Social media is one of the most effective tools in your digital marketing toolbox. If you use social media effectively, you can develop strong connections with your potential and current clients.

However, many business owners dive into social media without a clear strategy and hope for the best. This can either result in a big waste of time or, worst case scenario, a public relations nightmare.

To get the most from social media, you need a strategy that sets goals on what you want to achieve, establishes whom your targeted customers are and includes an analysis of what your competition is doing online.
Here are a few things to consider before you get started:

Establish your goals
The first step in building a social media strategy is to define what you hope to accomplish. Do you want to raise awareness of your brand? Is your goal to increase website traffic or sales, or both? Are you hoping to build customer loyalty?

While you may want to do all these things through social media, try to focus on one or two primary goals. By focusing on a specific goal or two, you’re not spreading yourself too thin, which could result in accomplishing nothing.

Create clear objectives
Set some objectives, based on your goals. Your objectives should follow the S.M.A.R.T strategic plan:
• Be specific
• Be measurable
• Be attainable
• Be relevant
• Be time-based
For example, if your goal is to increase sales, then one of your objectives may be to generate a certain number of online leads per week or month. If your goal is to build brand awareness, then set an objective of the number of times your brand is mentioned on social media.

These objectives should be directly tied to your business goals and, most important, they should be achievable. Otherwise, you are setting yourself for failure. Your objectives should have time-specific deadlines.

Target the right audience
A successful social media strategy targets the right audience with the right message. To do this, you need to understand who is your audience, or your ideal customer. Create detailed profiles of your ideal customers, creating a persona for each of them. Figure out the best way to reach each of these customer profiles and connect with them via social media.

See what your competition is doing
Take a peek at what your competition is doing online. Are they targeting the same customers that you are? If you don’t study your competition, you are missing out on an opportunity to learn from their successes and failures.
Pick three or four of your competitors. Find out what social networks they are active on and study their content. Is it serious or funny? Do they focus solely on their products or do they use their social media profiles differently?
For example, if they sell boats, do they focus solely on the products or do they post fantastic fishing or waterskiing videos that may have their boats featured in them? Notice how well these videos are performing. How much active engagement do they get from posting these videos, either through shares, likes or comments? This could give you a good sense on what works and what doesn’t.

Build your social media messages
Start building your own messages. This is not social media content, but rather a list of key messages that you hope will resonate with your targeted customers. Choose two or three messages for each type of audience member you’re hoping to build a relationship with.

If you decide to include a few of your competitor’s successful marketing messages, that will work. But it’s important to also create messages that help you build your company’s own unique brand. Be creative. Your social media contributions should build excitement.

Pick your social media channels
Choose the right social media channels that work well for your products. For example, Pinterest may work well for you if you’re in the fashion or home interior industry, but if you’re trying to garner business-to-business sales, then LinkedIn is a good choice.

Find the influencers who can best reach your target audience. Established bloggers are often trusted by their faithful readers and they can help build excitement around your brand.

Develop strong content
No matter what channels you decide to use, you need to deliver engaging content that is aligned with your overall messages. You need to deliver more than just product information. Your customers want content that has real value to them. Deploy a multimedia content plan, using a blend of videos, graphics, photos, blog posts and more.

It’s important to remember that content isn’t something you post once or intermittently. You need to deliver fresh content on a regular basis no matter what social media platform you are using.

I’m always happy to walk through a strategy session with a free 30 Minute Consultation. Contact me today!

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