Today, social media is an essential part of marketing for practically any brand or organization, big or small. It’s often the primary way a company interacts with its customers and finds new ones. Your audience, which consists of current and potential customers, expects you to be on social media, with a presence on one or more social networks, just like they expect you to keep your website up to date. As a constantly evolving form of communication, social media trends come and go, but many of the core principles of good social media management remain the same.
Match your business goals with social media goals
When putting together your social media plan, think about your goals. Set your business goals and match them with social media goals. For example, if your business goal is to drive sales, a good social media goal might be to increase customer conversions or website clicks. Once you have a set of goals in mind you’ll be able to work out actionable steps and create a plan to achieve those goals.
Identify your audience and your voice
Do you know who your ideal customer is? Creating social media personas that represent the people you are marketing to is an easy way to identify your audience and the right kinds of content for them.
A persona is basically a fictional person who is representative of your ideal customer. It’s a profile of your ideal customer. Think of it as an avatar. You’ll want to explore characteristics like your audience’s demographics, interests, desires, and needs. You may want to define their socio-economic status, their education level, or their family status. Maybe your audience is college students or people who like comic books, or someone who has a certain political affiliation. Your audience might tend to live in urban areas, they might be boaters, or perhaps they’re business owners. You might even have multiple personas that you use, especially if your products appeal to different kinds of people.
Identifying your audience’s persona or personas will help you create content and strategies that appeal to them. It will also help you speak to them with a clear brand voice, and help you stay relevant to them.
Understand why people follow you on social media. How can you satisfy that need? Your customers might follow you because they are looking for tips on using your products and perhaps advice or troubleshooting assistance when something goes wrong. Your customers may follow you to stay informed of new products, services, and updates.
Do they follow you because they want to be entertained and engaged? Do they follow you because you are an authority on a subject of interest or importance?
Create a multi-channel content calendar
Plan out your social media campaigns across every channel on which you plan to be active, with campaigns that follow the trends, seasonal events, and your business goals.
Your social media calendar will help you organize when, where, and how you’ll share content. Plan it around your audience. Where does your audience consume its content? Where do they spend their time? Do they prefer Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or another channel? Or all of the above? These are the channels where you should be focusing your efforts. For example, if your target audience is millennials, then your campaigns should be posted on Instagram because they’re probably on Instagram a lot. Baby boomers? Perhaps not so much.
One quick way to find out where your target audience is most active is to research the social networks your competitors are on to find their largest followings.
What times of the day and the week are your audience members most likely to be on social media? If they’re professionals, for example, they might quickly check their email and Facebook in the morning before work, and while at work they’ll get distracted at their desks and scroll through their Instagram feed with a little more leisure. If your audience is in college, they’re much more likely to be active on social media later in the day. Plan out your content in advance to make sure you are being attentive to your audience’s needs.
Throughout the year, you’ll want to share content that is timely and seasonal. Plan content around major holidays and annual events that are relevant to your audience. This could include Halloween-themed content in October, content designed around summer activities in June and July, and content tailored to the back-to-school season in August and September, for example.
Come up with strategies to increase your following
To increase your following on social media, start with great, high-quality content as your foundation, and then be creative. As the old adage goes, “content is king.” Making sure you have something valuable to share can make all the difference, and when that content illustrates your brand well while adding value for your audience, they are much more likely to stay engaged.
Does your content inform, educate, and/or entertain your audience, or is it just droll promotional material for your products? Does it add value to their lives? Share a rich and stimulating variety of content, including text, visuals, and videos. Seductive visual content will grab your audience’s attention. Remember, most social networks are very visually-oriented.
Experiment with new content strategies to grow your audience. Hold giveaways and contests to grab people’s attention. Create content that encourages audiences to engage and interact with your brand and each other, including questions in captions, polls, and quizzes.
This is where you can jump on the hottest new social media trends, which in years past have included Facebook Live videos, Snapchat stories, and the Ice Bucket Challenge. When these were brand new they were a great way to engage with your audience, but trends come and go, and trends can be a great way to get engagement if you’re quick. Add your own little twist and join the fun while the latest trend is still white-hot.
Test, Measure & Adjust
Use analytics to track the performance of your strategy. Perform A/B tests, measure your metrics, and make adjustments where necessary. Most social media platforms provide powerful analytics for business profiles and pages.
How are your posts performing? Is your engagement increasing? Many people will focus on the number of followers they have, or how many ‘Likes’ a post will get, but you can go much deeper than that.
Perform A/B tests by dividing your audience into two groups and showing something different to each group. Compare the audience response to each variation to determine which is most successful and then use that knowledge to adapt your social media strategy.