Whether you’re marketing a super-exciting new product, or providing an essential, everyday service, a strong social media plan should be one of the fixtures of your marketing strategy.
But for all the convenience and connectivity social media offers, it might seem tricky — even daunting — to wrap your head around forging a plan to use it effectively for your business.
Sure, you could hire a millennial intern to “do your social media” for you. But there are some key things YOU must first understand about strategy and the purpose behind the posts, to make sure you’re providing value for your audience. (Then make sure your interns follow that plan!)
Stumped? Think of it this way:
Chances are, you have personal social media accounts. You may use them frequently, or not — it doesn’t matter. What does matter is understanding why you use them, why people find social media so useful, stimulating, even addictive.
Ask yourself this question: Do I use personal social media to “promote” and yammer on about myself, or to share aspects of my life that are fun and engaging?
You’re most likely using Facebook, Instagram or Twitter to share thoughts, pictures of adventures, food, family, vacations — all facets of life. In this way, your presence feels more natural and social by the true definition of the word. You’re “adding value” for those in your own social circle by making them laugh, sharing an interesting fact, posting a picture of an amazing place you’ve been. You’re sharing aspects of your life — not droning on about yourself.
Think of your brand and your business in the same way. If you open up your thinking a bit, there are countless ways to relate to your brand and share information your audience can use in daily life — instead of simply pummeling your audience with product information.
“We have 15 products in our all-natural skincare line. Try them all today!” isn’t necessarily an interesting or engaging post. Where’s the value and excitement you should be striving to provide to your customers?
“Did you know that facial massage is a great way to stimulate blood flow, regenerate skin cells, and even relieve headaches? Check out this quick how-to video by expert Kendra P, and pick up our latest essential skin oil, Product X!” is much more engaging, interesting and helpful to your audience.
Helpful information, shared content from an industry influencer and a solution in the form of a product offering is digestible and worth someone’s time. You’re effectively adding value by becoming an industry resource and providing a sense of goodwill for your audience to associate with your brand.
The 80/20 (or Even 90/10) Balance
So, we’ve established the endgame with business social media strategy is developing and sharing content that is natural, engaging and not forced-upon your followers — while ultimately still delivering results and achieving your social media goal, whether that’s increasing brand awareness, building relationships or driving sales.
But what’s the right balance of straight talk vs. relevant content sharing?
It’s probably more skewed in favor of relevant content than you may have thought: 80-90% tips, tricks interesting subject matter related to your brand to only 10-20% “straight talk.”
Keep in mind that most social media is not a “formal” setting.
It’s all about environment. People are typically looking for a more casual experience when surfing social channels. Don’t be the equivalent of a mall kiosk sales associate, and interrupt someone’s day! Be a fluid part of their experience by offering your business’s “personal” touch, by sharing entertaining or helpful information or by demonstrating your knowledge about things that directly impact them.
What Does Good Social Strategy Look Like?
Balance is key.
Perhaps you’re a smaller insurance provider, and your brand is more sophisticated and straight-forward. Sharing health tips, policy management advice, or articles from external sources that relate to your industry shows you care about your audience and have a vested interest in maintaining your relationship with them. In this way, the formality and trustworthiness stays intact. But you can also strive to share fun content that fits in with your brand — such as crazy office injuries, or cute imagery for pet insurance posts.
Or perhaps you’re marketing a product.
In this world, the sky can be the limit when it comes to finding relatable content — the more versatile the brand or products in the lineup, the more options you’ll have as far as existing, sharable content.
Burt’s Bees’ Facebook presence is a great example that leverages all aspects of their product lines and general brand lifestyle, featuring fan contests, recipes, engaging single product features (photos, videos and articles), and even the invitation to tour Burt’s original cabin!
Good marketers can find many ways to significantly grow a brand through social media since available content is just that — social! Connecting with fan groups, similar brands, industry influencers or sharing content from written authorities on your industry are fantastic tools to enhance your social presence and brand image. And the possibilities are almost endless, depending on what resources you want to devote to the strategy.
Maintaining the Personal Touch
An important result of this robust approach and frequent activity is consistent engagement from your audience, or “followers.”
In our increasingly transparent world, you must be prepared to interact with followers when they post a question, compliment, or — especially — a negative review. Staffing someone to monitor activity and respond to the public as your brand’s social media voice is critical; many big brands have full-time teams for this purpose alone.
Your first notion might be to respond to pointed comments or nasty words in kind. Don’t. Remember: No fighting allowed!
Social media managers are brand ambassadors, and the job is to give customers the best experience possible, even if that means apologizing for a bad experience, finding make-good solutions or referring them to a customer care division.
In some instances, brands have been known to use their social media voice to playfully quell internet trolls, just as Wendy’s did earlier this year. But it MUST be tactful and on-brand. A fine line exists between reinforcing fun brand image and inciting a PR nightmare!
A New Way of Thinking
So, if you’ve been a bit stuck thinking about how to approach your social strategy, keep in mind that maintaining your brand’s personality and adding value for your audience are the main goals. Be mindful of the power and grip on society social media has. The rules of the game are always changing, and new features are added constantly across platforms.
New ground is being broken by brands every day! How will you define your business’s social voice?
Think you’re getting closer to understanding the crazy world of social media, but would like to put some muscle behind it?
We would love to be that muscle, and help your brand excel across all platforms with a tailor-made strategy that keeps up with this ever-changing environment. Let’s talk social strategy!