[This article originally appeared in IoD Suffolk magazine]
What are you hoping to achieve?
It is crucial to understand the reasons for using social media and how it can help you reach your business goals.
You may be embracing it to help spread the word about your products, driving traffic directly to your website where people can buy online or get in touch with you. If this is the case, your social media strategy can be simple – highlight special offers, star products and testimonials from customers. If you have many products or services, or if you often release new products and services, you have a good opportunity to link to them frequently.
If your product or service is fixed and you don’t often have new things to say, you may want to highlight the features and benefits of your product or service using a different strategy. Posting links to news articles about your industry can provide a valuable service to your followers and establish you as an expert in that field.
You may also already have a thriving blog or email newsletter, to which you post opinion pieces, company and industry news. You should use this to boost your social media posts by linking to these articles each time you post them – automatically if possible.
Who do you want to communicate with?
You will need to have a good idea about the type of person you are trying to communicate with using social media. This could be the kind of people you are hoping to attract, or the actual demographics of existing customers and followers.
The type of person can affect the tone of voice you use. Are you targeting consumers and, therefore, able to use a more light-hearted, personal tone? Or are you trying to speak to business leaders, which may require more serious and technical language?
How does this fit in with your existing marketing strategy?
Your social media activity ties in with all other marketing activities – your blog, leaflets and brochures produced by the company or local advertising. Try to be consistent and maximise the opportunities to be heard.
You will also need to decide how much of your time and budget should be focused on social media and whether that time is spent valuably or if it could be used on other marketing efforts.
How will you measure progress?
Too often, companies measure social media progress simply by the number of followers their profiles have. This can be misleading as there are often many spam accounts following you, or perhaps other companies who you follow and are following you back for reciprocation but have no interest in what you are posting.
The best way to tell if your activity is productive is to ask your followers and customers directly – find out where they heard of you, or if they noticed your social media activity.
You can also check your website statistics
to see the percentage of people finding your site through social media, rather than via a web search. With some clever analytics on your site, or exclusive offer codes posted on your social media channels, you can tell which social media campaigns directly resulted in sales.
If your social media activity is not about making sales but about increasing brand awareness then the number of retweets /reshares of your content could be a key metric to look for.
A social media policy for your company
Put all this down in a social media policy – a living document that will change and grow as your company does, but which details what your goals are, who your audience is and how you will track progress. It should contain guidelines about responsibility, the tone of voice, which kind of articles to link to and how frequently to use each service. Revisit this strategy often to check that it is working and make changes if necessary.
Rubious are a web design and marketing agency in Ipswich.