is the ideal platform to let your business’s personality come out. If your company culture is a little weird and quirky, go ahead and let it shine through your social media accounts. Believe it or not, your audience will appreciate it, and will be more likely to share your content if they feel it’s genuine.
eMedia’s Tip: We’re serious about showing your company’s personality. If your company is big on giving back to the community, share pictures of your team volunteering. If your employees enjoy pranking each other (and video taping it), your social media followers would probably find it just as funny as you do – here’s proof. Go ahead, let your character shine!
4. Encourage Conversations Online
In order to strengthen the connection with your followers on social media, it’s important to figure out and understand why they are following you in the first place. Are they following so they can know about new products coming out? Are they following to know about promotions and discounts? Are they following because your brand is a symbol of status? Once you truly understand the type of information your audience wants to read and share, you can design a content strategy around it.
eMedia’s Tip: Listen to the conversations happening across your accounts, and chime in when you can. Talk to your customers and respond to every message – especially any negative reviews or feedback. Transparency in your communication with customers, both happy and unhappy, is one of the most important customer service tactics in today’s world of digital marketing.
5. Measure Your Results
Social media networks typically provide some sort of insights and analytics to measure basic activity on your accounts. This data is crucial not only for understanding your audience, but also to measure the success of your efforts. There are also many tools out there with more robust measuring capabilities, designed to help you better understand what this data means.
eMedia’s Tip: Get to know when the best time is to post for your audience, and what type of content triggers the most engagement. Fair warning, the data will be different across each network. Really dig into your data so that you understand what is working, what isn’t, and how you can improve.
These five steps will put you in the right direction to creating an effective social media strategy. While many companies can successfully manage their own social media profiles and content, there are many companies who prefer to use an agency to handle these tasks (we are one of them).