Back in the day (medieval era), when you mentioned T&A, the last thing people thought of was "tech anxiety." That's because it didn't exist. Today, tech anxiety is pervasive in both our personal and business personas. Our kids are suffering from social media anxiety, having to constantly check their phones to make sure they are not missing out on every text, like, dislike, update, or comment in their social sphere. If you're in business today, I believe everyone would agree that social media has opened the door to big and small businesses alike to advertise and communicate directly to audiences. It's an effective means of driving impressions and dollars to your bottom line. The pressure to keep up with the latest and greatest platforms has caused many professionals to second guess their social media strategies and often feel one step behind technology.
Every week I ask myself, "Are we getting our message out there? Are we using the right social media tools? Do we know the latest and greatest techniques to get the most out of our money and efforts? Are we creating noise in the marketplace or relatable content?" There is a plethora of platforms to use, from Pinterest, Instagram, Periscope, Twitter, Facebook, and the list goes on. So what's most effective to reach our audience?
To educate myself, I began to research articles regarding social media as a business marketing tool. Browsing through the web, an article titled "Your Business Needs to Get Social, Local, and Mobile -- Fast" noted that "78 percent of small businesses receive at least a quarter of their new consumers through social media." My first thought was, "Wow, social media is working." My second thought? "We're behind the preverbal eight-ball."
The more I read, the more eager I became to create a social media strategy for my company that drove awareness. I asked my social media strategist, Samantha Hess, to compose a list of platforms she thought would be beneficial for our company. Hess is a bright, hardworking Millennial who felt strongly that we should be actively involved in Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. Instagram? Why Instagram? "Everybody's on Instagram!" Sam replied. While I know "everyone" is not on Instagram, I began to realize that in order to succeed through a digital marketing campaign, we must reserve awareness that each social media platform appeals to a different group of demographics. Hess' friends and work peers are using Instagram, and we need to reach them because they are potential influencers.
While I am still in the process of comprehending how social media can directly affect the growth of my business, my tech anxiety has not abetted. In fact, it increases with my new knowledge -- the more I know, the less I know.
At a recent Vistage meeting Ari Levine and Claude Silver of Vayner Media presented "Marketing for the Year We Live In: How to Reach Customers in the Digital World" to a room full of CEOs.
Here are some of my takeaways that I'd like to share with readers.
How can social media benefit your business?
Social media can help you understand the demographics to which your profile appeals. Once you understand your target audience, you will have an easier time using social media effectively.
Part of success is knowing who your target audience is and to what they respond well. Social media platforms that allow for sharing, liking and/or commenting on posts offer an opportunity to receive consumer feedback. Paying attention to the number of followers on your page can assist in comprehending what posts attract more activity and what posts detract followers.
Understanding your competition
Innately, we can't help but to compare ourselves to others. As humans, we attempt to resist this tendency to protect our mental health. However, this inclination is a valued tool in the workplace. Through social media you are capable of tracking your competitor's business advances and to respectfully follow their consumer analytics.
Steps to implement an effective social media business strategy
Compose a list of your company's overall goals. Identify the goals social media can support achievement.
Ask yourself: Are my goals both realistic and specific? If you feel like you have created broad goals, try breaking down your goal into steps. This way you will feel organized and you will be able to visualize.
Identify target audience
Decide your target audience and if you want to expand your audience create a list of audiences you hope to appeal to.
Ask yourself: What age group, profession, income, and gender demographics does my company appeal to? Am I trying to appeal to other demographics?
When trying to expand your audience, try engaging in other users' posts to share your brand. You can do this by liking, sharing, retweeting, and commenting.
Choose your platform(s)
Familiarize yourself with each platform (i.e., Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube etc.) Choose the platform(s) that are most likely to enhance your company's development.
Ask yourself: Are my chosen platforms relevant to my target audience? Do I want to post the same content on Twitter & LinkedIn, or do I want to alter my post according to the platform?
Social media can be time consuming, so it is important to pay attention to which platform is worth your time.
Plan content strategy
Create a chart with your composed content and the time/date they will be posted. (This should be done for each platform.)
Ask yourself: How frequently do I want to post? Which hashtags are appropriate to represent my company? How often should our content strategy be planned? Every month? Every week?
When creating your first plan, I suggest creating a content plan that can be executed for one month. This way you can accurately analyze what type of content has attracted users to your page.
Decide the team member(s) who will be responsible for planning and execution. Post consistently and track your followers. After one month, analyze your progress and following. Repeat and make adjustments as needed.
Ask yourself: Do we want to distribute social media responsibility, or do we want to assign one strategist? Do we want to pay for a management service to help track our profile analytics?
In conclusion, social media can contribute to your company's reputation, so it is important to keep a consistent professional tone. It's difficult to break through the media clutter, because everyone seems to be contributing to the ether. Hiring a social strategist can help you develop the right communication, with the right cadence on the right platforms. Think about the most effective way to reach your target. Certainly, social media is affordable and available, so dive in and test (or text) the waters.
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