Social media is more important than ever before and many businesses are now entirely dependent on it for their ongoing success.
If you would like to showcase your business on social media but you are unsure of the best way forward, or if you are already on board and are not receiving the results you had hoped for, before you go any further it is essential to develop a social media strategy.
A strategy is often described as a road map or a blue print. It’s a plan that is documented to arrive at a certain destination or to achieve a specific outcome. Articulating this plan and determining the desired outcome is the best way to approach any undertaking.
Most companies would never dream of launching a marketing campaign without a clear marketing strategy based on research and clearly defined goals and objectives. The same approach must be applied to social media – a clear strategy should always be developed first, ideally as part of an overarching marketing strategy.
Social media at its very heart is a risky business. It can be likened to playing the stock market – the risks are great, but with knowledge, consideration and experience, the rewards can be enormous.
When approaching social media, it is important to remember that you are essentially sharing control of your brand. You are giving over an element of power to your audience by inviting them to provide their opinions of your brand – good or bad – 24/7.
Without a clear set of guidelines, the impact on your brand can be disastrous. With clear guidelines, the risks can be minimised and the rewards can be immense.
Here is a simple way to develop a social media strategy
1. Set your business objectives
Ask yourself why you want your business to have a presence on social media and what you want out of it. Even if you are an established brand with a decent following, taking the time to reflect on your goals for this online medium is imperative.
For example, your business objectives may be:
• To increase brand awareness
• To reach new customers
• To drive new customers to your website
Clearly articulating these goals is the first step to a successful social media strategy.
2. Choose the right platforms
Choosing the right platform or platforms should be based on your business objectives and on your target audience. This decision should also be based on your business model – if you are a services business, Twitter may be best for you as it does not rely as heavily on images as Instagram does.
It also depends on your internal resourcing – Instagram may be a poor choice for those businesses that do not have regular access to quality images or a competent photographer.
3. Establish content guidelines
Establish three simple guidelines as a framework for all content to ensure that it is always designed to meet your business objectives.
1. Showcase your products and/or services
2. Inspire your target audience
3. Show expertise in your industry/category
Every proposed post can then be considered in light of this framework which actually makes it easier to develop engaging content rather than limiting content creation.
4. Establish your Tone of Voice
As you are sharing control of your brand with your audience, it is important that your brand voice is distinct and consistent from post to post and across all platforms.
While several people may contribute content to your social media platforms, ensure that you use the same tone of voice each time.
Your brand voice must also resonate with your target audience and be relevant to them – if your style is relaxed and casual, make sure that your use of slang does not alienate some of your followers! You’d be totes cray cray to forget that, LOL!
5. Write a troubleshooting guide
Develop a list of carefully considered responses to potentially risky questions as a quick reference guide, should difficult situations arise in the future.
Having a pre-prepared list will allow you to respond quickly and with confidence, rather than having to scramble around for an appropriate answer or to respond in the heat of the moment. Forward thinking of this kind also allows you to respond strategically rather than operationally.
This list may cover responses to common customer complaints or worst case scenarios that may arise on social media.
For example, if a customer takes to Facebook to complain about the poor state of the toilets in your shopping centre, use it as an opportunity for positive messaging – apologise for the distress this must have caused your customer, detail the amount of times your toilets are cleaned every day, and describe the eco cleaning products and recyclable toilet paper that you use. In short, take advantage of this opportunity to share some good things about your business to help mitigate a bad customer experience.
A humble, carefully worded and timely response usually satisfies most customers who have taken the time to make a complaint.
Like anything in business (and in life!) planning is the key to success. Invest the time into developing a social media strategy and make the most of this amazing online force.