Even though social media has become a favorite kind of entertainment for people nowadays, when it comes to using social media in marketing, one has to have a developed strategy, or a plan, as well as tools necessary for conducting and evaluating the strategy.
In order to understand how social media is used in marketing, let us examine the following elements that complete a social media marketing strategy:
The first element, regardless of the kind of marketing, is to define goals. You have to establish what exactly you want to achieve with the set of actions you are going to perform later on. Without goals you will just end up working aimlessly, having no way to measure the results of your effort. Not only are the goals important as a guidance in marketing, but they also provide the basics for the analysis of the effects social media marketing had on the business.
When determining goals, you should be realistic and objective. You should take into account the real situation and goals you will actually be able to fulfill. Setting unrealistic goals is not beneficial as chances are that you will not be able to achieve them, meaning your strategy is going to fail.
Once the goals are in place, the next step is to develop a plan to achieve those goals. Planning is a very important aspect of any kind of business strategy, as it elaborates the assets and methods that will be used in conducting a strategy.
Planning needs to be thorough as much as possible, in order to predict the steps in the achievement of the goals, assets that need to be invested, possible problems you might encounter, as well as the solution for those problems.
There are several parts of planning:
- Plan the initial phase (preparation)
- Identify target group
- Define the approach based on the target group
- Plan the assets
- Predict the potential problems
- Plan the outcome
Social media marketing, as a type of marketing, has various different strategies and techniques that can be used to achieve goals. Depending on the goals you want to achieve, you can apply different strategies in social media marketing.
Define your own custom strategy that is based on your own business and the approach you want to use when addressing your customers. You might be focused on creating videos and thus social networks that enable upload of video content would be a central part of your marketing. On the other hand, your business might benefit from blogging or sharing images, so this should be the focus of your social media marketing.
What influences the strategy you are going to choose is:
- The type of business you are running
- The resources available for the realization of the strategy
- Your approach to the customers
For example, if you own a clothing store, sharing images will be important element of your social media strategy. This type of business will also affect which social networks you are going to use. In this case, Pinterest and Instagram would be far more effective than LinkedIn.
Resources also have an important role. Regardless of the type of business, advertising on social networks is a good way to reach customers. However, you have to invest a certain amount of resources in advertising, which will solely depend on you and the assets assigned to the strategy.
Your approach to the clients will also affect your social media marketing, as it will help you define how to interact with clients. For example, if you are a clothing brand and your target group includes young people in their 20s and 30s, you should probably be more casual when interacting with them. This means that your status updates should be funny, informal, with smiley faces, acronyms, etc. This way you use the style that will appeal to your target group.
On the other hand, if you represent an insurance company, you will probably want to keep it more simple and formal, due to the type of business you run. In addition, chances are that you are targeting older target group, so you need to find an appropriate way to communicate with them.
When you start implementing social media marketing strategy, it is important to remember to monitor the performance of the strategy. You will monitor the social media accounts used in the strategy, as you will immediately see some results. You should not expect to get several thousand of likes and followers instantly, but you should be able to notice some improvements as the strategy develops.
You should also monitor if the strategy is being conducted according to the plan you have set. Since the plan is a sort of a guideline for you in this case, you want to make sure that you stay on track. Plan includes the approach as well as the instructions on how to deal with potential problems, so that you are prepared for any situation.
There are various tools for monitoring that help you compare the number of people you have reached within several time periods, to compare engagement in terms of likes or follows, comments, etc. You should also use social media insights, if those are available, for this purpose. Measuring and comparing the metrics will help you to be sure that your social media marketing is being conducted according to the initial plan. Regular monitoring will enable you to act immediately should you notice any issues, potential problems, etc.
This is the final stage of social media marketing. With your initial plan, you have determined the deadline for the strategy to be conducted, as well as the assets necessary for the strategy to be realized. Obviously, the same strategy cannot and should not be used for an indefinite period of time, as the situation on the market changes, as well as marketing techniques.
Therefore, once the period for conducting strategy is over, you are ready to analyze the results in order to find out if:
- The goals have been achieved
- The strategy was realized according to the plan
- The amount of assets invested was sufficient
- There were any unforeseen circumstances that might have affected the realization of the strategy
- Social media marketing strategy had influence on other parts of your business, such as sales, branding, etc.
Analyzing the results is an important part as it will help you compare the initial investment with the results you have achieved. This will help you determine the effectiveness of the social media marketing. Even though social media marketing is recommended activity for promoting and improving your business, this does not mean that it will pay off. In this case, if the strategy gives no results, you might want to consider abandoning it, otherwise you will be wasting the time and assets in vain.
Thorough analysis will also help you improve and change your social media marketing, as you will be able to see the weaknesses of your approach. Besides weaknesses, you might learn some good sides of the approach you are using, and this might help you to boost your social media marketing even further.
Social media marketing is a process that consists of several phases. The process starts with planning and it ends with analysis and evaluation of the effectiveness of the strategy used. Along with this process, everyone faces some challenges and some mistakes that are bound to be made, especially if you are new at implementing social media marketing.
What you need to do is to be aware of some of the most common mistakes in the area of social media marketing and try to avoid them if possible. These are:
- Having no clear plan of action
- Not determining the metrics to measure the efficiency
- Investing too much time and assets
- Thinking about popularity of the social accounts without thinking how your company can benefit from that popularity
- Creating automated accounts that provide no value to the users
- Using suspicious methods of gaining followers
- Failing at determining your target audience
- Posting without a plan and without being consistent
These are only some of the mistakes people make when being active on social media. Sometimes you will not even realize that you are making a mistake, until you have analyzed your performance on social media.
As you go along and work on your social media marketing, you will improve your approach and you will be able to get much more benefits for your company. You will also be more successful at avoiding mistakes which are usually typical for beginners and those who are not completely familiar with social media marketing best practices and approaches.