Social Media at its core was meant for catching up with friends and family; it was a cool way to share holiday pictures. Initially, tech-savvy young ones were hooked on to social media and the older generation stayed away from it.
A lot has changed now since the evolution of social media. This is now a big business with more users than any other online medium. With more than 1.5 Billion monthly active users on Facebook and 1 Billion on YouTube its potential cannot be underestimated.
Everything in tech eventually has an impact on business, after all, that’s where the money is.
SEO or Search Engine Optimization takes time; it doesn’t take time to implement but takes time to see results. SEO doesn’t need a proper strategy, unlike social media. (Of course, the SEO pundits may beg to differ on this and they are correct when it comes to components of SEO like a link building strategy). What I mean to say is, you can do SEO for a site with a checklist, you don’t need a strategy per say. This, of course, depends on the size of the site, budget, competition and so on.
Social Media unlike SEO doesn’t take time to produce results, but unfortunately, most people dive head first into the social media sea. They may know how deep it is but have no idea how to catch the fish. What type of net to use, what is the size of the fish they want to catch and what type of bait to use.
Whether you are a small business, start-up or a solopreneur – social media can bring you followers and leads but you need a strategy. There are many pundits with plenty of complicated strategies with pages and pages of overloading information.
Steps for an Effective Social Media Marketing Strategy:
#1. Define Target Audience:
Age, Gender, Location, Income and Education
Use Alexa and Google Adwords for research. The more you know about your audience the better you can target them. What sites and services do they use online? What interests them? These questions help you to serve them better and you can either engage them or start building a relationship. Remember the fishing metaphor above? If you don’t know the kind of fish you are after, then you are not going to be prepared with the right kind of net or bait.
#2. Research and Create Buyer Persona:
Once you define your target audience (TA), it’s time to create personas to visualize and humanize them; so we can better understand and serve them.
Buyer personas (sometimes referred to as marketing personas) are fictional, generalized representations of your ideal customers. Personas help us all — in marketing, sales, product, and services — internalize the ideal customer we’re trying to attract, and relate to our customers as real humans. Having a deep understanding of your buyer persona(s) is critical to driving content creation, product development, sales follow up, and really anything that relates to customer acquisition and retention.
#3. Identify Social Media Platforms used by Buyer Persona:
You can use BuzzSumo for research again. When you search for a keyword or phrase, see which platforms have had the most shares, this is a good hint. You can also check out the next step by spying on your competitors with a tool like Ahrefs to see what platforms are producing the best results for them.
Another approach is to go various social platforms and search for keywords and terms from your industry. If there are conversations and questions then it is most likely a good platform to be on. You can also interview your existing customers if you have a decent number of them. Make sure you only start with a handful of platforms and not try to use every social media network under the sun.
#4. Look at Competitor’s Preferred Social Platforms:
Check out competitor websites and see what social platforms they are using. You can also use BuzzSumo and Ahrefs for further analysis to see which platforms are producing the best results for your competitors, after all, you don’t want to be on a social platform just because your competitor is on it; the platform has to produce results. There is a possibility a competitor is on a social network that is not producing results – this could either mean they are not utilizing the platform to its maximum potential or is not a good network for your industry or business. If it the former, then you have identified an opportunity to get ahead of your competitor.
#5. Produce Content that addresses Buyer Persona Pain Points:
Use Quora and Forums to research questions raised by your potential buyers. You can use these questions to create content that will show readers how to solve a problem or do something.
#6. Engage and Build Relationships:
So by this step, you should have some readers and followers. It’s time to engage them by asking genuine questions to help them. Did the readers enjoy the content? What other difficulty or challenge are they facing? How much time are they spending on certain tasks? Just be genuine, it’s not about making a sale but engaging and helping.
#7. Maintain a Consistent Content Publishing Cycle:
When it comes to social media you don’t have to produce new content or your own content every single time. Although, that would be nice but may not be practical. You can use industry expert content and influencer content to share in your social network. The key is to maintain a consistent content publishing cycle.
#8. Invest on Getting More Social Followers; Share Expert’s Content:
If you want to get more followers you need to invest time in the social networks by sharing good content and engaging with your audience (liking and retweeting all counts). You can also spend on ads to get new followers. We are not suggesting you buy followers, this is almost always useless as most followers for sale are either fake or may not even remotely match your target audience. You can use twitter cards and facebook adds to gain new followers.
Sharing expert’s content has an amazing effect on follower activity. It takes some skill to find great quality content, so when you share them you automatically show some expertise.
#9. Automate Social Sharing with Tools:
Social media marketing takes time. There are many networks and a huge amount of users. It takes some time to engage with them; share, like and comment on posts. You can use tools like Buffer and Hootsuite to automate your social sharing so you are not sifting through social networks all day every day.
#10. Evaluate Your Results and Improve Your Strategy:
Tools like Hootsuite and Buffer provide good analytics that you can use to see what is working and what is not. You can reshare content that has done well or even recreate another format like an infographic or video. Twitter analytics and Facebook insights can also give you some data to evaluate.