5 Steps to Build a Social Media Strategy from Scratch
Most businesses understand that they should be active on social media, but if your company doesn’t already have a strategy in place it can feel overwhelming to try to create one.
There are so many other things to focus on - sales, customer experience, internal processes… is it really worth your time to build a social media strategy from scratch?
Does Your Business Really Need to be on Social Media?
The short answer is YES.
The long answer includes the many benefits of having a professional social media presence. From their SEO benefits to the social proof your social accounts provide, a solid social media strategy can have significant impact on your business and is an essential piece of your overall digital marketing strategy.
First, your social profiles can boost your business’ search engine rankings because they rank in search results. Do a quick Google search for a company you admire and you’ll see what I mean.
I’ll use Forbes as an example. When I type “Forbes” into Google, two of the results on the top page are from social channels - Twitter and Facebook. In fact, you can actually see Forbes’ Tweets in the search results:
Further, the more traffic your social links bring to your site, the higher they can rise through search rankings. Between the increased traffic and the additional branded results showing up in search, social media can really benefit your search engine presence.
It can also be helpful to think of social media channels as search engines. According to Kissmetrics, Facebook sees upwards of 1 billion search queries a day, and Twitter users perform 19 billion searches per month. If you have no presence on those channels, you’re missing an opportunity to be found by potential customers.
Another thing to keep in mind is the value of social proof, or the idea that people want to do what they see others doing. If you put out a piece of content that’s being shared or getting a lot of likes, someone else will naturally be curious to see what others have found so interesting.
A different form of social proof comes from online reviews. If someone searches for your company and comes across positive reviews from real people’s accounts, they’ll likely trust those insights more than the information they find on your website. The same goes for bad reviews, which can actively drive potential customers away.
The way that people buy has changed. They often research online before making a buying decision, and search for reviews or other forms social proof to see if they want to work with you before ever reaching out to a salesperson.
It’s time for your business to develop a social media strategy to meet the buyers where they are today. Here’s how to get started.
Step 1: Define Your Target Audience Social Channels
The very first step in developing your business’ social media strategy is determining your audience. Where do they spend their time online? Facebook? LinkedIn? Twitter? It’s not essential to be active on all channels, just where your customers are.
Not sure where they’re active? Ask! They should be more than happy to tell you their favorite channels.
Select the top two or three social channels that are most essential to your customer base, and only focus on those. For example, here at Gilroy Associates, we focus on Twitter and LinkedIn.
Step 2: Set Measurable Goals
What are you hoping to accomplish with your social media strategy? Set specific, measurable goals from the outset so you’re able to easily track your progress.
Your goal could be as simple as hitting 100 followers in the first quarter. Or, it could be to increase traffic to your website from social channels by 10% in the next month.
Whatever your goals are, make sure they are measurable and attainable in the timeframe specified.
Step 3: Create Content to Share
Now that you’ve chosen your social channels and determined your goals, you need content to share.
A simple way to get content is to start a blog (which will also benefit your website’s SEO). Share your blog articles on your business’ social channels, and encourage your employees to share them on their personal accounts if they’re comfortable doing so.
The content that performs the best is the content that’s most helpful to your target audience defined in step one. What are the questions your sales people hear most often? Answer them in blog articles, then share that content.
Spread the work by assigning articles to multiple employees. Not only does it personalize your site to have different points of view from real employees, but it also will help make regular content creation more manageable.
Is someone on your team hesitant about writing? Encourage them to record a video, or even to make an audio recording. People consume content in so many different ways, and all of the social channels now support video. As long as you’re providing helpful information your customers and prospects are looking for, the content should perform well, no matter the format.
You can also share announcements, profiles of employees, or anything else authentic that you think will resonate with your audience.
It’s helpful to create a shared calendar of your blog/video content and your social posts so the whole team knows what’s coming down the line. You can learn more about creating a social media calendar (and download a template!) in this article from HubSpot.
Step 4: Engage with Your Audience
It’s not enough to just share content, you need to engage, also. Always respond to comments, whether positive or negative. Thank people for sharing your posts.
The more engaged you are with your audience, the more they’ll want to continue engaging with you, the more they’ll trust your brand, and the more likely you are to reach your goals.
Step 5: Measure Progress and Adjust Your Plan if Necessary
Keep an eye on the goals you set earlier and track your progress. If you’re hitting them, great! That means you’re sharing engaging, helpful content that resonates with your audience. Now, you can set your sights even higher with more ambitious goals.
Not hitting your goals? That’s okay. Adjust your plan and try a different tactic. Social media success doesn’t happen overnight, and it takes time to discover the content and messaging that resonates most with your audience.
Keep in mind the hardest part is getting started, so once you overcome that hurdle you’ll be on your way! Any questions? Leave a note in the comments or send me a Tweet!