Getting Started with Social Media

While businesses may have at least some form of a social media strategy in place for their company,  many are unsure of where to begin,  what they want to accomplish and if it will be worth their time.

 It’s important to establish some concrete goals for yourself when starting to work with social media. To answer these questions,  we suggest focusing on the following five key areas when starting your company’s social media plan.

1. Understand Your AudienceSM1

The first step is always to clearly identify your target audience. You can start by creating a sample overview of your target audience member. Think about their demographics – age range,  income level,  location,  whether or not they have children,  preferred social media platforms,  preferred methods of information consumption,  etc.

Armed with this information,  you can establish a focus for your social media efforts to ensure an impact on your specific target audience. Understanding your audience and how they use social media can also identify which social platforms will work best for your business.

 

SM5

A simple way of figuring out how your target audience is using social media is by finding clever resources that have already been created for you,  such as this chart provided by Econsultancy.

Once you’ve found a graphic that’s right for you,  focus on the most popular social media platform first. Establishing a comfortable footing with your audience’s preferred social media network will help you learn about them and what is most important. From there,  you can take what you’ve discovered and use it to your advantage when working on other platforms.

 2. Develop a Plan of Action

Before you begin posting,  figure out what you want to say. This may sound obvious,  but think about it in depth. Many people start out with a plan of “just respond.”

Identify what responses you are trying to trigger and think about your own social media experience. More than likely,  you gravitate towards brands and individuals that engage with you vs. those who talk at you.

The fundamental question is,  ‘How do you plan on engaging your customers?’ Will you be using eye-catching images,  providing relevant articles or craft ideas for kids? The way you engage and create value for your consumer will change for every business. Find out what makes the most sense for your specific audience.

You can also consider promotions,  contests and events;  these take time to plan in advance to ensure they meet your objectives and don’t negatively impact your brand.  To create a sense of interest and buzz,  you will want to keep them spaced out with specific goals for each.

The last part of the plan of action is to be sure you are covering all the details.  When implementing your plan,  we’ve found it helpful to create checklists.  These help you keep track of everything that will need to go into making your posts ready for publishing.

3. Create a Timeline to Keep in Check

This will be a more specific calendar of your to-do list from #2. Map out everything you want to accomplish and be sure to include the time the planning process will take;  from every post idea you will be publishing,  to your promotions and events.

A thorough timeline helps you keep everything spaced out,  so you won’t bore your audience with repetitive post styles. It also makes it easy to prepare for what’s coming up in future months.

You can use this timeline to determine what platforms you’ll be posting on each day and how many times you will be updating,  such as the example shown below.

SOCIAL-MEDIA-EDITORIAL-CALE

4. Keep Track of Your Results

In our experience,  it is important to find ways to measure the success of your social media efforts. Identifying the value to your organization is critical to continuing the work.  It is fairly easy to keep tabs on:

  • Key posts – the amount of “likes” it received,  new followers,  etc.
  • Audience reach
  • The amount of engagement the channel has
  • Followers gained from a contest
  • And most impactful would be showing an increase in sales due to a successful promotion

All of these metrics need to be recorded and organized in ways that make the most sense of the data you’re collecting.

Some simple ways to track results include:

  • Use Excel to create workbooks to organize numbers
  • Create visual aids,  such as charts and graphs
  • Convert information into statistics and percentages to summarize change effectively

There are also plenty of free tools available to you to further track your results. Check out the following to get you started:

  • Google Analytics/ Social Reports- Measure how social traffic is directly impacting your conversations via your Google Analytics platform
  • Klout- Get an “influence score” based on your social media activitynewinsights1
  • TweetReach- Find out who reads your tweets,  what is being shared and the impact of your posts
  • Facebook Insights- Collect all of the analytics data from your Facebook page to track growth and impact
  • SocialMention- Keep track of who is talking about your business,  product or any topic related to your industry

5. Learn from Your Mistakes

Take what you learn from #4 and use it to your advantage. Did a specific post stand out as a dud with little fan interaction or response? If so,  make note of this. You can use this to find ways to tweak what you’ve done in a certain post to create more beneficial results or decide to get rid of the idea entirely.

If something isn’t working,  don’t keep wasting time on the concept. If you find that posts are successful,  take note of that,  too,  but be sure to keep your content varied and interesting.

Social media can be a powerful way to engage with your customers. But,  if you are out to make a measurable impact,  it isn’t as simple as sitting down at the keyboard and responding. These are just some of the basics to consider as you begin to think about the channel– a robust plan will include more steps,  such as creating a social media policy for your employees and developing strategic marketing plans. Check back over the coming months as we spend more time on this topic.

As always,  we welcome your input and look forward to the conversation; click here to leave a comment. For an overview on the purpose of this blog,  take a look at the initial post here.

This article was written by:
Bethany Richard,  Sage Tree Trade Marketing Associate

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