Where to start
Let’s say you want to get to London from Leeds. Would you just set off without a road map or a sat nav? No, of course not. You’d check you had the right directions to get there. You’d know exactly where you were meant to be heading, and when to set off to reach your destination on time. You’d check your vehicle was up to making the journey, maybe have some stop off points along the way and you’d fill your vehicle with a tank full of fuel to make sure you got there.
Well there’s really no surprise that having a social media strategy is much the same. You need to know where you’re heading, what you’re going to need for the journey, some check points along the way and understand what you’ll see when you get there.
If you’re a business owner, you can’t ignore social media. It’s a must to get in front of your audience but it can sometimes seem quite a challenge to cut through the noise and get noticed.
So here are some of the key steps to consider when starting out or looking for more from your social media marketing activity.
Step 1: What’s your goal?
It’s often said in business if you don’t have a goal in mind, how do you know where you’re heading and what success looks like when you’ve got there. Social media marketing is no different. So start with the end in mind.
Be SMART! The first step to crafting meaningful goals or outcomes are to develop SMART goals. You’ve probably come across these before but if not by this we mean:
When you have these elements, they will really help to project your social media marketing and when it comes to it, your social advertising spend.
Goals vary from business to business. It depends what stage they’re at. Are you a start-up, established, or well-seasoned and long-standing business?
Goals are not always about increase in revenue or profit. Sometimes the goal can be as simple as being found, building brand awareness or growing your network.
And don’t forget to think about how you want to be known. Are you friendly, approachable, highly professional, authentic?
Do you have a set of core values that underpin and drive the business forward? For example, ours are:-
If you don’t have a set of core values a good place to start is the book, Traction by Gino Wickman.
Sometimes you might have more than one goal at a time or find one goal leads onto another goal or objective.
A local garage’s goal might be to increase the number of car repairs each month by 30. A new build property developer might be to generate 20 qualified leads with email addresses or phone numbers for new house buyers over £250,000 and a micro-brewery may want to increase their online sales by £5000 per month.
We often see businesses tracking things like the number of likes and followers. Whilst these give an indication of increased awareness, it’s much better to focus on things like engagement, click-through to website or conversion rates.
Step 2: Define Your Audience
Take time to understand your audience. Are you looking to engage with those that already know you and are familiar with your business and strengthen that relationship further or do you want to reach a new audience?
Are you in the right ‘room’?
It’s all about being in the right ‘room’! Strange statement you might think but I use this analogy quite a bit when delivering training or webinars.
Think of each social media platform as if you were in a room with others. Are those people in that social media platform (or ‘room’) the sort of people you should be connecting with, can you get along with them and if you were networking face to face, are you networking with the right businesses that need your products or services?
For example with over 2.6 billion monthly active users, Facebook is the biggest social network worldwide. But how do you drill down to those specific audiences that are your customers?
Create audience personas.
Knowing what makes your audience tick and how to help them is key.
To help you define your target audience see our advice here:
So, once you have defined your typical customers’ needs, you understand their demographics and their interests and location, ask yourself – ‘what is the extra thing I could do that would make people buy or use my product or service’?
Step 3: Know your customer’s journey
Although it’s good to define your goals, and don’t forget these may change and adapt over time. It’s also great to understand who our target audience is, but how does our target audience also become our customer?
To understand that, it is good to put yourselves in the shoes of your customer and the journey they are on.
For the purpose of this article, we’ll segment our social media marketing into three simple customer journey elements.
Awareness – Getting to know you and your brand. This might be measured by the number of impressions (time people have seen your posts) or the reach (how many people have seen a post)
Consideration – People start to know of you and begin to look more into what you do, where you’re based, how you operate. This might be measured by the clicks through to your website, increased number of post likes, page likes, or sign ups to email marketing campaigns.
Conversion – Here people are encouraged to take specific actions. For example more purchases on a website, increase in store visits.
Your target customer is on a journey and ultimately you would like that journey to lead to an action (often this is a purchase but not always). Your marketing or your advertising is meant to help move your target customer along from awareness to consideration and then to conversion.
Marketers will often point to this process as a funnel. That is because, in reality you will often find that in moving from the awareness to the consideration and then the conversion stage, the group of target customers gets smaller. That is a completely normal pattern.
Even if you have selected your target audience really well, it is normal that not all of them will ultimately become your customer. There may be different reasons for that – the time may not be right, they already made up their minds on a competitor, they cannot afford the product right now etc.
So, you will find that not all people who are aware of your product will really consider buying it. And of those people who are considering your product or service, not everyone will convert to becoming your customer.
In the Awareness phase of your customer’s journey, you are hoping to find as many potential customers in your target audience as possible and make them AWARE of your business.
After they’ve heard about you, it’s time to for these potential customers to learn more about you and understand why they need your products or services, and that they should really buy it from you. This is the Consideration phase of the journey.
When these potential customers are ready to take action and convert into actual customers, leads, or subscribers this is the conversion phase of the customer journey. We refer to this phase as a conversion, a purchase is one type of conversion and you can define others based on your business.
This category includes objectives that help people remember or learn about your product or service.
For example, A small independent coffee shop we know, Wired Coffee & Cake, Honley wanted to create a campaign that highlights its home-made delicious cakes to people in the local area. The Promote Your Business Locally objective helped them connect with customers nearby.
This category includes objectives that get people to consider and seek information about your product or service.
For example, a local restaurant we know & use, Mezze a Greek style restaurant in Holmfirth wanted to attract people to its new menu delivery service. The Get More Leads objective can encourage people to sign up for notifications and special promotions of the delivery service.
