Social media is one of the very best ways to find and engage with customers online, but how you go about participating in social media will determine your success. In this post, we’ll take a high-level view of social media strategy and how you can develop one to best serve your audience, and your purpose.
Finding Your Audience
Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube… it’s enough to make your head spin. Busy companies have enough on their hands before they consider a single social network, much less seven. Luckily, this is the first tenant of social media strategy – you don’t have to be everywhere. You do have to be where your audience is.
So, before you go any further, you have to take a step back and consider who your audience is and where they might live online.
If you are largely B-to-B, consider a handful of social channels including LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube and SlideShare.
If you are B-to-C you’ve got some additional thinking to do. If, for example, your audience skews younger, YouTube, Tumblr and Instagram should be high on your list. If you’re targeting moms, Facebook and Pinterest are your new best friends.
You see how this works?
Feeling Your Way Around
Once you’ve figured where you should concentrate your energies, it’s time to focus on how.
Before you create your page, it’s important to study the social customs particular to the network. Specifically, what can you do there, and what should you do there?
Sure, you can use Pinterest to post a bunch of product photos with links back to your site, but should you? Probably not. Instead, take a look how successful companies use the channel. Look at case studies and evaluate the social tendencies of the companies that you admire.
Pinterest has a few great case studies on their tools for business page. Take a look, for example, how Petplan Insurance – a company without product photos – perfectly engaged their audience while characterizing their brand.
Going “All In”
Now it’s time for the real social media strategy – precisely how will you characterize your brand? Start to brainstorm categories for the types of content you will offer your users. Will you post inspirational quotes? Links to helpful content? Instructional videos? Infographics?
Once you’ve got your list of categories, begin to plan your social media content by creating a calendar in an Excel spreadsheet. Include the date of publication, the textual post, and the image or files needed. You can use a free tool like Hootsuite to schedule your posts. That way, you can have your foundational social content covered for a month or two at a time.
The rest of your content will come from daily interactions with users. This should include liking or sharing the content of the users you follow, and responding to your users’ questions or concerns.
Rising to the Occasion
Participation in social media is, ultimately, a customer service opportunity. Once they’re on social media, companies have a responsibility to effectively respond to their customers’ questions and concerns. Doing so publically, and with limited character count, can be tricky.
In general, it’s a good idea to have a plan in place for customer feedback – both positive and negative. To ensure that you’re providing good customer service, make sure you have a dedicated person (or people) in charge of monitoring your social media feeds for activity. This way, when someone interacts with your brand, you can respond swiftly and appropriately.
US consumers are spending more time on social networks, according to the market research firm eMarketer. Due to a significant growth in usage of social networks and digital video, the overall average daily time spent online rose again in 2012, while old school media, like radio and newspapers, continued to lose share.
eMarketer reports that US consumers spent an average of 37 minutes daily on social networks in 2012, compared to 30 minutes daily in 2011.
The only other digital activity that gained as many minutes as social is online video, which rose from 17 minutes in 2011 to 24 minutes in 2012. This is largely due to a sharp increase in digital TV and movie content available online.
Social media and digital video seem to be closely correlated: the Interactive Advertising Bureau reported that, for one-quarter of online video viewers 18 and older, the third preferred way (after word or mouth and ads) to discover TV shows that they could watch on the web was through social sites.
In conclusion, the multi-media driven online social networks are here to stay and continue to evolve creating huge business opportunities for savvy marketers. Leveraging the power of social networks can represent a key opportunity to build a viable, valuable, and long lasting connection with your customers and prospects.
For most people, putting time into meticulously crafting all the elements of a social media profile is a task that only falls into the purview of a full-fledged social media campaign. However, as Google+ has gained steam, the impact of profile pages have expanded.
This is mostly because of AuthorRank – an unverified ranking signal that bears resemblance to PageRank, except that it measures the authority and influence of an individual author, rather than that of an entire website. Similar to increasing your PageRank for SEO purposes, there are advantages to increasing your AuthorRank.
One of the key methods for increasing your AuthorRank is optimizing your Google+ page. Originally, tying your content back to your Google+ profile was simply a means of establishing AuthorRank for yourself. However, as the signal has grown in complexity, even more factors of AuthorRank are tied to Google+. The stronger your Google+ profile, the better your Author Rank. As you go about crafting your Google+ profile, keep these points in mind:
By focusing more effort toward optimizing your Google+ profile, you’ll be able to increase your relevance with Google as a web-author. The initial set-up may be a bit time consuming, but once it’s done the content you produce will be able to reach an even wider audience.