Do you do social? Of course you do. If not… well, how on earth are you still in business?
But there’s a difference between truly maximising the benefits of your efforts and merely existing on social media. No longer is it satisfactory to simply have an account and post up a few bits and pieces. Today’s businesses are getting more and more socially savvy, and if you want to keep up with the competition, you’re going to need a cracking social media marketing strategy. Here’s what you need to know;
What does today’s social media look like?
Apparently, in 2016, a huge 79 per cent of adult internet users were on Facebook; that’s up 7 per cent from 2015. This means that if you’re not aware of Facebook right now, we’re pretty sure you’ve been living under a rock for the last decade. But is social media just about the Book of Face? Absolutely not, and although Mr. Zuckerberg’s baby is pretty much winning at social, the other contenders should not be overlooked.
Twitter’s growth has somewhat plateaued over the last few years, with only a 3 per cent year on year growth worldwide. In the US, it’s down to 0 per cent, suggesting that the platform is nearing capacity, unless something big changes. Despite this, research has shown that 81 per cent of modern millennials check Twitter at least once a day, so if this is your target market, it’s still a hugely important channel to include in your strategy.
Now to the less well known, and therefore less over-marketed networks.
- Snapchat: When it launched, we all thought it would be a flash in the pan, but it seems that today’s selfie loving young generation are driving the growth of this platform. On any day, Snapchat reaches over 40 per cent of 18 – 34 year olds in the US, and yet only 5 per cent of global marketers report that their brands are using this platform.
- YouTube: YouTube is one of the fastest growing platforms, and is high on many marketer’s lists for sizeable investments. The number of advertisers running video ads on YouTube is up 40 per cent year on year, and the average spend is increasing by 60 per cent year on year. With over a billion hours of video streamed daily and 8 out of 10 18 – 49 year olds using the service at least once a month, YouTube has maybe the biggest potential of any of the current social media platforms.
- Instagram: Instagram is another major stream to consider if you’re looking to engage with the 18 – 34-year-old demographic. Around 60 per cent are known to frequent this platform, with users clocking up over 300 minutes per month.
- Pinterest: Well known for attracting a highly female dominated user base, Pinterest is an interesting and not particularly well explored marketing channel. A massive 85 per cent of their 176 million registered users are female, two thirds of whom are millennials, so if this is your target market, Pinterest needs a place in your marketing strategy.
That’s not an exhaustive list by any means, and depending on the nature of your business there are almost certainly other avenues you may want to include. For the B2B business, LinkedIn has a solid foundation of business-like respect and mutual information sharing, perfect for thought leadership work. Google+ is still in there too, with over 120 million monthly visitors.
Add to these the likes of Tumblr, Reddit, VK, Flickr and Vine, and you can start to see just how broad social media marketing can stretch. The majority of businesses focus their marketing efforts on the biggest players; Facebook and Twitter. What this means for you is that, if you play your cards right, you could take advantage of less competition and more visibility by including some of these lesser social networks in your forthcoming marketing strategy.
Developing your strategy step by step
Taking a step by step approach to formulating your social marketing strategy will ensure no stone is left unturned and you aren’t met with nasty surprises later down the line. It might sound somewhat prescriptive, but it’s the only way to ensure you end up with a robust, thought out and actionable strategy.
- What do you want to achieve?
Step one of your social media strategy development is to set out exactly what your goals are and what you hope to achieve. Being clear about this from the start will allow you to keep checking back to see if everything is meeting your objectives, and to rapidly change the direction of your marketing if things aren’t going as planned.
Your objectives should fit with your wider organisational marketing strategy, and should support your overall business goals. Avoid focussing on vanity metrics such as ‘likes’ and ‘retweets’ and instead look to set yourself real business goals such as leads, referrals and conversions.
- Who are your customers, and where are they?
You need to know just who you’re planning to market to if you want to make your investment worthwhile. If your prospects and customers already told you they spend 50 per cent of their online time on Pinterest and only 30 per cent on Facebook, you’ve already been handed a golden opportunity for targeted marketing.
If you don’t have such awesome data to hand right now, it might help to create a ‘buyer persona’, or a few if you are a brand of broad appeal. Give these persona’s names, figure out what they do in their spare time, and get to know them as well as you can. What are their pain points? How can your business solve them? Armed with this information, you’ll be able to whittle down the variety of social media channels into something more targeted and manageable.
- Audit what you’re doing now
Make a list of all the social accounts that are currently representing your business, who controls them and what purpose they serve. Figure out which ones need updating and which ones need deleting. Watch out for fake accounts that could send out the wrong image of your brand. Open new accounts if you need to, in places where you know your audience spend time.
Once you know all the channels you plan to maintain, create a short mission statement for each one. For example: “We will use Instagram to share beautiful photographs of our products and connect with our millennial customers”. Having these mission statements for every channel will help you to remain focussed on your goals for each channel.
- Identify success metrics
That’s a fancy pants way of saying, ‘know when you’re winning’. Define measurable goals that you can physically track, and put the champagne on ice for when you hit that golden number. If you’re not sure what to track, think about conversion rate, time spent on your website, number of shares, frequency of brand mentions etc.
- Make amazing content
Many businesses jump right in at this step without taking the time to really figure out what they’re trying to achieve. Different types of content will work better for different audiences and different social channels, so mix up your media to see what works for you, and what doesn’t. It’s not just about blog posts either; think about creating content like:
- Images, infographics and posters
- Videos and gifs
- News about your company
- eBooks and whitepapers
- Guides, downloadable information and how-tos
Often, if a piece of content is working well on one channel, it can be repurposed into other types of content to double and triple its value. A blog post which has created a real buzz for your company can often evolve into a video, a downloadable whitepaper, a podcast and more.
Think about how and when you’re posting this information to your social channels too. Can you post it just once, as would probably be best for Facebook, or could you link to it a number of times, which would work well on Twitter? Put together a content calendar so you know what sorts of topics you’re going to be sharing and when, so you can cover lots of information without becoming too repetitive.
- Track and optimise
Just as many marketers jump in at the previous step, just as many will jump over this step, and will miss out on the power of evaluation. Nobody expects you to get your social media marketing strategy perfect from day one; in fact, mistakes are pretty much compulsory. However, if you never stop to check if you’re making a mistake, you could be blowing your budget.
Analyse what you’re doing on a regular basis. It might seem obvious, but by tracking the results of different tactics, you can quickly capitalise on what works, and rapidly make amendments to what doesn’t. Go back through these six steps every time you have new information about your users and their response on social media.
A truly awesome social media strategy is not a standalone document. It’s a fluid, shifting, organic being, constantly evolving into something better and more powerful. The more you know, the better it gets, so keep reviewing your strategy to make the most of the data as it grows.
Will it work?
Before you rush out and start creating your next blog post or video, think about how it will fit on your chosen social media channels. Consideration needs to be made to the length, format and content of your ad, to make sure it is a good investment for that particular platform.
YouTube, for instance, gives you the potential to produce a full on, 30 plus second TV style ad, although you could be skipped in the first few seconds of course. Snapchat videos, on the other hand, are viewed for three seconds on average, and branded filters are interacted with for less than 20 seconds. Instagram advertisers make use of influencers to promote their products, but with reports of these people billing for up to $100,000 for a sponsored post, you’ll need to have deep pockets for this.
Advertising on Facebook and Twitter is certainly tried and tested, and there’s enough information out there to allow you to make highly informed choices about your strategy. However, do bear in mind that often taking the path less trodden, while a more difficult journey, can also lead to greater rewards. If you think your target audience is hanging out on Snapchat, then why not lead the way in new marketing techniques for this channel?