A few years ago I went to see a concert at an outdoor venue. The opening act had a terrible sound system and we had to strain to hear anything. (Though when we finally did hear them we decided maybe missing out on the sound wasn’t such a bad thing.) When the main act came on stage, their equipment was much better. Their amplifiers and loudspeakers provided the right level of volume without distorting the sound. We felt like we were on the front row even though our tickets were for the lawn.
When it comes to online content, sometimes you need a little help amplifying your message so more people hear it. Social media is the “sound system” you need for your content. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram can get your message, product, or brand in front of more people. You can engage with your audience in unique ways and find new sales leads among the billions of active social media users. But before you hit “publish” or “post,” make sure you have the right plan and team in place to get you the results you want.
- Make a goal.
It’s exciting to start a new campaign, but it won’t do you any good if you launch something new without knowing what you want to accomplish. Without a goal in mind, how will you know you’re succeeding? Goals are more than wishes—they should be based on something concrete and attainable. The best kind of goals are SMART—Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. For example, instead of a general goal to increase followers, you should set a specific goal such as increasing followers by 10 percent by the end of the quarter. Your social media goals should align with your business objectives. To help you assess whether these goals are attainable, look at the results of previous campaigns or industry benchmarks.
- Know your buyer.
Goals and business objectives are one component of your overall social media strategy. Other pieces of your strategy include what platforms and networks you'll focus on, what kind of content to post and how often. To make those determinations effectively, you need to have a buyer persona in mind or you won't get very far. Members of the sales team, senior members of your marketing team, current customers, and sales leads who ultimately didn’t convert (if you can contact them) are all resources you should tap for insight into what content is most effective and what goals for that content are most realistic. For example, if you know from previous campaigns or research that buyers need 10 interactions with your brand before they convert, you’ll miss the mark if your strategy only includes seven interactions. Or, if you know the typical buying cycle is six months, a goal to convert 20 new customers in three months is not realistic.
- Engage some partners.
Social media is the perfect place to experiment and engage with your audience in new ways. In some cases that might mean turning some control over to other people inside your company—or ambassadors and evangelists from outside your company. Customers trust people more than companies, so engaging partners who are enthusiastic about your brand can personalize your message and help you reach new audiences online. Just make sure you have a social media policy in place so your partners understand the rules of engagement and the tone and voice of your social media content stays consistent.
Bonus secret: Most social media platforms have built-in analytics programs that can help you see how your social posts are performing and where you can improve. Take advantage of them and don’t be afraid to experiment to see what gets you the best results.