1. Identify Your Goals
It’s a smart business practice to start with goal setting before all new plans, and social media marketing’s no different. After all, you can be the best bicycle salesperson in the state, but still fail if you are supposed to be selling ice cream.
Use the SMART goal setting strategy to create the foundation for successful social media marketing.
Specific. Vague goals like “get more business” doesn’t help companies pinpoint their objective and create measures of success. Goals must nail down exactly what is expected of the initiative.
Measurable. Being able to definitively answer “yes, we hit the goal” or “we missed the goal by 20%” is a good goal standard.
Attainable. Out of reach goals are demoralizing and frustrating. Having to stretch to hit a goal is productive, but don’t go overboard with expectations.
Relevant. A social media marketing goal needs to tie in to marketing’s overall goal. Is it to build an audience? Increase website traffic? Strengthen branding? Make sure the goal relates to the bigger picture.
Timely. Dates and times keep companies accountable to their goals. Stay on track by breaking up a large project like this into mini-goals that each have their own deadline.
Once companies set the goal, which is basically the “why”, they need to decide on the “who”.
2. Identify Your Audience
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Your message won’t be effective unless its specifically designed for who you are trying to target. Developing a relevant buyer persona is essential for successful social media marketing. Three pieces of information offer insight into pinpointing your audience.
Review happy clients. Clients that have been pleased by a company’s product or service are prime starting points when building a buyer persona. Study their industries, demographics, and their goals closely to understand who you should be targeting.
Nail down pain points. What question does your product answer? How does it make your buyer’s job easier? Only by thoroughly understanding this can an organization show their value.
Survey customer support. Talk to the people who are on the front lines. What are the questions they hear most often? Knowing this shows you the direction to take in the content that will most likely engage and interest your targets.
Now let’s answer “where”.
3. Select the Best Platforms
successful social media marketing
It’s usually a mistake to try to cultivate followers on half a dozen or more social media channels. The person managing the social media efforts gets overwhelmed, off track, and the results end up being puny.
Facebook is the social media giant, of course. LinkedIn is also great for businesses to have a presence. But neither may be the one companies should focus on.
Who needs the product or service? The offering is key to the platforms you should choose. Selling directly to consumers? Facebook is your best bet. Targeting a younger audience? Snapchat or Instagram might perform the best. Marketing to other companies? LinkedIn could be your golden ticket.
Where are the competitors? Put your investigative hat on and figure out which channels your competitors are using. Study their presence, and look at their followers. It’s not required that you be on every channel they are on. But, seeing a competitor with tons of followers and engagement should prompt you to move that particular social media channel to the top of the list.
Successful social media marketing takes chunks of time to manage. It’s far better to choose one or two channels and really invest in them than five or six channels and spread the message to thin.
4. Employ a Qualified Manager
It takes unique qualities to be a savvy social media manager. One of the mistakes companies frequently make is to choose the person who has the lightest schedule or the cheapest per hour rate with no regard for whether or not they are “built” for the job.
Strategic thinking. There’s almost always a strategic thinker behind successful social media marketing. Companies should look at the candidate for the job closely and discuss the short and long-range goals. The person needs to understand how to lay out posts, choose content, and engage with followers in a way that builds toward success.
Organizational skills. Running social media campaigns demands someone that can lay out the strategy in a step-by-step approach. They need to have a handle on their time and control of their calendars. Simply posting “when they think about it” won’t do much to move the needle.
Branding expertise. They may not be the “face” of the company, but they are definitely the “voice”. It’s imperative for the social media manager to understand the company brand at a granular level, possess strong grammar and spelling skills, and exhibit professionalism in all situations.
5. Deliver Consistently
An outstanding social media initiative is one that is nurtured constantly. Throwing up a blog here and a picture there won’t build a prosperous marketing strategy.
Write content. Always keep the targeted buyer in mind when sharing content. Blogs, new white papers, and webinar invitations are smart choices.
