Social media marketing can leave even the most seasoned entrepreneur exhausted and filled with frustration.
We all start on this journey in a similar fashion–a head full of dreams and a heart filled with hope. Everyone dreams of the successes that lie ahead when they start their business. Sure we all know there will be challenges and pitfalls along the way, but we’re sure there will be a solution waiting for us when we cross those bridges.
Social media has been changing the business landscape for ten years. Some industries have been slower to feel the effect and some are completely immersed with their digitally savvy consumer. You may be just starting out, you may be starting over, or you may be ready to throw in the towel, but it is time to step back and look at how to incorporate social media into your marketing and business objectives.
Let’s all go back as if we were just dropped off at the same place…the starting point for our businesses. Even if you have been at this for 10 years, I want you to take each of these steps as if you are just starting today.
1. What is your business objective?
Of course to make money is the main objective for most, but is your business objective to become a well-known and well-respected business consultant? Is it to have a fitness studio with hundreds of students and a thriving team? If you are a realtor, perhaps your business objective is to build a thriving real estate brokerage that will be profitable with or without you doing all of the selling. This objective is important to get clear on because it will be the CORE of all of your marketing. It should drive every decision in your marketing.
2. Who is your ideal consumer?
So many people will say, “everyone is my ideal consumer,” and that is why their marketing is too vague. You need to focus on not just the person who will buy from you, but the person you would like to do business with. We have had several people “buy from us” that I shouldn’t have allowed to. These were people who were too high maintenance and frustrated our entire team day after day. Create a detailed profile for the perfect customer. If you have a couple different types of consumers that you serve, create two separate profiles. You may likely need to use social media differently for each persona.
3. Where do these ideal consumers hang out?
I hear so many people say, “My customers aren’t on social media.” You might as well say, “My consumers don’t use mobile phones or computers at all” and this may be true. You might be targeting those over 90 years old who live in rural farming communities and they still have a wall mounted phone with party lines (wow, how do I know about such ancient things?). If this is truly the case, then buy yourself a horse and get off social media altogether. Although you would miss the great tweetchats that go on each week in the agriculture world– #AGchat or #FarmChat .
You need to do some research to find out which social media sites your ideal consumers are on. You might do a survey of current customers, asking which social media channels they are most active on, or if you don’t have current customers, you need to mine your competitors and organizations that are complementary to yours but serve the same type of consumer. If you are a realtor in the luxury home market, look at resort hotels, luxury car companies, golf clubs or country clubs in your area. Find those social media pages on every channel and see where people are most active. What are they talking about, or engaging with? Take note.
4. What type of content do your ideal consumers engage with?
You started this one in the last step. You need to really dig into as many pages and profiles that you can to find the ones that have people sharing, liking, and commenting. Make note of a few things: What type of content is it? Video, funny images, short question type posts, long-form blog content? How often those pages are posting. Do they post once a day? Multiple times a day? When do they post? Are they posting in the early morning hours? Throughout the day? At night? Make note of the ideal times to post. If you keep notes on the pages, profiles, and information, it could come in handy if you decide later to do some targeted advertising to reach these same people.
5. Let’s talk lead generation
Before you start posting content on social media channels let’s go back to step one and revisit the objectives. If you want to reach people in your city to join your fitness studio, or you want people to hire you and your firm as consultants to help their leadership team, then you will want to start building an email list as well so you can get more specific with your marketing. To do this you can create some bigger pieces of content that people will exchange their email or contact info for when they download them. These bigger pieces can be resource guides, tip sheets, ebooks, video tips, a webinar, and on and on you can go. Any piece of content that people find valuable enough to give you some information in exchange for, is considered a “lead magnet” or “value offer.” You will then use social media to pull people toward these pieces of content. These lead-generation type posts will be mixed in with other content ideas you came up with in step four.
6. Now you can build those social media accounts
After all of this planning, and hopefully, creating of content, it’s time to open the doors to your social media accounts or do a “re-opening” if you have been using social media for awhile but without focus. Before you invite people to connect or come to LIKE your page, be sure you have it set up and ready. Put some interesting and visually appealing content up. Be sure you have filled out your profile and company information completely. Add that all-important profile pic.
Once you’ve gotten through these steps, prepare to put blinders on and stay focused on the tasks at hand. There will be many shiny objects calling you away from your plans, showing you new social media tools to try, new “critical” techniques you need to use. I, for one, will be someone shouting those things from the sideline but don’t listen. Stay the course. If what you are hearing doesn’t align with your #1 (business and marketing objectives …in case you’ve forgotten already) move on. If you can see how it fits into your own plan, implement and experiment.