This category includes objectives that encourage people to purchase or use your product or service.
For example, Compo’s, Holmfirth (fish & chips take out & delivery service) wants people to download their new app and make an order for delivery. To encourage people, Compo’s offers £££ off the first order from their delivery service.
Step 4: Check out the competition
Competition is healthy. Looked upon in the right way you can learn so much from watching what others in the same industry do with their social media marketing.
Chances are the businesses that are flying are also already using social media. So why not see how they use it and be guided by them.
However, a word of warning, not everyone gets it right. So you might have some business on a pedestal but they may not be there because of the way they use social media.
Use your better judgement. Assess what you like about what they do online and what you don’t like. Chances are if you like or dislike something, customers will feel the same way.
And also don’t get hooked on how your competitors use social media. Once you have built up your confidence and customer base take your eyes off the competition for a while and find your own space. Be the business that others look up to, not the one that follows the pack.
Step 5: Audit / Assess your current social media presence
If you’ve already taken some steps into the world of social media then that’s great. But you may have made some errors, missed out some vital bits or created a monster that you don’t now know how to put back in the box.
Never fear, there’s very little that can’t be unpicked and put right given the right help, advice or guidance.
Start by asking yourself four key questions:-
Maybe even get an outside perspective. Ask a social media marketing agency like ourselves to audit your social media and offer suggestions to improve.
Your audit should serve to be a clear and concise picture of what works well and what’s not working on each social media platform you have a presence. In some cases it could be that you need to consider a social media platform you’re not on, or closing one down that doesn’t serve a purpose for your business.
As mentioned before, are your customers (and in some case suppliers) on those social media platforms? If not, do you need to be there?
Whilst you’re looking at the social media accounts you know about, also check for any that may have popped up unexpectedly. There may be a rogue Facebook Page or LinkedIn Company Page you were unaware of. Or someone who says they work within your business but they moved on ages ago! All these can harm your brand and need to be looked into and removed if possible.
Step 6: Set up accounts and optimise the ones you have
Once you know which platforms you should be using, make the most of them.
Fill out all the ‘bio’, ‘story’ or ‘about’ sections using keywords relevant to help your customers find you. For example, if you supply and install a particular make of product that helps you to stand out above your competitors add it to your page or profile information.
Also make sure you’re all branded up and it stand out in your graphics, avatars and cover images.
And don’t forget to make sure those all important contact details are in there too – web address, email address and telephone number.
Step 7: Who inspires and stands out for you
Whilst we would never suggest you get hung up on what others gets up to on social media, there’s no harm in drawing inspiration from other businesses, sectors and individuals.
Look to the success of others, and a great source of achievement is from Facebook ‘Success Stories’ which highlights the best of the best. Case studies can be a real source of inspiration.
Just by looking through your own newsfeed on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram & Twitter you can get a good idea of what’s working for others. Chances are if their content stands out for you, it’ll stand out for others too.
Think about who you enjoy following and why they stand out for you. What do they do that encourages engagement and for people to share their content? Is it the graphics, the way they communicate, the fun they portray, the message, the value, the emotion behind the message?
Step 8: Create a social media content calendar
Having great content ready to share is crucial. Whilst it’s great to post content as you go and show the here and now of your business, it’s always best to have a plan in place of what to post and when to post it.
It could just be a simple list of things happening month by month or a spreadsheet with months, key dates & where each piece of content will be posted. Have a look online for free social media content calendars and find one that works for you.
Try to not plan too much in or too far ahead as things can change and if you’ve planned something in for six months from now you may find you’ve wasted time on creating content that’s now not relevant.
Mix up your content so it includes some links back to your website, some that are purposely for lead generation and sales, some that’s just to show off your business and its brand identity and some that engages with your network and collaborators.
Your content should inform, educate, show your knowledge and build credibility in and around your business. It should also entertain and/or create an emotional connection to your business.
Think about evergreen content. That’s content that’s not dependent on events or time of year. These can fill in gaps when you don’t have much going on. What is important is that your content is regular and not stop / start.
A good source of days you could use for infill is www.daysoftheyear.com. However beware, some dates change annually and some that happen in the UK have different dates in the US. Also, don’t use days that have no relevance to your business otherwise you’ll confuse your audience with the messages you’re sending out.
Step 9: Review & Refine
Your social media strategy is a fluid and living document that is constantly changing and evolving as you grow. Just as your business changes and adapts over time, so will your social media. So it goes without saying that you must review your goals to see if they’re still in line with where the business is heading.
Go back to the beginning and revisit the goals you set. Have you achieved what you set out to? If not why not. If you have, what’s the next goal?
One of the things we use is ‘win/learn/change’. What’s working well, what have we learnt from the things we’ve done and what do we need to change to make things even better. Share these findings across the business and ask for input from others, even if they’re not the people in the business whose direct role it is to manage your social media. You’ll be surprised how many departments social media influences and helps. From sales and marketing to customer service, finance, HR and recruitment. And these departments may have some fantastic ideas for content on social media.
As long as you are always focused on your business goals aligned to your business plan and core values, but changing and adapting to get better results each time, you are on the right track!
If you have an accountant, they should be your first stop for business advice. If you don’t have an accountant or they can’t help, BuBul has a wide range of experts available. For more advice on social media strategy, contact our expert* Janet on LinkedIn.
*We’ve picked experts we know and trust who are good at what they do. All of them will give you at least an extra 30 minutes free advice if you contact them and would then charge their normal prices. They don’t pay to be on BuBul and don’t give us any money from anything they earn as an expert.