Think back five years. Remember when social media management was a novelty? In 2013, 96% of marketers stated that they were participating in social media, and at least 86% of them claimed that social media marketing was important for their business.
Knowing that social media should be a part of a marketing strategy is one thing, but actually developing and managing a campaign is a whole other issue. Here are some essential tips and tricks to help you build and implement a strong social media management plan.
Establish Campaign Goals
Before starting, you must establish what “success” means. Take the time to lay out your goals, being as specific as possible. More importantly, determine how your goals will be measured.
In my experience, HubSpot has put it best: goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
Bad: Drive website traffic.
Good: Increase website traffic by 20% within 3 months.
Bad: Be more socially involved.
Good: Increase user engagement by 30% in 2 months.
Bad: Be a thought leader.
Good: Share at least 3 pieces of engaging, industry-specific content a day.
Know Where Your Audience Is Congregating
As mentioned in “5 Things You Should Never Say About Inbound Marketing,” there are hundreds of social media channels. To properly manage your time and create an effective campaign, you need to research and identify the platforms where your potential customers are gathering.
How? Use pre-existing analytics, do some proactive research, consider performing a survey, and/or monitor for conversations. Monitoring tools, like Mention.net or HubSpot, allow you to be notified of conversations within certain topic areas. You’ll be able to make data-driven decisions regarding what platforms to focus on, as well as identify the type of content that will be most beneficial to your audience.
If possible, you should go a step beyond determining your “target audience” by creating buyer personas. A buyer persona is a composite picture of a specific slice of your target audience; it is a snapshot of an individual, giving you a face, personality, and more targeted insight into the needs of your typical and ideal customers.
Lay Out A Plan Of Action
– Set a some parameters, including how often you plan to post each day, and how your brand’s voice should be perceived.
– Determine what you are going to say and how will you say it. What type of content does your audience want to hear, and what type of content are you comfortable publishing?
– Focus on creating conversations, refraining from excessive self-promotion. Ask questions, share current news, ask for opinions, and promote new ideas.
– Create a social media friendly culture within your business. With a thought-out social media strategy, your whole team can help with promoting the company brand image and drive conversations.
– The biggest industry thought leaders openly recognize and share valuable content – even when it’s not their own. Establish an arrangement of content resources for your team.
Evaluate With Metrics, Use Your Tools
Just like traditional marketing, social media management should be performed with an eye to data analysis, never losing sight of your goals. There are numerous avenues for gathering and analyzing data.
– Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Pinterest all offer analytics that show fan growth, engagement, most popular posts, etc.
– Google Analytics, or other website analytics tools, will show website traffic coming from social media sites. This will help to identify what platforms are working best.
– Sites like HootSuite and Social Sprout offer both free and paid versions of their software, providing both aesthetically pleasing analytics and automated posting/monitoring.
– Advanced marketing software like HubSpot and Marketo can combine all of the above features into a holistic marketing campaign.
Checking your data often will not only allow you to track your progress, but also identify weaknesses and strengths in in your social media plan.
Know When to Outsource to a Social Media Management Provider
Social media management is a full-time job – sometimes for more than one person. Many businesses start out managing internally, but quickly realize that they lack the time or employees. A social media management provider can offer resources with greater breadth and value; you could essentially have a whole team for less than a single full-time employee. Before considering a social media company, it is important to set specific expectations, determining where your brand is truly falling short in respect to social media. Is your problem “not posting enough,” or – actually – customer engagement? Is it generating website visitors, or – actually – creating sales leads? Often, social media may not be the primary issue within your digital marketing initiative.