5 Steps to Effective Social Media Marketing
A social media marketing strategy is a summary of everything you plan to do and hope to achieve on social media. It guides your actions and lets you know whether you’re succeeding or failing. Every post, reply, like, and comment should serve a purpose.
Step 1. Set social media marketing goals that align to business objectives
Set S.M.A.R.T. goals
The first step to creating a social media marketing strategy is to establish your objectives and goals. Without goals, you have no way to measure your success.
Each of your goals should be:
This is the SMART framework, and it’s an important way of making sure your goals actually lead to real business results, rather than just lofty ideals.
Track meaningful metrics
Keep in mind that while vanity metrics like retweets and likes are fun and easy to track, it’s hard to prove their real value for your business. Instead, focus instead on targets such as leads generated, web referrals, and conversion rate.
Make sure to align your social media goals with your overall marketing strategy. This will make it easier for you to show the value of your work and get executive buy-in and investment.
Step 2. Learn everything you can about your audience
Create audience personas
Knowing who your audience is and what they want to see on social is key to creating content that they will like, comment on, and share. It’s also critical for planning how to develop your social media fans into customers for your business.
Think of your potential fans, followers, and customers as real people with real wants and needs. And that will allow you to think more clearly about what to offer them.
Gather real-world data
Don’t make assumptions. For instance, you might instinctively think that Facebook is a better network for reaching Baby Boomers than Millennials, but the numbers show that Millennials still outnumber Boomers on the platform.
Step 3. Research the competition
Odds are, your competitors are already using social media—and that means you can learn from what they’re already doing.
Conduct a competitive analysis
A competitive analysis allows you to understand who the competition is and what they’re doing well (and not so well). You’ll get a good sense of what’s expected in your industry, which will help you set some social media targets of your own.
This analysis will also help you spot opportunities. For example, maybe one of your competitors is dominant on Facebook, but has put little effort into Twitter or Instagram. You might want to focus on the networks where your audience is underserved, rather than trying to win fans away from a dominant player.
Step 4. Track and measure everything.
“You will never run a successful social media marketing campaign if you don’t measure your results. It’s important that you lay out clear goals with benchmarks that allow you to determine whether or not your social effort is paying off. The data you collect and analyze can then be used to make changes to your campaign. You must be willing to constantly optimize and test your efforts if you want to develop a truly successful campaign,” explains Eric Ritter, Founder & CEO of Digital Neighbor.
It doesn’t matter if you are working with a $10 daily social media budget or six figures. The objective is the same -- put your message in front of the correct audience and trigger engagement. In order to do that, you need to track and measure everything.
Step 5. Engage with and delight your audience.
“It’s one thing to fill up your social media feed with posts, but it’s another thing to actively engage with your audience and turn them into satisfied customers. I see a lot of small business owners posting a couple times a day, thinking that they are doing the right thing when it comes to social media marketing. You can’t just post and walk away. If you do that, you are missing prime opportunities to engage with your audience and convert them,” explains Roy Surdej of Peaches Boutique.
Engaging your followers allows you to uncover problems or issues other customers might be experiencing as well. Then, you can be proactive and address those issues quickly before they turn into fires that are difficult to put out. When your communication lines are always open, you will often discover problematic situations before they spiral out of control.