Winning Social Media Strategy
Setting up a marketing strategy, before moving on to concrete actions and the use of operational tools, is as important as having a project before the construction of a building. Entrepreneurs who open a company Facebook page, without knowing exactly how to move online, are as if they decide to build a building starting with the choice of furniture. Get the idea?
Almost all companies are more or less actively present on social media, but few have a clear idea of what they actually want to achieve.
The definition of a social media strategy is a cyclical path more than a real point of arrival, a process in continuous evolution. It starts with the analysis of the scenario and then moves on to the choice of the most suitable objectives and communication channels. In a second moment we will pass to the identification of the contents and we will continue measuring the data that the actions themselves generate, with the aim of constantly improving the results obtained during the work.
How will my brand be spread online? What messages will I convey to my audience? How often will I post the chosen content? Will I use them for promotional purposes or to sell my products / services directly?
Defining a good social media marketing strategy is not as easy as it seems, so I've decided to give you some useful tips on this. Thanks to these 5 steps you can finally get off to a great start and achieve the success you deserve online too!
1st PHASE: preventive analysis
We can't define a successful strategy if we don't know where to start. "Thinking and planning, in fact, come before doing." This has always been a concept at the basis of marketing management.
But what will you have to analyze in detail? Let's go by order:
to. ONLINE TOOLS ALREADY ACTIVE
Do you already have a site? What is its conversion rate? How is it positioned on search engines?
Do you have a Facebook Page? What level of interaction does it generate? What content do you post? How often? Have you ever done advertising campaigns on the Facebook Ads platform?
b. BRAND REPUTATION
It is important to understand how much and how you talk about your brand and your company. Are the reviews and comments positive, negative or neutral? By monitoring the network, you will be able to collect information on the most frequently touched current issues and on the most influential virtual places for your sector.
In recent years, the study of competitors and the ability to predict moves have acquired considerable weight at a strategic level. What are your competitors doing? Through what activities do they find success online?
In this delicate phase, a SWOT analysis can be of great help: it will be conducted on the strengths (Strenghts) and weaknesses (Weaknesses) of your company, in order to bring out opportunities (Opportunities) and threats (Threats) that derive from the external context.
d. CUSTOMERS (potential and acquired)
Who are your current and potential customers? What is their age range? What sites do they frequent? What are they interested in? What are they talking about online? What are their socio-cultural characteristics?
You have to get to know them. You need to know who they are and what they want. The goal is to get a complete picture of consumer behavior within your target market. Simplifying, you will need to be able to create a detailed identikit of your potential customers. The more you learn about your target audience, the greater your success online!
Don't consider a generic target, identify buyer personas. Each personas represents a group of clients with similar characteristics, a prototype of our ideal client.
2nd PHASE: definition of objectives
The analysis phase allowed us to understand exactly where we are (starting point) and where we want to arrive (arrival point). Now we need to understand how to achieve our goals. Digital marketing is part of a broader marketing strategy and must therefore contribute to the achievement of business objectives. The social media strategy depends on the company mission and therefore cannot be random.
Goals must follow some basic characteristics:
- Be realistic: if you are the owner of a small family-run business and you sell artisan baked goods, you will hardly be able to compete with a company of the caliber of Mulino Bianco, which annually invests millions of Euros in advertising campaigns. For the same reason you will not be able to give yourself branding goals like those of a giant known all over the world.
- Be quantifiable: next to each goal you must be able to write a number that will allow you to verify its achievement. “I want to sell more” is not a concrete goal, but a simple hope. “I want to sell 15% more than last year thanks to
'e-commmerce ”is a goal.
- Consider medium and long-term horizons: in your digital marketing strategy you will have to foresee intermediate and long-term objectives, so as to be able to better trigger a process of performance improvement.
- Be limited to a defined period of time: the temporal aspect must also play an important role in your strategy. The time factor must always be respected.
3rd PHASE: choice of channels
Everyone keeps repeating to you: "You have to learn to work with social media!" Well, such a sentence says everything and nothing! Do you know why? Because not all channels are right for your business.
First, find the medium most in line with your target audience. Think about the financial resources you have available, what your target requires the most, where your main competitors are investing, and act accordingly.
To start, you can always rely on Facebook, the king of social networks, and Google +, to get visibility on search engines. If you have a business that lends itself very well to images, then you might want to point to Instagram. If your goal is to appeal to female audiences, your best bet might be Pinterest. If your brand is already well-known enough, you might want to consider expanding your communication efforts and opening a Twitter account. If you have an established brand in the B2C field, you could start posting videos on YouTube. If you have an established brand in the B2B field, you could rely on LinkedIn, the largest professional network in the world.
4th PHASE: choice of contents
I will never tire of repeating this now famous phrase: "Content is the king!"
