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BizReport : Social Marketing : January 13, 2016

Six steps to make the most of your social media marketing

"We need to be on social media" is a statement that's been echoing around boardrooms for quite some time, yet few businesses, even those that are already using social media, have a well-defined social media strategy. Here are six steps you can take to ensure time and effort on social media is productive.

by Helen Leggatt

Having a Twitter or Facebook presence may be a must in today's digital world, but just being on social media does not equate to success. In fact, some might argue that having a social media account and not using it is probably a lot worse than not having an account at all.

It is undisputed, however, that having an effective social media presence can produce a multitude of business benefits such as increased leads, brand awareness, responsive customer service and customer retention.

But, how do you get the most from social media marketing activities? Here are six simple steps that will lead you towards success.

Define 'why' before 'how'

The first step towards successful social media is ascertaining why social media should be a part of an overall marketing strategy. This can best be discussed in terms of identifying goals and then focusing on one or two goals such as brand awareness (i.e increasing social media mentions by 50%) or lead generation (i.e 50 more leads per month).

Check out the competition

Looking at and listening to your competitors will help define what is working, the content that customers are responding to and on which platforms those competitors are currently active. Engagement comparisons can then be made to see how your efforts, and content, stacks up against competition. Other elements can also be ascertained including how frequently the competition is posting on social media, how many followers they have, and the type of content that is best received and shared.

Identify the best social platforms for your needs

Just because one social platform has more users than another does not mean that it's the best suited to your needs. Identifying where existing and potential customers are spending their time will lead you to the platform on which activity should be focused, instead of wasting time and investment across a multitude of platforms. B2B marketers will, for instance, find their time better directed towards creating a LinkedIn presence, targeting with specific content, industry news and the creation of groups, rather than creating a Facebook Page.

Create unique and engaging content

Once goals have been established, and the right platform fit found, content type and format can be considered. The content you share will be the voice and personality of your company. It can take many forms such as a simple Tweet, a 'behind-the-scenes' video of the inner workings of your staff, an infographic or even tip-sheets or guides for potential customers to use. Whatever the content, it needs to be tailored to the needs, and interests, of the target audience. User engagement in terms of shares, or Likes, will build up a picture of what is the best-received content. It is recommended that, to ensure consistency of posting frequency, a social media editorial calendar be created.

Who does what?

One of the biggest concerns for businesses taking the plunge into social media marketing is who is responsible for content creation and posting. An increasing number of businesses are creating social media positions within a marketing department, but usually they are not responsible for the strategy from start to finish, but instead allocated, collate and manage. Content can, and should, come from across the company, but it must be clear who posts what, and when, to avoid a incohesive stream of social postings or faux-pas that may do more harm than good.

Measure and revisit

So you've chosen your platforms, created content, and allocated tasks, but is it working? What metrics are you basing success on? Have goals been met? By revisiting and measuring goal achievements, defining difficulties and sharing successes, a social media strategy can be strengthened and solidified. In addition, keeping an eye on emerging platforms and content types can ensure your social media activities are in line with current customer expectations and behavior and prevent stagnation. For example, there is an increasing trend towards 'moment marketing' which consists of online campaigns triggered by offline events and using data and technology to execute them within a brief period of opportunity.

Image via Shutterstock

Tags: content marketing, marketing strategy, social media

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