The following is another excerpt from our ebook The Little Book of Social Media: 60 Ways to Create a Great Customer Experience. Get the Kindle version now or download the pdf.
Once you’ve decided that you want to use social media to connect with your existing customers, find new customers, and further your brand, you need to focus on strategy. Too many business owners and marketing managers jump on social media with no plan, no goals, and no content pipeline. They just want to do it because, well, everyone else is doing it! The social media landscape is littered with abandoned and poorly maintained accounts that are the victims of a lack of strategy. To prevent your company from being the next social media victim, review three critical components of your business:
- Customers (or supporters, if your business is a non-profit): Who are your customers? What do they care about, and what do they think of your company? What social media sites are
they using? What have they requested (e.g., faster customer service, more information about products, etc.) that you can provide through social media? Think about how you can use social media to benefit your customers.
- Competition: Are your competitors using social media? Are they using it successfully? What are they doing that you might be able to learn from? What are they not doing that might provide you with an opportunity to differentiate your business? For example, maybe you own a local retail store and you noticed your competitors don’t offer special discounts to online fans. Perhaps you could take the opportunity to provide discounts to your online fans and attract some of your competitor’s customers in the process.
- Industry: What are your industry’s best practices for social media? How are the leading bloggers and speakers in your field using it? What new tools are they experimenting with? Look at the social media accounts of your industry leaders (if they have any). You should also look at leading companies in other fields, especially if your industry is behind the curve when it comes to online marketing and technology.
Align with your business strategy
Now that you’re armed with more information about what your customers want from social media and what your competitors and industry leaders are doing in the space, focus on your business strategy. How do you want your company to be perceived? What are your short- and long-term business objectives? What can you provide through social media that will support these objectives? What benefits (customer service, thought leadership content, etc.) can you provide to customers through social media as you work towards these objectives? Think about some concrete measurements (increased sales, a certain number of new customers, etc.) that will help you determine what success looks like.
We recommend you focus on the top three business goals that social media can help you achieve. If you are that local retailer from our previous example, your top three goals might be to double your sales, expand your product line, and open a second store. Your social media activities should support all three of these objectives. We’ve created a social media strategy template (available on our website) to help you get started.
Coming up in our next post: Content strategy! And why you need to care about it as you plan your social media presence.