Focus on how to be social not how to do social media. You should keep this at the top of your mind when developing your social media strategy. Social media took the world by storm and infiltrated every inhabited part of the earth with an Internet connection. This comes as no surprise because the ability to communicate with family, friends, and acquaintances over long distances have always been a need for humans.
As social beings, we rely on communication to strengthen our relationships. The websites that have emerged within the last 2 decades are a product of the human need to communicate. Websites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram are the outcome of centuries of social media development.
What is a Social Media Strategy?
A social media strategy, also described, as a social media marketing plan, is a set of pre-defined guidelines that entrepreneurs and established businesses use to interact on social media platforms. Your social media strategy is a guideline that you and your team follow when interacting or communicating on social media.
Think of your social media strategy like a business plan. You want to refer to your business plan throughout the process of launching and maintaining your business. The same goes for your social media strategy. It is your go-to reference for marketing your business on social media.
For many Entrepreneurs, social media has made it easier to bootstrap a business. Bootstrapping a business means to start a business without external help or capital. The most important thing to do in business is marketing. In business, you must capture a lot of eyeballs and marketing does just that. Social media has made it cheaper and in some cases, it’s free.
What’s An Entrepreneur, and How Busy is He or She?
If you are reading this because you are interested in a career as an entrepreneur, here is an explanation of the term and what you should expect. An entrepreneur is a person that takes on risk in order to organize and operate a business. Entrepreneurs are risk takers but they are also job creators. Without entrepreneurs, people wouldn’t have jobs and our economy would suffer.
As you may have guessed, to be an entrepreneur takes heart and a lot of guts but how busy is an entrepreneur anyway? Entrepreneurs are extremely busy people. Most times, these individuals are in charge of their marketing, content creation, public relations, taxes, outreach, SEO, and much more. They do all these tasks, while serving and acquiring new customers to grow their business.
Staying busy, for an entrepreneur is easy. The hardest part of being an entrepreneur is staying productive. What tasks can you outsource to someone else? This is the question that many entrepreneurs fail to ask themselves until they become so busy that they want to pull their hair out like Dr. Scratchansniff from the hit series, Animaniacs- that’s a classic! To be effective, many entrepreneurs focus on marketing but outsource the other tasks to other qualified individuals.
Why a Somewhat Automated Social Media Strategy is Important
It is not likely that you would automate everything in your social media strategy but you want to automate some things. Automation will help you accomplish things faster. Automation will free up more time that you can use to focus on your customers.
There is a heavy risk to social media automation that is worth noting here. Social media is for people not machines. When you are dealing with people, you need to use a more tempered approach. Automation must be cleverly blended with human interaction for it to work well.
You may automate a little to lighten the load of social media marketing. You can also hire a company to manage your social media accounts. However for some entrepreneurs, especially when bootstrapping, the only option available is to automate some of the social media workloads.
Developing Your Social Media Strategy
As mentioned earlier, your social media strategy serves as a map or blueprint for your social media marketing efforts. There are some questions that you need to answer and a few areas that you need to get right. If you plan to hire a social media management agency, they will create a social media strategy for you. Follow the list bellow to create your own social media strategy.
1) Who Owns Social Media in Your Organization?
First and foremost, realize that one person cannot own social media. Your entire organization should be actively promoting your organization on social media. For example, if you hired a social media management agency to manage your social media accounts, you also need to make sure that your team is actively promoting your business too.
Your team can help you boost the results of your social media strategy. As the social media management agency is creating connections and promoting your business, you and your team need to be amplifying everything. Some good ways to do this is by re-tweeting or sharing posts, mentioning your organization wherever you interact, and reposting content.
2) What Do You Want to Use Social For?
You must define your goals. What is the outcome that you want to see? Will you be using social media to drive awareness, sales, leads, loyalty, retention etc.? You have to know exactly why you want to be active on social media.
3) What Are Your Competitors Doing
“If you make listening and observation your occupation, you will gain much more than you can by talk”.
Robert Baden-Powell, former lieutenant-general in the British Army, writer, and founder of the Scout Movement.
Go to the social media channels of your top three competitors and find out what they are doing. Scan through their content and comments to see how they are being social. Pick a post that has the most engagement and examine why it is performing better than the rest. Looking at your competitor’s social media profiles will give you great ideas on how you can market your company.
4) Who is Your Audience?
What are the psychographic and demographic characteristics of your ideal customer? You must know your customer in order to post the right kind of content that will attract them to your business. Knowing your audience will ensure that you meet your overall goals on social media.
