TEN YEARS of social media growth, experimentation and learning. Wow, right? That’s longer than most of us realize.
Yet a significant number of businesses still aren’t investing energy in learning best practices and discovering how social can help them grow their business. They aren’t participating. Or if they are, it’s transparent promotion that only serves to demonstrate their complete lack of understanding of how social media actually works. It’s a token gesture of fake participation that everyone sees right through.
Why? It’s not like it’s new or unproven – that boat sailed long ago.
I think it’s about fear.
- Where do we start?
- How do we find prospects?
- How do we turn them into customers?
- Is the risk of crisis worth it?
- Will it hurt our brand if we do it wrong?
- Is the value worth the investment?
In this post, I’m going to start with the very first bullet: Where do we start?
In my opinion, there are four puzzle pieces to put in place before starting social media activity for ANY company or brand.
- Letting go of the marketing mindset
- Slowing down to move faster
- Keeping it simple
- Understanding the “who” and “why”
1. Let go of the marketing mindset.
When social media first began to dominate marketing strategies, EVERYONE was new to it and exploring how to use it effectively. All marketing professionals knew how to do was promote, promote, promote.
(Unless they were public relations people. Hehehe.)
Those days are gone. It’s time to let go of the promotion mindset on social media and figure out a plan to do it right: providing value and creating conversations. You want to build a community by focusing on THEM, instead of you. Think of it as a customer service platform first, and a marketing platform last.
2. Slow down to move faster.
I’ve found a four-step approach works extremely well for social media: Strategy, Goals, Activity, Measurement, Tweaks. (In fact, it works well for just about anything in PR and marketing.)
Without acting based on a strategy, you have no direction to guide your actions. And without direction, you can’t accomplish meaningful results. Once strategy has been determined, your goals are specific MEASURABLE activities to help you accomplish your strategy. It’s your roadmap.
Once strategy and goals have been mapped out, it’s time to get the ball rolling and kick off your activity.
Don’t forget that part of your strategy needs to be understanding WHICH platform your audience is on – so you start with the best option! Is it B2B? Check out Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest first. Is it B2B? Look at LinkedIn Groups, SlideShare, Facebook Groups, trade/industry blogs and atypical social media platforms such as listservs and private forums.
The last two – measure and tweak – are cycled in an endless loop of identifying what works and doing more of that, while letting go of what does NOT work. It keeps you focused on success and progress.
3. KISS KISS. (Keep it simple, stupid)
Who wants to set themselves up for failure? Keeping it simple is important, especially in terms of how many platforms you are handling when you are new to social media. If you launch with one social media platform, it’s MUCH more manageable to grow as you learn and find success. We are all much more prone to simply giving up if we get overwhelmed and don’t see results quickly enough.
As with any social media platform that is new to you, read about best practices and invest time in watching what is going on before you dive in. Immersion in a single focus gives you a comfort level that encourages enjoyment and creativity.
It also gives you time to explore and find where your target audience hangs out. No matter what strategy you are following, a strong part of it is being able to reach the end decision makers tied to your business, and learning a social media platform in depth helps you accomplish this.
4. Understand your target audience and the “why.”
This is the most complicated piece for most. Many assume they know who their target audience is, and assume they know the decision process that leads up to a sale – why someone buys. But do you really KNOW these two things? Validating assumptions with facts is a step too many skip, when it’s the very same thing that ensures your marketing efforts are successful.
It’s also what separates sophisticated marketing with a high return on investment from less successful efforts. If social media is considered part of your drip marketing process to nurture audience and convert them into leads, then customers – then how can you do that without a solid understanding of who you want to reach, and what triggers a purchase decision? It’s essential.
In fact, it even makes sense to do this process BEFORE you create your strategy, right? Most don’t, but give it a shot.
So why do so many skip this process? Because it takes time and skill. It’s hard. For some businesses that are more complex or have multiple audiences, it can be particularly challenging. It can also be different for each product and service a company offers.
It takes a seasoned professional with experience understanding market positioning and how to dig out data-based truth behind the assumptions. Hiring this kind of professional can also be complicated because there are multiple ways to accomplish the same thing.
It’s also worth noting that the “who” and the “why” are two separate things. Connected, yes, but different. But that’s for a different post to tackle…
For now, here are a few posts that might help clarify the processes.
- Six Steps to Decoding Your Target Audience, Forbes, Jayson Demers
- How to Define Your Target Market, Inc., Mandy Porta
- Six Steps to Defining Your Target Audience, Marketing Donut
- Google’s Zero Moment of Truth
- Three Simple Steps to Understanding Your Customers (very similar to my process), Minda Zetlin
- Understanding Customer Psychology, QuickSprout, Neil Patel, Ritika Puri
Need a little help creating your social media strategy? Why, yes, I DO do that!
What do you think is essential for someone just starting social media for their business? Share!! I command it!