Curate content. Posting relevant industry information and articles written by others are additional ways to fill the social media calendar. Avoid always posting something sales-y. This turns audiences off.
Listen. Tools that let companies listen to what competitors and the target audience are interested in and talking about guides them toward what they should be sharing.
6. Woo Influencers
Did you know that almost 50% of buyers seek influencer reviews when looking out for a product to buy? That’s how big the influencers’ recommendations are. Why? Well, probably because they trust these influencers. These people have already established their credibility thus their recommendations matter to most users.
So find out who the experts are about the product or service you sell. The ones with a large following on social media are influencers.
Network. Reach out to and build relationships with these dynamos to reach more targets and further expand the branding message.
Extend an offer. Be prepared to answer the “what’s in it for me” question. Maybe they could join you at a trade show, or promote themselves on one of your webinars. It’s important to show how you bring value to them as you foster these relationships.
Monitor. Watch what the influencer posts about your brand, and make certain it’s cohesive to your image. If, for example, they tried your product and didn’t like it, it’s best to know this up front. Always communicate with influencers and pay attention to what they say, so there aren’t any nasty surprises.
Additional tip: For Instagram, if you want to increase your reach when collaborating with influencers, use Instagram Stories. This has been voted as the 2nd most popular format when it comes to influencer Instagram marketing. It actually reaches 500 million users every day and is proven to be 15 times faster compared to other kinds of feed.
7. Grow Your Audience
The more eyes that see your message, the more results you enjoy. The social media manager needs to work on increasing followers across all the social media channels deemed relevant for the product or service.
Current customers. Make sure current happy customers follow your social media. Product updates, new content, and industry information are all valuable to customers. Do it well, and the message could prompt them to buy again.
Content fans. People who run across and digest your content are primed to follow you. It’s vital to encourage them to subscribe to your blog, and make it easy for them to follow you for future updates. Contests are great ways to increase followers.
Paid ads. Organic is awesome, but some companies also opt for paid advertising to grow their volume of followers. Ads are great ways to reach your buyers that would otherwise never come into contact with your message. To learn more about paid ads, read our 10 Essentials to Running Successful Facebook Ads.
8. Engage Your Audience
For social media marketing to be successful, companies need to find ways to increase engagement in the followers they have and the ones they want.
Respond. Social media management is not a one-way street. Respond personally to new followers, answer questions and address issues fast, and comment and like other posts.
Tag. If there are followers you know are interested in a particular piece of information, tag them when you post about it. Showing personal touches like this helps drive the quality of your social media efforts.
Link. Depending on your goals, include links in your posts. Otherwise, followers don’t know what you want them to do next. Link to blogs, your website, or other calls-to-action (CTA). Encouraging consumers to take action is key in developing successful social media marketing.
Use hashtags. Help the audience cut through the enormous amount of noise with valuable hashtags. Decide in advance on a list of hashtags that the business will use. These are neon signs of the internet that help your message be more discoverable.
9. Measure Your Results
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Close the loop by holding the results up to the goals you set and see how they compare. Otherwise, you won’t have any idea which strategies are paying off and which ones crashed.
Followers. Total up the number of new followers each social media platform received, and compare this number to the goal. Interesting social media platforms always consistently add new followers.
Likes/shares/comments. Measure the amount of engagement the audience has with the posts. It’s positive if you are receiving retweets, shares, comments, and likes. Note which type of content gets the biggest responses.
Clicks. This is where the metrics start to show how social media efforts did, or didn’t, start moving the sales needle. Were there many clicks to your blog post or website? Did followers take that next step? The success of social media marketing depends on the ability to draw more visitors into the sales funnel.
Downloads. If your audience responded to your posts by going to landing pages and downloading high-value content like eBooks and white papers chalk this up as a success!
Leads. It all comes down to this. Ultimately, successful social media marketing increases the number of qualified leads for the company. This is the metric that tells you the most about your efforts. Be patient. It takes time to nurture strangers into leads, even with fantastic content and consistent posting. But they will trickle in eventually if it’s done right.