10 STEPS TO SOCIAL MEDIA LIFT-OFF
As of July 2018, there are 3.3 billion users of social media – that’s almost half of the recorded world’s population. With over 90% of marketers claiming that a presence on social platforms is important to their business and more recently, the quality of a brand’s channels acting as validation of credibility amongst younger audiences, social media is an integral part of your business, from initial launch to supporting continued growth.
But with seven major platforms to consider, individually and collectively, where exactly, as a new business, do you start, or as one already established, take stock? When consulting, strategising and implementing social media at One Roof Social, we like to consider key starting points to map out the new steps.
Here’s our ten objectives you need to consider in your social media strategy, (helpfully) in the order which they should be addressed. We don’t necessarily think it’s a case of consistently reinventing the wheel, but we do believe that there are a few aspects, unique to your brand, which need to be resolutely understood before you get going on pumping out that content.
1. What’s your story?
An obvious place to start, but social media’s roots are in content and good content comes from a good story. When we hosted our first industry summit back in January, Anna Sudbury did an epic piece on content marketing, which we wrote about here – in short, her parting advice was “don’t make ads, tell stories”. Consumers love insider knowledge and engage with a brand to get to know it inside and out. Your brand story needs to have structure and solid foundations, which customers can continuously access and relate to through the content that they see. Synergy is key here: any partnerships, content styles, tone of voice, etc., should always tie into the origin of the brand and serve to reinforce your core principles.
2. Who are you talking to?
Defining your audience is key here on social media, not least because there are a lot of different people you can reach through such a powerful tool. However, credibility is built through a loyal, engaged and focused community, which can then subsequently spread the word outwards. We think it’s always helpful to define your audience with a person, characterise them and understand their behaviour, from typical age, income and interests to more specific engagements, such as their television viewing habits or dream destinations. These details will naturally allow you to decide on other areas of your strategy and will help the whole plan come together.
But don’t make the mistake of believing that your audience behaves exactly like you. More often than not, their collective personality is quite far from your own, even in as specific a consideration as when your audience are even online to engage with your content. Where brands have seen their social media strategy fail is when they have neglected to consider this key point, identifying better with themselves than potential customers.
3. How are you talking to them?
Tone of voice is dictated by who exactly you’re talking to and in essence, it’s the personality of your brand. Whilst visual content triumphs overall as initial bait, it’s the writing on the wall (forgive the pun) that helps to humanise your brand and drive community interaction. As a brand, consider the type of copy that sits alongside your assets and most importantly, make it sensible. It’s perfectly fine to be funny (hard, but fine), but does it give off the right brand image? Are you looking to assert authority in the sector and therefore do you need to go more direct and informative? By all means, tone of voice doesn't need to be fixed at only one, but it does need to be consistent and constantly on-brand. Neglecting this will grate with your existing audience and fracture your identity, making it harder to relate and less attractive to engage with.
4. Define your content
Content, essentially, is the bridge between you and your community; it’s what you put out in order to receive engagement back and it defines your personality online. Brand or Influencer, when considering your own social media strategy, you need to think about the type of content you realistically can and want to produce. You don’t have to constantly be churning out new ideas, but we like to consider different content messages, ideally three to four, united by overall brand image, but different in form (be that photographic or graphic), focus (product or philosophy), ownership (brand produced or community produced) etc., alongside the production, be that editorial, cinematographic, candid, highly edited… the list goes on. These thought-out differences not only keep the feed fresh and your mind organised, but also offer you different branches of your brand’s identity to share with your community. What’s essential here isn’t overall consistency, but cohesion… and good planning.
5. Choose your platforms
Often we see brands who have ill-established presence on all channels, yet fail to maintain these successfully, or we see misuse of platforms for specific needs. The result is poor performance and subsequent neglect from the brand, which filters through to your followers and ultimately disengages them. We wrote a piece on which networks work best for what here, but our best advice is to really start small, pick wisely and grow. We’d never advise not to have an Instagram profile, simply because it’s the platform that really performs the best overall, but we are conscious that producing visual content is no easy feat. That’s where you as a brand need to sit down and define the above, work out your capabilities and run with it.
6. Be realistic
Frequency of content for each platform is something we get asked a lot about. Our answer is that it should tie into their specific purpose and your own brand capability. What we would say is that there’s no use in posting for posting’s sake; each piece of content that goes out should have purpose that ties into your brand, whether that’s helping to tell your story, share breaking news or push product.
What’s more, with Facebook and Instagram’s new introduction of time management to help users control the amount of hours they spend on the apps, timing of content is going to be much more crucial than frequency of posting. Identify when your audience are will be online and ready to engage and don’t waste content when they’re not.
Like anything in business, social media needs to be measured to understand how your hard work is actually performing. Take time to understand how an individual platform’s analytics segments data and what you can pull off that’s actually of use. Look at the overall picture as well as how individual posts have performed to gauge what your audience interact with well and where improvement could be made. If you’re looking for general community growth, you’ll want to be considering the reach, impressions and engagement, as well as how your brand is being talked about online. For sales, traffic is key; look deep into this, less at the link clicks and more at bounce rate and user session time taken from the end destination. Why is this important? Because social media isn’t a solid enough strategy alone and needs to very much fit in with your overall marketing plan. Sending traffic to site when the UX is dodgy is a huge amount of effort for little reward. In short, view it as one cog in a whole machine that needs everything to turn in order to truly make a difference.
8. Get online
Believe it or not, at the heart of these social networks is community. This means that it’s a very two-way street and if you’re not taking it, your audience won’t either. It’s not enough to just put the content up and leave it, expecting to reap the rewards for the quality of the visuals and copy. These platforms want and need you to interact, to search and build outwards, as much as bringing your audience in. Take five minutes in your day to go deep into Instagram, diving forward so far into accounts that you don’t know where you actually started. These channels are built on networking and that’s what you need to do in order to receive back.
9. Partner up
If you’re a new business, look at developing brand partnerships to share communities and associate with wider interests. It’s important for it to be a logical partnership, which tells both stories effectively and taps you into each others’ existing customer bases. Through these, you’re ultimately looking to grow brand awareness, but also align customer interests with something new that is recommended by a brand they already engage with.
We won’t say this is optional because that just wouldn’t be right coming from us, but we are aware that with today’s standards, sometimes it’s just not feasible for a brand to allocate budget towards Influencer Marketing. However, if you are looking to implement a growth strategy that really brings followers on to explore the brand, Influencer Marketing is one of the most powerful tools to sing your praises. Much like social media, it’s not a strategy that sits alone, but rather one that contributes to each department, depending on the individual objectives. It will help shout your brand loud and clear, but it’s not much use if there’s nothing to say…
Social media is an incredibly dynamic tool which enables you to create, test and learn to gauge deep understanding of your audience behaviour and cultivate a presence that profoundly resonates with your target market. We hope that with these ten starting blocks you can get your strategy off the ground, or in the case of existing brands, encourage you to hit refresh. Remember that for creators, these channels aren’t designed to be easy, but they are supposed be fun – the more creatively and intelligently you use them, the more they offer back.