Keep it simple socially
Many organisations have teams of people who do nothing but manage social media. For many small businesses they don’t have this luxury. For smaller businesses who want a presence online, keep it simple. Start with your content runway and plan what you want to say, where you want to say it and when. Start small and then step it up...
More and more businesses are using social media as a way to build brand awareness and engage with potential clients. Most of those who aren’t using social in their communications strategy already are considering foraying into it as the next phase of their “marketing” strategy. However, many are still sceptical of the benefits and wondering where they can find the time for yet another “distraction” (and it can become one if you let it).
Social media most definitely can form an element of your communications mix, but it should not be standalone. It will not result in a flood of immediate enquiries and it cannot replace more traditional marketing activity but it can complement it. Do not turn to social media if you are hoping to have potential new clients forming a queue at your front door overnight – that’s not going to happen. But that's not realistic with any form of marketing either. Social media is a helpful addition to your communications to give potential clients information in easily digestable chunks with avenues to delve deeper when they are ready and have the time.
Social media is not a one-way street. Yes, it is an opportunity for you to engage with an interested audience, build relationships and trust with them online, by pushing content out but social is a conversational tool. It’s an interactive channel where potential clients will want to communicate with you in the community or between other like-minded potential clients. So, you must be prepared and willing to put the time and effort in to interact with your audience on a regular basis – and talk to them via replies and comments on posts. Not only do you have to think about who and how you will manage the two-way interaction but you need to think about how you monitor and control it – afterall, the last thing you need is a rogue comment undoing all your good work at building trust. But, before you get close to two-way conversations you firstly need to engage your audience.
Audience engagement is always a challenge; with the noise and distraction in today's world it can be even more of a challenge. Nowadays you must visually engage your audience. While there is a place for text only posts, social media is a visual channel. Social is about words, pictures and ever more video content. To get any cut through in the social media space your posts must be eye-catching and stand out from the clutter in your potential clients’ newsfeeds. It seems easy doesn’t it? Post a few nice pictures, some words and Bob’s your Uncle. Well, not quite.
We’ve written before about the importance of content in your communications strategy. Your content runway I believe forms the foundation of your social media planning – what messages you are going to take to your audience and when, But now, not only do you have to think about your content you also have to think about whether your messages will be text only, infographic, quotes, questions, pictures, surveys, video etc. And with each of these come a bundle of other things to think about: What imagery will you use? What does it convey about your brand? Does it tie in with your content? Where are you going to source your images? Are you going to do video? Who’s going to film the video? Who will write the script? What about editing? Where will you host it? And the list goes on.
Very quickly it’s easy to see how managing social media can become a bit of a beast. Many organisations have teams of people who do nothing but manage social media. For many small businesses they don’t have this luxury. For smaller businesses who want a presence online, keep it simple. Start with your content runway and plan what you want to say, where you want to say it and when. Start small and step it up - perhaps aim for a couple of posts a week. Mix up your posts to include imagery, inspirational quotes, links to other relevant content and video. Use keywords in your posts. Post via a package like Hootsuite which allows you to post to multiple sites at once and monitor engagement. Put someone in your organisation "on point" to be able to check in a few times a day to monitor and respond to comments or questions your audience may make. Monitor what works and doesn’t work for your audience. Don’t be afraid to reuse content – don’t use it every week and don’t over use it. Repacking content is a whole other post in it's own right - suffice to say you can make one piece of good content go a long, long way.
One thing you should do however is use your social media to build email lists. Email lists that you can start to engage with on a more personal level; lists that you can communicate with on a regular basis. Where you can monitor who is opening and reading your emails, when and what interests them. This provides you with a wealth of insight to make your communications increasingly sophisticated and targeted. This gives you the opportunity to capitalise on your digital relationship, become more involved with you prospect and ultimately increase their likelihood to become a client.
Jane Cuthbertson is a Chartered Marketer based in Stirling, Scotland. She is a natural problem solver with a keen eye to maximise any opportunities. She has a passion for putting herself in the buyers’ shoes to truly understand their needs and expectations. With a diverse marketing background, she specialises in settingstrategic marketing plans with long-term goals and is skilled in implementing integrated marketing programmes that deliver sales results.
Picture credit: Kaboompics.com