Everywhere we look people have their heads down looking at their phones, people mindlessly scroll through social media like in a trance. The key is, social is where the people are and where your business needs to be. So rather than tell you the technical side of social let's look at how to create a social media strategy that will work for your business.
Social media strategy is a large part of business whether you are strictly online, have a brick and mortar location, or a combination of both. Social media is the one thing you know you should be doing but often have no idea where to start or what activities would create the largest return on investment of time and resources.
This is a large post that will be updated along the way as tactics and best practices change.
We are familiar with networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, however, that is not the only social media that is out there. Your blog, local or industry forums, and even the directories out there like Yelp, Yellow Pages, and the like all fall under the social media umbrella. Any opportunity for two way communication online is considered social media.
It is enough to make your head spin.
Yes! The reasons why will vary and depend on the goals you have for your business. If the two are not related, you are simply wasting your time.
Everywhere we look people have their heads down looking at their phones; people mindlessly scroll through social media like in a trance. The key is, social is where the people are and where your business needs to be.
You own your website. With social media, other than your blog, you are renting space. They make the rules, and the network could go away at any time. Remember MySpace? Keep your website; social media is distracting so use it to get them to your website where you can convert them to a sale or a lead.
No, and yes. You have heard us mention NAP (Name, address, and phone number) data in the past. If you are looking at local search, yes, social media will help your local business. Make sure your business information, NAP data, is accurate.
You may have noticed that places like Google My Business will show your reviews/ratings. This is a signal that Google uses to gauge the trustworthiness of the business.
Your posts are not indexed by search. However, when you share a link from your website on social media, it will help that link along in your SEO efforts. For the shared link to gain traction in your SEO efforts, a snippet of code on your website called Open Graph tags will need to be added. It is a little technical so get with your webmaster to add it, if this is your goal.
Don't go further until you have tackled this step. If you do not know who you are talking to, you will not know how to talk to them, what is important to them, and what challenges they are having.
Personas create one for each type of customer you have.
What are the goals you have for your business? Think strategic; how you can use social media to help drive those goals.
We often hear the following when we ask this question.
All the above can be accomplished when you mix social media with your other efforts.
Social media planning is challenging; we hope that you can focus your time and efforts on the networks that will produce the biggest return. More on that in the next section.
If you are a new business, your goal may be to get your name out there and build a customer base. Social media not only has your customers it also has influencers. These are people with a mass following that if your product or service aligns with their audience can help get the word out about your business. Many influencers are paid to blog about your product, post content to their social profiles, or include it in their podcast.
Finding influencers that will share your products or services is hard and will take some time. Just don't waste time and money on people that won't help you.
Influencers are not the only way to boost yourself in social media. If you are launching a new product or service, social media can be the best place to promote information about it. Boosted posts that are highly targeted to your market can be beneficial to your efforts.
While making your plan, factor in a budget for promotions and content creation. If you do not have the time or skillset, you will need to hire someone who does or outsource your social media [link], either all or in part.
Social media is free but if you hope for results you need to be willing to throw a little money at it. Keep your goals in mind; those are the things you will want to promote!
Facebook allows you to boost posts on Facebook and Instagram to reach a specific place, group of people, or another demographic. The costs are dependent on your area and competition. LinkedIn allows promoted posts, Pinterest allows for promoted pins; Twitter allows you to promote your tweets, etc. Social media works if you are strategic in your targeting and your ad spend.
An active profile is a big part of your social media strategy and is the best way to stand out to influencers and potential customers. Posting occasionally, when you have time, will not cut it. Use a tool that allows you to schedule your weekly content. Check-in one or two times a day for comments, likes, and shares.
Also, feel free to post in real-time. If you are working on a project, share it with your followers. It confirms you do what you and shows you are busy. Busy makes your business more appealing to customers.
If you do not have the skillset to create content, hire someone that does. Your business is better off having you work it and someone else working on your social media efforts. I can't stress this point enough.
So many social media networks, how do you know where to spend your time?
Regardless of the social type, network, or location, you choose to spend your time keep in mind these tips when posting.
Social media is about being social, checking into the networks you are participating in, sharing posts from other connections, and being visible on the network is vital to your plan!
Let's narrow it down a bit and break it down by social type/network.
Great content that sits on your website will help your search rankings if you are trying to improve your rankings locally or nationally.
Customers LOVE information. Provide informative, relative, content for your customers.
Blogging got a bad rep early on, but it has grown up quite a bit since the travel bloggers made it so popular. Think of the blog area of your website as a place where you prove your authority on a specific topic, answer questions your customers often have about a product or service. Your blog can act as the help or information page of your website.
We have included Google My Business since Google added a post feature that shows up in the Google My Business information that comes up when your business is listed
Here is an example of how it looks in a search.
These are websites like Alignable, Quora, Reddit, and the like.
Prove authority by engaging in the questions and conversations that are going on in the network. As with all other networks, keep the sales pitches out of it, let your website have that job.
Traffic generator if you show your authority on a topic people will check your website out for more info.
Since you have a goal, you know what to look at to make sure your time, energy, and money are well spent.
Where do you find the information to analyze your efforts?
If your goal is website traffic (blog posts, product promotion, generate leads, etc.). Look at analytics or other tracking software. It is a good idea to have metrics set up with goals, click tags, etc. so you know what the traffic is coming from social is doing once they arrive on your website.
Visibility Look at engagement on the network, likes, comments, followers, shares, etc.
Foot Traffic This is a hard one you will need to ask where they found you.
Authority Whether you are building the authority of your company or a person, how many connections were made, how often was content shared, commented on, etc.
Increase in business Look at the above, did it improve your bottom line?
Social media does take some time and effort. However, the demand for companies to get involved with social media has forced many to do it. The key is to be strategic in reaching your target customers, give them what they are looking for, and analyze your results to make sure you are delivering.
If you have a question about how your business can effectively use social media, reach out to us, we love to talk strategy
Richelle is the founder of Lighthouse and has over 25 years of experience in online marketing and website design. Richelle enjoys meeting with clients to pinpoint their goals and come up with a strategy to achieve them. She is active with many groups; including a mastermind group for business owners, a podcast, as well as industry groups to stay current with current marketing, search, and design trends. When not helping businesses, she spends time with family including her fur-kids which you may see pop in to say hello during one of her podcasts.