Contents are exceptional tools that, if shared correctly and constantly on social networks, will allow you to create brand awareness, increase lead generation, retain existing customers and sell.
If you think about it, even advertising is increasingly in need of content: ads on Facebook, for example, are often images or videos with a strong emotional charge, not just promotional information. Compared to a simple text, an image / video always wins the game, because it is immediate and promptly communicates a precise message. This is why in your editorial plan you will always have to give more space to visual content.
Particular anecdotes, success stories, guides to download, photos that best describe your business reality, videos that tell your professional story: all these contents will help you to actively involve the listening audience and make a difference online.
On social networks, people don't want to hear about products with self-congratulatory tones, but they want to create an equal relationship with the company, have fun and learn.
5th PHASE: measurement of results
Performance measurement on social networks is simpler than offline marketing. Through digital analytics you have access to a huge amount of data. Thanks to the numerous indicators that the insights provide you will be able to understand what works in your social media strategy, what doesn't work and what you can improve instead. However, it is important to collect and know how to read these precious data.
Monitoring must be the basis of your strategy: it is starting from the results monitored in real time that you can modify the strategies adopted, prevent errors and optimize what is being achieved. This is not an optional choice, but an indispensable activity that will make your online presence effective. "Listening to the network is a process that cannot be ignored."
And finally, here are some very useful free tools that you could use in this very important phase:
Facebook Insights (app)
Social Daily Analytic
Being successful on social media does not simply mean getting millions of likes or followers; being successful on social media means transforming the interaction into concrete results, it means actively listening to your potential customers, observing the market from a privileged position.
Social media marketing represents a major shift in corporate culture and the way we interact with our customers. Social media must enter the DNA of the business, because the digital world is increasingly at the center of marketing.
Think with Style!
Social Media Marketing: Social Networks for Business
In any self-respecting marketing plan, a good social media marketing strategy must certainly not be missing. Indeed, new media are now one of the major sources of traffic to your website as well as a very fertile ground for finding new customers online.
Social media are also one of the most powerful tools used by Inbound Marketing to disseminate web content published on the website and blog.
But probably the greatest power they have, is to finally give a voice to that consumer who has always been overshadowed by the Top to Down one-way communication strategies of traditional marketing, also called outbound marketing or interruption marketing (marketing that disturbs and bursts with force and arrogance into the lives of unsuspecting possible customers).
In fact, the marketing that really works today is the inbound one, which allows consumers to express themselves freely, listen carefully to their opinions and create ad hoc web contents designed to fully satisfy their needs.
The revolution that social media has brought to the business world in recent years has completely changed the rules of the game.
Today any self-respecting company, to strengthen its brand awareness and have the right amount of credibility in the eyes of consumers, cannot fail to be present with its brand on the main social networks.
Ignoring the enormous strength of social media, not understanding and analyzing its sentiment, or what customers say and think about your product / service or your brand in general, means signing your own death sentence.
Fortunately today most companies have at least one facebook page. The problem, however, is that often it is either left to itself or maybe it is not updated with the right contents capable of really satisfying the readers.
The main social networks to bet on
The King of social networks
Facebook is by far the most popular social network, just think that it has exceeded one and a half billion users around the world. Staggering numbers and among all these users there are necessarily also your customers! As mentioned previously, therefore, you cannot ignore the presence of your brand on Facebook, because not being there and not having a company page means losing an important opportunity for visibility on the web. Facebook allows companies to greatly enhance their brand awareness, to improve the relationship with their customers and to listen deeply to their opinions and points of view. It is a truly exceptional tool to understand what our target really wants, as well as to make excellent lead generation.
STRONG POINTS: huge catchment area
WEAKNESSES: in recent times the facebook algorithm has greatly reduced the visibility of company pages and the only solution is to allocate part of the budget to paid ads on the Facebook Ads advertising platform (Like campaigns, sponsored posts, etc. )
Follow my Facebook page!
The immediacy and synthesis of micro-blogging
Twitter is the largest micro-blogging platform in the world whose main features are the synthesis and immediacy of what is published. In fact, for each tweet, there is a limit of 140 characters, after which the text is cut, greatly reducing the effectiveness of the message. You can reply to a tweet directly or share it via retweet. Recently, it is also possible to put the like through the heart-shaped button. Twitter is very useful not only for branding but also to be used as a customer service tool: if a customer has a problem, in fact, in a very short time he can send us a tweet and soon receive an answer and a solution. Twitter also launched Periscope, its own internal platform for publishing videos in real time.
STRONG POINTS: ease of use and direct and immediate contact with the customer
WEAKNESSES: 140 character limit and more niche targets than Facebook
The professional social network par excellence
If we talk about business, Linkedin is king. Yes, because Linkedin is not only the best social network for personal branding and promoting one's professional figure, but it is clearly an extraordinary tool to promote one's company, especially if it is B2B. If Facebook is in fact the best terrain in which to grow a B2C (Business To Consumer) business, Linkedin is the home of B2B (Business To Business) brands.
