In the words of Howard Shultz, social media is a bullet train, and it's not going to slow down any time soon. 2.46 billion people are currently active on social media. By 2019, that number is expected to reach 2.77 billion. It's no surprise then, that 80% of businesses say that social media is the most important factor in their digital marketing success. Ironically, however, 85% of marketers participating in social media still aren't really sure what tools are the best to use. New platforms are being launched everyday. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, SnapChat, Instagram, Pinterest, Foursquare, Google+ -these are some of the big hitters, for now. But there's also Vine, Flickr, and YouTube. And have you heard about Shots, Ello, and Hyper? Buzz around new platforms is creating a lot of noise for marketers. And new trends, coupled with rapidly increasing user reach, are adding even more chaos to the mix. In order to break through the all of the noise pollution, your business needs to have a solid social media strategy. Here, we're going to break down the steps to help you get started.
1. Start Big
Before you delve into social media strategizing, it's important to know your purpose. You first need to consider your company's main goals. What's important to you, right now? Once you establish these, you can start to think about how social media can align with those goals and help contribute to the overall betterment and success of your brand. To better illustrate this, let's create three example goals for a new business. For starters, one goal might be to establish the brand's identity. A second goal might be to establish a strong customer base (you may have a specific target number to hit here). And lastly, a new business may aim to launch three new products by the end of the year. So, how can social media help you establish your brand's identity? Well, put simply, it can help get your brand's name out there. With billions of users interacting on social platforms daily, social media has become the new-wave word of mouth. You can also use social media platforms to align yourself with strong influencers in the social scene. Partnering up with these people could help you to establish exactly where your company fits-which niche markets do you best relate to, connect with, and serve? Partnering up with influencers can also help you to establish and expand your customer base. You can also use organic social media content to build rapport with customers and further establish your identity as a trustworthy company. Lastly, social media is a great platform for new product launches. You can create campaigns and target specific demographics. Your business can run posts on its own social pages. But you can also see which influencers might be willing to run some paid content for you. Likewise, you can also look into running boosted posts on major platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter. Now that you've established a purpose for social media and can see how it aligns with your business goals, it's time to focus on your marketing strategy.
2. Get Specific
Ideally, your marketing goals should funnel down and align with your company's overarching goals. From these goals, you will develop specific marketing strategies. Let's build three new marketing goals to align with the business goals we created earlier. One marketing goal might be to increase brand awareness. This aligns with your company's goal of establishing a brand identity and starting to build a customer base. A second goal might be to boost brand engagement. This is going to help you to attract and retain new customers, while also continuing to build that brand identity. Third, your company is probably going to want to research and learn about your customers. This is going to help you understand what makes your customers tick, what products are best going to serve their needs, and exactly how you can reach them. This will be instrumental in helping you launch those three new products this year.
3. Go Social
Now that your business has aligned its marketing goals with its company goals, it's time to see how social media can improve your overall marketing strategy. Start with brand awareness by first doing some research to figure out what platforms your consumers are on. Enlist your marketing team's help to scour as many platforms as you can and conduct simple searches on each. Thankfully, each platform is now a search engine, in and of itself, making it easy to find threads and discussions for particular products and services. Work with your team to create a list of your top platforms-the ones that have the biggest pool of potential customers for your brand. Build a profile for yourself on these platforms that is engaging and most importantly, aligns with your brand's identity. Then start actively engaging with users on the site. Join in on consumer discussions and threads. Consciously contribute, while making sure that you aren't just pushing ads and marketing gimmicks onto users. This is your chance to build your reputation and rapport with consumers. Now, you can start building brand engagement and establishing your customer base. This can all happen organically, so long as you have the quality content to back up leads, and you're willing to put in the effort it takes to build relationships. By increasing your customer engagement on these platforms, you're going to get more insight into how your customers think and exactly what products and services they want. This, coupled with consistent analytics, is going to help your business with those new product launches.
Now you've that you've built your foundation, it's time to start analyzing your performance. Analytic software tools, such as Google Analytics, Hootsuite, Buffer, and Crowdbooster, will enable you to assess whether or not your social media strategy is working, and if so, exactly where and exactly how. These tools can also track customer leads, conversion rates, and traffic being generated from your platforms. They will be the same ones that guide your company in terms of utilizing paid versus organic social media, as well as creating product launch campaigns. But most importantly, analytics are what's going to help your company adjust and adapt its social media strategy as you grow and evolve. Analytics will tell you if your social strategies are working and most importantly, how to adapt. Hopping onboard the social media bullet train doesn't have to be as intimidating as it first may seem. The trick is to make sure you are standing on solid ground before you make the leap. Begin your strategy big, by exploring how social media is going to help your company meet its overall goals. Once you do this, you have a purpose for social media. From there, narrow down the playing field by taking stock of your company's marketing strategy. This is where you can start to get specific and hone in on which platforms are best going to serve your brand and your marketing goals. Once you nail your platforms, you can start to adjust your delivery and content to fit platform-specific trends and build rapport with your consumers. And finally, remember to analyze and adjust. Social media is never going to stop evolving. Your strategy shouldn't either.