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On February 4 2004, Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook. Since then, internet has never been the same again. Although it was not the first social network, it had an x-factor which was missing from the previous networks. With the rise of social media, Web 2.0 was introduced. Web 2.0 refers to user generated content. It paved the way for others to start different types of social networks. And today, more than 3 billion people use some sort of social network or the other. This is MASSIVE!
What is Social Media Marketing?
Social media marketing in its broader sense refers to the promotion of your business on Social Media to generate leads, create engagement, maintain a reputation and sell your services
Different social media networks offer the users/businesses different types of platforms to connect with their users.
- Facebook offers many options including but not limited to videos, articles, events, marketplace etc
- LinkedIn helps employers connect with potential employees and is also a great platform for B2B Lead Generation
- Instagram is a visual medium for brands who are better off promoting their content with a visual only medium
- YouTube is a hub for video bloggers, instructors or any one who is interested in using strictly video content for their promotion
- Twitter is used by businesses to stay in touch with their users in real-time with short messages and updates
- Quora is a Question/Answer platform like Yahoo Answers was, only difference is that it doesn’t suck. It is a new tool for maintaining your online reputation
I guess, I have covered most of the major social media platforms out there. There are also a large number of niche-specific platforms which you will find out sooner or later.
What is Social Media Marketing’s importance in Search Engine Optimization?
It is a known fact that 3 out of 4 consumers check out the online profiles of a business before buying their products/services. It is thus, absolutely essential, to maintain an online reputation. When people search for your business in Google, they are going to find your profiles on Social Media.
All these social networks have a high domain authority and generally are on the first page of results. So it is important to keep your engagement high on these platforms. Whenever you post something new on your website, it may not get indexed immediately. However, all the content you post on social media is immediately indexed by Google due to the high authority of these websites.
Thus, social media has to be a part of every successful Digital Marketing Campaign!
The Great Conversation Prism
This great graphic has become very famous and it is accurate to the point! Check it out :
They state that :
AUDIENCE CAN USE IT TO:
- Create conversations about social media and explain that it goes beyond Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
- Brainstorm new channels and ways to benefit from social media.
- Use it as a tool to create content.
- Study the landscape as you plan your next social media strategy.
- Show your expertise and that social media is not something that should be ignored.
That being said, you must be wondering how do you go about developing a successful social media strategy.
Essential Components of a Successful Social Media Strategy
#1 Identifying your Goals
Before any kind of planning, you need to plan your goals. I believe you should spend equal time in planning your complete strategy and planning your goals. They are that important! An ad-hoc marketing strategy may have reaped you good rewards before, but do not think that you can repeat it again!
How to identify your goals?
- Get all the data about your company and see where it stands.
- Take note of all the requirements.
- Think about which platform will satisfy your requirements in the best way (cost, time, efforts)
- Identify targets and create a roadmap
Now, you have seen this ‘n’ number of times but let me just say it again, your goals need to be SMART !
- Should have a Timeframe
#2 Key Tracking Parameters
Key Tracking Parameters or Key Performance Indicators (KPI) in the broader sense is how you measure the success of your strategy.
According to your goals, you will have a different set of KPIs . Too often, people rely on standard KPIs to measure their results and this is where their strategy fails.
If you were looking to acquire new customers and you only generated engagement through your campaigns, then no matter how much engagement you generated, it is useless if it did not lead to User Acquisition. This means that your campaign has failed!
List down your KPIs according to your goals and measure your success accordingly. Correct KPIs allow you to measure, optimize and improve your campaign even in real-time.
This 4-step process explains how you set up your KPIs :
- Identify your desired outcome.
- Find out how you can track this outcome and stay on top of it throughout the campaign
- Look for ways in which you can improve this outcome.
- Set weekly/monthly/quarterly reviews for monitoring the KPIs
Also, it is necessary to appoint a person who will be responsible for this particular KPI.
#3 Creating a User Persona for your target audience
This is an important step in your Social Media Strategy. You need to identify who your audience is and what they would like to see. So how do you create a user persona?
