New to social media? Answering the following 6 questions before you start will help to get you on the right track.
1. Who is your customer?
Before you invest valuable time & effort in social media, you should identify exactly where you will be focusing. Where will you “locate” your customer? Even though we might think everyone needs our product, it doesn’t always happen, so make sure you’re looking for our customers in the right places. Identify your potential buyers down to their:
- education level
- income level
- what publications they read
- what websites they visit
- what their budget is
- are they local or nationwide
2. What Are Your Goals?
Social media goals are best tied to outreach of some kind: finding new clients, reaching existing clients, locating potential employees, and others you need to reach.
The most common goal for small business owners is they want more customers and more profits, but how do you intend to do that?
Identifying your goals is a mission-critical step in this process. Not only does it focus your efforts, it also saves you valuable time as a business owner. Social media takes time — especially when you are in the development stage. Too many businesses flounder in social media by jumping in blindly, having no plan, no measurements, and then they’re disappointed when they don’t see results. Ask the tough questions: Do you want your existing customers to increase the amount they spend with you? Do you want to bring in new customers? Are you introducing a new product? Are you changing your business focus? Do you need to re-brand?
Decide first what your goals are for using social media, and be specific.
3. Where is your audience?
THE most crucial part your social media strategy, because it alone determines whether your efforts will pay off.
I hear this from my clients often: “Social Media is overwhelming and I don’t know where to start!”
Keep in mind that you don’t need to be everywhere. The only place you need to be is where your customers are. I recently did an in-depth consultation for a financial management firm, and initially we thought they needed to be on Facebook, but found that few of their clients were actually there, so it didn’t make sense for them. Instead, the majority of their target audience was on Twitter and LinkedIn, so this is where the social media efforts were focused.
4. When Will You Connect?
The secret to outstanding social media campaigns is consistency. How often will you communicate with your audience and when.
Plan your social media posts and make them easy to do. I recommend creating a content development schedule to identify what topics you’ll be posting about throughout the year. This makes it easier when you’re in the middle of your busy season and you don’t have time to think about what you are going to blog about. Decide whether you will blog monthly, quarterly, etc. based on what your product is. Put the dates in your calendar with reminders about a week prior. Identify the seasonal nature of your product or service and get in touch with customers before those months.
5. Why You?
Identifying the why in your social media strategy is often the toughest step, because it requires you to look at your business and tell why you’re special.
The best way to develop your Unique Value Proposition (UVP) is to ask your customers. They alone define your UVP, because they are the only ones who can tell you about your product or service from a customer’s viewpoint. Go back through your client emails, testimonials, and remember those face-to-face meetings, from these identify the following:
- What do clients love about your business?
- Why did that client choose you?
- What compliments do you continuously receive?
Then develop a cohesive message about your unique offering which differentiates you from your competition.
6. How Will You Engage?
It’s no longer enough to simply post to a social network (especially Facebook) and hope for results. You need to re-purpose your content in as many ways as possible – “get some mileage out of it” – people used to think it was ok to just post something on Facebook and move on to the next task, that is no longer a smart approach. In addition to your social media channels, you need a website, because your website is the only online marketing channel you OWN. You set the rules. You can do things your way. And you don’t need to worry about keeping up with constant changes.
Social networks are not a world unto themselves. For best results, use social media to do the following:
- Drive traffic to your website
- Use quality content to introduce your audience to your brand
- Optimize your website to rank highly in search engine results
- Use social media as a lead generator