In my work and training with both small and large businesses, this is a question that I am frequently asked when I talk about social media strategy. Most of us use social media on a daily basis so do we really need a strategy? My answer is always the same – definitely yes! Here are the reasons why.
Without a strategy, it is really easy to lose direction on social media. You need to know what you are aiming for so that you can make sure that all your posts, Tweets, Pins, updates and shares work towards it and are consistent. Your objectives should be clearly set out in your strategy so that everyone using your social media knows what you want to get out of it. With a sense of direction and consistency, you will also avoid confusing your customers and potential customers with mixed messages.
A key part of any social media strategy is building a picture of your customers. Whilst this is essential for creating the right content on social media, the exercise of identifying your audience is also an important part of your overall marketing strategy. When used properly social media gives you a unique opportunity to not just identify your audience but to also understand them. You can listen in to their conversations and find out who they are, where they are (geographically and on social media), how they interact and what they like. Your audience should always be at the very core of your strategy. You could have the best-written strategy in the world but if it doesn’t focus on your audience it will never succeed. So use social media to identify, listen to and engage with your existing and new customers.
Even without paying for advertising social media can be expensive. Whilst it is technically free, success on social media takes concerted effort and time, both of which cost your business money. Put a strategy in place and you are much more likely to get value for that money. With your customer in mind, your activity on social media is more likely to get engagement from the right type of customer which will ultimately lead to them being more likely to spend with you. Measurement will let you see how you are engaging with your audience and what works and what doesn’t. More importantly from a cost perspective, it allows you to measure whether or not what you are doing is working financially. If you have an e-commerce site then make sure that you have tracking in place so that your analytics can tell you exactly how much each channel is making (or costing) you.
A strategy should always include a content calendar. Other than topical, news related or sharing from others, your content should be carefully thought through and is key to your success on social media. With a calendar, everyone knows who is doing what and when (including during holidays). Activity can be scheduled where appropriate and you can fit your social media around your events, offers, and promotions and with your overall marketing. It also means no more scrabbling around trying to find content so you avoid putting just anything on social media simply because you need to fill a gap.
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