Why you need a social media strategy. And how to get one.

With nearly 800 million people on Facebook and 150 million people on Twitter, it is not surprising that businesses are realising that social media is an important medium to engage with. Social media is the perfect complement (but not a substitute) to your other online and offline marketing activities. Use it to increase traffic, increase awareness, increase loyalty and association with the brand; the list goes on. From investing just 6 hours a week in social media, 78% of marketers have observed increased traffic (Social Media Marketing Industry Report, 2011). Furthermore, the gap between those using social media and those not using it is growing. If you fail to catch up now you will find it impossible to catch up.

But it’s not enough to just engage with social media. You also need to have a social media strategy. Having a strategy is essential to business and social media is no exception. Luckily it is not that complicated to create and implement a really effective social media strategy. In fact, it can be done in just 3 simple steps…..

Stage 1: Assessment and strategy development: Assess your current situation in terms of where you are now and where you want to go. Don’t overcomplicate this. From this assessment you can set clear objectives and a well-defined strategy that will set you on the road to success. Your strategy should be as specific as possible and should address against whom (Your target market) as well as when (what times?), where (which platforms?), and how (which tools?) you will use social media.

A key thing to consider is your target market: Who are they? What do they need/want? Where do they spend time online? For example, if they spend a lot of time on Facebook, this may be a key area for you to focus. Answering these questions helps you create relevant products/services/communications that meet the needs of your target in the right places at the right time. An important part of this stage involves market research. You can get real-time data from actual consumers really easily by creating surveys on Survey Monkey.

Set objectives. What do you want to achieve from using social media?  Objectives might be: Increase awareness of your brand; inform about specific features; persuade to purchase; or increase loyalty. Focus on one key thing, and put your efforts into this (Of course, this can change with time). (The objectives that you pursue have implications for what you measure –see step 3. For example, if your aim is to increase awareness, you need to measure growth, engagement, brand awareness, sharability, likes and subscribes.)

Assess your own offer against your competitors to work out your competitive advantage – What is it that sets you apart from the competition? What gap do you fill in the market?

Stage 2: Implementation: This is the action stage. It involves bringing all your ideas and strategies into realisation, and detailing the day-to-day tasks and tactics you will use to implement your strategy. Work out the specific tasks that need to be done and allocate these accordingly. One essential point is that all your social media activities need to be well-integrated – with other social media as well as with other online and offline channels. Moreover, rather than being confined to the marketing department, social media should touch on all the company’s departments; everyone should know about the social media strategy.

Below I list some possible tactics that you may wish to use in this stage:

  • Integrate social media on your website with plug-ins and icons.
  • Write blogs and comment on blogs.
  • Twitter: Tweet, ReTweet, follow.
  • Run contests with exciting rewards. You can integrate contests across several social media channels.
  • Offer webinars and training programs.
  • Interview experts and guest blogging.
  • And lots more…..Lots of opportunity for some real creativity here.

Stage 3: Monitor: This involves measuring and monitoring your progress – After a few months of implementing your strategy gather all the data you have collected to work out where you have done well and not so well. From this you can adjust your strategy accordingly. In addition to monitoring trends in your own business, also measure consumer trends and competitor trends. Consider the implications of all this and answer the question “what next?” And so back to stage one and the cycle runs again. Indeed, social media strategy is a process that constantly needs to be reviewed; it is not something written once and not looked at for another 5 years.

Overall, in order to prosper in the 21st century business environment, social media cannot be ignored. In fact, a successful social media marketing strategy can make or break business success. This article has covered the fundamentals that are essential to consider in constructing a successful social media marketing strategy. It offers a good start to get you thinking about the relevant issues. But, of course, we have not covered everything. The reason for this is that there is no one set strategy to follow. Creating a successful strategy is down to understanding your business, your industry and your customers – And your strategy will vary considerably depending on this.

Furthermore, social media strategy cannot be learned overnight – It develops from the body of knowledge and experience acquired over time. But, if you really want to enhance your social media expertise and get ahead of the competition, you may be interested in attending the Daily Web conference which discusses social media alongside other pressing topics in internet marketing. To find out more about this exciting upcoming event please visit:  https://www.dailyweb.sk/ and http://www.informslovakia.sk/en/

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