With over 2.1 billion accounts on Facebook today and over 0.8 million users on Instagram, it seems like the world has never been more connected. We use social media to exchange messages, have our voice be heard, find and join events, and even donate to charities. But when it comes to using social media as promotional tools for our business, it seems to get difficult. How do we motivate people to do the same thing that we do without favourite brands, but for our business? And how do we know we’re taking the right action and not just wasting our time?
I often say that social media marketing is like going to the gym. You must commit 100%, you need to do it at least 4 times a week to see results, and take measurements along the way to see if you’re improving (i.e. if what you’re doing is working or not working). It requires consistency, practice, and patience. And many people won’t like to hear this, but it requires long-term effort rather than a flood of action taken in one day, and then none for two months.
I have some good news, though. If you ever accomplished anything in your life, then you probably know that once you get better at it, you will start to like it. And social media marketing isn’t any different.
Why You Need a Social Media Strategy
You need a strategy. Drawing back to our fitness example, imagine that one day you get an idea to “gain muscle”, but you have no idea how. However, you start going to the gym, and you do some work. There are some results — you look a little bit more toned, after all, but because you don’t measure anything, you have no clue what worked and what didn’t, and how much you gained in what time.
Social media marketing is no different and that’s why you need a strategy. I hear so many people saying that they want more followers. They start taking certain actions but they have no idea how much action they took over what period of time. Quoting Peter Drucker: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” So you’d better start measuring.
Before You Start
There are a few things you need to think about prior to creating a social media strategy. First, consider your audience a.k.a. your potential clients or customers. Who are the people you’re speaking to? What is their current situation, what’s their feared situation and is their desired situation? You will need to know these to communicate your message to them accurately through different types of media (copy, image/photo, video). What are the platforms they like to hang around?
When it comes to platforms, it’s better to be realistic and stick to fewer than more. With Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Snapchat, it seems like a never-ending battle to feed these “content machines”. Quite often, this is what becomes very overwhelming – if you want to publish just one image per day on one platform, that will be 365 per year. Can you, realistically, create that many, and for multiple platforms? Usually, if you’re new to social media marketing and/or just starting out, the good rule of thumb is sticking to no more than 2. For most companies and brands those will be; Facebook and Instagram but obviously, the choice depends on your audience and goals.
Setting the Right Goals
It’s important to set a goal because, without a goal, you don’t know where you’re going. But even more important to goals is to set the right goals. Your goals should always be attainable, relevant and time-bound. So when people tell me that they want to create conversions through social media within the first month and earn £2,000 yet they have 5 Instagram followers, I frown a little bit, at least in most cases (see why below in Resources). I’m not saying it isn’t possible, but speaking from my experience as I’ve worked with over a hundred clients, there is a certain order to acquiring goals.
The order of how you should focus your goals are:
1. Building a follower base – only with at least 1,000-1,500 followers you will begin to see some interest in your business that will translate to some engagement and a few sales
2. Improving engagement – your engagement could be translated as retention and brand advocacy a.k.a. how “warmed up” your followers are
3. Create conversions – once you have enough followers who are “warmed up” already (the two prerequisites for conversions), you will begin to see people converting with a bigger predictability
Now, the question is how fast can I acquire these goals?
Resources a.k.a. How Fast You Get Your Goals
Your resources are people (how skilled they are, how much experience they have), time, and budget/money (for ads, training, collaborations, giveaways). Usually, the more you have of each, the faster you can get to your goal. Let’s say your goal is to acquire your first 1,000 followers. If you have a team of three people who work full time and have a budget of £1,000 for ads, it’s easy to see that they will likely get those followers faster than if you do it alone for two days a week with no budget at all, isn’t it?
That’s why your resources are one of the stepping stones to how fast you acquire your goals. Unfortunately, today it’s much more difficult to reach goals with any budget at all due to Facebook’s and Instagram’s algorithms, but it shouldn’t be something that should stop you. The nutrition brand Free Soul Sistas went from 700 followers to 10,000 in the course of 6 months, only promoting their products. And of course, in the meantime, their startup, which is targeting millennial women, started to make a return on investment.
Measuring Success (and Fails)
When you think of traditional marketing – newspapers, radio, TV – it’s quite obvious for many people how and what they can measure. When it comes to social media marketing, everyone thinks it’s difficult.
If you had an ad in a magazine, what you could measure was how many times that ad was seen (depending on the number of copies of the magazine that went to print), how much was the graphics, copy, and placement of the ad, and how many people bought the product after seeing it. This isn’t any different in social media marketing. First, you need to correlate business key performance indicators (KPIs) to social KPIs. For example:
Business KPIs – Social KPIs
* Brand awareness – Impressions, reach
* Retention, brand advocacy – Engagement (likes, comments, shares, clicks)
* Conversions – Website clicks, Profile views, conversions
Usually, the most difficult part is to quantify how many people bought from you when they clicked the ad because in most cases you can’t correlate them to an existing customer in your CRM. But if social media marketing is the only thing you’re doing or at least the biggest chunk of your marketing efforts, then you can easily say what your return on investment is (ROI).
The key to social media marketing is implementing all these steps. Only once practised together, you will begin to see results. But don’t fret if you don’t have it all figured out already. Take things, step by step, and measure once a month and you’ll see quickly if you’re going in the right direction.