Social media’s a lot of fun (celebrity tweets, Candy Crush or cat pictures—pick your own vice; I’ll take cat pics). But it’s not all fun and games. It’s a nifty marketing tool, too. But be that as it may, a brand’s pure existence on social media won’t drive the organic traffic mandatory for a strong web presence (and reaching level 600 on Candy Crush is virtually worthless in this pursuit).
Many unattended social presences tend to stagnate over time and offer useless results for brands. They kind of just exist—collect dust like that old treadmill you’re using as a coat rack.
The best way to utilize your social channels is something quite obvious—develop a strategic social media marketing plan. While every brand has different needs, these five simple tips will make developing a strategy seamless and a little less stressful:
1. Know where your audience “lives” and go there.
Where are your customers? In a dentist’s office, a coffee shop, a pillow fort? Then that’s exactly where you want to have a presence. (I mean, who wouldn’t hang out in a pillow fort?)
Social media doesn’t simply mean Facebook. And it doesn’t just mean Facebook and Twitter. Social media doesn’t even mean Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and MySpace (#smh). There are dozens of niche social networking sites—big and small—that will help you reach your audience on the best possible level. You might get a vastly different result by posting on Tumblr than you would by posting on LinkedIn, depending on which your audience tends to use. So if you work in a niche market, find the right niche social sites to use for your customers. Pillow fort included.
2. Create buyer personas.
Marketing to the masses is like throwing spaghetti against the wall hoping that some sticks. For a less messy approach, use Facebook’s audience targeting tools to create buyer or client personas of the type of people you want to reach with your social media campaign.
In these client personas, you can choose to target males or females, singles or married folks, specific countries or specific languages. Then, with every social action you take, you know a potential reader or follower to target.
3. Build a posting pattern.
Posting five times today before waiting another week until you post again might confuse or, more likely, annoy your followers. Create and follow a pattern that is somewhat predictable and fits in with what your audience wants and expects as far as content frequency. Try using automation tools (like Hootsuite or SocialFlow) to schedule posts and avoid any inconsistencies.
4. Remember, the keyword is social.
You’ve heard it a thousand times, but here’s one more for prosperity: Don’t sell on Facebook. When it comes to social media marketing, marketing becomes the bigger focus a lot of the time. For the best, most organic results, though, social should be the emphasis.
Strategize ways to make every single post interesting and engaging so that your followers will want to interact with you and give you those ever-valuable social shares. Give the people what they want!
5. Analyze your results.
Use tools like Google Analytics, Facebook Insights and Twitalyzer to find out who you’re reaching and what they’re doing once you’re reaching them. But don’t let numbers drive you crazy. If your reach seems low, but the people you reach are highly engaged and interacting, you are succeeding. Quality often outweighs quantity. So be flexible and don’t be afraid to make changes. Constantly watch and see what bares some impact and what doesn’t. Then roll with the impact and streamline the approach.
In your quest to build your social media empire, do not try to be all things to all people. Strategize, execute and analyze. And you will be amazed by what a vast social reach can do for your brand.