I hear this statement every day: “My friend says that my business needs to be on [insert social media platform here].”
Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google Plus, YouTube, Foursquare, Instagram, Vimeo, Flickr, Vine, the list goes on and on.
It seems like every time we turn around, another social media concept is being launched and businesses are rushing to be “ahead of the game” by setting up their company’s profile. The question is, are these companies taking the time to evaluate the social media platform and develop a sound marketing strategy to be successful on said platform, or are they diving in without knowing how deep the water is?
So where should you really begin?
Start by figuring out how much bandwidth your company can put forward for social media. Do you have someone dedicated full-time? Can the marketing department spare five hours per week? Ten hours per week? Do you have the resources to outsource social media to an agency? More than 40% of businesses spend six or more hours per week. Whatever your capacity, learn to work within what you’ve got.
Next, determine what your goals with social media will be. (Remember, they should match the capacity determined above). Maybe you’re looking to increase overall brand awareness. Maybe you want to increase trial and/or purchase of a specific product. Maybe you’re launching a new concept altogether. Set some tangible metrics to these goals so your team knows what to work toward.
Third, look at your target audience. Really nail down your demographics, not just who you “think” they are. Use sales information, look at historical data, conduct surveys and intercepts, tap into phone lines, whatever! From here, most social media platforms have information about who their heavy users are: men vs. women, age range, household income, spending habits, children vs. no children, etc. so you can get a good grasp of where your customers are hanging out online.
Now you’re ready to look into platforms. Your business doesn’t need to be on every social media platform out there, and chances are, it shouldn’t. If you’re a consumer-driven business, you should consider platforms that allow you to showcase your products and have heavy customer interaction; Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram are great places to start. If you’re a professional services company, you should consider LinkedIn for networking. If you’re a software or technology company, consider Twitter and Google Plus as ways to provide knowledge and resources to your followers, customers and industry peers. Always remember that the goals you set forth should drive the vehicles (aka social media platforms) you use, not the other way around.
Finally, you’re ready to get going. Spend some time creating sound profiles for your business. Include a company overview, branded messages, contact information and a profile picture. Your profile picture does not always have to be your company’s logo, but it should be something that clearly represents who you are and what you do. It’s also a good idea to build up a library of preapproved photography, videos and articles to share on a regular basis. This will prevent your team from having to guess whether something is appropriate for posting.
So next time someone tells you that you need to be on some new social media site, you can educate them about your social media strategy. Then, go look into the platform to see if it really does support the goals you’re trying to achieve.