As with any new venture, going into social media starts with setting a clear objective. What is the purpose of your presence on social media? Is it to raise awareness and market yourself? Or is to improve customer service and increase sales? Or perhaps it’s for employee branding and helping recruit new employees? Whatever your goal is, it should tie in directly with your overall business goals and also be SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound). An example of a SMART goal could be to drive 20% more traffic to your website from social this quarter.
Next, you need to think about time and resources, as managing social media for a business requires both. Getting yourself set up on a platform is fairly easy, but creating relevance and opportunities for engagement with your target audience is hard work. It requires an understanding of the personas you want to interact with, consistency in content and voice and a very firm understanding of what your brand and business stands for.
This is all time-consuming but without such fundamentals in place, no social media channel will be able to make a meaningful contribution to your business. In fact it could even harm your brand if your presence in social media is confusing and the value proposition of your brand is not very well understood by the people you are trying to attract and engage.
If you do have the time and resources, you need to think about where you want to be present. In my work as social media manager I have seen too many brands spread themselves too thin by setting up multiple social accounts all at once or launching initiatives without a defined network strategy. Getting started I always recommend asking yourself: ‘Where are my customers?’ and ‘Where are my competitors?’ To find out where your customers are you will need to research the demographics of the main social media channels. You should choose a channel that reflects the interest, age and online behavior of your target personas.
For instance at Volvo Trucks we use Facebook to engage with a community of drivers around the world whereas our LinkedIn account is more geared towards transport owners and operators. Most social media channels will give you a breakdown of their audience but you can also do your own research by reading industry reports and surveys or turn to a supplier who specializes in social media marketing. Whatever you choose, just remember that you don’t have to do it all at once; start with one or two key networks and build your social media marketing efforts over time.
Once you have decided on some channel(s), you should think about what kind of content you want to produce. And that starts with understanding what your target persona is interested in and what you want to achieve with your content. Do you want to educate and raise awareness about a particular issue? Or is a piece of content supposed to promote your business or services? You can create content for every step of the buyer’s journey on social media but it’s important to balance the content you share to be a mixture of informative and entertaining items, with a small percentage of promotional material added in. A content calendar is a great way to map this out and know when to share what for maximum impact.
How you set your social media calendar is of course a matter of personal preference. But generally I recommend that a social media calendar includes the dates and times for when you will publish content on which channel and for what impact. One of the biggest mistakes I see companies do on social media is to appear confusing by not having a coherent content strategy or to treat social media like a marketplace without understanding the value of building community, loyalty and trust.
With your content strategy in place, think about how you will distribute it. There are two ways to do this; post organically or pay for social media ads. In my opinion a good distribution strategy needs both. Organic posts are a great way to understand what your audience likes, raise awareness and create engagement.
But trying to grow solely on the back of organic posts can be very limiting—as you are confined by an algorithm and might get buried deep under the content of others. This is where paid distribution can really add value by enabling you to reach relevant prospects based on their activity, location, age and so on. It can also help a particularly good piece of content resonate with a much wider audience. (Want to know more? Here is a useful article on paid vs. organic social media distribution).
With your social media strategy pretty well defined, you need to think about how you will measure your success. Of course you should track likes and followers but there are other others metrics like retention, reach, share of voice and referrals that can give a better view on how your audience is engaging with your content. As you implement your social strategy, it’s important to keep track of what works and what doesn’t to that you can then fine-tune your efforts and improve results.
These are just a few of the tips to help you get started with basic social media marketing. If you are interested in learning more, download my guide which has more useful tips including:
Tobias is Global Social Media Manager for Volvo Trucks.