5) What Makes You, You?
What is the one thing that will make you stand out? What is it about your company that will resonate with your target audience? With social media, you need to appeal more to the heart than to the mind. Much like how people buy with their emotions, in social media, people connect with you based on their emotions.
6) How Will You Balance Being Human and Being a Company?
How will your organization act human? This is where some companies fall short. Since the idea of social media demands that companies be social when using the platform, your company has to balance the human and the company side of your business.
One way to create balance is to have a face for your company. The company face could be a person or a fictional character. It doesn’t really matter as long as it matches your brand identity.
7) What Do You Consider Success?
You have to select your success metrics. Theses metrics are what you will monitor in order to gauge your social media efforts. These metrics will tell you if your social media strategy is going to be successful or not. Metrics could be likes, shares, comments, and much more. You want to be able to measure your ROI (return on investment) by measuring these metrics.
8) Create Your Content Plan
Great content is an essential part of a successful social media strategy. You need to create a content marketing plan alongside your social media strategy. Your content marketing plan will answer important questions about your audience and the type of content to publish.
Additionally, your content marketing plan should include a mission statement. You and your team will refer to this mission statement when creating or sharing content with your audience.
Your content marketing plan should answer these questions and maybe more.
What are the personas of your target audience?
What types of content do they like?
Who will create the content?
How often will you post a day?
9) Create or Improve Your Social Media Accounts
If you don’t have any social media accounts open, then you have to create them. Before creating your accounts, you have to make sure that you need the account. Essentially, if your customers don’t hang out on the social platform, you probably shouldn’t create an account for it.
Always create accounts on social media networks that will help you meet your social media goals. That being so, there is nothing wrong with having all the accounts that you can manage. However, you want to manage your resources effectively. You are busy, so no need to make yourself busier unless you are acquiring more customers.
Automating Your Social Media Strategy
As mentioned earlier, the biggest risk to automating social media is losing the human factor. Here are some great ways that you can start using to automate some of your social media strategies.
1) Schedule Your Posts
Stopping work to post content on social media can be a productivity zapper. So you should schedule your posts in advance. You can use a tool like Hootsuite to schedule your posts on most social platforms. Facebook allows you to schedule posts as well, look for the option to publish now or later.
2) Use Google Alerts
Receive emails whenever content shows up online that your audience is interested in. To use Google alerts, go to google.ca/alerts and sign up. After signing up, you can choose topics that interest you by typing them in. Every time that someone publishes something that is on your list or that you may want to share, Google alerts will send you an email with the content.
3) Create Content in Advance
Creating social media content in advance is key to maintaining a consistent post schedule. Choose a day in the week that you will use to create content for all your social media channels. You can also hire a professional or an agency to create content for you.
If you mainly curate content, then taking the time to schedule all of your content post for a week is a good idea. However, when curating content, it is better to do it on the day of. This is because you want to make sure that you are mostly publishing fresh or new content.
4) Use If This, Then That
If this, then that or IFTTT is a place where marketers go to create recipes that make their work lives easier. IFTTT allows you to do things like posting your Instagram photos to Twitter whenever you make a post. IFTTT is awesome and it will help you automate many of your social media tasks.
How Much Time Should You spend on Social Media
The answer to this question is highly dependent on one fact. To put it simply, if all the time spent on social media is making you money, then go for it. To answer the question, if you have implemented the automation ideas listed above, then a realistic time would be one hour a day.
Without implementing some automation, you will need as much as 20 hours a week to be social on Social Media. For many entrepreneurs, that is a lot of time that could be spent doing something else.
So how much time you spend on social media, depends on cash flow. If you are connecting with prospects, acquiring new clients, or maintaining your existing clients through social media communications then you can spend as much time as you need.
On the other hand, if you are not making any money, you should spend less time on social media and more time on getting customers. Depending on the nature of your business, you could get a sale every day or once every week. It really depends on who your customers are and how often they buy.
Your social media strategy should be completed before you start promoting your business on social media. You will need a somewhat automated process to social media. Don’t spend too much time on social media unless you are making money doing so.
Like most forms of marketing, social media is not a one size fits all. You have to be willing to modify your social media strategy. You may connect with new audiences so it is best to use an open mind approach. As you collect new data about your audience, make modifications to your strategy.
Did this publication help you with your social media strategy? How are you currently promoting your business on social media? Please let us know in the comments.