As more of your customers and potential customers embrace social networks such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, it could give your business a competitive advantage to make social media part of your marketing strategy.
Just like with any marketing strategy, you’ll need to plan what you want to achieve using social media, carry it out methodically, and measure your results.
Planning your goals
What is it that you want to achieve by using social media? Some common goals are:
- to connect with customers
- to reach a different customer base
- improved customer service
- to manage and build your online reputation
- increased traffic (or better quality traffic) to your website
- increased sales and referrals
- improved brand awareness
Don’t try to spread yourself too thinly – dedicate yourself to just one or two main goals. This will help you to stay focused.
Putting your plans into action
Once your know your goals, you need to think about which social networking sites are going to help you achieve them.
For example, if you want to engage more with your customers, a Facebook account could help you enter into interactive dialogue with them. If you want to increase traffic, then Twitter might be a better way to broadcast short links to your website.
You’ll also need to think about how much resource you need to dedicate to your social media campaign. If your blog or Twitter account isn’t regularly updated, or you don’t respond quickly to customers who contact you this way, your effort is wasted and you could even damage your reputation.
It might be worth considering outsourcing to a professional social media marketing service, who can manage your accounts for you if you don’t have the time.
Measuring social media results
You might think it’s difficult or even impossible to ‘measure’ social media marketing. But if you’re clear on what your original goals were, it’s not difficult – you just need to choose the right metrics.
Social media marketing metrics include:
- how many visitors come to your website from social media
- how long these visitors spend on your website when they get there
- how many of these visitors convert to sales
- how often your brand is being mentioned on social media (and whether this is positive or negative)
- how many people ‘follow’ your social media profiles, and how this changes over time
- how many of your followers interact with the brand, taking part in discussions or sharing content and links
Once you’ve analysed these results, you can think about how to make improvements and maximise your return on investment.