August 8, 2014
5 Key Questions to Ask Before Starting on Social Media
Over recent years, social media has developed into a core marketing activity for businesses and organisations of all sizes in a diverse range of industries. As social media is highly accessible and has no sign-up costs, many businesses are dipping their toe in the water or fully diving in to social media without taking into account some of the key considerations:
1. What’s Our Strategy?
As with any marketing activity, social media needs to be part of a wider strategy and needs to have its own strategy. Before getting started, ensure you have defined your objectives, audience and resources, and conducted thorough research into your competitors’ activities and where your audience is located online. This will allow you to plan your use of each relevant social network and prepare tailored content plans that will appeal to your audience and will reach your audience. At this stage, also decide on how your social media marketing will be measured, analysed and evaluated with regard to your objectives, and which tools will be used.
Always start with a strategy, objectives, and an action plan
2. Where’s Our Audience?
Competitor analysis and market research will help you identify which social networks are most suited to your business and your target market. For example, Pinterest has a high percentage of female users, so it’s a popular choice for brands targeting women. Similarly, a B2B organisation will most likely be more suited to LinkedIn that Facebook. Identifying the most suitable social networks from the outset will prevent the investment of time and money in avenues that aren’t aligned with your organisation or your audience, and will allow you to apply all your focus in the most fruitful places.
Locate your audience online and choose your platforms carefully
3. What Value Do We Offer?
Social media is not purely a broadcast medium and it is crucial to provide content that is useful, valuable, interesting, engaging, entertaining and/or educational. With such a high level of competition on social media, users are increasingly only following the profiles that they get something back from – whether that be amusement and laughter, a sense of community, the latest news and updates, vouchers and discounts, knowledge and insight, or something else of worth to them.
This can seem like a daunting target to hit in industries where the products and services don’t lend themselves to competitions, exciting imagery and other typically engaging content. So think about what your audience wants, what their concerns are and what they will find valuable, and then consider how you can provide content in an appealing way in line with this. For example, a small legal recruitment company recently identified that job hunters had a huge amount of uncertainty and anxiety about their CVs and interview technique, so they held live Q&As on Twitter to answer people’s concerns. With the help of some outreach and a small advertising budget, these Q&As became a great success and helped drive brand awareness, brand engagement, and most importantly, new job candidates.
Have a clear Customer Value Proposition and create valuable content
4. How Will I Manage Everything?
Managing a social media campaign is a time-consuming task, and many businesses have whole teams dedicated to strategy and planning, content creation, posting and responding, outreach and social PR, and analysis and reporting. But that’s a luxury that isn’t available to most! Having sparse and underused social media profiles that are slow to respond to followers can reflect badly on your business or organisation, and this can be avoided by not taking on too many profiles to begin with, recruiting more resources, and/or using time-saving apps and tools. Free and low cost tools such as Hootsuite, Socialbro and Canva are brilliant for speeding up the process of creating content, posting content and evaluating performance, so look for ways to streamline your social media processes and make it part of your daily routine.
If social media is worth doing, it’s worth doing properly
5. Do I Need a Social Media Budget?
This is a very common issue for businesses launching into social media, and there is a misconception that social media is free or should be free. Having proven itself as a successful channel for so many businesses, social media has become a competitive space and it is increasingly difficult to quickly and organically build a presence on social media without at least a little paid advertising (although there are organic social media success stories out there). Highly targeted ads on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube (and Pinterest soon) can get your name, content, competitions and promotions out there instantly, and can be directed only at your specific target audience and locations. It is also worthwhile considering if any budgeting is needed for content creation, such as creating videos, photos, infographics, imagery and more, and in running competitions and promotions. Social media is a marketing vehicle and you need to keep it well fueled.
Even a small budget will start to get you places