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December 19, 2016

How to Craft (and Stick to) a Social Media Strategy

The social media marketing scene has evolved from a way to stand out to standard business practice. Nowadays, you’d be hard pressed to find a business of any size that doesn’t at least have a Facebook page. But with the ever-increasing number of social media platforms, how do you strike the right balance without spending every waking moment managing your social presence? (You’ve got a business to run too, right?)

Whoever said: “He who chases two rabbits goes home hungry” must have known a thing or two about social media marketing. You may think a successful strategy is to blast your brand on every channel out there: It’s not. Your social marketing can prove exponentially more effective when you laser-focus your efforts only on the outlets that make sense to your business, and arm yourself with the right tools to make it happen.

Set Goals First

So how do you pick the right platforms that will give your social media strategy the biggest benefit? There is no secret formula: It all depends on your business and goals.

As with all marketing efforts, ask yourself what exactly you want to get out of social media. Do you want to drive traffic to your site? Increase brand awareness? Promote individual items? These goals, and others, can be accomplished through social media activity, if you use the right tools.

Plot Your Course

Once you have established your social media goals, you need to plot a course to direct your strategy before you start blasting your message across every channel. Navigating the social media waters one stroke at a time causes major burnout, especially if you are using multiple platforms to broadcast your brand.

Automation is Your Friend

A scheduler like Buffer or Hootsuite can save you significant amounts of time and energy by cross posting to all your platforms from one dashboard. You’ll spend minutes rather than hours scheduling posts ahead of time, making your marketing efforts more efficient and effective.

A scheduling service also helps you steer clear of the three most common pitfalls as to why social media marketing efforts fail:

  1. Lack of prioritization
  2. Lack of consistent branding
  3. Lack of utilizing engagement metrics.

Making Social Media Marketing a Priority

Social media platforms can easily become the place where good marketing intentions go to die if you aren’t prepared. If you think that a once-in-a-blue-moon blog post is better than nothing, think again. Visitors who check out your page and see nothing but old news will eventually not even bother. Using a scheduling program to stockpile and schedule content ensures your social marketing well never runs dry.

Often there are browser extensions that work in conjunction with whatever service you are using. That will let you schedule or share posts directly from your browser as you comb the Web for quality content. It works like the dashboard, but takes an extra step out of the equation since you are able to use content as soon as you come in contact with it.

Clearly, a scheduler provides a fool-proof, no excuses solution to keeping your social media presence up to speed.

Ensuring Consistent, Well-Branded Content

Why share awesome content if you can’t spotlight your brand along with it? If you have ever seen Facebook content accompanied by a ‘Posted by YOUR BRAND’ subtitle, that’s Custom Facebook Branding hard at work.

Usually, using third-party tools to share your content ends up as a free promotion for them, not you if you use the free version. But Custom Facebook Branding means your audience will be none the wiser about your digital helpers. They will think you actually take the time to keep things current the old-fashioned way.

Using one central scheduling tool helps unify the efforts of all your contributors to solidify a consistent branding experience. If you work with multiple collaborators, funneling all content through a single channel makes it easier for admins to review and edit posts before they’re sent to the masses. This way, nothing gets published unless you say so.

Adjusting Content On The Fly

All that impressive content you post is meaningless unless you know the impact it presents to your audience. That’s why it’s imperative to use tracking and engagement metrics to adjust your content for the most impact.

You should be able review your entire lineup at a glance, as well as quickly edit or reshuffle upcoming content. That way, if you realize a post has generated strong engagement, you can easily reshare or reschedule that post to increase visibility. Or if a piece has generated less-than-phenomenal response, you can make some edits and reschedule for another date.

Build Your Social Arsenal: Which Network is Right for You

Once you’ve established your goals and determined the best route to reach them, take a long hard look at different social platforms. You don’t want to over commit yourself if you won’t be able to keep your profiles fresh: stale information can lead to a negative image. It’s best to choose two to four platforms that will provide the strongest connections with your target audience.

Consider the type of content you will need to create for each platform and how adaptable that content will be for other outlets. Think of the frequency you will need to upload content to reach your audience. Understand the users that each outlet caters to (age, profession, mobile user, etc). Last but not least, see where your goals fit into each platform before you dive in.

FACEBOOK

Facebook ranks as the most widely used network, with nearly 1.6 billion active users. It caters to individuals and businesses of virtually every demographic, and should be a definite in your social media scheme.

Experts recommend posting one to two times per day to increase visibility. Posting fewer than once a week weakens your social stance and you risk losing connection with your audience.

Post links to your blog articles, videos, images, contests, polls, you name it. Also use it as an extension of your website, showing business hours, menus, pictures of new products, announcements, and other pertinent info. However, make sure you enroll as a business account (it’s free) so you can access analytics, paid ads, and other features.

TWITTER

Another top social contender, Twitter caters mainly to the middle-aged and millenials. Tweets can quickly become buried in the newsfeed, so experts recommend posting four to five times per day if you want to get noticed.

Should you use it? That depends on how ‘in the moment’ your content is. If you plan on tweeting about new products, events in action, new blog posts, or related content, then go big. If you can’t commit to posting on a regular basis, then go home.

PINTEREST

You won’t find a more tuned-in audience anywhere else. While other platforms focus on social connections and image building, Pinterest is a marketing platform, plain and simple. More than half its users visit the site specifically to discover new products and information.

Even though its focuses on the visuals, you don’t have to be a designer, chef, retailer, or fashion expert to create a strong brand on Pinterest. But before you get too pin-happy, consider your audience and their social tendencies. This platform only works if your target is a part of it.

LINKEDIN

Geared more toward individuals, LinkedIn provides a great way to brag about your successes (think public digital resume). Regardless of industry, if you consider yourself a business professional you should create a personal profile. If you offer professional services or B2B content, a LinkedIn business page makes sense.

INSTAGRAM

It’s all about the visuals. If your business focuses on design, products, crafts, DIY, or any other feast for the eyes, make sure you include Instagram in your social marketing mix. Instagram photos usually make excellent cross-posted content, and when using a scheduler to manage those posts, it’s almost a no-brainer.

TUMBLR

Filled with nothing but information from creationaries, Tumblr helps you avoid getting lost in the family photo and status update clutter from other platforms. Tumblr works well for blogs, links, images, and videos that are ready to share at a click’s notice. If you want to gain blog followers or drive Web traffic, Tumblr makes a great vessel.

VK

VK is a popular European social network that caters to multi-linguals. Similar in content and interface as Facebook, VK boasts nearly 369 million user accounts. If your business boasts an international reputation, VK makes an excellent social marketing outlet.

XING

Similar in nature to LinkedIn, Xing is a polished networking site geared toward the professional. Job postings, employer info, digital resumes, and industry headlines typically make their way into the Xing world. Use it if you want to showcase your brand to prospective employees, or if you have industry-revolutionizing news to share (think product launches, expansions, major breakthroughs, etc).

Final Thoughts

Remember that no matter which platforms you choose, you must remain committed to their success. Oftentimes social media marketing falls to the wayside when other business matters arise, but using a scheduling service helps negate most of the reasons social marketing fails. Make sure you work a maintenance plan into your strategy so you can avoid a drop off later.

Above all else, give your social media efforts a fair chance to work. Track, measure, tweak, repeat, until you find what works for you.


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Ben Shepardson is the founder of NoStop Content, a boutique content agency that provides fantastic content to webmasters worldwide.

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