Social media marketing is not a quick fix to your marketing challenges but instead is a layer of more frequent messaging and conversations that can help you build relationships with your customers and prospects and expand the reach of your brand. Use social media marketing to keep your company name in social media news feeds and on people’s minds.
Regardless of where you stand with your social media marketing, here are a few steps from Aliza Sherman (http://alizasherman.com), new media entrepreneur, to get you on track.
Conduct an audit. List out all the social networks you’ve established and evaluate how you are leveraging them. Review them using some basic criteria such as how well designed they are (are they branded and visually appealing?), how well optimized they are (have you utilized all the features available on each network?), the size of your fan base, the frequency of your postings, and the engagement your posts are getting.
Check your competitors. While you don’t want to get obsessed about what your competitors are up to, you should see how they are faring in social media and conduct a similar social media audit based on what you can find online. What are they doing well and what are they doing poorly? Determine how you can improve what you’re doing so you stand out from your competitors in social media.
Get a read on your followers. Use monitoring and “listening” tools such as Hootsuite and SproutSocial as well as social search tools like Social Mention and Topsy. Social Mention not only provides links to mentions but also ranks “Sentiment,” meaning a general impression of the tone of the mentions being positive, negative or neutral. Don’t only focus on the positive. Check out negative posts and determine how you can use social media to address issues others may have with your company, products or services or even your competitors or issues about your industry overall.
Learn from your failures. While the common wisdom is to look at what works for you in social media marketing and to do more of it, you’ll gain just as much or possibly more insights to your followers by examining what doesn’t work for them. While you may want to educate your followers about issues that your product solves to prime them to buy, you might find that they ignore your more educational posts while gravitating toward the humorous ones. A solution? Add humor to your more informative posts so they get a dose of both.
Re-evaluate your targets. You may think you’re reaching the right audience through your social networks, but are you really? Check to see who is following you and especially who is responding to or interacting with you and who is actually buying your products or services. Are you reaching the right audiences in the right networks? One way to be more targeted is to take advantage of the social advertising options on social networks like Facebook and Twitter. You can narrow in on specific users of those networks down to age range, geographic location and even interests. Set aside some of your marketing budget to reach a specific audience that is more likely to respond to your posts and do business with you.
Fine-tune your messaging. Social media marketing requires a balance between natural conversation flow and conveying more strategic messages that both serve existing customers and attract viable prospects. Set up a social media editorial calendar to plan out your daily, weekly and monthly posts to all of your active social networks. Make note of specific events that require time-sensitive posting versus the more “evergreen” messaging that can go out anytime. Use tools like Buffer or Facebook’s Scheduler to store pre-crafted messages that release over time or on specific days and times.