Experienced Content and Marketing Lead in Tech, Entertainment, Telecoms, and Venture Capital in Renewables.
Note: I originally published this article five years ago on LinkedIn. My writing has improved since, and I have added an extra point to consider. However, this advice still holds true today and I have successfully used this in multiple tech companies. Here is the revised version for the 20's.
In this article, I am going to cover the four questions you need to ask yourself before planning your social media strategy. This will work if you run a small or medium-sized business, are a sole entrepreneur, or just building your personal brand. As they say, a building is only as strong as its foundation.
This is the era of being seen and be heard because if you are not online
and engaged with your clients, you are losing business to the competition.
Going viral should not be a goal. No one wants to be a one-hit-wonder, but everyone wants to have that big hit. Unfortunately, it gets you nowhere, with people barely remembering your name.
Consistency, and building a steady following of engaged people who will recommend your product even if they don't buy from you, should be your indicator of success.
The best way to engage with your current and future clients is via social media. Social media has become the biggest platform for peer-to-peer reviews and news.
The best marketing tool is word-of-mouth. When you think along those lines, it means that social media is a great way for your business to generate leads. It is also a great way to keep people informed and educated about what you do, in bite-sized posts that don't overwhelm you.
Before you start investing time and money into your social media strategy, ask yourself these four questions:
Answering this question may take some thought and research, however, it will save you time and money in the long run.
For example, if your company is a small tech firm offering niche services to server farms, Facebook is probably not the place where you want to spend your time.
However, publishing short thought pieces on LinkedIn, regular posts on Twitter, or even building a presence on Clubhouse, will validate your company's expertise in the industry. If you can share pictures of the amazing physical locations you visit, even if it is just to turn something off and on again, you can start an Instagram account that just features the location your team gets to go to (in a post-Covid world you even can make light of the situation and feature pictures of people's kitchens with a work laptop on the counter).
If you are just starting out, look at your competition. What are they doing right? What are they doing wrong? How can you do better? What more can you say?
You don't have to be a copycat, just a good observer.
However, don't forget that this is marketing, so aim to connect with your audience first before you try selling.
Posting cute pictures of the office pet every now again works but you need to ask yourself what is it that you are doing that is of interest to your current and future clients.
But remember the core rule: Connect first, sell later.
If you are not sure where to start, you can follow a simple strategy: be the source of information for your company and information for your industry.
Have you come across companies that didn't clearly explain what they did? Me too. I've had to look for reviews and articles outside their website and social pages at the start of my buyer's journey, not the later stage of due diligence before buying.
Future clients don’t want to comb through the internet to find out about your company. Between your company website and your social media presence, they should be able to get a picture of what you do and why you
are good at doing it. The more you show that you care about where your industry is at and where it's going, the more passionate and knowledgeable you come across.
Depending on your product or service, a big social media presence can endorse your credibility. Answering this question will determine how much time and money you may need to invest into social media.
However, BEWARE OF BOTS.
Don’t fall prey to advertisers that say that they can get you thousands of real social media followers for a small price in a few days. Nearly all of these services have fake profiles or bots that just like or follow people on social media.
It’s better to have 100 real followers than 1,000 fake ones. Why? As thrilling as having thousands of followers on social media is, you as a business are looking for commercial leads and people who will advocate your product or service. As in the real world, reputation takes time to build up. But more than anything, it's engagement that you should be measuring. Even 1,000 real followers are worth nothing if your posts never get liked. Engagement rates are usually low, you can be looking at 4-7% as a good engagement rate. When you have a good engagement rate, that's the time to start spending money, because you have effectively tested your content with your followers, so now you can target new followers.
Always start by growing your base of followers organically. You will invest time. You will have to invest in advertising when your organic following increases levels out, but don’t take any shortcuts.
Remember what I said about one-hit wonders?
Are you willing to post something on LinkedIn at least once a week? Write a cracking newsletter once a quarter? If you're on TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter, you need to be posting 2-3 times a week, forever.
If that seems daunting to you, think about dividing up the labour in your company. If you have six people and each of them has to do one social media post on the channel where your customers are, it's not that bad. One post per month is not a big task. And it adds up. Six times twelve is 72 posts in a year and 216 posts in three years. That's a good amount of content.
The basis of all marketing that delivers a return on investment (time or money) is consistency over time. Can your audience depend on you to post about the latest innovation in your industry on a Wednesday? What value can you consistently give that will get people to come back?
Most people expect marketing to deliver amazing results quickly. However, Coca-Cola's brand wasn't built in a day. Neither was Amazon's, nor IBM's. No YouTube star got famous overnight. The same goes for B2B companies.
Let's refer to this post from Shiv Narayanan, who says it better than I can. Here, he talks about marketing campaigns as a whole, not just social media, but the core message is relevant.
There you have it. Where, what, how, and when. Four questions will determine the four pillars of your social media strategy. Of course, I'm presuming that you already know why you're keen on building a social media presence. Don't worry, it can be as simple as you want your company to be seen and heard.
I'll cover how to create a basic content strategy in my next blog. Comment and let me know if you want me to go into detail about strategies that you or your business want to explore.
Previously published at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/how-start-planning-social-media-strategy-your-small-business-das/
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