It is interesting to see what people consider to be the steps to social media success. Some people just see the numbers. For example, they look at a Twitter account that has 20,000 followers, or they view a Facebook page that has thousands of likes and they assume that they are successful in their social media activities. This not quite true! Social media is successful if you are communicating and building relationships with your target market, which will ultimately convert into new business. There is no point in a kitchen designer from Northamptonshire, UK, having 3,000 likes on their Facebook page, if those likes are all from people in the USA.
Social media success will rarely happen overnight. When you break it down, there are really only four steps to achieve social media success online:
1. Build your platforms
The phrase from the Field of Dreams film with Kevin Costner, “If you build it, he will come” is so overused nowadays. But there is no getting away from the fact that if your platforms are not professionally designed, if you have an inactive or poorly designed website, or have not bothered to change your Twitter skin then this will have an effect on your overall strategy.
2. Grow your network
It is a well-known fact that if you do not have a network of people to talk to online, then you are really just talking to yourself! Have a strategy for growing your network online for each platform. Decide and define who your target market is and start to follow them. Use tools such as www.followerwonk.com to find people on Twitter. Check out LikeAlyzer (see page 120 – Online Marketing for Small Businesses in easy steps) or run some adverts on Facebook to see how to grow your audience.
The best results we have had was to run an email marketing campaign to tell people about our Company LinkedIn page. Make sure that your strategy is ongoing and reviewed at least every six weeks. These tools will be covered in more detail later in the book (Online Marketing for Small Businesses in easy steps), as well as giving you more inspirational ideas on how to build your following, connections and likes.
Review your platforms at least once every six weeks.
3. Define a listening, engagement and content strategy
This is probably the area where most businesses fail on online marketing. Their posts are all over the place, with no consistency. They fail to set up listening strategies to respond to people who are talking about them online (good and bad). Try mention.net (see pages 9-13 – Online Marketing for Small Businesses in easy steps) which has a free service to help you listen to your audience. The scattergun approach to producing content does not work.
Make sure that you are using a social media management system such as Hootsuite (www.hootsuite.com) or Tweetdeck (www.tweetdeck.com) and start planning what you are going to say and do. Decide on a blogging topic for the month and plan what you are going to write about, with set dates for publication.
But the most important strategy in Step 3 is the word “engagement”. Thank people for mentioning you in a Tweet, ask people questions, comment on others’ posts etc. You must talk to people in order to build those important relationships that lead to business and referrals.
Plan your content topics in advance. Write the topics down for each month and then gear your content posts around those topics.
4. Measure the results
As with any type of marketing, whether it is printing leaflets, your website activity, special offers etc., you need to measure the results, and social media activity is no different. If you don’t know what is working and what is not working then how do you know if it is successful?
Remember Einstein’s famous quote:
“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Albert Einstein
Don’t forget the word “social”. It is important to engage and talk to others online for a successful social media strategy.
Want to know more?
For the essential guide to Online Marketing for Small Businesses, click here.
Online Marketing for Small Businesses in easy steps expertly walks through the steps you need to take to set your online strategy, make your website work for you, and then covers the key social networking sites to generate a stronger and more loyal customer base. It concentrates on activities that are essential and free, and steers clear of costly forms of online marketing, helping you to become a pro in no time!