How to Build a Social Media Strategy that Elevates Your Business
Social media is being used across a wide range of industries, but not always to great effect. One of the biggest problems seems to be that companies often can’t determine the impact that social media is having – and so don’t invest in it to nearly the degree that the business returns would warrant. So how can we tackle this problem and ensure businesses can tie social media activities to specific and valuable business outcomes? It all starts with formulating the right strategic plan.
Consider for a moment that research has found 90% of marketers using social media state that it helped increase exposure for their business, with a further 75% saying it upped traffic to their website. Often these kinds of stats prompt small businesses to start investing in their social media. But harvesting results isn’t straightforward – and using social media for businesses requires a thought-out strategy and then planning and patience to see this through to fruition.
Preparation is key
Many businesses fail with social media marketing because they assume it’s as simple as posting and sharing. The problem with this approach is that there’s no clear strategy. Every business—small or large—needs to have a comprehensive plan. For social media marketing to provide measurable results, it needs to be planned with exact goals in mind.
Let’s expand on that point because in our work across industries around the globe it’s the absolutely fundamental determinant of success. So I’d encourage you to stop for a moment and ask yourself what specific outcome could social media achieve for your business that is realistic, valuable and measurable
Examples would be:
- Generating a flow of sales leads for your sales team
- Bringing in registrations for free business breakfast events you run
- Attracting candidates to register their CV / Resume with your business
- Prompting people to book in for a demo of your offering or to request a quote
- Stimulating signups for your next webinars or for your email newsletter
- Creating a regular stream of website visitors
Each of these is clearly valuable for your business – and so every 6 or 12 months you could take stock and easily demonstrate that the investment that’s been made on social media has been repaid many times over. Consider the value here:
- Sales leads – your business knows that for every X sales leads a sale will be made that’s worth $Y. So this outcome of social media directly contributes to increased sales.
- Registrations for free business breakfast events – these are used as sales events by companies and again attendee numbers directly translate into an additional business that the company would expect to win later in the year
- Candidate registrations – saving your business the alternative cost of generating high quality candidate applicants
- Demo or quote requests – again feeding into sales, your business will know it needs X demo requests or quote requests to generate $Y in new sales.
- Signups for webinars or email newsletters – your business will know you typically spend $X for each new newsletter or webinar registration you generate. So social media bringing in lots of these registrations saves you the money you’d otherwise have had to spend on achieving these registrations via other means
- Website visitors – whether through search engine optimization or pay-per-click Google advertising, your company has to spend money to generate additional targeted website visitors. So if social media can generate these for you on an ongoing basis, then there’s a direct cost saving here for the business
Hopefully, you can see that if you could demonstrate your social media efforts were bringing in one or more of the above results then it’d be far easier to justify the ongoing investment than if all you’re able to talk about is an “increase in followers” or “increased reach and engagement”. Those things don’t pay the bills – and so are unlikely to warrant a business investing in social media to the extent that it ought to.
As well as being valuable, though, these outcomes are also realistic and measurable. Measurable is important because we need to be able to show that sales leads have originated from social media – otherwise, we can’t make the case for investing more in social media.
Just as important, though, is picking outcomes that are realistic. Don’t expect social media to achieve things in your business that no other marketing channel has ever achieved before! Instead, plug it into processes that you already know work.
For example, if you sell services at a price point that means new clients always want to talk to you on the phone before buying, then it would be totally unrealistic for us to expect social media visitors to go to a page and buy from us online without speaking to someone first. If we build our social media strategy around sending people to a page where they have to buy online without speaking to someone first then we are potentially setting social media up to fail. We might get no sales by doing that, where if the same visitor numbers had been directed to a page where people could book in for a call with our team we might have generated substantial sales.
This is what I mean by choosing an outcome that is realistic.
Reaching the right people
So figure out your objective – and then working backward from that, who does your social media need to be reaching in order to fulfill that objective? One of the main hurdles in social media marketing is identifying and reaching the intended target audience. There are a lot of social media platforms, with the most used including:
Finding the right platform or platforms to reach your ideal audience is half the battle. If you’re publishing content and posting updates on the channels your prospects use, they’re more likely to see and engage with it. If you share content that is really valuable for your target audience – and you do that on a platform that they use (and in a way that gets you sufficient visibility on the platform) then you are far more likely to be building the foundations for success.
Social media can be a fun and creative space for your business to experiment and show personality, but this shouldn’t detract from its main goal. Anything your business invests time in needs to produce measurable results, and this includes marketing through social platforms.
So as you develop your daily and weekly plan for social media, the thing about the key performance indicators (KPI’s) that you’ll want to track to ensure you’re on target with your social media strategy. You might be looking to:
- Increase followers by X
- Collaborate with Y influencers in your market
- Get pay-per-click rates on paid campaigns down to a level of $Z per click
- Spark engagement and therefore reach-per-post of…
If you follow this kind of number driven and results driven approach, you’re well on your way to turning social media into a valuable and investable component of your overall business strategy.
Now if you’ve built an accurate target audience profile and identified the social media platforms your audience is already active on, all you have to do then is to implement your strategy.
So, by way of concluding remarks, keep in mind that to implement this winning strategy you’ll need:
- Focus: You must manage your growth in a targeted way. Work towards social media KPIs that will lead to measurable results for your business and elevate success.
- Patience: Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is a successful social media campaign. Focus on the long-term goals of your business and use your social media platforms to take steps towards achieving these.
- Investment: Creating a social strategy to elevate your business is no quick fix. You need to think about what role your social media presence plays long-term and provide a budget that reflects this.
- Expertise: Social media is a science as much as it’s an art. If you’re lacking expertise in this field, don’t be afraid to enlist the help of a social media marketing specialist or to invest in training to bring an existing team member up to the required level of expertise to get results.
Bio: This blog was contributed by Tony Restell of Social Hire, a social media marketing agency that provides tangible results for SME businesses. Follow them on twitter @social_hire or visit their site at Social-Hire.com