Finding new business collaborators, the best suppliers or the most skilled resources to grow our company: these are just some of the actions we can carry out with Linkedin.
Through the sector groups and Pulse, the Linkedin internal blogging platform, we can also highlight our professional skills and make the voice of our company heard, becoming over time also prominent influencers in our reference sector.
STRENGTHS: Being able to create a network of useful links to develop your company business
WEAKNESSES: Mainly oriented to the B2B world
Google's social network, essential for SEO
One of the most widespread criticisms of Google Plus is that it is a Facebook clone. Actually, it doesn't change much if not that instead of fans or friends, we have followers and circles.
So why should you have a corporate social network that is the same as another far more popular and successful one? The overwhelming reason is that while Facebook posts aren't indexed by search engines, Google Plus ones are! This is a very important aspect from the point of view of SEO and the positioning of your brand on search engines (Google in the first place).
STRONG POINTS: posts indexed by search engines
WEAKNESSES: Facebook clone and not very popular
The extraordinary strength of videos for branding
Did you know that people rather than reading, are much more willing to watch a video?
The video is immediate. The information contained in it arrives directly at the target it is addressed to, and thanks to the power of images, sounds and music, it is able to fix the brand memory very strongly.
That is why having a YouTube channel is a great opportunity to publish institutional videos and gather support from followers.
STRONG POINTS: the videos are very effective and immediately strike potential customers in depth
WEAKNESSES: making professional videos can have considerable costs (luckily you can also make amateur videos, but having the foresight to always shoot them in a professional way)
The power of images and filters to promote your brand
Instagram is an image-based social network. It is more popular with young people but is growing rapidly among the adult audience as well. It gives the possibility to publish photos being able to modify them through filters and special effects and from this point of view it has a strong playful component, perhaps this is also why it is very popular. For companies, especially those in the food, fashion, travel or in any case that produce a product that lends itself well to being photographed, Instagram is a very useful tool. In addition, you have also recently introduced instagram the possibility of publishing short videos (maximum 15 seconds) and sponsoring the most interesting posts in order to reach a greater pool of users and greater visibility.
STRONG POINTS: People like images and photos a lot and have a strong impact
WEAKNESSES: the average target is quite young, so it may not be suitable for all types of business
A huge database of images to inspire your customers
Pinterest is a virtual bulletin board where you can collect the images (pins) that we like most within thematic boards. Typically, those who use Pinterest do so to find inspiration on certain topics.
From a business point of view, Pinterest, like Instagram, is an excellent tool especially for the food and fashion sector, but not only. If our target is above all abroad, it can be an interesting social network since most of the users are from the United States. Furthermore, 80% of those who use Pinterest are women. Great news if our company produces products or services specifically for the female segment.
STRENGTHS: possibility that the images of our products are saved on the thematic message boards of potential customers and therefore enhancement of brand awareness
WEAKNESSES: it does not yet have a great diffusion in Italy
WHATSAPP and TELEGRAM groups
Instant messaging apps power up your social strategy!
You know the WhatsApp groups for sure, perhaps a little less those of the direct competitor Telegram, which however stands out for being much more professional and business oriented.
Have you ever thought that these groups could also be useful for your business?
I can assure you that they are still a little known but rapidly growing tool. So don't get caught unprepared!
STRONG POINTS: the message arrives immediately and is read by mobile by most people
WEAKNESSES: To avoid falling into spam and annoying customers with too many notifications, you shouldn't go overboard with updates
So what? Let's sum it up!
Which social media should I use for a successful social media marketing strategy?
It depends on what your company does and who your buyer personas are (to be clear, your typical customers).
Therefore, before opening accounts on all social media or perhaps wondering why you are not getting results, it is advisable to make a study and a priori analysis of your target: age, geographical area, tastes and interests. Only after having made this step can we evaluate which social networks are most suitable for our type of business.
Here are some useful tips that can help you in your choice:
If my company is purely oriented towards the final consumer, Facebook is undoubtedly my winning horse, while if on the contrary it is more B2B oriented it will intensify my efforts on Linkedin more.
If I'm in service, it might be a good idea to use Twitter as a customer service.
If my sector is food, fashion, travel or anything else that lends itself well to images, I will dedicate part of my time to grow my community also on photographic social networks such as instagram and pinterest.
Videos lend themselves well to all types of businesses, as long as they are professional.
Don't forget the strategic SEO importance of Google Plus for search engine indexing
Also take a look at the new instant messaging apps such as WhatsApp but above all Telegram.
Think in style!