You might be forgiven for thinking that opening a social media account on every platform is the best way to start – after all, this will ensure a wide spread of coverage for your new business.
Some platforms will work well for your business while others may work against your values and won’t help you engage with your target market. Spreading yourself too thinly across too many platforms will also dilute the quality of your content, leaving followers disappointed.
Take some time to explore the options, looking at what your market competitors are doing and where their time, money and energy is spent. Work out whether you want to budget for paid advertising via social media channels and devise a clear strategy that you can implement over the coming months.
Establishing a social media presence on any platform will, to some extent, be a process of trial and error. Your plan can be adapted as you learn on the job but devising a strategy at the start will keep you focused in the long term.
Spend some time getting to know your target audience and how they use social media – who they engage with, how they interact, what they like and dislike etc.
You might wish to conduct some surveys and gather data from existing customers, uncovering what bothers your potential buyers and how you might solve their problems. Look at trends in your existing customer data (such as age, occupation, location etc) and get out there on social media to ask people what they’re looking for.
Some brands choose to create an audience persona – an imagined person with a name, location, age, job title and a list of likes and dislikes. Getting this specific allows you to become focussed on who you’re selling to and how to market to this person.
Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Twitter, WhatsApp, YouTube, Pinterest…
You’d be hard pressed to find a business that connects effectively with customers over each and every social media platform. Instead, you should spend time researching the benefits and pit-falls of each avenue before focussing your attention on the ones that make sense for your business.
Posting irrelevant content on all platforms is a waste of your time, money and energy – plus, it won’t provide you with any new leads. Target the right people on the right platforms and you have the best chance of social media success.
Facebook may have the largest reach, but it’s slow moving when compared to Twitter. LinkedIn appeals to a more mature audience whilst teens and young people favour snapchat. Instagram works well for fashion and travel brands but may not appeal to more corporate companies.
There is little to no value in creating a range of social media accounts without being present to interact with followers on these. Once you begin creating content, stick around to find out how users are interacting with it – getting involved in conversations, replying to tweets and following up on feedback.
Research has shown that more than 80% of customers expect a reply to social media messages within 24 hours. Failing to respond could have devastating results, so allocate ample time to manage social media as well as creating up with new content.
Becoming immersed and involved with interaction shows your customers that their opinions are valued and that you’re prepared to invest your time responding to their thoughts. In fact, being responsive on social media is the very best thing you can do for your business – above offering giveaways and creating interesting or entertaining content.
What do you want to gain from using social media? If your focus is unclear, you may never achieve the results you need.
As part of your strategy, you need to identify your goals and follow a plan to implement these. Each new business is unique – you may want to raise awareness of a product or service or simply get your brand noticed. You may wish to stimulate conversations between users around a new product or push a particular promotion.
Whatever you want to do, make sure your objectives are clear every piece of content you post brings you closer to achieving them. Random, unplanned or reactive content is rarely helpful – conserve your time and energy by rigorously sticking to a strategy.