- Collect Data : First and the most important step is obviously to gather data. Data-driven approach is essential in marketing since it will end up being the difference between you and your closest competitor. It is the difference between assumptions and facts! However, it is not possible for new or small businesses to have a large amount of data at their disposal, it is wise to make assumptions based on data already available in the market
- Detailed Info: Make sure you focus on the details when collecting data from your customers, missing out on any detail is going to cost you dearly. The more detailed information you have, the more chance of conversion.
- Diversify: Do not be hesitant to create more groups. Suppose your product caters to a diverse market, you need to create a separate user persona for each group. It is not a problem if you have more than one user persona if you have a product which is loved by people of different demographics/interests/ behavior.
Creating a user persona is an effective way of presenting a large amount of data in a way which is easier to understand. We are basically using one hypothetical user to describe the entire user-base. This helps us since we need to market to just that single user instead of a million users! So make sure you build the right user persona.
#4 Competitor Research
Always stay up-to-date about the on-goings of your competitors. This is something which should be followed in every business and not just social media marketing. This really helps you stay on top of your game!
- Make a list of the closest competitors: Look at your closest competitors, if you are a small business then look at other small businesses for comparison. Do not have unrealistic expectations from yourself by comparing yourself to big brands!
- Channel selection: Check which channels your competitors are using, do not just blindly follow those channels. Due to the large number of channels available, it is important that you look out for the best channel for your business.
- Content Strategy: Check how the users are responding to the different content used by your competitors on different channels. Are they making short videos? Using carousels? Making humor based content or something else? See what is working, go through the user reactions, user comments and user reviews. This is your target audience too, see what the competitor is missing and try to provide it!
Do not blatantly rip off your competitor’s strategy, ask yourself these questions and improve on the existing strategy:
- What are your competitors doing better?
- What are you doing better?
- Something your competitors doing that you haven’t explored yet?
- Do you need to explore it?
Social Media Marketing is a very fast-changing business and it is important that you change along with it or you will be left behind!
#5 Preparing a Content Strategy
After all the research, it is time to put things into practice! Content is still the King, no matter how perfect your social media marketing strategy is, you cannot execute it with bad content. Spend time on creating good quality content that your users want! There are three aspects to your content strategy. They are :
- Type of Content
- Time of Posting
- Frequency of Posting
1. Type of Content:
Type of content can vary from text, images, videos, user-interactive elements like quizzes, polls, Q&A among other things. The type of content should vary according to the platform you will be using to distribute the content. I will be writing another article which will help you decide which content works best on which platform!
2. Time of Posting
You will find many guidelines to use based on content distribution. You can check out these guidelines and learn from it. Do not just follow these guidelines as rules. Every set of audience is different. No one knows your audience better than you. You can find out the best time to post content by adapting the good-old tried and tested trial-and-error approach. Will take a few weeks but you will be better off!
3. Frequency of Posting
This is another thing you need to figure out. How often should you be posting? This is again dependent on your target audience. If you are posting humorous content or lighthearted content, you can get away with posting 3-4 times a day. However, if you are targeting other businesses or working professionals, they don’t want to receive tons of notifications throughout the day. So, think about your audience before you decide on the frequency of posting.
Almost all businesses are adopting an inbound strategy today and it is a wise move, this makes the customer come to you instead of you reaching out to them.
#6 Budget and Spending
Always track your spending on your social media marketing activities. Keep track of any subscription tools you are using and any current advertisements you are running.
Assign an estimated budget at the beginning of the month which will maximize your ROI and try your best to stick to it. Budgeting really puts things into perspective. You can track your KPIs and ROI better by assigning a budget to your activities.
You can track :
- Your Cost Per Lead
- Cost Per Acquisition
- Outsourced Activities Spending (design, copywriting etc)
- Advertising costs
This will help you in making incremental changes to your ongoing campaigns! No matter how small your budget is, make sure you write it down. Many new businesses make this mistake of not writing things down and thus they do not keep track of their expenses. They make assumptions which are not 100% accurate and hence their business suffers. So unless you have a photographic memory, I suggest you to make full use of spreadsheets.
Well that is it, use these 6 points for preparing your social media marketing strategy. Consider this as a skeletal structure of your strategy. How you use it is different for different businesses. No social media marketing strategy or any strategy for that matter is set in stone. You need to adapt and adjust according to your needs! It is your turn now, I wish you the best of luck in your endeavors!
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Until Next Time!