I quite frequently cringe when I hear social media this and social media that, as a MUST HAVE for every business. But in my opinion the value of social media can lie around your answers to these five questions:
- Optimized Website & Blog
- Social Media Platforms & Target market
- Integrated Strategy
- Sufficient Resources
- Reasonable Timeline
If you don’t know what your doing or don’t have the resources to do it correctly, I usually say:
DON’T DO IT!
Even we here at Ag Conexus fall prey to this at times with our own social media presence. We know what to do, but at times it can be hard to do it with all the other demands of running a business and delivering top results to our clients.
With that being said, social media, if done correctly can be an incredibly powerful tool for your brand. So lets look into each of the five points in a little more detail. Hopefully by the end of it you will have some more information on it and where you want to take your social strategy.
5 Big Social Media Questions To Know Before You Start
1) Optimized Website & Blog
I would recommend that before you even think about social media you should have a robust optimized website with a content marketing strategy in place.
This assumes that if you are at this point, you have done considerable research into your target market. Further, depending on the length of time you have been enacting this strategy you should further have a good baseline of data to see how your social strategy impacts your sites traffic, and overall conversion adding to the bottom line (This will be a later post on site development, and if you should be blogging). From this point you can start to think of social media as a distribution network for your onsite content, gain referral traffic, and support sales across your funnel from the top and sides (more on this later).
2) Social Media Platform & Target Market
What social media platforms should I be on? This is a tricky question and is a case by case question. However, the big two in our opinion for most businesses are:
- Facebook (business)
- LinkedIn (individual & business)
One of these should be a great starting point for most businesses. For B2C Facebook, and more B2B oriented businesses. As previously stated we feel it’s prudent to start off with what you know you can handle, and grow from here. Beyond that point, the sky is the limit with other social outlets like: Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Etc….
It is also important to note that each network gives you the opportunity to represent slightly different sides of your business and its personality. This is very powerful as it can capture potential clients from varying personas and strategy of the sales cycle. For us as a small business, we can easily manage our social media presence with a core set of beliefs and ideals of the business, but as businesses and their respective digital / social teams become larger it becomes critical to have procedures and guidelines in place to correctly represent the business while remaining authentic (which can be tricky!).
3) Integrated Strategy
This goes back to point one, where we see social as part of a bigger internet marketing puzzle. Viewing social media in a vacuum and /or silo of marketing efforts is missing the point, drastically!
We see it all the time, with businesses who think a few tweets here and posts there will check the “social media box” and move on… This is a great opportunity missed, and could make your business look out of touch (this can be especially acute in some industries and target markets). An effective social media strategy should align with your overall marketing strategy, then digital, and finally the interplay between other social platforms and key influences.
If you have that hierarchy in place, the work only begins with the respective tweets, posts, and images as that content needs to actively distributed, commented on, and your business needs to be out and active within social sphere to gain mind share and earn authenticity.
Lastly, if social media is going to become an integrated part of your overall marketing activities you strongly need to think of ways to encourage adoption by current clients. These individuals can become your army of walking and talking brand advocates both online and off. Things such as a simple social links on your company emails, to more elaborate campaigns such as giveaways / competitions are all effective. The more creative you can get, the more engagement you will get…
4) Sufficient Resources
As with any business activity you only get out what you put in. What you need to put in is not only sufficient resources, BUT effective resource. That comes back to having a well researched and understood strategy, that stays consistent to the brand and respective social media platform in question.
Just putting out a mass of posts, texts, and other content that becomes poor quality, background noise, and ultimately a turnoff. It’s just like email spam, but this is sometimes worse as many people use social networks, for just that “social” so they don’t want to be hard sold or over sold…. The key here is to find the right mix of business personality, business objectives, and correctly addressing the target market.
If you can’t dedicate enough resources to cover multiple social platforms, focus on the most “important” one, and grow as and when needed. If you have the necessary resources but the incorrect skill to correctly allocate those resources this can almost be worse, seek skilled individuals or external entities to assist you (such as Ag Conexus! had to get the plug in just once..).
5) Reasonable Timeline
Social media results will not happen overnight. It is not an applicable hard / direct sell medium like other marketing channels. When using social media, it can usually be a great way to increase retention, lifetime value of clients, and brand advocacy. This is achieved through consistent brand messages and prolonged timeline of efforts.
It may be months before your social efforts take hold, but when they do it will lead to high conversion of referral traffic and can act as a great qualifier. If you are deciding between two places to buy item “X” are you going to do so from the Business A who has three Facebook likes and not posted for eight months, or Business B that has 17,365 likes and posts multiple times a week / day…? I think the answer is clear, and this brings me back to one of the main points, that if you are not in social for the long haul stay away as it can be detrimental. By looking small, out or touch, or worse out of business!
Next Social Media Steps
So where do you go from here? If you are well prepared to make the social jump I wish you luck. But if you need to take a look at your overall strategy, again this is good to make sure you start off in social correctly.
Social media success basically all boils down to:
- Knowing who you are
- Who you are targeting
- Understanding the pros and cons
- Committing to a long term strategy that’s integrated
Final Social Media Thoughts
Social Media is truly an amazing tool if used correctly. My advice is to do your homework, start off slow and steady to win the race! Lastly, it is great getting this “off-site” action, but your own site and blog are going to be the true hub of your online business development efforts, so make sure that house is in order prior to embarking on a social strategy.
As always please let me know your thoughts, questions, and individual experiences below or on one of our social profiles.