Is your social media marketing effective? Does it help you reach your business goals?

Done badly, social media can be a huge drain on your time and energy.

Done well, it can be a powerful mechanism to reach new audiences and touch existing audiences in new ways. As membership and usage continues to grow globally, using social media is no longer optional. It’s crucial to your business success.

But how can you use social media effectively to reach business goals?

To avoid falling into the trap of unproductivity on social media and ensure every ounce of your effort contributes to your objectives, read on.

Set social media goals

What do you want to achieve from using social media? For example, do you want to increase traffic to your website, grow your number of leads, or boost brand awareness? Working to goal-orientated targets helps keep you motivated.

Ensure the goals that you set are realistic. So, be sure to analyze your resources (i.e. both financial and time) as well as your expertise in using social media. Make your goals more attainable by setting an aspirational long-term goal and a number of short-term objectives that will contribute to realizing it.

Develop a social media strategy

Creating a social media strategy will help you realize your objectives. This is the high-level stuff that will feed into your business objectives. Read this article for guidance on how to create an effective social media strategy.

Then, set out a concrete plan of how you will realize that strategy. The plan should detail the concrete actions you will take. You should take time to constantly review your strategy at regular intervals to ensure you are on track. Stay open to amending your strategy in light of insights learnt from implementing it.

Select your key social media networks wisely

Carefully consider which social media channels are right for your business. Start by considering the big social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. They are broader in their appeal and have huge membership numbers. Remember to also consider the smaller networks that might be relevant to your niche.

When deciding on which of these networks to focus your energy, consider the following questions: On which social media networks does your target market spend time? What networks do influencers in your niche use? Do these networks offer a suitable platform for sharing information about your products and other insights relevant in your niche? Do you have the ability to create content for those networks (e.g. video content)? From this assessment, decide where your resources are best placed to reach your target audience and your business goals.

Decide how you will implement the social media strategy

Who is going to manage the company’s social media presence? You? An existing employee? Or do you need to recruit someone new or outsource your social media tasks to a freelancer? Where possible, it’s best to keep social media management within the organization. This helps ensure a consistent representation and unified brand voice alongside your other marketing channels.

Whilst one person might have the role to coordinate the social media activities, everyone in the organization needs to understand social media’s role in the business. Also choose whether your updates are going to be from ‘you’ personally, under your ‘business name’, or both.

Top tips for social media success

Now you’ve considered some of the key steps you need to take to ensure effective social media marketing, let’s dive into some of the specific tactics you can employ for social media success. Here I share my top tips.

Do cross-promote. Promote your social media presence on your website, emails and other marketing channels through ‘follow me’ and social share buttons. Promote your website on your social media channels by including it in your bio and sharing content from your blog.

Mix promotional content with free informative content. Share interesting free content relevant to your audience and your product offering. When promoting your products and services on social media, use enticing photos and videos of your offering and information on where they can go to purchase it.

Be seen and heard on social media. Get yourself noticed by writing passionately or even controversially on a topic you feel strongly about. Sharing impactful photos and videos is another way to get more visibility.

Post content relevant to the social media platform. For example, post bitesize content and hot news stories in your industry on Twitter.

Keep a consistent brand image across your channels. Ensure the bios and feeds on your social media accounts reflect the personality of your brand on other digital and offline channels.

Try to widen your network as much as possible. Aim to increase your number of connections on social media. But don’t just connect with anyone and everyone. Be rigorous about maintaining a list of high quality connections. Conduct searches on social media networks to find people with similar interests to you.

Build relationships on social media. Be an active participant on your favorite social media channels by joining relevant groups and contributing to discussions. Focus on building relationships and trust with your followers by sharing valuable information, contributing to discussions, replying to their messages, and responding to feedback. Listen to any feedback/complaints from your customers on social media and show that you care.

Reward your loyal followers. Offer gifts and discounts through contests on social media. It will motivate people to keep following you. It will also encourage your existing followers to buy more products from you and invite their friends to engage with you.

Work hard, be persistent, and rewards will come.

To succeed in social media, you need the technical knowledge of how to best leverage your chosen social networks. You also need to be business savvy. A lot of fundamental marketing principles still hold in social, though sometimes they are applied in new ways.

For further guidance on how to win in social media follow me on Twitter @laucocos

Photo credit: magicatwork via / CC BY

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