Building a Dynamic Social Media Strategy for 2014

by redstorm

wmb_logoWritten as a invitational feature article for Women Mean Business Magazine March 2014

 

SMEs no longer have a choice on whether we DO Social Media, the real question now is how WELL we do it. Most businesses are dabbling in Social Media strategy but there are so many choices out there; LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, You Tube, Google+, Snapchat, Vimeo, Flickr… the list goes on and on… all doing different things, in different ways, for different audiences.

There are over 190m tweets sent and an average of 135,000 new twitter users signing up every single day. If Facebook were a country it would be the world’s 3rd largest. It has 70bn new pieces of content shared each month. There are over 7,500 unique pieces of information put up on LinkedIn every hour. There’s a lot of noise out there.

The question is – How can you build a dynamic Social Media Strategy in 2014, harnessing the power of these latest online tools and successfully building your business, while keeping your sanity and doing your day job? The following six steps will make it easy!

 

1.         Learn The Differences, Know What Each Platform Is Good For

Before you begin, have a look at the various platforms out there. Each social media platform has its own personality, its own style, specific user type, community of enthusiasts, speed and frequency.  Some are for teens (snapchat) some specifically for business (LinkedIn). Some only broadcast video (YouTube) and some only graphics (Flickr).  Take the time to learn them and to learn how they interact.  Log on, create a personal profile and “listen” for a while.  Join groups that are of personal interest to you and watch how people share information and engage.  Learn first-hand how the tool is used by others before using it for your business.

 

2.   Stay Focused On Your Goals

Though it’s a brand new era, the place to begin is with the age-old exercise of goal-setting. While social media tools can reach and influence millions of people – Look at the first Obama campaign – for most small businesses, this is not the point.  Don’t get sucked into the hype and forget your main business and communications goals.  Be clear on what you want to achieve. Take a look at your strategy – why are you getting involved in social media? Are you trying to drive people to your website, your blog, or your Facebook page? Perhaps you need to build brand awareness or generate new leads, to find and build a few key relationships, or reach several thousand in various geographical locations and time zones. This will depend on the scale of your business. Build an engagement strategy for each chosen Social Media platform that works towards these goals. Be ruthless, measure success. Social Media can be very time consuming – it must add value to your bottom line.

 

3.  Know Your Audience

The critical element in all social media work is the “WHO” – Figure out who you’re looking for and stay focused on them.  Use carefully researched Keywords. Create a clear “Call to Action”. Be specific – Who are your main audiences? What do I offer each group? Where do they digest information online? Are they desk bound or mobile? What are the main platforms they frequent? If they are on LinkedIn don’t spend time on Snapchat! What information do they value? What problems are they having? How can your business solve these problems? This will determine the type of content to share and its frequency.

 

4.   Develop and Share Liquid Content

The beauty of social media is the ability to create wonderful and compelling content. Ensure it is engaging, interactive and seen by the right people for your business. Make it “Liquid” content; Video, Infographics, Podcasts, Audioshots, Webinars, RSS Feeds, Blogs… Share this dynamic content across multiple social media channels, while keeping the core content on your website or blog, to drive inbound traffic.  By offering people these varied ways to experience and engage with your content and brand online, your audience will broaden.

Create a clear Content Development Strategy that delivers value to your target market. Build an Editorial Calendar to make content creation streamlined – knowing what topic you are writing on, what type of content you are creating, when you are developing it and who it is aimed at will save you time (and wrinkles – I speak from experience!). Look at ways to re-purpose this content – an infographic designed for your blog can be used in a tweetpic, as part of a LinkedIn update about a trending topic and as an interactive piece of email marketing. Don’t reinvent, you don’t have time. Remember to ensure each piece of content has clear “Sharing” Buttons. These allow viewers to easily propagate your content across social media platforms. This further widens your audience and builds your “Social Proof”.

 

5.   Be Engaging and Interactive

Social Media is about being just that… Social. It is getting your brand involved in the social conversation. It is NOT the use of a single service media channel which is “Socially Enabled”! So throwing a blog post up and ignoring it doesn’t count. Get involved in multiple conversations on various platforms, ask questions, provide answers and give comments. Offer information of value to your target audience, be free with good advice – Social Media is all about Karma. The key words here are “Engage” and “Interact”. Not “Direct Sell”.

 

6. Measure

Social Media is an ever emerging discipline with new tools being introduced every day. Don’t let it run away with you. Measure what you do and monitor the results against your chosen criteria and business goals. It must work for you, build your brand and your business. Use its strengths but be aware of its drains.

 

And Finally

Take time to learn what these new social media tools can do for your business – start small and stay focused. Use scheduling software like Hootsuite.com to manage your updates across multiple platforms. Get familiar with sites like Bitly.com which will shorten your links for use in micro blogging such as on Twitter and will measure the clicks on that link. Build your content strategy around your chosen Key Words and share that content across multiple platforms, always bringing the viewer back home to your site. Introduce your personality to social media – Remember – People do business with People!

 

Written By Carol O’Kelly: 

Strategic marketing and business development expert Carol O’Kelly (Redstorm.ie) has a reputation as a passionate and pioneering marketing entrepreneur, speaker and business development mentor.  A keen adopter of new marketing technologies, Carol has embraced Social Media platforms as a driving element in an untraditional and multi-faceted approach to branding, strategic marketing, business and personal development – providing actionable insights to those looking to build businesses, truly engage their audiences and leverage the full power of their marketing creativity for real results.

Carol has worked with many high profile development phase companies over almost 20 years, both in Ireland and the US.

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