The average American social media user spends an average of 3.2 hours a day with social networks according to research by Ipsos. With that much time being spent on a social network, businesses who have not developed a social media plan as a part of their marketing strategy are missing out on a lot of opportunity.
What’s the solution? Use social media! Sounds easy enough, and building a page on social media is simple. But posting once a day and tweeting is not enough. To effectively use social media for marketing, marketers need to build an audience and create engaging content that resonates with that audience.
If you are currently using social media to market your business, or you offer digital solutions and are looking to help your clients build and enhance their social strategy, here are five things to consider:
1. Start by determining which social media network(s) is the right social network.
Social networks are not all the same. They all have different audiences that engage with the content in different ways. To understand which social network(s) you should be active in, first identify your target persona. Learn how they use social media, which networks are they most active in, and which content they engage with most on your website.
2. Determine a posting strategy.
Once you determine which network(s) are most impactful for your target persona, set a goal for the number of posts or tweets to push out on a daily or weekly basis and stick to it! Consider the network and the value of the content when setting a maximum/minimum for the number of messages to send out. Study how users interact with the social network, industry research, the type of content on each network, and how the competition is using these networks to help determine the number of posts and the type of content that’s right for that network.
3. Build an audience and engage with them.
There are multiple ways to build an audience in social media—from asking them to “Like” or “Follow” a business, to offering special promotions, to paying companies to build an audience. Some ways are faster than others, but keep thinking about how you can incorporate your social media networks effectively into all of your marketing. Build an audience that can deliver value long-term.
As you build your audience, engage with them. The gold in social media marketing is mined when your turn one-way content publication into two-way conversations with existing and potential customers. Marketers who do not engage their audience in conversation tend to see little return from social media. Make sure that, if you ask your audience to participate, you respond to them in a timely manner. If you don’t, you risk damaging the relationship instead of enhancing it!
4. Develop goals and measurements.
Anytime you add a component to your marketing mix, you should establish goals and which measurements you will use to determine how well you are performing. Consider the following when developing your goals for each social media network:
- How will each network fit into the overall marketing strategy?
- What are the expectations of each social network?
- Measure website traffic generated by each social network and the quality of the traffic delivered.
- Establish growth goals for your audience over a six-month time period.
- Determine how company employees will drive the strategy.
5. Stay up-to-date on changes within your social media networks of choice.
Social media is continuing to evolve and grow, and with that comes lots of change. Marketers need to be sure to stay up-to-date with trends and changes in the space to ensure that the plan that was developed is still effective. Find resources to stay informed on the constant changes within your social media network(s) of choice. And stay close enough to the social-media industry generally that you will know when a new network pops up that deserves your attention.
Social media can be a powerful component to any marketing strategy. I would love to hear from those of you who are currently using social media to market you business. What did you use to build your social media strategy? What’s working for you? What isn’t?
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Editor's Note: This post was originally published May 27, 2014 and has been updated.