So now you’ve decided you want to be part of the social media conversation, it’s time to crack on and start posting on Facebook, Twitter and all the social networks you can think of, right?
Actually, no. While we know it’s tempting to dive in and get your business out there on social media, unless you know EXACTLY what you want to achieve you’re unlikely to see any value. Yeah we get it, you want sales. Everybody does. But that doesn't happen overnight. Until you understand what your objective should be - be it building brand awareness, increasing engagement with your existing audience or driving traffic to your website - all your tweets and beautifully crafted Instagram photos will drive little or no return.
Here at Digital Mums we teach our students that it’s all about the strategy. Before you even think about posting, you need to decide your objective, figure out who your audience is, which platforms they are spend time on and nail your tone of voice. This might sound like a lot of work - and it is - but putting in the time initially will translate into success and results down the line.
With that in mind, here's our rules of engagement for playing the social media game… and winning!
RULE OF THE GAME #1 - DECIDE YOUR OBJECTIVE
When we work with small businesses we take them through an initial audit of their company and current social media activity. This helps us - and them - determine what they want to achieve through social media.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself for a mini-audit:
- How are you positioned in the market and how do you differentiate yourself from your competitors?
- Who is your target customer?
- Have you started building a social media community yet?
- Who are the Key Influencers you’d love to reach?
Once you’ve done this, it’s time to think about what's your objective. There are three broad objectives you can have depending on where you're at in your social media journey:
1. Building Brand Awareness
It might be you're a relatively new business or don’t actually have any products available yet to sell. In this case you might want to focus on building brand awareness. If you're starting from scratch or with minimal followers on social, then this one's for you.
2. Increasing Engagement
So you’ve got some followers but they don’t seem to be responding to your posts or calls to action. Sound familiar? If so, your objective is start increasing engagement so you can start building a community of interested followers.
3. Driving Traffic to your Website
So you have followers AND they're engaged. That's brilliant! That means (in most cases) you want to start sending them to your website so they can start converting into your customers. Hopefully it goes without saying that your website is mobile optimised - if not, then this shouldn't be your objective until it is.
RULE OF THE GAME #2 - FIGURE OUT WHO YOU ARE TRYING TO REACH
Social media and social media marketing is all about people. Which means the next step in creating your strategy is understanding your audience. After all, if you don't know who you need to reach how can you know how to convert them? How can you know which content to use, when to post and to which platforms? Well quite simply, you can't. Social media is no different from any other marketing channel - it comes down to understanding your audience and what makes them tick.
In the digital space, User Personas - fictional representations of your target audience - are used to get a thorough understanding of a target customer and their daily habits, dreams and motivations. They take you way beyond simply gender, age and location, and give you rich insights of exactly who you are trying to talk to. If you have more than one audience segment (which you probably do) then you’ll need user personas for each segment. We advise making three or four.
To get started, ask yourself the following questions about your target audience:
- How old are they?
- Do they have children or grandchildren?
- Where do they live?
- What other brands do they like?
- Why do they like those brands?
- Why should they like your brand or care it exists?
- What are their pain points?
- Which social media platforms do they use and when?
- What’s their day-to-day schedule like?
- How do they want to receive content and in what format? Would they prefer photos, text, videos etc?
When you’ve answered these questions, you can start writing up profiles of each audience segment. Here at Digital Mums we advise our students to really bring each persona to life. Give them a name, age, location and really flesh them out into a real person. It might seem strange, but the more detailed you are, the more helpful it is when deciding what your content and messages should be... and also WHERE you should focus your social media efforts.
RULE OF THE GAME #3 - NAIL YOUR TONE OF VOICE
Okay so now you know who you’re talking to - and why. But when you’re competing with so much noise on social networks, how do you persuade them to listen to you? The next step in your strategy is crafting your tone of voice. In short, it’s not WHAT you say, but HOW you say it. Light-hearted, authoritative, cheeky… getting the right tone of voice for your business is crucial. It must reflect your business' image, mission and personality.
As such, we suggest that you think about your business as though it were a person:
- How old would they be?
- Would they be male or female?
- Where would they live?
- How would they act?
- What are their priorities and interests?
When you’ve got that nailed, you also need to consider your audience when thinking about what your tone of voice should be. Remember, social media is about engaging your potential customers. So how do you want them to feel? Calm and reassured? Excited and energetic? Don’t forget to think back to your User Personas to help determine the nuances of your tone of voice.
RULE OF THE GAME #4 - FOCUS ON THE END GAME!
We realise this might all sound a bit overwhelming, especially when you have a million and one other things to do for your business. But we can’t stress enough that it is SO worth it. And just to prove it, now might be the time to focus on what social media could deliver if you spend time on these first steps.
It's tempting to see social media purely as a marketing channel. But to use it effectively, you need to focus on engaging your audience… which means talking AND listening. Billions of conversations are happening every day on social media. With social it doesn’t matter if you’re a big business or a sole trader, you can be just as effective in building those relationships. On social networks you can chat with your audience, find out what they are talking about and then respond. Something you can’t do through traditional marketing. You can also trouble-shoot.. 71% of all complaints on Twitter go unanswered so be the ‘good guy’ and respond. You’ll be amazed at how effective this is.
Generating online revenue
If you have products to sell, we know you’ll be wanting to hear the hard and fast facts about how much social media can impact your figures. The bad news is ROI is notoriously hard to measure. But 4 in 10 social media users have made a purchase after sharing it or marking it as a favourite on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. And 78% of people say companies' social media posts impact what they buy. Add to this the fact that nearly half of women say their buying decision is influenced by a trusted blogger… which is why it’s also key to identify and engage with your Key Influencers (more on this to come)
Giving you vital customer insights and feedback
One of the things we love most about social media is data. And there is so much of it! While this can seem daunting at first, when you get to grips with it you’ll be amazed as just how much you can learn about your customers and audience: their age, gender, location, what they are talking about, keywords they are using, which of your posts they are clicking on and when. The list is (pretty much) endless but all points to one thing: the better you understand your audience, the more you can engage them through all of your marketing.
TOP TIPS FROM NIKKI COCHRANE, SOCIAL MEDIA EXPERT AND CO-FOUNDER OF DIGITAL MUMS
"Spend time on your strategy - this is the backbone of everything you’ll do on social media. And while it might be tempting to skip a few steps, I promise that the more prepared you are, the more results you'll see.
Get to know your audience - and I mean REALLY getting to know them through your User Personas. With our Digital Mum User Personas we knew everything from what they liked to do in their spare time to the first thing they did when they woke up (hello Facebook!).
Think of the rewards - thanks to our social media strategy we get over a third of our entire revenue as a result of engaging on social media