The coffee break guide to social media

If you want to get involved in social media, but you’re not sure where to start, this coffee break guide is just what you need to help you decide. In this guide we’ve outlined the elements you need to address to achieve business success using social media.

Topics include:

  • What you’ll need to consider before taking on social media
  • Choosing the appropriate platform(s) for your business
  • Tips for finding your voice in the social environment
  • How to achieve your goals

To be or not to be… a social company

Social media is a great way of building engagement, improving your brand image and getting more involved with the industry at large. However there are some drawbacks, so it’s worth considering the following before setting up an account on every social media platform you’ve ever heard of.

Time

Social media is a conversational channel. You’ll need to take time to monitor what’s going on in your social environment as well as putting your own content and posts together. Both of these tasks can be a significant undertaking, so it’s worth considering whether you have the available resource to take care of your social presence.

Content

Social media allows you to push your existing content further. If you don’t have anything to talk about, it becomes difficult to post regular updates. Creating your content is often one of the most time consuming parts of your marketing strategy, so consider whether you have enough to fill a regular update schedule.

Management

Prospects and customers engage with companies through social media in a variety of ways, from liking and sharing your posts through to making complaints when things go wrong. Make sure you have a customer service process in place to handle any queries and complaints you get through these channels.

Choosing a platform

The key factors to consider when deciding which platform(s) to use for your social media marketing are:

The intended purpose of the platform

Different social platforms exist with very different purposes in mind. Some are very image heavy with the intention of allowing users to share useful or interesting content, such as Tumblr, StumbleUpon and Pinterest. Others are intended more for networking, such as LinkedIn and Google+. For more information on the purpose and uses of different social platforms, check out this blog post.

The terms of use for each platform

You’ll need to consider what kind of marketing campaigns, promotions and posts will be appropriate within the remit of the terms and conditions associated with each platform. A great example of this is Facebook’s terms – you’d be surprised to see how many brands fall foul of these.

The users of each social media platform engage with it for a specific purpose, such as connecting with friends, networking, sharing photos or interesting information and so on. Marketing on social media is a secondary purpose, and therefore, there’s a certain element of etiquette involved which you should do your best to observe. Take a look at this blog post for some examples of common dos and don’ts on Facebook.

Where your audience is located

When you’re researching the characteristics and behaviour of your customers, take the time to find out whether they use social media platforms as a way of communicating with one another. If they are, establish which ones they’re using to ensure the time you’re spending putting your message out there is worthwhile.

Finding your voice

There’s often a significant difference between the way in which you communicate on a personal level with your customers and how you communicate in your marketing. Some useful things to consider when finding the right approach for your social media marketing include:

Establish a purpose

Your social media efforts should contribute towards your marketing goals. Working out what you want people to do with the information you’re giving them is the first step in establishing what to say and how to say it.

Match your brand

People are most at ease with familiarity, so it’s important to make sure that all your communication channels (or touch points) complement each other. From styling your social pages in line with your branding to the way you phrase your copy and social posts, consistency really is key.

Choose your content

In an already cluttered social environment, content is king. You’re likely to get far more responses, shares, likes and all the rest if the content you’re posting is interesting, relevant and entertaining. Do make sure it’s appropriate for your brand as well as your audience though.

Determine your tone

Are you posting from named individuals within the company, or as if the company itself had a voice? Perhaps you’re somewhere in between? Think about what the people you’re targeting are expecting from you, both as a company and as a content contributor in general. Each platform is different, so you can tweak your phrasing and content for each one to make sure you get it just right.

Take care

It’s easy to make mistakes when you’re putting content out into the public space in such a time sensitive environment. Get a friend or colleague to proof-read your posts checking for clarity, impartiality, consistency, spelling and grammar.

Don’t panic!

You can’t please everyone. The more involved with social media you are, the more natural it’ll become to engage with people on the level they’re expecting. Think about what you’re saying before you say it, but remember the world isn’t going to end if someone doesn’t like your post.

Achieve your goals

Social media is a significant undertaking. It’s a medium through which you can achieve your marketing goals, not just something you should be doing because everyone else is. As you progress through your marketing planning, it’s worth considering the following:

What are your overall marketing goals?

There’s no point creating an entirely separate strategy just for social media; it’s a tool to help you achieve your marketing goals. Think about what you want to achieve from your business, how marketing helps with that and then identify which of those things could be helped along with a little social media.

Which can you achieve through social media?

Common goals that are well suited to social media include; increasing brand awareness and improving engagement with customers/prospects. In turn these can help increase conversions, but it’s certainly not the place for the hard sell.

Measure effectiveness

From the layout of your post to the time of day that you send it, there are a number of different elements that can affect your social media marketing results. Once you’ve got into the swing of things, try tweaking your approach one variable at a time to see what the most effective methods are. Once you’ve worked out what works, keep testing! There are always improvements to be made.

Finally, don’t lose focus! Every time you write a post, think about whether it contributes towards the goals you’ve set before hitting that publish button.

That’s it!

All you have to do now is set up profiles on your chosen sites, integrate your Facebook and Twitter accounts with Sign-Up.to and get posting. If you’re already creating and sending great email campaigns, why not share these on your pages when they’re sent, and encourage your email subscribers to like or follow you using our Go Social tools in the email editor?

Okay, maybe that isn’t it. Social media moves at quite a pace and it can be hard to keep up, but for every platform and every user, there’s a blog post or article on how to make the most of it. To keep on top of it, just make sure you choose your sources wisely, keep an eye on the headlines and cherry pick the best practice articles that are most relevant to you.

Still have questions? Get in touch.

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