Social Media Strategy – which is right for you?

For an industry where strategic thinking is the main product, social media’s messy reality can be off-putting to people who usually deal with clearly defined scenarios. Going for the “perfect” or a “foolproof” strategy isn’t the way to approach social media branding. Which social media strategy is right for you?

Branding strategist Peter Thompson recommends aiming for “minimum viable clarity” when developing a social media branding plan. The critical thing is to gain a clear idea of essential positioning and messaging.

He says, “You need an essential positioning and set of messaging, but the most important thing is to be crystal clear on the audience you want to reach. Are you building partnerships, attracting associates, or targeting clients in a niche industry?

But don’t get too caught up in the strategy. Even the best-laid plans won’t survive contact with the messy reality of social media. You only need enough system so everyone in your internal team knows and agrees on what you will be doing online.”

Develop SMART Marketing Goals

As you set out to define a brand awareness objective for either your company itself or its products, you may want to align it with the SMART concept of goal setting. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. While each of these helps align your plan, the ability to measure the impact of your strategies will enable you to know if your campaign is reaching your intended audience, to what degree, and if it is making an impact on how consumers perceive your brand.

SMART marketing goals will state the specific actions to initiate in a brand awareness campaign and what awareness metrics will be used to determine if the activities are achieving their desired result. For example, to increase brand awareness, you can post on your company’s Facebook page twice a week and post a blog related to your company’s products every other week.

But your goal should also include a measurable component, such as pursuing a set number of increased shares, the number of clicks on links in your website/blog post, or a set percentage of increased mentions among media or other influencers within your industry.

Tools for Measuring Your Success

Various great awareness metrics or tools are available to aid your campaign analysis. Tools like Google Adwords Keyword Planner, Google Trends, and Brandwatch can track the numbers of people either searching for your brand on the internet or talking about it over social media.

It is easy to view the number of shares on Facebook, Pinterest, and Google; they are a quick way to see how many people are passing along your message or showing interest in your brand. Shared Count and Get Social are other tools that are available both free and for a fee and offer more advanced counts of shared content. Evaluating how these sharing numbers change over time can provide insight into how brand awareness is growing.

Mentions That Extend Your Reach

Remember that when others share your content or mention you in a post, they extend your reach by the number of followers they have on their account. This can significantly impact your brand awareness. If someone, especially a product influencer with 1,000 followers, shares your content online, they will reach far more people for you without much effort on your part. As such, it may be a worthy goal to make several vital influencers aware of your brand and then let them pass along your message.

Goals to Match Your Company Size can define which social media strategy is right for you.

The aims and objectives of branding campaigns will be different for some companies. Smaller companies should start with simple goals such as optimizing their website and increasing their presence on social media. A solid, specific goal that is easily measurable might be to attract 100 new visitors to the company website over the next quarter or to increase shares on social media by 10 percent.

In contrast, larger companies can pursue prospective leads more aggressively. Monitoring social media and engaging with interested individuals can provide additional information to potential customers and increase awareness and favorability toward your brand. A specific, measurable goal might be to convert ten prospective buyers to solid sales within a quarter.

Choosing the Right Platforms

Maintaining a genuine social media presence on just one platform takes a decent amount of resources. That’s why many brands only concentrate simultaneously on a handful of social networks. But that’s okay since your target audience will only be on a few of these channels. The challenge now is to find which ones to focus on.

LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are the mainstay of any social media branding strategy, especially one geared toward a business audience. But there are plenty of other industry-specific channels ideal for consulting firms’ branding initiatives. To determine which ones to include in your social media mix, consider the following:

•          Is your target audience actively using the platform?

•          Does the platform align with the type of content you’re sharing?

•          What social networks do your competitors focus on?

Peter Thompson lays out the backbone of any social media presence for consulting firms. This includes a mix of company accounts and the personal accounts of senior partners and key employees. He suggests the following components of an essential social media portfolio:

•          Director’s LinkedIn account (for networking and researching with target audience)

•          Company Twitter account (keeps employees’ accounts consistent and positions brand in new areas)

•          Director’s Twitter account (for research and thought leadership)

•          Company YouTube channel (conference videos, keynotes, and industry events)

Scheduling Posts and Social Media Activities

Sticking to a schedule helps you get things done on your never-ending social media to-do list. More importantly, having a social media calendar tremendously helps your branding efforts. A social media posting schedule keeps your brand voice consistent and turns your posts into reliable resources for your audience.

As with anything else in marketing, data decides the timing and frequency of your social media posts. Here’s how to develop a data-driven social media posting schedule, according to Constant Contact:

•          Start with research-backed posting frequency and timing for each channel (check out CoSchedule’s compilation of ideal social media schedules) Ctrl+Click here.

•          Set different content/posting priorities for each channel (e.g., sharing industry news on LinkedIn and posting about company culture on Facebook)

•          Follow recurring themes in your posting schedules (e.g., whitepaper Wednesdays, monthly wrap-ups, year-end lookbacks, etc.)

•          Create content that can be posted and reposted throughout the year (get ideas from FAQs, best-performing blog posts, and most-shared content pieces)

•          Share curated content (find valuable content from authoritative sources and include your thoughts/comments, then share it with your followers)

A social media content calendar also helps you delegate tasks and set deadlines. So, spell out your social media team’s different roles and responsibilities.

Social Media Content Mix

There are two ways to join the social media conversation with your content. The first is to craft original content and showcase it through your posts (content creation). The other involves sharing relevant content from other sources (content curation).

If you aren’t sure how to allocate your social media content mix, Hootsuite recommends following the 80/20 Rule. 80% of your social media posts/content should educate and provide value, while the rest will be promotional. Alternatively, you can try the Social Media Rule of Thirds, that is, evenly distribute your posts into three main activities:

•          Promoting your firm

•          Sharing industry content

•          Personally interacting with your audience.

A mix of trial and error and tracking metrics will help you zero in on the social media strategy which is right for you

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