Social media is an important part of the digital marketing portfolio for many businesses. But, it’s not an easy landscape to manage if you don’t have experience managing online content and communities.
These 7 tools and tips are a guide to help get you started in your social media marketing plan. Use them to put together your plan and your approach, and then start using social media for your business, well.
Before you start posting cute memes or photos of your product, it’s important that you take stock of what is happening around you in the social media landscape and the objectives you want social media to achieve for your brand.
First, where are you going to be? Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat all have different core audiences. Find out which platforms your key target audience is using to determine the best places for your brand to be.
After you’ve decided on the platforms you’ll be posting to, look at similar brands to yours, in size, category, and brand values to see what they are doing on these platforms. What types of content do users engage with, and is that content in line with your brand’s values?
The content you create and publish will be the front facing message from your brand to your brand community. And so the quality, consistency, and substance must match what you want to convey to those people.
You’ve established who your target audience is and what platforms they use. Now you have to combine your brand’s message with the types of content your audience likes to consume and engage with. Videos, gifs, memes, blog posts, photos, contests, and other content types all work, if they are given to the right audience.
The quality of your content will be step one in separating yourself from other brands in social media. Photographs, videos, and copy can all be done well, or they can be done poorly. Stay away from poorly lit or crooked photos, and work with editing software to improve videos before you post them on your social media channels. Creating low quality content will not help you achieve your goals, while creating and posting high quality content can be a difference maker.
3- Content Strategy
Now that you know what kinds of content you are going to create, and which platforms you’re going to use as distribution and brand community hubs, you need to build a strategy around it all.
Consistency is one of the most important pieces to the content strategy puzzle. We suggest a content calendar to our clients, or at least the bones of one. By planning which types of content you will be sharing on which days of the week you can start pre-planning and creating your pieces. Have videos and blog posts completed and edited so that you can publish them as planned, rather than missing your scheduled posting time and impacting your entire content plan.
Flexibility is also key, and needs to work hand-in-hand with your content calendar. If there is a world event, holiday, or trending topic that you can naturally tie-in to your brand or brand community’s outside interests, you can use that opportunity. However, be careful not to shoehorn your way into those situations as some of the biggest blunders in social media have come from brands doing just that.
With great content created, and a strategy for when and where you will be sharing it, you can actively start to publish and engage with your brand community.
Hootsuite is one of the most versatile and valuable tools we’ve found for social media management. The ability to track keywords or links posted from specific websites (i.e. your own) allows you to follow conversations that don’t include your brand’s Twitter handle.
Hootsuite also allows you to schedule posts for the future (which is great for posting content on weekends if you are not actively monitoring or working on your account), and attach images and links just as you would through the standard Twitter dashboard.
And it’s not just for Twitter. Hootsuite will allow you to connect Facebook pages and Instagram accounts, as well as YouTube, Google+, LinkedIn, and more. Hootsuite also allows you to work with multiple brand accounts for each service. A great feature when needed.
5- Facebook Pages Manager
Managing your brand community and social media networks is more than just a 9 to 5, Monday to Friday proposition. And to help you with that outside-of-office-hours responsibility, we recommend Facebook Pages Manager.
Pages Manager is an app that you can download to your smart phone and connect to your personal Facebook account. After that connection you will have access to any and all pages that you have admin status on, and can post, comment, schedule, edit, boost posts, and create Facebook Live video inside of the app.
While we still recommend doing the bulk of your Facebook posting and community management on your computer, Pages Manager allows you to do your work on the go or to check in on your content and your brand community’s engagement.
6- Google Analytics URL Tracking
One of the oldest complaints about social media marketing was that there was no way to track the actions or inactions of the audience it was sent out to. But that isn’t the case.
Google Analytics URL Tracking allows you to create specific and unique URLs that include Campaign Source, Medium, Name, and other signifiers so you can see exactly how many people are coming to your website (or even specific pages) from social media. Google Analytics allows you to monitor and track specific user actions (time on site, pages viewed, bounce rate, etc.) in the time after they first arrive on your website.
These links are a fantastic way to create more data that you can use to optimize your content plans and execution.
7- Patience and Dedication
Rome wasn’t build in a day… and neither are social media communities. As a new business you have to start from 0 and build your content to become engaged and prominent social media brand.
The first step is to get active and moving forward, and don’t be shy about it. Send page like requests to your friends and family so you can start growing your brand’s social media following. Participate in conversations on Twitter with people who have either mentioned or brand, or fit in your target market. And all the while you need to start creating and publishing that high quality content we talked about earlier.
Some people will tell you that the first 100 Likes or Followers are the hardest to get, and some will tell you it’s the first 1000. Either way, it’s not always a quick process, and you need to remind yourself that the numbers will come if you consistently put out the content your target audience wants.
Focus on engagement and quality. With time and effort, your social media brand communities will be an excellent representation of you as a brand and the goals you are trying to accomplish.