#1: Listen to your customers to find out where they are and what they are talking about
In order to create a social media campaign that works, you need to focus your efforts in the right place. Thus, you need to monitor the social media conversations about your business. It makes no sense to be putting content out if your customers or potential customers are not there to listen. Social media marketing requires a big time commitment, so you need to focus your efforts on places where you will have the most impact. So before you take any actions, spend some time figuring out those platforms (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) that you need to participate in and those you need to save for later or skip altogether. Also, during this time, figure out what your customers are talking about in social media and how they behave so that you can figure out how you can add value and maximize engagement.
#2: Develop a social media strategy that includes presence, content and metrics and is built upon your marketing objectives
After you have listened to your customers it is time to develop a strategy. Before you take any actions, lay out your social media mission statement. Based on the listening, you should allocate your time to the various platforms based on priority. Also, based on the listening, you should use this time to start developing content that will be valuable to your customers and that is shareable. In creating great social media content, be sure to leave your marketing messages at home. You should create a tactical calendar for your content production that will guide you as you start your social media efforts. For this, you can just use a simple excel spreadsheet and keep track of the posts/tweets/etc. that your business plans on generating. In addition, you want to develop metrics (KPI’s) and set goals for those metrics to track if your efforts are achieving your marketing objectives. By the way, I am not talking about tracking Facebook fans or Twitter followers. Those are good numbers to know, but that is just the beginning. Just like any other marketing, you need to evaluate whether your efforts are working so you can adjust your strategy if necessary.
#3: Establish a branded social media presence that is consistent and achieves marketing objectives
Create your branded presence on the appropriate social media platforms and ensure that you maintain consistent branding across your online channels. Also, you want to create the page such that is a maximizing your objective. For instance, if you have an eCommerce business model, then your social media platforms should encourage fans to visit your site, maybe even directing them to the purchase page. Finally, optimize your social media platforms by filling out all the fields and using all the space possible for conveying your message. As an example, many businesses that set up their Facebook fan page just use their logo as their profile picture. Facebook allows a picture of 180px wide and 520px high. So why not use that space. You can use this extra area to advertise deals, highlight fans, discuss product attributes, etc.
#4: Build and nurture your network
Now that you are ready to get your social media engine running you need to inform your customers of your presence and nurture the relationships with your following. You build your following by a number of online and offline marketing efforts. First off, let your existing customers know that you have entered the world of social media. This can be done via your website, email blast, in-store signage, etc. It is important to remember that social media is only one component of your marketing plan and that it supports your other marketing efforts and not replaces them. Social media without other marketing will not achieve results. You can further expand your reach by participating in conversations around the web. Once you have a following, you need to continuously interact with them. Once you gain fans, you cannot forget about them or they will unlike/unfollow you just as quickly as they joined. Build relationships with them, engage them. The businesses that engage and develop relationship equity with their customers will see the most benefits from social media.
#5: Analyze and adjust
Measure the results of the metrics against your goals. If you are falling short, then you may need to adjust your engagement strategy. You need to continuously analyze the results to identify areas of improvement. When you are first starting out, there is a good chance you are not going to knock it out of the park. But look at what has been working and focus on those areas. Also feel free to experiment a little. However do so with a purpose. If you are trying new ways of engagement make sure there is some reasoning behind why you are trying the new way.
With these 5 steps, you will have a solid foundation for starting your social media marketing. What other advice have you found vital? Please leave a comment.