Engaging with Social Media - the need for a strategy and plan
May 9, 2014
It’s a fact, you cannot succeed in business today unless you have an online presence. It starts with a website but where you really need to be is on social media. It’s easy to just jump in – but be careful, in doing so you could miss the chance to launch and succeed as opposed to launch and fail.
Develop a social media strategy and research what others have done. Learn from their mistakes! Also, research how your competition is promoting itself on Facebook, LinkedIn and other platforms because it’s their audience you want to entice to become your customers.
Let me explain this challenge in generational terms. At the younger end of the scale gather a group of people who think that because they are of the social media generation they somehow know better than the rest of us about how to engage with the various platforms.
At the other end are those who are older and just don’t get it or understand why it is so important. Like many things the truth of social media engagement lies somewhere in the middle.
The first thing to do is start with a blank piece of paper. You need to be clear on is why you specifically think you can build your business from being on social media and then decide who you are trying to attract. If you think that your audience is different than that you had already identified as being primary the buyer of your product or service in your business plan then you need to think which is right and which is wrong: your business plan and the market analysis or the social media strategy?
The second thing is to research how your competitors are using social media and look at how they are engaging with their audience. What is motivating people to respond to a post or what is leading them to get involved in the conversation?
We call this audience engagement and you need to know what is motivating (or what will motivate) your potential consumer base to interact with you. Learn from the mistakes of others by ensuring your posts do not bring your business into reputational risk territory.
Also, ensure your brand is consistent and understand just how much time is involved in updating, developing, managing and monitoring. Social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter can be powerful business development tools or they can be a waste of time.To ensure you don’t waste your time develop a social media strategy or seek the guidance and advice of others.
You also have to be aware of the cost involved in playing around with an approach that may not return on your time investment. Do this simple calculation:
Research tells is that on average small business spend around 6-10 hours a week on social media (of course this could be different if your business is very much focussed on the online world but, nonetheless the calculation is worth doing). Lets take an average of 8 hours from the research per week and multiple it by $25. We have chose $25 because it is less then many people caculate their own wage for and more than most countries minimum wages. Also, if you were to employ directly a basic resource then it is a reasonable number to go with. Then take the $25 X 8 and multiple it again by 52 and this will give you the average labour cost investment for your time over a 12 month period. You should get $10,400.
Now, again, be careful because that calculation could be a lot higher if your business specifically lives in an online world and you should also factor in the cost of campaigns that you may invoke through third parties such as Facebook for Business and Google Adwords.
You may also want to bacxk track and calculate hoe many hours you have specifically spent on social media in the last few months and this will give something closer to your actual circumstances.
Then, once you have done all of that ask your self this simple question "have i earned any money from this adventure or sold anything through my time investment on all of these different platforms?" if the answer is no then you need a clearly mapped out strategy.
Blogger Jay Baer has also developed some great tips to consider such as:
What’s Your Pitch?The elevator pitch is dead. Can you describe what your company does in 120 characters or less?
hat’s the Point? What type of program is this? Awareness, Sales, or Loyalty? Pick one
What’s Your Relationship with Your Audience? What does your audience know about you today?
Aware of you, but never acted
Pick up to two of these segments to focus upon, but make sure they are adjacent on this scale. It’s too confusing to have a social media strategy that targets advocates AND people that have never heard of you. That would be two strategies, not one.
How Does Your Audience Use Social Media?Using the Forrester Social Technographics Ladder, understand how your target audience (as defined by gender, age, and geography) uses social media. If your audience skews older, you may not want to engage in a lot of “make a video” contests, since that segment indexes low on the “Creator” scale.
What’s Your One Thing?What’s the soul of your brand. What’s the one thing that defines you – and it’s not features and benefits. Volvo = Safety. Apple = Innovation. Disney = Magic. What’s on the other side of your = sign?Note: This is not easy to figure out. You may need to engage in some brand anthropology, and have an agency help you find your one thing.
How Will You Be Human?Social media is about people, not logos. How will you let down your guard? If you’re a small company, congratulations, this should be pretty easy. If you’re a big company, how can you act small again?
How Will You Measure Success?Lots of ways to measure social media success, so make sure you determine your social media metrics BEFORE you get started. I recommend picking three social media metrics to track. Appropriate metrics differ based on what your objective is for the program. See the slide deck for more details on social media metrics.
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