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Social Media For Business: Back To Basics

It’s always a good idea to go back to basics and review what you’re doing on social media. If you’re not getting the results you want, it may be just what’s needed to help you turn things around. If you’re new to social media, this is a great place to start.

Here is some advice that I gave during a recent presentation at the Dorchester Chamber of Commerce, for anyone looking into social media for the first time and for those who need help getting back on track…

Be clear on your goals

Why are you using social media and what do you want to achieve? Defining your goals will dictate your strategy, and before you can get creative with tactics you need to be clear on what you’re trying to do.

Ideally you will have several goals – long term and short term. Keep them simple, make sure they are measurable, save them and make regular checks to see how you are progressing.

Every social network is different

Recognising that every social network has its own rules of engagement could put you streets ahead of the competition. Tailor your messages and tactics instead of posting duplicate updates on every social media site you have an account with. If you are considering your options, read my post on choosing the right social network for your business.

For instance, you should include no more than 2 hashtags in a tweet but you can use several in a single post on Instagram. You can also be posting to Twitter fairly frequently but you may become a nuisance if you post too often on Instagram. I have written a handy guide to posting images on social media, which you may find useful.

Invest time, budget & resources

Social media requires a sizeable slice of the marketing budget if you want it to be successful. It needs to be part of what you do on a daily basis within your business and fully integrated into your routine. That means you need to make time to do it properly – half-baked attempts whenever you get a moment are not enough. Read more on this in my article ‘Social Media Is Not Free.’

It’s not all about you

What you want to talk about and what your audience is interested in can be very different. Where they overlap is where you should be focusing. Of course you have goals and messages to communicate, but your efforts will fall flat if you don’t package your content to appeal to your audience and consider what they want. Use social media to learn more about what your fans will engage with – ask them questions and encourage conversation.

Remember the 80/20 rule – use 20% of your content to promote your brand, and dedicate 80% to content that really interests your audience and engages them in conversation. Ideally all of your content should be useful, informative and entertaining.

80-20-Rule

Use campaigns and plan ahead

Social media should be used as part of your overall marketing strategy, and that means that you need to plan ahead and create campaigns to help you achieve marketing goals. Consider how you could use social media during seasons like Halloween, Christmas or Mother’s Day. Perhaps you will be running a Summer Sale or hosting an event in the Spring. If you’re launching a new product or service, you could do an offer to generate awareness or even a competition asking your fans to help you name it. A content calendar can be really useful to help you plan in advance.

Mix up your content

There are so many creative ways to craft messages on social media. Especially in the beginning, mixing up the types of content you post is a great way to test what works best and it gives your page some variety. It’s not just about trying different styles of images, video, text, slideshows, etc to showcase your messages. The types of messages you post should vary too.

Start by coming up with a handful of categories for your social media updates. You could try industry news, how-to’s, inspiration, questions, blog posts, announcements and promotions, wisdom and advice, jokes, behind-the-scenes and any others you can think of. Be creative and consider what might work for your business. Write them down, create content that fits, start sharing and see what happens!

Be true to your brand

What are your company values, what do you stand for and why do people like doing business with you? Your social media updates should effectively communicate the voice, the philosophy and the personality of your company. People will get to know you and find out what you’re all about this way. Being true to your brand is vital in all stages of the buyer cycle, especially in the early stages when your customers come to know > like > trust you.

Automation has limited value

Social media needs to be tended to regularly – by human beings! Scheduling your updates is a useful way to ensure your planned messages are being published on time, but you can’t schedule a conversation. If you are solely relying on automated updates and simply broadcasting, you may find that no-one is listening.

Make time to engage with others on social media and participate in conversations, and ensure that you are always able to pick up notifications and messages. Replying to a Twitter mention several days later is not good enough and it looks bad. If you are not always at your desk, download apps on your phone so that you can respond on the move. Some companies find it useful to have a rota so that someone is always responsible for monitoring social media.

If you would like some one-to-one training, a chat about what you could be doing to boost your presence or even to learn about social media advertising, please do get in touch.
Bethany Carter,  September 24, 2015

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