Everyone has heard a story about a business that has made it big on social media. You know the one: it starts with a single post going viral and ends with the company making millions. And it’s true, there are some amazing success stories out there. But there are also people who have won the lottery after buying just one ticket. Does that mean it will happen to you? Probably not. In fact, the chances are extremely unlikely you’ll ever win the lottery, even if you buy a ticket every day. It’s why it’s called gambling.
The same can be said for social media. You can gamble your entire marketing budget on the chances of your business becoming an overnight success with a single post, or you can treat social like any other marketing channel, ie: an important part of your overall marketing strategy that needs to be cultivated and refined.
Just like any marketing activity, such as handing out flyers or advertising on TV, social media needs to be approached thoughtfully. Here are the top three things we recommend any business thinks about before starting to post on social media:
1. Who are your clients and what social platform do they use?
The first thing you need to do when preparing any kind of strategic plan is to build a clear picture of your ideal client. What age are they? Are they a particular gender? What kind of income do they have? Do they own their own homes? Etc, etc, etc. There are plenty of features/traits you can use to describe your ideal client, the most important thing is that you actually do it. Simply saying ‘I want to sell to everyone’ is not going to cut it in this age of hyper-personalisation and consumer-ratings sites.
Of course, when building your social media strategic plan, the one trait you should definitely include in your ideal client description is the social platform(s) that they use regularly. After all, there’s not much point advertising on Twitter if your target market is more engaged with Instagram.
2. What value will you deliver to your clients via social media?
Many businesses make the mistake of posting the same content across all their social platforms. Yes, it saves time, but you’re actually doing yourself a disservice by failing to leverage the power of each platform.
For example, Instagram is a visual medium. Your focus should be on the photos or videos you post – the caption, while important, is secondary in terms of value. Instagram users scroll and double tap their way through hundreds of images at a time, so your images need to make an impression. In contrast, LinkedIn is very content-focused. It is a platform that speaks to professionals who are looking to engage with others, build their skills and pick up handy productivity tips. Images are useful for standing out, but you won’t get any engagement on LinkedIn if you have nothing to say to your readers.
Think about how your ideal customer engages with the various social media platforms. Eg: if you’re focusing on Twitter, ask yourself why your customer is actually on Twitter? How often are they visiting? Are they using it to make purchases from brands like yours? Adjust your content strategy to meet their needs, rather than pushing out posts that are irrelevant to your audience.
3. How will your social posts reflect your brand?
Just because it’s easy to create content for social media, that doesn’t mean you should disregard your brand guidelines. What you write on social can have a massive impact on your reputation (just ask a certain professional rugby player), so you need to ensure anyone who is posting on your company’s behalf knows how to write in your tone of voice. Also, think carefully about the kinds of sites you share content from – are they reliable sources or businesses that you would be happy to do business with yourself?
Similarly, your imagery should reflect your visual style. If your website uses only black and white photography, you should consider doing the same on Instagram. And make sure your profile picture and any other imagery on your account is on brand.
Remember, more and more people are checking your business out on social media before they visit your website, so a professional, strategic approach to your socials will help you make the right first impression.