Continuing the Digital 101 series, today we look at the key considerations when building out your social media strategy. You may be new to social media and nervous about the depth and breadth of this channel and the potential risks or you may already be running a campaign and be looking to optimise it to perform better. The next 10 tips are aimed at helping you develop a winning social strategy no matter what your goals or current situation. We can’t cover everything in a top 10 so this list is not specific to any social network. Enough talk – let’s get into it.
1) Select your channels wisely and differentiate
There are a huge range of social networks available now and the landscape continues to evolve as social media moves into verticals as I predicted many years ago. Spreading yourself too thin across these opportunities is not wise so targeting the key networks for your business and goals is important. Twitter is well suited to news and quick updates on business and lifestyle topics whereas Facebook is much more of a personal, emotive channel. Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, YouTube – all are valuable channels dependent on your goals but each is different. Your tone and content should be unique to each channel but must be consistent with your business. I often talk about being authentic but nowhere is it more important than on social media. Consider the users of each network. There are some useful details on how the users of each social network differ here.
2) Develop a clear content strategy
There are two key channels for an effective content strategy – Proactice and Reactive. We won’t go into detail on content strategy here but there is plenty of detail on this site and within my book, Digital Marketing Strategy, on the subject.
Proactive refers to the need to have a plan. This enables you to plan content for future relevant events in your industry or just in your Autonet’s more general lives. It should include content themes and a broad range of content types.
Reactive is about the processes. Ensuring you have the ability to react fast to news and create great content that you can distribute quickly.
Without these core elements to your content strategy your social media plans will be weaker than most.
3) Have a clear call to action but don’t hard sell
Social media is not about the hard sell. People are more sceptical of advertising than ever before but also therefore appreciate good targeted messaging more than ever. No need to push aggressive advertising therefore but your content should still have a purpose. So you want people to click, call, buy, read? A call to action is basic marketing but often gets overlooked in social media as people try too hard not to seem like they’re promoting something. Don’t forget this.
4) Use imagery and video
This point is very simple. Video is now enormous. It’s not the future, it’s the now. Seriously consider how you can include it in your social strategy including vertical video (most social users are on mobile and most mobiles are held in portrait not landscape).
Both imagery and video are well proven to improve engagement levels. Create useful images, info graphics, beautiful photos etc. Some Sofia channels need this more than others – Instagram and Pinterest strategies without images are non-existent of course – but content on all networks perform better with imagery.
5) Hashtags and trends
Related to the reactive content point above. Make use of the free analytics you get – trends help you to piggy back on what’s being talked about and so insert your brand into conversations. Try to be authentic – social users violently hate brands trying to get into conversations they don’t belong in and rightly so. Keep your ear to the ground and take advantage.
6) Build relationships
Basic network marketing. There are countless influencers on social media. And don’t just jump to the celebrities – they are actually far less likely to deliver you the result you’re after than a blogger with a loyal following. Create relationships through engaging with influencers. Share their content. Develop a bond. Then work together for mutual benefit. This enables your reach to grow enormously and can give your strategy a step change.
7) Engage in conversations and groups
As well as engaging directly you should also take part in relevant conversations. Join groups and follow topics. Show your face by adding valuable inputs. All of this will help you gain a following of loyal and interested people.
8) Monitor engagements and don’t chase vanity
Use social listening and social analytics to understand what’s working and where to focus as well as using it to respond to people engaging with your brand indirectly.
More importantly though, know what you’re trying to achieve. It should not be about vanity, “I’ve got more followers than you, nah nah nah nah nah”. This is nonsense and can actually harm you’re strategy as your engagement levels will decline. Don’t misunderstand – there’s nothing wrong with having lots of followers but they need to be genuine followers not just random people helping you get a bigger number. Watching followers alone or with a Klout score is not really helping you understand you success as a social content provider and let’s face it, that’s what you’re trying to be right?
9) Optimise your profile / page
Much like apps on the App Store this is an area people in digital often forget. We optimise our sites for the search engines but we don’t optimise our profiles for the social netowrks own search engines. Consider what you’re trying to provide and what your target audience might be searching for. Include hashtags, maps, contact details, website address etc as relevant.
10) Create and curate
Finally remember to offer a range of content including opinions and views you agree with from others. It’s a social network after all. You can’t write all the time so beef up your strategy with valuable work from others.
If you follow this top 10 of Social Media you will find yourself well on the way to success. That’s it for this Digital 101.
For more on building your digital strategy you can get my latest book, Digital Marketing Strategy.